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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Nicholas Northcut finds himself in a crowded position group

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Another third baseman in the minors

Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

As we get closer to the end of our top prospect voting — there are only two rounds of voting left, including the one at the end of this post — one thing is becoming clear. Insofar as the Red Sox have any sort of strength with their farm system, it is at the hot corner. Arguably their two top prospects play third base, and there are a host of guys at the position who are projected to start 2019 either in Greenville or Lowell. These things have a way of working themselves out, but for now there is a bit of glut. Part of said glut is the eighteenth prospect on our list and the sixth third baseman (counting Triston Casas), Nicholas Northcut, who received eight of 27 (30 percent) of the votes.

Northcut came into last year’s draft spring as one of the more intriguing non-first round high school prospects. There were some signability concerns as the then-two-way player had a commitment to Vanderbilt. Vandy is, of course, both one of the best baseball programs in America as well as just a terrific academic school on top of that. When Northcut kept falling as the second day went on, it seemed like he’d be heading to college and re-entering the draft in a few years. Instead, the Red Sox had some money saved up and they grabbed him with their eleventh pick of the draft, eventually signing him to a well-above-slot deal worth $565,000.

Northcut was, as mentioned above, a two-way player out of high school but the Red Sox never really gave that path any serious thought. Instead, he was turned into a full-time hitter, which made the most sense given his skillset. He’s spend the majority of that first summer as a pro in the GCL, where he showed a few flashes here and there but mostly struggling. By the end of the year he had hit just .223/.303/.319 in 47 games (41 in the GCL, 7 in Lowell). You can never read too much into a high school draftee’s performance immediately after being drafted, but at the same time he was being juxtaposed with Brandon Howlett, another talented, late-round high school third baseman.

In terms of scouting, Northcut fits with a lot of the other players in Boston’s 2018 draft class in that he has massive power but a questionable hit tool. Sox Prospects puts a “plus” grade on the power, but there are questions about his hit tool. When he does make contact it tends to be loud and go a long way, but with a long swing he can be exploited by professional pitching. Without adjustments, that will only get worst as he moves up the ladder, too. He should be able to stick at third base, too, so really his profile is largely going to come down to the development of his hit tool.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Northcut in 2019. After he struggled in his debut last year, and with guys like Howlett and Casas ahead of him at this point, my expectation would be for Northcut to begin the year in extended down in Fort Myers before likely starting the year in Lowell. Promotions after or even before that point are certainly possible, but he seems to be the lowest on the depth chart so far, or at least on the same level as Danny Diaz.

Here is our full list so far:

  1. Michael Chavis
  2. Darwinzon Hernandez
  3. Triston Casas
  4. Bobby Dalbec
  5. Jay Groome
  6. Tanner Houck
  7. Durbin Feltman
  8. Bryan Mata
  9. Antoni Flores
  10. Mike Shawaryn
  11. C.J. Chatham
  12. Nick Decker
  13. Brandon Howlett
  14. Jarren Duran
  15. Travis Lakins
  16. Danny Diaz
  17. Denyi Reyes
  18. Nicholas Northcut

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number nineteen. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...