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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Can Mike Shawaryn take the Jalen Beeks path?

Should we be more excited about Shawaryn?

Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor;

We’re another spot deeper into our community prospect rankings, and as has become a regular occurrence it was another nail-biter. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the lack of consensus towards the bottom of the top ten and beyond that eventually we will have a tie and I will have the unpleasant task of breaking it, but fortunately we narrowly avoided that yet again with the eighth spot. Mike Shawaryn has been in a couple of close votes recently, and he finally was able to prevail and take our number eight prospect position.

Shawaryn is an interesting prospect who had been on the national radar before even being selected by the Red Sox. Heading into his junior year at the University of Maryland he was seen as a potential first round pick, but he suffered through a relatively disappointing season that was exacerbated by injuries. The performance pushed him all the way down to the fifth round, though that was considerably later than many expected him to fall. As it turned out, the Red Sox signed him to a $637,500 signing bonus, over $250,000 above the slot value of his pick. Upon being drafted, the organization was understandably cautious with the college righty who was just coming off a full season of work, or at least what he had considered a full season to that point in his career. He did make six starts in Lowell that year, but they only spanned 15 23 innings. Still, Shawaryn impressed in that small sample and it was enough to give him a modest amount of hype heading into the 2017 season.

As most expected, the former Maryland ace started his first professional season in full-season Greenville and impressed at that level. As a 22-year-old (he turned 23 shortly after the minor-league season concluded), Shawaryn flashed impressive potential in A-Ball over 10 starts and 53 13 innings. In that time, he pitched to a 3.88 ERA which isn’t great, but he also struck out 78 batters compared to just 13 walks, which is pretty damn great. From there, he was promoted to High-A Salem and looked a bit more mortal, though still not bad at all. In 16 starts and 81 13 innings, he pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 35 walks. The biggest difference between the two levels was clearly his control and more advanced hitters, as his BB/9 increased from 2.2 to 3.9.

College World Series - Super Regional - Game One Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

The control and command in general is a concern for Shawaryn, but there is also plenty to like for the 6’3”, 225 pound righty. His main pitch is the fastball which doesn’t have blazing velocity but can sit with in the low-to-mid-90’s and touch 95-96 at times. He needs to be able to locate the offering more consistently to avoid home runs, but it has strong potential. Beyond the fastball, he has a slurvy breaking ball that could use improvement but one that Sox Prospects dubs with “above-average potential.” Finally, he throws a changeup that needs work, but could be another strong offering. The biggest concern for Shawaryn is not his repertoire, as three pitches that could/should be at least average is a huge start. Despite that, many see the bullpen as his eventual home due to a high-effort delivery that involves a lot of pre-pitch movement and a lot of action during the delivery. He also throws from a three-quarter slot that can be tough on the arm, though also is deceptive to hitters. The Red Sox, of course, have recently had a pitcher get through the low-minors as a starter with a delivery that looked poised for the bullpen in Jalen Beeks. He, however, was able to quiet down his delivery after reaching Double-A and now (in my opinion, at least, though I recognize I’m higher on Beeks than many) looks poised to stay in the rotation. There’s no guarantee whatsoever that the same transformation can happen with Shawaryn, but it’s the biggest thing to watch for in 2018.

Speaking of 2018, the righty is likely to start his age-23 season in Double-A and will arguably be the most intriguing member of that rotation. The jump from A-Ball to Double-A is traditionally seen as the pivotal jump in a professional’s career, and it seems particularly important for Shawaryn. Not only is it important to see if he can quiet down his delivery some and stick as a starting pitcher, but also to see if he can make some gains in his command against more advanced hitters. In an ideal world he’d be able to finish the year in Pawtucket with an eye towards the majors at some point in 2019, but that’s far from a guarantee. Whatever happens, this is the year we’ll find out a lot about who Mike Shawaryn is as a professional pitcher.

So, here’s where we stand so far:

  1. Jason Groome
  2. Michael Chavis
  3. Tanner Houck
  4. Bryan Mata
  5. Jalen Beeks
  6. Alex Scherff
  7. Sam Travis
  8. Mike Shawaryn

Now, we move on to the eighth spot on our list. As always, head down into the comments and “rec” the comment corresponding the player for whom you’d like to vote. Make sure you’re a member of the blog before you do so of course. Additionally, if there is a player you’d like to vote for who is not listed, leave a comment of your own saying “Vote for Player X here”. That comment will count as his first vote. For more information on this system, scroll to the bottom of this post. Until next time...