It has been top prospects week for a few major prospect list curators around the interwebs, and that wrapped up on Saturday night with the unveiling of MLB Pipeline’s top 100 list. On the first two lists — Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus — the Red Sox were shut out completely, not even getting an honorable mention from either list. That’s not ideal! MLB Pipeline did break that trend, though, placing Michael Chavis in the 79th spot on their list. He is right in between a pair of pitchers from AL Central organizations, with Franklin Perez of the Tigers ranking 78th and Dane Dunning of the White Sox ranking 80th.
There’s a few things to not about Chavis ranking here on MLB Pipeline’s list. For one thing, well, I agree with it for whatever small amount that may be worth. I’ve been one of the higher guys on Chavis for the last year or so, as I believe in the bat enough to ease the legitimate and real concerns about his defensive future. There is also some undeniable bias here from me given my disproportionate focus on the Red Sox minor leaguers. Chavis looks a lot better when you spend most of your time focusing on the rest of the Red Sox farm system.
In addition to my two cents, it’s also worth noting that he’s not even a consensus top prospect in the system. He ran away with the top spot in our community ranking — and, again, I would have voted that way as well even if I was surprised by the margin of victory — but Bobby Dalbec got the top spot on Baseball America’s Red Sox list and Triston Casas was number one on Fangraphs’ list. Baseball Prospectus has yet to release theirs. The final point that does play in here is that it seems MLB Pipeline has always been higher on Chavis than the other lists. Presumably it is all because of the bat, because as we’ve mentioned the defense is in question. That said, it is implied in their writeup of Chavis that MLB Pipeline is more confident in his defense at third base in the even he finds himself in another organization where he’s not blocked.
As for the larger point that the Red Sox are so underrepresented on these lists in general, well, it is what it is, basically. Obviously we would all love it if the Red Sox both dominated in the majors and also had a great farm system, but that’s an incredibly difficult to pull off. There are a lot of factors that have led to Boston getting to this point, the biggest one being that they aren’t all that far removed from being prominent on these lists but graduating all of those guys. It’s tough to lose that much talent and recover easily. Furthermore, they’ve been very good in recent years, which pushes them down in the draft which obviously makes it hard to acquire talent. That goes doubly when you are under penalty for the international signing market, which they were. Add in the tragic passing of 2016 international signee Daniel Flores, and the Red Sox have had some big blows to their farm system. They have a chance to turn things around in 2019, which I’ll talk about more later this week, but for now their standing is disappointing yet understandable, and most of us will take this tradeoff with the major-league success every day.