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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Roniel Raudes is looking to get his groove back

After a big 2016, Raudes took a step back in terms of production and perception in 2017.

Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor;

We’re getting down towards the end of our community top twenty, and even in the bottom-quarter of the list in a down system, there are still some exciting names. We had a relatively close vote this time around between a couple of pitchers, though two guys far apart in terms of professional experience. In the end, the younger of the two prevailed with Roniel Raudes getting the victory and taking the number 16 spot on our list.

The young right-handed pitcher has been in the Red Sox system for a handful of years now, but he’s still got plenty of time left in his development. Boston signed Raudes out of Nicaragua — not usually a baseball hotbed, of course — for a $250,000 signing bonus back in the summer of 2014. He didn’t make any appearances in that season in which he was signed, but he did make his debut in the Dominican Summer League in the following summer. He’d end up looking solid over 11 appearances (10 of which were starts) with a 3.52 ERA with 63 strikeouts and just three walks (!) over 53 23 innings. That was enough to get him a promotion to the stateside Gulf Coast League for four starts. There, he posted an impressive 0.90 ERA with 16 strikeouts and six walks over 20 innings of work.

All of that was enough to get him to make his full-season debut in 2016 when he had just turned 18 shortly after the New Year. Despite the young age and the relatively under-the-radar prospect profile, Raudes made quite the impression with Greenville in that season. There were a few bumps along the way, but in the end he made 24 starts and tossed 113 innings and in that time he pitched to a 3.65 ERA with 104 strikeouts and 23 walks. The mild inconsistencies were to be expected from someone his age, but that performance was certainly enough to get him noticed and put him on the map for the 2017 season.

Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor;

Unsurprisingly, Raudes was promoted to Salem for this past season to give him another test as he made his way up the ladder. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the then-19-year-old in High-A. Raudes did have some good moments to remind us that there is still talent there, but in the end the 2017 performance was underwhelming. He made 23 starts last year with 116 innings and ended the year with a 4.50 ERA, 95 strikeouts and 44 walks.

In terms of the scouting report, Raudes doesn’t get by on big-time stuff. Instead, when he’s at his best, he has spectacular command and pitchability to go with some real deception in his delivery. He throws a fastball that generally sits in the high-80s or low-90s. The good news is that he can generate some movement with the pitch and has a really good feel for locating it, but the bad news is the velocity that drops as his starts go on. Raudes needs to find a way to keep the pitch at 90-91 throughout his outings. In addition to the fastball he throws a solid curveball that he throws with confidence in any count, a solid changeup and a slider that could use more work. There’s not a huge ceiling here, but we’ve seen that his command can lead to strong numbers in the minors and if that continues up the ladder there’s at least a back-end starter. Plus, he does this sometimes.

It had seemed the plan was to let Raudes go one level per year, but that plan hit a snag in 2017. He’ll be 21 in the coming season, which is an age more appropriate for High-A, and it seems likely to me that they’ll start him back in Salem in 2018. That being said, if he pitches well he should certainly be up in Portland at some point in the year, possibly as early as June. There will be no incentive to rush him, but if his command looks as good in 2018 as it did in 2016, there’s no point in waiting around to test it against higher quality opponents.

Here’s the 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
  13. Darwinzon Hernandez
  14. C.J. Chatham
  15. Jake Thompson
  16. Roniel Raudes

Now, we move on to the seventeenth 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...