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Minor-league Depth Check: Left Field

A look at a position that is not really known for its prospects

Tyler Dearden
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

Among the weirdest parts of the 2020 season was that we didn’t get any minor-league season, and thus an entire season of development was lost for a whole lot of prospects. A few were able to participate in Pawtucket, but for the most part they were left on their own with just Zoom calls with coaches in the organization. Along with the lost development, players down on the farm have also fallen out of consciousness for some fans. That brings us to this series. Over the next two weeks, as we head into an offseason where the Red Sox may be looking to boost their farm system in some areas and trade out of it in others, we’re going to go position-by-position to reacclimate ourselves with the minor-leaguers all across the organization. Today, we look at the crop of left field.

Top Prospect

Bryan Gonzalez

When we were going over the top prospects in the organization at second base, we discussed the fact that second base prospects don’t really exist. Often, they are players that couldn’t make it work at shortstop. The same goes for left field, except multiplied by a million. (Not an exact figure.) Left fielders typically came up as other outfielders or even failed infielders whose bats were good and teams needed to find a spot in the field in order to get said bat in the lineup. Thus, the list that follows isn’t going to include a lot of actual top prospects. That said, don’t sleep on these names, especially Gonzalez, who could be a breakout name whenever minor-league baseball resumes.

The left fielder’s future is, unsurprisingly given what I just got through saying, mostly reliant on his bat working out. He was part of the team’s 2018 international amateur signing class, coming into the organization out of the Dominican Republic for a substantial $500,000 bonus. He’s a big kid and it shows at the plate, as the power is his carrying tool Gonzalez got to play a little bit of pro ball in the DSL in 2019, and he hit a solid nine homers in a league that usually doesn’t have a ton of power. This is a tool that has a chance to really carry him through the organization.

Whether or not that happens will, of course, come down to the hit tool. Gonzalez doesn’t have major hit tool issues like others at his age, but he did strike out 26 percent of the time in the DSL, so there are some things to work on. The good news is there’s plenty of time for that to happen, as he just turned 19 less than a month ago. Just like other young players in the organization at a similar point in their development, Gonzalez missed a chance to really put himself on the map this past summer in what would have been his stateside debut. Instead, that will have to come next year. Remember this name when complex leagues start up in 2021, though, because while his defensive profile puts all of the pressure on his bat — he played right field in 2019, but a move to left at some point is not unexpected — the power is there to make it work even if he has to stick around in left field.

Sleeper Prospect

Dean Miller

Again, this was a hard one to pick out because of a lack of left field prospects, but we’ll go with a 2019 draftee in this spot. Miller was selected in the 24th round by the Red Sox in that draft and, despite being a college player, went to the GCL instead of to Lowell. The good news is he did well at the complex level. He showed off massive power as his college career at UC-Riverside progressed, and that should translate into the majors. His defensive profile is probably even more limited than that of Gonzalez, there’s a little less optimism around the hit tool, and he’s over three years older. All of that said, Miller has real power potential and could end up sneaking up on people as a right-handed power bat to watch as he makes his way up the ladder.

Others of Note

  • Tyler Dearden had a decent amount of hype coming out of high school after the Red Sox drafted him in 2017, but he hasn’t really been able to get any momentum going in his career. Injuries have slowed him down and when he was able to play in 2019, his first above Lowell, he struggled mightily. Maybe a potential full season 2021 can get that momentum back into his development.
  • Jhostnyxon Garcia was part of the 2019 international class, getting a $350,000 bonus. He’s athletic enough to not play in left field, but Sox Prospects projects him here in 2021 and that’s good enough for me as I look for names for this list. I would also be so bold to say he has the best name in the system.