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2020 Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: The rise of Bobby Dalbec

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A second straight corner infielder to start the list.

Bobby Dalbec
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

After Triston Casas ran away with the top spot in our community top prospect voting, things quickly became more interesting with the number two spot. This was mainly a two-man race with a clear number third place finisher, but the top two were neck-and-neck for most of the voting. In the end, though, Bobby Dalbec pulled away and grabbed hold of our number two spot with 41 percent of the votes.

Dalbec entered the spring of 2016 at the University of Arizona coming off a big sophomore year as well as an impressive showing in the Cape Cod League. He was a two-way player for a Wildcats squad that made it all the way to the finals before losing to Coastal Carolina in three games. He was worked a ton on the mound that year, but after the Red Sox took him in the fourth round that June they decided to keep him off the mound and let him concentrate on hitting. That sure looked smart as the summer progressed with Dalbec heading to Lowell immediately after being drafted and hitting .386/.427/.674 in his professional debut.

That, as one would expect, got the hype building up heading into the 2017 season where a big season would put Dalbec firmly on the map as a potential steal in the fourth round. Unfortunately, some of the issues scouts had with him heading into the draft — mainly his hit tool — showed in the worst ways while he also missed significant time with a hand injury. In the end, he spent the whole season in Greenville, played in only 78 games and hit just .248/.347/.424 that came with a strikeout rate over 37 percent.

So, after all of the excitement created in 2016, Dalbec’s stock took a major hit in that 2017 season. Fortunately, he was able to recover some of the stock. He spent most of the 2018 season in Salem, impressively slugging 26 homers in 100 games in a tough park to hit homers in, eventually getting a promotion up to Portland for the final month or so of the season. That got people back on board a bit heading into 2019, but he still struck out over 30 percent of the time, so the expectations were tempered a bit as last year kicked off.

Well, he certainly assuaged those concerns in 2019. Dalbec started last season back in Portland, but he looked like a new player. After walking less than five percent of the time and striking out over 37 percent of the time in his short stint in Double-A the year before, he got those rates to 15 and 25 percent, respectively, in 2019. Along with that he continued to show off his power and earned himself another late-season promotion, this time getting up to Pawtucket. Unlike 2018, though, he didn’t struggle at the new level, instead maintaining the lowered strikeout rate while still hitting for power. Overall he would hit .239/.356/.460 on the year between the two levels and was eventually rewarded with a spot on Team USA’s Premier12 roster in the fall.

We now have the equivalent of three full seasons of Dalbec in the system and he is now knocking on the door of the majors. The big question with him coming into the pros was his swing and miss, and that has been the question since then as well. Last season, though, he showed real strides there. He’s almost certainly never going to be a guy who strikes out less than 20 percent of the time, but if he can maintain a rate around 25 percent in the majors, his power and patience will do the rest. Defensively, he is a good third baseman, but his path on the Red Sox is on the other infield corner, where he started to get work last year.

On that note, Dalbec is on the 40-man roster and he is going to be in camp looking to win a job out of spring training. I would probably bet against that happening, but it’s certainly not out of the question. My more conservative guess is that he is going to end up starting the year in Pawtucket, but follow a similar path to Michael Chavis. That is, the Red Sox will look to him for a short-term spark, and if he performs he won’t see the minors again.

Here is our list so far:

  1. Triston Casas
  2. Bobby Dalbec

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. 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...