With the draft now about a week behind us, we’ve had some time to really digest the players selected and figure out how we feel about them. We also happen to be about midway through the minor-league season, so now seems like the perfect time to reevaluate the Red Sox farm system. Here, I’ll show off my personal top-20, and in the comments you can let me know how wrong I am. Surely, I am very wrong. As a quick note before we start, I am assuming all draftees will sign. Obviously, that won’t be the case but at this point we have no idea what will happen.
1. Rafael Devers, 3B, Portland
There’s not much explanation needed here. Devers is one of the very best prospects in all of baseball and easily the best in the Red Sox farm system. If you argue with this, you’re just being a meanie.
2. Jason Groome, LHP, Lowell (Rehab)
Again, this is an easy call. The 2016 first round pick has missed essentially the entire season, but he did return to action Monday night and he reportedly pitched pain free.
3. Sam Travis, 1B, Pawtucket
Continuing with the theme of inarguable, there’s a clear drop in tier between Travis and the first two names on this list, but the first base prospect is still very obviously the number three prospect in the system. He’s not a completely finished product, but he could hold his own in the majors right now if there were more playing time available.
4. Michael Chavis, 3B, Salem
I would say this one is pretty much inarguable, too. This has been a tremendous breakout for the former first round pick and he’s catapulted himself into the number four spot fairly easily. In fact, I’d probably argue he’s closer to Travis than the number five prospect is to Chavis. His defense is still a question, but that bat has taken a tremendous leap forward in 2017.
5. Josh Ockimey, 1B, Salem
This is where it starts getting really tricky and one can go in a few different directions. I’m a big fan of Ockimey’s bat and believe he’ll be able to show more consistency as the year goes on than he did in 2016. If he can stay productive through a full season, this is a major-league player even if he’s not a major-league starter. With that being said, it’s not great for the Red Sox farm system that two of their top-five prospects are first basemen.
6. Travis Lakins, RHP, Portland
Lakins was a question mark coming into the year, as injuries and an aggressive placement held him back in a major way last season. However, he came back to Salem in 2017 and completely dominated High-A opponents. There have been some growing pains since his promotion to Double-A, but that’s to be expected. Among all of their pitchers currently in full-season ball, he is the one I’m most confident in being a major-league starter.
7. Jalen Beeks, LHP, Pawtucket
While I’m most confident in Lakins being a major-league starter, I’m most confident in Beeks being a good major leaguer. The only question is whether or not he can do it in the rotation, which is why he’s a small tick behind. The lefty’s mechanics have gotten much quieter this season, which is a positive for his quest to stay in the rotation. There’s still a real chance he’s a reliever, though. The good news is that he has the stuff to succeed regardless of what role he ultimately fills.
8. Tanner Houck, RHP, TBA
Here we have the Red Sox’ 2017 first round pick. I really struggled with where to put him and had him a little bit lower until my final draft of this list. Ultimately, I couldn’t pass up on the ceiling. As with Beeks, there’s a chance he ends up in the bullpen, but the Red Sox very much believe he is a starter. If they are correct, this ranking is far too low and he could be one of the best pitching prospects they’ve developed in recent memory. That’s obviously a long way off, but with an unsigned recent draftee, all you can do is dream on the ceiling.
9. Brian Johnson, LHP, DL
Coming in at number nine is essentially the anti-Houck, as Johnson has pretty much established what he is. If he wasn’t currently injured, he’d be in the major-league rotation and be getting close to losing his prospect eligibility. The ceiling isn’t huge here, but when his command is on he’s clearly a major-league starting pitcher. That always has value, of course.
10. Bryan Mata, RHP, Greenville
Now we go back to ceiling, as the young pitcher just got started in full-season ball and has a long way to go in his development. With that being said, he might be the most exciting prospect to watch in the system right now. At 18 years old, he has a plus fastball with two good secondaries and has a 25 percent strikeout rate with a six percent walk rate in Low-A.
11. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, DL
Of all the players in the Red Sox system, including the recent draftees, Dalbec was the hardest for me to rank. I was always a little skeptical of his performance in Lowell last year given his long swing and strikeout issues, and he wasn’t overly impressive to start the year in Greenville. Now, he’s been on the disabled list since mid-May and will be there for another month or so. There’s a large range of possible places for him on this list, though this is admittedly probably on the bottom end of that range.
12. Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Salem
There’s an interesting debate between Shawaryn and his rotation mate that follows him on this list, but I will always take the guy who has shown off the strikeout stuff. The former Maryland ace has done that at every level this season and has a total of 89 Ks over 64 innings between Greenville and Salem this year.
13. Shaun Anderson, RHP, Salem
While Shawaryn has put up the more eye-popping strikeout numbers, Anderson is the more polished member of Salem’s rotation. The college closer has looked very good in his transition to the rotation, and his solid build and four-pitch mix suggests he can stay there. He doesn’t have the one stand-out pitch, but he’s solid across the board and I wouldn’t blame anyone for placing him above Shawaryn.
14. Nick Longhi, 1B/OF, Portland
I’ve always been a Longhi fan, although eventually you just can’t keep waiting anymore. When you see him in person, you see a strong swing on a big body that you expect to translate into power. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened quite yet. He’s still young enough to wait on, but at a certain point the offense has to show up for him to really jump into the next tier of prospects.
15. C.J. Chatham, SS, DL
The 2016 second round pick hasn’t been able to show off his skills much at all since turning pro due to injury. This is a ranking that could end up looking stupidly low when he’s healthy, but it’s hard for me to put him higher without having seen him play much at all. There’s an average across-the-board skillset, though, and that can be very valuable at the shortstop position.
16. Darwinzon Hernandez, RHP, Greenville
Before Mata was promoted to Greenville, Hernandez was the exciting young buck. He’s gotten off to a strong start with the Drive and has shown off an ability to rack up strikeouts despite being just 20 years old and making his full-season debut. The control and command could use some work, but there’s a solid base off which to build here.
17. Cole Brannen, CF, TBA
Here we have the 2017 second round pick from the Red Sox. A strong athlete, Brannen should be able to stick in center field while also showing off a strong hit tool from the left side. He’s an exciting prospect, but the high school outfielder missed some time with an injury this spring and will likely be eased into professional ball whenever he is drafted.
18. Alex Scherff, RHP, TBA
The 2017 fifth round pick was easily the most exciting second-day pick from this year’s draft. He’s going to cost an over slot deal, but at this point it looks likely that the Red Sox will find the money to sign him. A big high school righty, he needs to work on his command but also shows off huge stuff that makes it possible for him to quickly rise up this list.
19. Jamie Callahan, RHP, Pawtucket
This is the part of the list that is dominated by relievers in the Red Sox system, and none of them are as exciting as Callahan right now. He’s really taken to his new role in the bullpen, and I’d be surprised if we don’t see him in the majors at some point this summer.
20. Stephen Nogosek, RHP, Greenville
Another 2016 draftee, Nogosek has looked good in Greenville and it seems like the Red Sox are grooming him to be a future high-leverage arm. I’m surprised they aren’t being more aggressive with the righty, but he’ll certainly be in Salem soon and could be in the majors as soon as late next year if everything breaks correctly.
Now it’s your turn. Drop a comment and tell me where I messed up.