The minor-league season opens up on Thursday, so we’ll spend the next few days here taking a look at the full-season minor-league teams in the Red Sox system and what we can expect from them in 2018. The entire Sea Dogs roster has been announced, and can be seen here.
Portland Sea Dogs
Double-A; This is the level that is traditionally known as the biggest jump a player will make in their journey through the minor leaguers, and it is also known as traditionally the level at which you can see the best prospects. I’m not sure either of those things are as true as they once were, but there is still a significant jump in polish and baseball IQ at this level and how a player adjusts still goes a long way towards projection how they can adjust to the highest level.
Where they play
Hadlock Field; Portland, ME
What to expect in 2018
Much like last season, this is not going to be a super exciting level in the Red Sox system. There are still some intriguing players, including the guy who some believe is the top prospect in the farm system, though, and they could get more exciting reinforcements as the year goes on. Also, you will catch me there on a semi-regular basis, which makes this the coolest level in the system.
- Michael Chavis is going to miss the start of the year with an oblique injury, which is a bummer. He’ll be back, though, and when he returns he’ll be back in Double-A, the level at which he finished 2017. The power is obviously very real for the infielder, but his defense will be something to watch. The skills in the field are clearly important and will be the focus, but it will also be interesting to see where the team slots him in the defensive alignment. Also, it’ll be fun to watch him hit dingers.
- Josh Ockimey is the second-best hitter on this roster, and he’s also going to miss the start of the season. Cold, April games in Maine just became even more fun! Ockimey is another guy who finished last season and has big power potential. He hasn’t shown it in games to the level that Chavis has — or even close to it — yet, and that will be the biggest thing to watch this year.
- Esteban Quiroz was signed out of the Mexican League this winter and was one of the more intriguing players to keep an eye on heading into spring training. His performance in camp wasn’t eye-opening or anything, but he’s still got potential to be a useful infielder in the organization. I was sort of expecting him to start at Triple-A, but this assignment gives him a chance to start his stateside career hot and give him some confidence for later in the year.
- Mike Shawaryn is the player on this roster that I am most looking forward to seeing this year. The righty put up impressive numbers, particularly with his strikeouts, in the lower levels, but the scouting reports don’t seem to love him. The jump to Double-A will be a test for the 2016 draftee, and if he can continue to induce whiffs against more advanced hitters we could see the perception of the former University of Maryland ace rise pretty quickly.
- It’s not only big hitters starting the year on Portland’s disabled list. Travis Lakins is another intriguing arm in the system, and he will also begin the year on the shelf. The righty started last season with a bang while repeating High-A and earned a midseason promotion to Portland. There, he struggled with health and performance. There’s potential for a big-league starter here, and this is a big season whenever he’s able to get onto the mound.
- Dedgar Jimenez had a great 2017 with an ERA right around 3.00, but his stuff doesn’t really match up to that and a full-season in the high minors figures to be a major test for the southpaw.
- Teddy Stankiewicz is a former second round pick who is now about to start his third season at Double-A. There have been some impressive flashes, but the righty just can’t put it together. If they can find a way to fill the rotation without him, I’d be surprised if they don’t convert him to relief at some point this season.
- Speaking of starters converting to the bullpen, it seems the Red Sox plan to move former top ten pick Trey Ball to a relief role. I’m mildly intrigued by this, at least in the sense that it can’t really go worse than it did in the rotation.
- Jake Cosart was the most intriguing relief prospect heading into last season, and while he no longer can claim that title there’s still some intrigue here. The stuff is electric, it’s just a matter of knowing where it’s going when it leaves his hand. That’s easier said than done, and it’s been particularly difficult for Cosart at various points of his career.
- Trevor Kelley made a big impression on some scouts in the low minors despite big velocity as he creates deception with his delivery and can flash a big slider. He’s probably not on track for a major role at the highest level, but there’s still some intrigue here for the 24-year-old.