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2018 Red Sox Top Prospect voting: Cole Brannen looks to prove himself in his first full season

Brannen is number eleven

Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor;

For the second straight voting period, we have a blowout in which it was clear from the start who would come away with the victory. The only difference between this one and the last round in which Josh Ockimey came away victorious is that it wasn’t as predictable who would win heading in. Still, Cole Brannen jumped out to an early lead in this vote and never relented. He is our number eleven prospect in the system.

Brannen is another member of the 2017 draft class — our third member of that class to be included in our rankings thus far — that some hope can elevate this farm system in coming years. Although he’s third among the class in these rankings, he was Boston’s second selection last summer. The outfielder was taken in the second round with the 63rd overall pick out of Westfield High School in Georgia. This wasn’t a major reach or anything by the Red Sox, but it was a little above where most draft rankings had him heading into the draft. Still, Boston clearly liked his athleticism and nabbed him before handing him a $1.3 million signing bonus that came in a little under $400,000 over the slot value of the pick.

Brannen would be put right into action upon being drafted, which is not uncommon for recently drafted position players in the Red Sox system. Obviously, for a high schooler entering professional ball for the first time in his career, it is not a shock to learn that Brannen struggled a bit after being drafted. The team started him out in the Gulf Coast League with a lot of other recent draftees and a few returning players around the league. There, the outfielder got 134 at bats and hit .231/.383/.246 with nine stolen bases in ten tries. The patience was obviously nice to see, though it’s hard to know how real it was in a relatively small sample size against raw pitching. He got a short cup of coffee in Lowell at the end of the year, too, when he got one hit in nine at bats, though it was a triple.

The scouting reports are still based heavily on Brannen’s career as a high school outfielder, obviously, but they still give a glimpse into the type of player he can be. The tenants of his skillsets are clear, and they revolve around the athleticism mentioned above. The 19-year-old has plus speed that will help him a lot on the bases as he should wreak havoc on opponents every time he gets on base. Furthermore, the athleticism helps with his defense and some see him as a future plus defender in center field. Things get less clear with the bat. Brannen could possess a solid-average hit tool to go with some real patience, but the power is questionable at best. I’ve seen some put a potential average tool on it which adds a little optimism, but it seems too optimistic for my blood.

As we look to the upcoming season, we should learn a lot more about Brannen. There will be more scouts who get eyes on him, and we’ll have more reliable stats against better competition. Nothing has been decided yet, but it seems likely that the team would look to start Brannen at Greenville this year and let him get a full season of baseball under his belt. I suppose a promotion to Salem would be possible if he really showed off the high-end of all his tools, but that’s not something I’d necessarily bet on at this point.

Here’s our list 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
  9. Brian Johnson
  10. Josh Ockimey
  11. Cole Brannen

Now, we move on to the twelfth 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...