The Red Sox do not have a deep farm system. You know this, I know this. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline recently updated their top prospect lists, and the Red Sox’ list was far from exciting. Let’s take a quick look at how a few of our top prospects have fared as of late.
One of the farm’s best performer this year, Jalen Beeks, was just traded. There has been significant talk about top prospect Jay Groome as a potential elite arm, but I am not yet convinced. Groome has not pitched a lot in the minors, but in 44 innings at Greenville, he put up a 6.70 ERA and a 5.08 BB/9. He recently underwent Tommy John surgery, and will now be out for an extended period of time. Another top prospect, Michael Chavis, just recently finished up an 80-game suspension, but was underwhelming in AA in 2017, batting just .250 with a wRC+ of 114. Third basemen Bobby Dalbec has raked in Greenville and Salem, but has struck out at rates of 37% and 31%, respectively. A K% over 30% in the lower levels of the minors generally does not translate well to the big leagues, where the pitching will clearly be tougher. Lastly, number fourbprospect Bryan Mata has been unimpressive in Greenville, with a FIP in the high 4’s and low strikeout numbers, and 2018 first rounder Triston Casas had thumb surgery and is out for the remainder of the year.
All but 2 or 3 of our top 10 prospects have either underperformed, been traded, been suspended, or suffered a severe injury. I would say that this is not ideal.
Despite me seeming like a total pessimist, yes, there have been some positives. There are quite a few intriguing starters on the A and High-A clubs. Denyi Reyes and Kutter Crawford have been awesome in Greenville, both posting ERA’s under 3 and striking out over 9 batters per 9. In Salem, Tanner Houck has been great since re-introducing his sinker, and Darwinzon Hernandez has posted solid strikeout numbers as well as a FIP in the mid-3’s. Mike Shawaryn has also been solid in 106 innings of AA ball; he holds a 3.29 ERA and is the closest to an MLB promotion of any of these names (mid-2019 ETA).
Although there are a few positives in the farm, I worry for the future of the Red Sox. I look at Dave Dombrowski’s tenure in Detroit and see many comparisons to his tenure thus far with the Sox. Those Tiger teams from 2011-2014 were damn good, but came at a cost, just like this Red Sox team has. The goal is obviously to win a World Series, and if you have to deal young talent to get there, then it should be done. However, there’s always a downside; the Tigers came up short during their tenure of dominance, and have now missed the playoffs every year since 2015 and are in the midst of a long-haul rebuild.
There’s a reason the farm system is the way it is, and that’s because names like Kopech, Moncada, Espinoza, Espinal, Beeks, etc are all gone. Not to mention the flurry of relatively recent promotions to the major-league club. So, do we worry about it this year? Nope. We sit back, relax, and watch the league’s first 70-win ball club give the rest of the league nightmares. Because this is fun while it lasts.