With the trade deadline coming and going, the dust has settled and the Red Sox now know for sure what their farm system will look like for the rest of the year. (Well, mostly. There can still be August trades.) As such, some of the promotions that we have been waiting for have happened over the last few days. Just about every level has been affected by this, so let’s just take a quick look to see the new players at all four full-season levels.
Josh Ockimey, 1B
The catalyst for this, most likely, was Adam Lind choosing to opt-out of his minor-league deal with the Red Sox and go back on the free agent market. That opened up a spot at first base, and while Sam Travis will also be getting time there, Travis will also be playing left field and both he and Ockimey can slot in as the DH as well. Ockimey certainly deserves this promotion, having succeeded in Portland over 121 games that spanned from late 2017 through most of this year. There have been some ups and downs in 2018, but he’s still managing a .254/.370/.473 at Double-A. Over his career there had been some question about his power playing in games, but it has certainly carried over this year. Some have also questioned whether his high walk rates are truly because of a great eye or rather because minor-league pitching is so bad. It’s still hard to rule that second part out completely, but he just keeps getting on base as he moves up the ladder. Seeing more advanced pitchers — many of whom will have pitched in the majors at some point — should help to answer this question. Ockimey has a chance to make an impression on the general fanbase with this promotion.
Mike Shawaryn, RHP/SP
This is a move I was both excited about and a little bummed out by. I have always liked Shawaryn as his strikeout rates at the lower levels were very enticing. The command was worrisome, but it appeared he had the stuff to be something. This year, the strikeouts have come down but he’s also honed his command and the results have been great, with a 3.28 ERA at Portland. The 23-year-old made 19 starts with the Sea Dogs before his call-up to Pawtucket. I’m bummed out because I live in Portland but every time I had a chance to see Shawaryn I was either too busy or rain messed it up. Stupid weather. Anyway, Shawaryn has the best chance to take over for Jalen Beeks as an optionable rotation depth piece in 2019, and the road to that status starts now.
Travis Lakins, RHP/RP
In terms of potential 2018 impact, this is the most important move. Lakins has not been doing the whole reliever thing very long, as he started this season in the Portland rotation. They decided to make the switch back in May, however, and he has been bananas. He now has 21 appearances and 22 1⁄3 innings out of the bullpen, and he has allowed all of two earned runs (0.81 ERA) with 24 strikeouts and eight walks while holding opponents to a .108/.224/.162 line. He’s only made one appearance in Triple-A thus far — it went well — but if he can pitch well all month there’s certainly a chance the Red Sox will find a way to get him on the 40-man roster for another September arm in the bullpen. If not, he’ll certainly be fighting for a spot in 2019.
Bobby Dalbec, 3B
This is the move many of us have really been waiting for, and while I never got to see Shawaryn I’m pretty psyched about seeing Dalbec. To be honest, this is not my favorite type of player, but that is more of a me problem than a him problem. Dalbec has proven he can be a successful pro, though it hasn’t always been consistent. He dominated the summer he was drafted, then struggled in 2017. He’s come back incredibly strong in 2018, and while it’s been a bit streaky the end result has been booming power. He set Salem’s all-time home run record this year, and didn’t even spend the whole season there. As someone whose biggest potential achilles heel is big swing-and-miss tendencies, the jump from High-A to Double-A will be fascinating to watch. I’m also interested to see how they split time at third base between him and Michael Chavis, and whether or not we see the latter move around the diamond a little bit.
Durbin Feltman, RHP/RP
In a way, this promotion is a bit disappointing and it’s telling of the team’s belief of whether or not Feltman is actually an option for the major-league level in 2018. If they did believe it — and Dave Dombrowski has made every indication that they do not anticipate him reaching the highest level this year — they would have had him skip over Salem and go from Greenville to Portland. The jump from A-Ball to High-A is not nothing, but it’s not so significant that a prospect on a fast track can’t afford to skip it. Feltman will not skip it, and it just makes my belief even stronger that he will not appear in the majors this year. This is not me saying at all that he is not good, of course. It’s just that the adjustment from amateur to professional ball is more than many give it credit for. Either way, I expect Feltman to make an impact in 2019, and in the shorter term I still expect him to finish this year at Portland.
Jarren Duran, 2B/CF
This is my guy. Remember when I said Dalbec was not my favorite type of player? Well, Duran fits the criteria for my favorite. There is not a ton of power projected in his game, though he did put up a .200 Isolated Power in Lowell thanks to ten triples in 37 games. That probably isn’t going to carry over — hot take! — but he has big time speed and will put the ball in play a lot. As a seventh round pick he was not the most hyped player of this draft class, and if we’re being honest with ourselves the .941 OPS in Lowell is not really indicative of his game. Still, he put out a huge first impression and earned himself a late-season promotion to Greenville. If he plays well here as well he could feasibly get 2019 started in Salem and be on a relative fast track through the minors. I certainly hope so.
Kole Cottam, C
Another 2018 draftee will be joining Duran on the trip from Lowell to Greenville, with fourth round pick Cottam tagging along. The catcher hasn’t put up the best numbers in Lowell — he’s hitting .242/.279/.400 — but the power was there and clearly Red Sox coaches and scouts liked what they saw. I can’t really say too much about Cottam because catcher is such a defensive-oriented position and I haven’t seen him play the position, but there is potential with the bat even if it didn’t fully show itself in Lowell.