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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Luis Ysla looks to take the last step

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Can Luis Ysla make a major-league impact this year?

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We are just about done with our top-20 prospects list, with just a few more spots remaining. That number got a little bit smaller with Luis Ysla taking 23 percent of the vote to become our number 18 prospect.

While the most notable part of the Red Sox farm system these days is who isn’t here after a handful of trades over the last few years, Ysla is one of the few minor leaguers who wasn’t originally signed by Boston. Instead, the lefty was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela by the Giants back in 2012 at the relatively old age of 20. He was acquired with the idea of him being a starting pitcher, which is the role he served for his first two professional seasons. Those years went pretty well for Ysla, too, as he posted sub-3.00 ERA’s in both rookie ball in 2013 and Low-A in 2014. In 2015, he attempted to make the jump to High-A and it did not go so well. He made nine starts for the Giants’ High-A club and allowed a 1.035 OPS in that time. Because of that, he started switching over to a relief role midway through that season. The 2015 campaign is also notable for Ysla since it was the year he came over to the Red Sox. It happened at the very end of the year when Boston sent Alejandro De Aza to San Francisco in a waiver deal that netted them the lefty. He only made two appearances with Salem that year.

Despite the very short time with Ysla, the Red Sox were comfortable with the idea that he was better served as a reliever. He would start the 2016 with Double-A Portland as one of the premiere members of their bullpen. Of his 39 appearances with the Sea Dogs, Ysla finished 28 of them. His 4.08 ERA wasn’t super impressive, and it was mostly undone by the 4.4 batters he walked per nine innings. Still, he struck out almost ten per nine and showed real potential from the left side. He would get one appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket at the end of the year and struck out two in a scoreless inning.

Like we’ve seen with other future relievers in this organization, it’s not the repertoire that is holding Ysla out of the rotation. He has three solid pitches that are led by a dominant fastball that can reach the high-90’s and has late life that can dominate his opponents. As we can see from his walk-rate last year there is still work to be done with the command, but the potential for a plus offering is there. Ysla also features a strong slider that has grown as he’s moved up the ladder and is a pitch he can throw to hitters on either side of the plate. Finally, he has a changeup that still needs a bit of work but can turn into an average offering. Despite that, Ysla finds himself in the bullpen due to his small stature (listed at 6’1”, 185 lbs) and high-effort delivery.

Earlier this winter, Ysla was protected from the Rule 5 draft by being placed on the 40-man roster. This means that the Red Sox could conceivably call upon him for help in the majors this summer. Before that, though, he’s going to have to show some legitimate improvement in command against Triple-A hitters, as he’s almost certain to start the year in Pawtucket. If he can do that, he has a long future as a late-inning lefty in this league.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes
  9. Michael Chavis
  10. C.J. Chatham
  11. Josh Ockimey
  12. Nick Longhi
  13. Travis Lakins
  14. Mike Shawaryn
  15. Jake Cosart
  16. Jalen Beeks
  17. Trey Ball
  18. Luis Ysla

Now, we get to the unfortunate part. During the last two votes, and the last one in particular, there have been some suspicions of ballot stuffing on this. It blows my mind that someone would take the time to do that, but there is enough evidence here that we’re going back to the old style for the final two spots. That means you can head down to the comments below and “rec” the comment that corresponds to the player you feel is most deserving of the vote. There are a lot of players to be considered here, so there will certainly be players you feel are deserving that I don’t name below. In that case, add your own comment with their names and others can rec that. I know this sucks, and I hate it as much as you do, but some people have to ruin all the fun.