The season has already started, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for prospect lists. As we were putting the finishing touches on our own community’s top-20, Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs released his own top-15 for the Red Sox farm system.
Really, there isn’t too much of note there. Andrew Benintendi is the number one prospect, of course. He’s followed by Rafael Devers, Jason Groome, Sam Travis and Bobby Dalbec, just like in just about every other list. This is the clear top five, and almost every prospect evaluator agrees with this.
One interesting thing that Longenhagen does with his lists is simply list all of the 40 future potential value players — meaning those whose overall game rank as a 40 on the 20-80 scale. There’s no set number of players he includes. Boston’s top four are each at least 45 FPV players, which puts them as around average players, but the other eleven are 40 FPV players. We already knew this isn’t as deep of a farm system as we’ve seen in years past, but looking at prospects in this fashion is another harsh reminder of this fact.
Another part of this list that jumped out to me was the ETA that Longenhagen put on Devers. It’s not something he explained in his evaluation of the third baseman, but the Fangraphs lead prospect writer puts Devers’ ETA at 2019, which seems to be at least a year too late. I’ve said it before, but it wouldn’t totally shock me if he gets the call towards the end of this season, particularly if we see Pablo Sandoval struggle again. Even if that is wishful thinking, I think it’s safe to say he should easily be up by next season barring a major setback. This part of the list was a head scratcher.
Beyond the top five, you’ll find C.J. Chatham as the number six prospect, which makes Longenhagen among the highest on last year’s second round pick. The ranking seems to hinge on Chatham’s abilities at shortstop, which is nice to see considering his size. The former Florida Atlantic infielder is listed at 6’3”, and you don’t generally see shortstops this tall, although it’s not totally unheard of either. That size has some evaluators thinking he’s going to have to move off the position at some point. Longenhagen, though, raves about his footwork and arm and gives him strong grades on the defensive side of things. He sees a future above-average shortstop.
The last interesting part of this list was with Sam Travis, and it was something I agree with but always seems to be a controversial opinion this time of year. Once again, the first baseman showed a sweet stroke in spring training that included some power. However, he’s never been able to show that kind of swing in the regular season at any level. It’s that in-game power that is holding him back as a potential second-division starter over a playoff-caliber starter. Longenhagen gives Travis a 45 grade on his in-game power, which seems fair to me. However, he also doesn’t give him room for growth. I would disagree with that assessment. I don’t know if I’d bet on Travis’ power jumping in a meaningful way, but it’s in there and he has a strong enough swing to see it happening. This is the year we have to see it, but it’s entirely possible.