One of the big trends for our top prospect voting to this point has been the highlighting of the lower levels of the minor leagues. Among the top 13 prospects on our community list, four were either drafted last year or signed as amateur free agents the summer before. That number is only going to grow further down the list, too. It continues to do so with the 13th spot, as a 2018 draft pick won the spot by receiving 14 of 31 (45 percent) votes. Brandon Howlett takes lucky number 13.
Howlett was a very interesting selection by the Red Sox very late in the draft, as he was taken with a 21st round pick. The third base prospect was ranked among the top 400 draft prospects by Baseball America and had a commitment to Florida State. He could have been a higher draft pick earlier in the draft season, but his power started to dissipate as some holes in his swing became more apparent. Questions about his hit tool only grew, and major-league teams were suddenly inclined to let him go to college and figure out any issues he may have. The Red Sox felt otherwise, grabbed him late and then signed him to a $185,000 signing bonus away from his commitment to FSU.
As it turns out, Boston quickly found one of the big reasons for his hit tool issues that popped up more and more later in his amateur career. The team was able to improve Howlett’s eyesight, and he absolutely blew everyone away with his performance in his professional debut. The third base prospect spit time between the GCL and New York-Penn League and in that time he hit .289/.402/.513 with 16 doubles and six homers in 44 games. Over 150 games, that would be 55 doubles and 20 homers. Not too shabby for a 21st round pick out of high school.
The scouting reports are high on Howlett, too, particularly when you again consider how low he was selected. He has quick hands and although there are still some holes in his swing that can be exploited he has a strong feel for the strike zone and will generally let at bats come to him rather than getting too aggressive. The power is really where the excitement comes, as he needs some refinement to get it all the way in games but there is plus potential here. Throw in good defense at third base that should be able to keep him around average at the hot corner, and there is real potential for at least a solid regular here. Granted, Howlett is only 19 so there is a lot of development left for him to actually realize that potential, but it undoubtedly exists.
Despite the relative lack of pedigree and the fact that he isn’t even in his 20s yet, I’d still expect to see Howlett get the call up to full-season ball for 2019. There is some question on how they’ll juggle all the potential third base prospects they have, but it’s not the worst question to have to answer. Howlett has the makeup to handle this promotion at his age and has earned a chance against better competition.
Here is our full list thus far:
- Michael Chavis
- Darwinzon Hernandez
- Triston Casas
- Bobby Dalbec
- Jay Groome
- Tanner Houck
- Durbin Feltman
- Bryan Mata
- Antoni Flores
- Mike Shawaryn
- C.J. Chatham
- Nick Decker
- Brandon Howlett
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number fourteen. 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...