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Arizona Fall League Update: Post Fall Stars Game

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Darwinzon Hernandez continues to stand out

Darwinzon Hernandez
Kelly O’Connor;

I wanted to do these updates more frequently through the Red Sox playoff run but, frankly, I wasn’t all that concerned with prospect information while the big-league team was winning the World Series. I have refocused, however, and we are returning to the desert for another update on the Arizona Fall League. They just finished up the Fall Stars Game last night, in which the Red Sox had two participants, and they have two more weeks left in their season before things wrap up. This will probably be the final AFL update before their season ends. Anyway, let’s take a quick look at all of Boston’s players down in Arizona.

Michael Chavis, 3B

The top prospect in the Red Sox organization was supposed to be in Arizona this fall after missing so much regular season time due to suspension. Unfortunately, Chavis hasn’t played in a game and won’t ever get into game action. He is suffering through some wrist pain and was withdrawn form the roster. This is frustrating for those who, like me, are big believers in Chavis’ talent. The biggest critique of his last two years has been time on the field, and whether due to suspension or injury he has just missed so much time. The health issues are building to a point where an “injury-prone” label is starting to become necessary. I’m fine making sure everything is fine this time of year, of course, but this is a big year for him and he really needs to avoid missing any significant stretch of the 2019 season. Right-handed pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz was also taken off the Mesa roster due to injury.

Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP

Now, to the guys who are playing down in Arizona. The star from Boston’s representation has been very clear, and Hernandez was one of two players from the organization to play in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game. He didn’t get a huge showcase, facing only two batters. The lefty struck out Padres prospect — and Fall Stars Game MVP — Buddy Reed before allowing a single to Royals prospect Meibrys Viloria. In regular AFL action, Hernandez has tossed nine innings over six appearances and has allowed three runs (two earned) on 18 strikeouts and five walks. Hernandez is probably the top pitching prospect in the organization at this point.

Bobby Dalbec, 3B

The other Red Sox participant in the Fall Stars Game was also the organization’s biggest breakout in the 2018 season. This was a nice exclamation point on a huge year for the third baseman, and it was a chance for him to prove it was no fluke as he goes up against other big-time talent. Dalbec received two at bats in this game, hitting a single off Cardinals prospect Evan Kruczynski in his first and then smacking another base hit off Braves prospect Kyle Muller in his second. The 2-2 with two singles line was good, but also very un-Dalbec-like. Singles aren’t exactly his game, and he’s hitting .208/.333/.415 in 14 regular season AFL games. If Dalbec can continue to make strides with his contact rate as he faces more advanced pitching, he’s the best prospect in the organization. That’s a lot easier said than done, though.

Josh Ockimey
Kelly O’Connor;

Josh Ockimey, 1B

Ockimey may just be the best in-house option for “first baseman of the future,” and he had a solid regular season in 2018 that earned him an eventual promotion to Pawtucket. He’s a big, bat-only prospect who has big raw power than only sometimes shows up in games while also having a great batting eye. The issue is that he struggles with contact at times, which is what holds back that raw power. He has a chance to see the bigs next year, and also a chance to be dealt this winter, but he’s not giving opposing scouts a lot to like. Ockimey is struggling down in Arizona with a .205/.265/.227 line in the desert. Everything about that line is concerning, but the lack of power certainly stands out the most.

Josh Taylor, LHP

Remember this name, because it’s received some helium in recent weeks and could become a factor in the organization over the next few weeks. The lefty only joined the organization midway through last season as the player to be named later in the Deven Marrero trade, and he’s throwing the ball pretty well down in Arizona now. Over 10 13 innings he’s pitched to a 4.35 ERA which isn’t great, but he also has 13 strikeouts and only two walks. Taylor is a lefty with a couple of intriguing offerings and some experience in the upper minors. He’s the kind of arm that could be surprisingly picked up in the Rule 5 draft, and is a real option to be protected when that deadline comes later this month. He’s someone to monitor the final two weeks of the AFL.

Esteban Quiroz, 2B

Heading into last season, Quiroz was one of the minor leaguers I was most intrigued by. He was starting the year in Double-A, but the former Mexican League player was expected to be in Pawtucket before too long and eventually serve as major-league infield depth if needed. Unfortunately, an early-season injury caused him to miss most of the year, and 2018 was a lost season for him. He’s reminding people that he can play with his performance in the AFL, hitting .250/.444/.500 in 10 games. With it being impossible to know what will happen at second base for the Red Sox — not only with Dustin Pedroia but also Marco Hernandez — look for Quiroz to get plenty of run in spring training.

Mike Shawaryn, RHP

As a noted non-expert on this stuff, I’ve always felt like Shawaryn has been one of the more underrated prospects in the Red Sox system. He doesn’t have the huge ceiling, but after performing on pure stuff against low-minors hitters he became more of a complete pitcher in 2018 and succeeded in the upper levels without the same gaudy strikeout totals. Many see a future in relief, and that could very well be the case. However, he’ll get a chance to serve as rotation depth before the team makes any sort of permanent switch. The righty has tossed 7 23 innings in the AFL with a 2.35 ERA, 10 strikeouts and just one walk.