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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Bobby Poyner rounds out the list

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The lefty comes in at number 20.

MLB: Boston Red Sox-Media Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a pretty good couple of days for Bobby Poyner. On Monday, we got official word that the left-handed pitcher is going to be on the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox. Now, a day later, he comes in as the number 20 prospect on our community rankings, an honor that is surely higher a bigger deal to him than making a stupid Opening Day roster for a major-league World Series contender.

Poyner is relatively new to being on the prospect map for the Red Sox, but he’s been in the organization for a few years. The southpaw was selected in the 14th round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Florida, eventually signing for a meager $10,000 signing bonus. While he did make some starts in college, he spent more time as a Gator in the bullpen and that soon became his full-time role as a professional. He made 17 strong appearances out of Lowell’s bullpen the summer he was drafted, giving him a clear path to making his full-season debut in 2016. Poyner made a hell of a first impression for Greenville that year, making 16 appearances for the Drive with 32 strikeouts and zero (0!) walks in 26 innings and a 0.35 ERA. That earned the then-23-year-old a promotion to Salem, but things weren’t as smooth in High-A. He made 23 appearances — including one start — totaling 39 23 innings for Salem and finished with a rough 4.99 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks.

All of this led to Poyner heading back to Salem to start the 2017 season as a 24-year-old who was reaching an age where he had to prove he could succeed in the lower levels. Well, succeed he certainly did. In 16 appearances to start the year in High-A, Poyner wasn’t totally dominant but he was solid, finishing with a 2.45 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just six walks in 22 innings of work. That led to a midseason promotion to Double-A Portland, and the lefty was electric with the SeaDogs. Poyner made 27 appearances spanning 38 innings in Portland, pitching to a 0.94 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 11 walks. Handling the midseason promotion in stride was a huge step after he struggled in that regard the previous season.

While Poyner has put up some dominant minor-league numbers that have included big strikeout totals, he doesn’t have traditionally dominant stuff. His fastball sits in the low-90s or sometimes even high-80s, and doesn’t have notably sick movement or anything. He also throws a changeup that works well against righties and a mediocre curveball. Despite the lackluster arsenal, Poyner uses a deceptive delivery to make his fastball appear harder than it is and just generally keep batters off-balance. It remains to be seen if it will work at the highest level, but it’s certainly gotten the job done in the minors.

As mentioned at the top, we won’t have to wait long to figure out how his delivery and lack of stuff will work in the majors, as Poyner is going to start the year on the major-league roster. There’s obviously no guarantee that he’ll spend the entire season in the majors, but if he doesn’t struggle there’s no reason for him to be demoted. After his dominant 2017 and impressive spring, it’s clear that the team views him as the best left-handed reliever in the organization and if he gets off to a hot start we could see him quickly become a more and more important piece in the bullpen. Pretty good for a 14th round pick who got a $10,000 signing bonus.

Here’s our full list:

  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
  17. Hector Velazquez
  18. Danny Diaz
  19. Tzu-Wei Lin
  20. Bobby Poyner

And that’s all, folks! The minor-league season kicks off on April 5.