As we await what will happen over the next few hours leading up to today’s trade deadline, our focus remains on the deal the Red Sox already made on Sunday, sending Mitch Moreland to the Padres in exchange for a pair of prospects. It was a good return for Moreland, as both Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario give us reasons to be excited about their potential future. It is worth mentioning that both players will need to be added to the 40-man roster over the offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, and with the Padres facing a 40-man crunch this winter they became an easy target for a team like the Red Sox who have so much of their roster in flux.
Earlier today we looked at the Moreland portion of this deal and what the Red Sox are losing in the veteran first baseman. Now, it is time to focus on the future and what the Red Sox are getting in this deal. Let’s take a look at what there is to like and maybe not like so much with each of these players, as well as try to place them in the Red Sox farm system.
Hudson Potts, 3B
We start with Potts, who was drafted in the first round (24th overall) out of Carroll High School in Texas by the Padres back in 2016. At the time, he went by Hudson Sanchez but changed his name not long after being drafted. Potts has slowly made his way through the system since then, making his full-season debut in 2017 and largely going one level per year since then. He made his Double-A debut in 2018 in what was just his age-19 season, but only played 22 games there due to an oblique injury. That led him to repeat the level in 2019 as a 20-year-old, and he hit .227/.290/.406 for a 93 wRC+.
Potts fits the mold that a lot of corner infielders that have graced the Red Sox system in recent years have fit in that he has big raw power but also issues in making contact. Both of those things were on display at Double-A last season when he struck out 28.6 percent of the time but also put up a solid .178 Isolated Power. It is worth nothing that he was very young for the level, too, coming in almost four years younger than the average player in the league. Potts isn’t quite a three true outcomes kind of player as he doesn’t draw a ton of walks — he looks to be more average in that area, maybe a little below — but he strikes out and hits homers. As with players like Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec, the key will be finding a way to get those strikeouts down to a reasonable rate to let the power flourish.
Defensively, Potts did come into professional baseball having played shortstop as an amateur, but that is no longer a realistic landing spot. However, there is reason to believe he can turn into a very solid defensive player at the hot corner. With a plus arm he can make all the throws, though he needs to work a bit on the instincts required to play third base. That should come with time, however.
As far as where he fits into the Red Sox farm system, I will refer back to my tiered rankings from after the draft. As a reminder, these are how I tiered the top eleven spots.
Triston Casas, Jeter Downs
Bobby Dalbec, Bryan Mata
Noah Song, Jay Groome, Jarren Duran, Gilberto Jimenez
Thad Ward, Tanner Houck, C.J. Chatham
I’m very torn on this one. I think I ultimately put Potts in that fourth tier between Ward and Houck, but with a couple of important caveats. One is that I am obviously biased towards the players that were already in the system. I know them better and have heard more positive things about them over the years. It’s hard to wipe away those biases, hard as we may try. Second is that I am biased against the kind of strikeout-heavy profile that Potts presents. I acknowledge that it certainly has a place in today’s game, but I just have a hard time buying into these players. I suspect most rankings will have Potts somewhere just outside the top five — based on their Future Values, FanGraphs would seemingly have Potts in the four-to-seven range — but I’m putting him at ten.
Jeisson Rosario, OF
Rosario is, frankly, my kind of prospect. The outfielder was a big J2 signing by the Padres back in 2016, signing for $1.85 million as part of a monster international class by San Diego that year. He’s been moved fairly aggressively since then, going up to the complex instead of the DSL the year after being signed and making his full-season debut in 2018 as an 18-year-old. He more than held his own there, too, making his way up to High-A in 2019 where he hit .242/.372/.314 for a 102 wRC+.
From those numbers, it’s really not all that difficult to see what this profile is. The upside is admittedly limited due to an obvious lack of power. He has just six home runs over his last two seasons of pro ball despite getting over 500 plate appearances in each of those two seasons. The hope is that he gets older he’ll fill out a little more and add a little more power to his game, but he’s always going to be below-average in that area. However, he helps make up for that by having a tremendous understanding of the strike zone, something that is particularly striking given his age. (He turns 21 in October.) He walked over 16 percent of the time in 2019 despite being 3.5 years younger than the average player in the California League.
What his profile is going to come down to is his hit tool. There is real potential for this to be a plus tool, and if it is he can be a fantastic leadoff hitter even despite the lack of power. It’s not a finished product, though, and there’s obviously no guarantee he gets to the ceiling. He hits a lot of balls into the ground, and while his speed can help turn some of those balls into hits he’ll need to get more authority behind the ball if he’s going to max out that hit tool. I’d expect the Red Sox developmental staff to work on some swing changes to help alleviate those concerns.
The athleticism here is off the charts, though, as Rosario has well above-average speed and flashes that both on the bases and in the field. He has 29 steals over the last two seasons and is regarded as an above-average defensive player in center field. Again, there is work to be done but there is a ceiling here of an everyday center fielder who can hit leadoff.
As for his ranking in the system, I have the opposite bias issue here that I had with Potts. I often feel like the general consensus on low-power players with athleticism is too low, and end up being higher on those guys than most. See Jarren Duran as a recent example and Mauricio Dubon before that. I am actually almost tempted to put him ahead of Potts in these rankings, but for now I will defer to the experts, all of whom have Rosario behind Potts. Still, I don’t think the gap is very large and by next spring I have a feeling I’ll have them flipped. For now, though, I will put Rosario at the top of the next tier and at number 13.
So here’s how I’d have my top 15, for what it’s worth. Lines are marking off tiers.
1. Triston Casas
2. Jeter Downs
3. Bobby Dalbec
4. Bryan Mata
5. Noah Song
6. Jay Groome
7. Jarren Duran
8. Gilberto Jimenez
9. Thad Ward
10. Hudson Potts
11. Tanner Houck
12. CJ Chatham
13. Jeisson Rosario
14. Chris Murphy
15. Matthew Lugo
Note that I moved Chatham out of that fourth tier since the draft.