Welcome to the Red Sox minor-league season in review. The minor-league season has wrapped up, and while there are still prospects playing in the majors for the final couple weeks of the year the year in prospects is essentially over. With that, we’re going to use this week to review the year that was for each minor-league affiliate for the Red Sox. Obviously there are some players who split time between different levels, so if you don’t see someone who you think should be mentioned keep an eye on them for the lower level. I’m not going to write players up twice. For each level we’ll look at the best position player, best pitcher, the player whose stock was most improved (not including the winners of the previous two awards), the player whose stock was most damaged as well as other notables at the level. I’m limiting myself to five others so I don’t write 3000 words. Today, we kick it off with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Best Position Player
Josh Ockimey, 1B
The competition for this one was....not great. There were a couple of exciting players to join this level later in the year and a couple more who were called up relatively early in the season, but as far as guys who spent most of the year in Pawtucket there weren’t a ton of standouts. Among those regulars, Ockimey was the best. In his first full season at Triple-A — he spent the final month of the year in Pawtucket in 2018 — he only hit .204 but combined that with a huge walk rate and big power to still give him a 107 wRC+ on the year. His weaknesses continued the same as they ever were, as he stumbled in the second half yet again and also struggled mightily against lefties. Still, Ockimey solidified himself as a guy who can help at the highest level in a part-time role to mash right-handed pitching.
Honorable Mentions: Chad De La Guerra, Chris Owings
Kyle Hart, LHP
As with the position players, there weren’t a ton of pitchers who really stood out this year. The bullpen was a revolving door all year long between Pawtucket and Boston, but the starters never really made the leap. The closest to doing so, however, was Hart. The lefty started the season in Portland, where he spent all of last year. He dominated there, pitching to a 2.91 ERA over nine starts before getting the promotion to Triple-A. His ERA climbed to 3.86 there and his peripherals got worse, but of course he was also using major-league balls so the run environment changed dramatically. The ceiling isn’t huge for Hart, but he was consistent enough to potentially earn a look as a depth starter in case of emergency in 2020.
Honorable Mentions: Teddy Stankiewicz, Trevor Kelley
Most Improved Stock
Chad De La Guerra, IF
De La Guerra has had an interesting few years in the Red Sox system. He really emerged back in 2017 when he split time between High-A and Double-A and played extremely well at each level. The team sent him to Arizona that fall in hopes of him providing infield depth in 2018. Instead, he got off to an atrocious start in Pawtucket last year, eventually being demoted to Portland where he’d spend the rest of his year. His stock fell off nearly to the point of irrelevance heading into this season, but after starting the year late he got back on track in Pawtucket this year. He only played in 61 games, which is why he didn’t get Player of the Year, but in that time he hit .288/.361/.540 for a 127 wRC+. He’s in a tough spot given all of the infield depth in the Red Sox organization, but he’s put himself in line for a look as early as 2020, whether it be in Boston or for another team.
Honorable Mentions: Hart, Kelley
Most Hindered Stock
Erasmo Ramírez, RHP
Generally, this week-long feature is going to be dedicated to prospects, but here we are going to highlight a veteran. Ramírez came to the Red Sox on a minor-league deal this past winter, presumably with the idea of pitching well for a month or two before getting a shot somewhere in the majors after that. He just never got going to the extent that anyone wanted to take a chance, though. The righty, who has 640 major-league innings under his belt, tossed 125 1⁄3 innings for Pawtucket this year and pitched to a 4.74 ERA. Again, the juiced ball makes these numbers look worse than they actually are, but given his experience level he needed to be better than that. He was hoping to pitch himself back to the majors this year, but instead will either be back on a minor-league deal or playing overseas in 2020.
Honorable Mentions: Tzu-Wei Lin, Domingo Tapia
Five Others of Note
- Rusney Castillo continues to chug away in Triple-A purgatory. He had himself a solid year for the PawSox, not really getting on base as much as you’d like but hitting for power. Of course, his legacy is forever to be one of the most interesting what-ifs in recent memory.
- Bryce Brentz made his return to the Red Sox organization this year and entered the year as potential right-handed depth. He never got the chance in the majors, though, and didn’t really put up big numbers either.
- Tzu-Wei Lin spent a good chunk of the year on the injured list and was looking like his normal, solid self before going down. He never got his major-league spot after the injury, though, and struggled in Pawtucket. With Marco Hernández emerging this year and Brock Holt potentially returning next year, Lin’s place in the organization is going to be interesting to watch this winter.
- Teddy Stankiewicz was Boston’s second round pick in the Trey Ball draft, and after quickly making his way through the lower levels he stalled out in Double-A for parts of four years. He finally got up to Pawtucket this year and, well, he was what he is. That is to say he put up solid numbers while not really standing out in any area. He’s not quite as intriguing as Hart but he occupies a similar space as a low-upside, emergency-type depth piece for the rotation.
- Trevor Kelley is the only guy mentioned in this entire piece who is currently pitching for the major-league roster. The sidearmer didn’t first emerge on the scene this year, as he first made a name for himself in 2016 and 2017 in the lower levels. He re-emerged this year, though, simply by preventing runs. He was a workhorse in Pawtucket, pitching in 52 games at Triple-A with a 1.79 ERA. The peripherals don’t really match and I can’t see him getting a spot in the major-league ‘pen to start next year, but he’s a capable arm with minor-league options and that is valuable in today’s game.