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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Bobby Dalbec looks to get his groove back

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The 2016 breakout is looking for a roller coaster career

Photo Courtesy of Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

After a couple of blowouts in our last few votes for our community top prospects voting, we got another nailbiter for the number 12 spot. It was a three-horse race for a while before two pulled away at the last second. After a tough battle that went down to the wire, Bobby Dalbec squeezed out the victory and came away as our number 12 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

Dalbec was one of the more interesting college players heading into the 2016 draft as he as a two-way guy who had his supporters on both sides of the ball. After the University of Arizona worked him to death in the College World Series, the Red Sox were able to nab Dalbec with their fourth round pick in that draft and eventually signed him to a $650,000 signing bonus. They also decided to develop him as a third baseman rather than committing to him on the mound. Dalbec was placed in Lowell immediately following the draft, and he didn’t waste time making the Red Sox feel good about their choice to keep him in the lineup. He absolutely dominated the New York Penn League in his professional debut, hitting .386/.427/.674 with seven homers in just 143 games. That huge performance put Dalbec firmly on The Map heading into the 2017 season (he was our number five prospect in this exercise last year) and he looked to prove the hype was warranted in his first professional season.

Given how easily he adjusted to the pro game after being drafted, there was some speculation that the Red Sox may aggressively place Dalbec in Salem to start the season, but they decided against that and put him in Greenville. That turned out to be a good decision, as he was never able to really get going due to some issues in his game as well as injuries. On the latter front, Dalbec suffered from wrist issues all year that forced him to miss almost half of the minor-league season and, one could assume, affected him when he was on the field. He ended up playing in 78 games and getting 329 plate appearances with Greenville and in that time he hit .246/.345/.437, which isn’t a bad line but it isn’t quite in line with some of the lofty expectations that were presented heading into the season. The good news to take away from this season is that he turned it on at the end of the year, hitting .273/.380/.529 over 142 plate appearances from August 1 on.

Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

The scouting report on Dalbec is pretty clear, and it’s an intriguing yet risky profile. The good all revolves around the bat, and specifically the power. This was something he showed off in that breakout performance in Lowell as well as at the end of 2017. When Dalbec is at his best, he absolutely demolishes the ball and it results in home runs, extra base hits and just generally a high batting average on balls in play because it’s tough to defend hard contact. There are questions with the hit tool, but there’s a chance he has the best power in the system, and that includes Michael Chavis. Of course, that hit tool isn’t something to just brush away. It wasn’t just the wrist injury that plagued Dalbec in 2017. He has real swing and miss in his game and he could use some polish in terms of patience and pitch recognition. He struck out a whopping 37 percent of the time last year in Greenville. Away from the plate, Dalbec can play an average-ish third base with a huge arm and won’t provide any value on the base paths.

This coming season is going to be a fascinating one for Dalbec, who is entering his age-23 season. (It should be noted that if he was born a few days later it would be his age-22 season.) The big bat we saw in Lowell and that had fans and scouts alike excited for what he could do as a pro are still there, but it remains to be seen how much of last year’s struggles were injury and how much were a guy whose approach at the plate just won’t work as a professional. It’s tough to say any given year is a make-or-break year, especially when Dalbec won’t be completely written off if he struggles again in 2018. That being said, despite being so relatively low on our list Dalbec has some of the biggest potential to rise up next year’s list. He’ll need to make some more contact if he’s going to do that, and we can assume that quest will begin in High-A Salem.

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
  12. Bobby Dalbec

Now, we move on to the thirteenth 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...