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Red Sox prospects who could make their MLB debuts in 2018

Who could we be seeing for the first time?

Jalen Beeks
Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor;

We’re already almost at the midpoint of January and just 34 days from pitchers and catchers reporting. Obviously, this has been a bit of a strange offseason and things are not taking place in their typical order. That being said, this is the time we generally really start thinking about prospects and the Red Sox farm system. Even with the group not being as exciting this year as it has been in years past, there are still some contributors throughout the organization. Next Tuesday, for those waiting, we will be starting our community prospect ranking. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the minor leaguers who are most likely to make their major-league debuts in 2018. These players are ranked in order of likelihood of being promoted.

Chandler Shepherd, RHP

I think there will be at least a handful of Red Sox minor-leaguers making their major-league debuts, but none more likely than Shepherd. The righty is apparently be stretched out as a starter, but should still be able to serve as a multi-inning reliever if needed. Think Ben Taylor’s role last year. He made an impression on the organization in spring last year and has intriguing stuff. I’m not sure he turns into a key piece this year, but I am pretty sure we see Shepherd in the majors barring injury.

Ty Buttrey, RHP

Buttrey, along with Shepherd and Jalen Beeks was protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, and he’s coming off an interesting year where he was really impressive in Double-A but really struggled in Triple-A. For the big righty it will be all about command. I suspect we’ll probably see him at least once in 2018 because teams need so many relievers. At some point, Boston will be suffering from a tired relief corps and Buttrey will be the most rested option on the 40-man roster. If he wants to be more than that, he’s got to throw more effective strikes.

Jalen Beeks, LHP

While I believe Shepherd is as close to a lock as possible, I think there are arguments for an against everyone else on this list including Beeks. Being on the 40-man roster gives him an advantage for making his debut, but it’s no sure thing. For one thing, Beeks is probably ninth on the starting pitching depth chart, which means he could get a start but it’s no sure thing. Depending on how he’s pitching they may not want to call him up for a relief role. Beeks is, in my opinion, the best pitcher on this list but it doesn’t mean he’ll definitely be called up.

Michael Chavis, 3B/1B/DH

Michael Chavis
Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor;

There will be no prospect on this list more exciting than Chavis, who is coming off a breakout year that vaulted him to the team’s consensus number two prospect. He is the best bat in the system, and if everything breaks right he could certainly come up as a big bat off the bench midway through the year. That being said, there’s no guarantee everything breaks right. For as exciting as 2018 was and as real scouts believe it is, there’s always a chance that it was a one-year blip on the radar. I don’t believe that will end up being the case and I think the bat is legit, but we have to at least acknowledge the possibility. If he struggles with contact and continues to be without a position, Chavis won’t be up this year.

Esteban Quiroz, 2B

If this name doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t feel bad. Quiroz was signed out of the Mexican League earlier in the winter and has never played in the Red Sox organization. Boston has a ton of infielders crowding the majors and upper minors, but none is really a standout talent. Quiroz showed himself to be a capable hitter in the Mexican League and if he keeps that up in Triple-A he’ll get a chance to prove it in the majors at some point. Remember, the Red Sox already had some success adding players from the Mexican League with Hector Velazquez looking like a smart addition to the organization.

Williams Jerez, LHP

Jerez is an example of a player who was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft then not making the majors. The former outfielder has worked his way back, though, and was added back to the 40-man at the start of the offseason to avoid him hitting minor-league free agency. Jerez can look great at times, but can be wildly inconsistent. His ability to make the majors will hinge on him pitching well at the same time the Red Sox may need a left-handed fill-in.

Bobby Poyner, LHP

In Poyner we have Jerez’ biggest competition for stepping up as the emergency left-handed reliever. Ultimately, I believe Poyner is the better pitcher as he’s shown it a lot more at the minor-league level. I have him behind Jerez, though, simply because Poyner has not made it as far up the ladder through the minors. I’ll probably end up regretting this ranking, but whatever.

Jeremy Barfield, OF

I’m not sure how or why it is happening, but as time goes on I am more and more in on Barfield. The outfielder-turned-pitcher-turned-back-to-outfielder joined the Red Sox organization midway through last year from the Indy Leagues and absolutely raked in Portland. Sure, he was old for the league but the power was legitimate. We all know the Red Sox could use some power, and there’s also a decent chance they’ll need some outfield depth. Barfield could easily fall flat on his face in a full season in affiliated ball, but I’m mildly excited.

Aneury Tavarez, OF

If you’re looking for a safer choice in the outfield, Tavarez is your guy. He almost made his major-league debut last year after being taken from the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft, but he never made his way to the majors but instead was sent back to Boston shortly before the year started. Tavarez is a more solid all-around player than Barfield, but there’s no standout skill that could carry him to the majors.

Jake Cosart, RHP

When Cosart is on, there is no player on this list that has a better chance of being an impact reliever at the highest level. Perhaps only Chavis has a better chance of being an impact player, period. Unfortunately, Cosart suffers through too many instances of poor command that will always hold him back. I also have a lower opinion of him than most because of the seven-ish times I’ve seen him in person, he’s been horrible every time. His numbers show he’s not always that bad, but I’m still waiting to see the good version.

Chad De La Guerra/Jantzen Witte, IF

I’m going to combine these two because we are going long and these are both true emergency options. De La Guerra impressed across multiple levels at multiple positions last year. Of these two, I think he’s the better player. Witte, though less versatile on defense and less beloved by scouts (not that De La Guerra is beloved, per se) has more upper-level experience had hit pretty well in Triple-A. If the Red Sox face a litany of injuries in their infield I could see either or both of these guys up in the majors. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

Jake Romanski/Jordan Procyshen, C

Finally, we have the two catchers who will likely be competing for the second catcher job in Pawtucket. That will also end up being the fourth or fifth catcher on the major-league depth chart, depending on how many catchers they can keep on the active roster. Romanski seems to be the favorite, but I actually prefer Procyshen. Neither guy is a great bat, but I’ll take Procyshen’s defensive skillset over Romanski’s. Either way, the hope is that we don’t see either of these players in the bigs this year.