This past week, I asked you all to tell me about your favorite under appreciated prospect. No, not Triston Casas or Jeter Downs. We know how much you love them. That’s why they were voted one and two, respectively, in the system by you, our voters.
No, I wanted to know about guys who may not crack the top 10, hell, even the top 20, guys you hear about in passing, but are never the focal point of the story or the minor-league write-ups.
We had a couple of responses:
Forgotten Prospects - Bosoxsince89
What they said: Prospects are kind of Bosox’s thing. He loves them. To the point where he follows them all on Instagram. To the point where he is religiously updating on Twitter on signing day to find out which guys come to Boston. You get the idea. He names several under appreciated prospects in the farm system before settling on one: Aldo Ramirez.
I don’t think Bosox is crazy at all. I follow prospects fairly closely myself, although I find myself more interested nationally,and trying to find hidden gems in various systems throughout the country than I do locally scouring our farm system for prospects that are on the wayside.
Aldo Ramirez may be on the under appreciated side, but I don’t believe he will be for long. While 2020 was rough to a lot of people, it seemed like it was pretty kind to Ramirez, who reportedly saw his velocity increase, and improved the consistency of his other pitches. Sox Prospects recently updated his profile, and I think it’s worth reading in its entirety, especially if this is the first you are hearing of him.
I won’t yammer about everything. After all, I want you to very much click the link and see what else they have to say, but I wanted to point out something from the report: The possibility of a plus fastball paired with a potential plus changeup. While fastball/changeup types are dubious and hard to trust in today’s game, it’s largely because they don’t have a third pitch of any note. This is not so for Ramirez, who looks to have the makings of an average curveball as well. That will play.
As Bosox pointed out, Ramirez has typically been young for the level at which he’s played. He doesn’t turn 20 until May. While there’s not a non-zero chance, I expect he will start the season at A-Ball Salem (ed. note: Remember that Greenville and Salem swapped levels), with the goal of finishing the year at High-A Greenville, and a long term goal of being in Double-A by mid-season 2022.
The Red Sox have not generally done well with pitching prospects. So for this one to get to full-season ball and still look like something interesting, our interest should absolutely be piqued.
An Uncomfortable Comparison - Scarecrow13
What they said: Do you love Player A vs Player B comparisons where A and B look startlingly similar (in opposite ways)? If so, you will love Scarecrow’s Player A vs Player B comparison. What player would you guess is a carbon copy of Bobby Dalbec... except hitting from the other side of the plate? If you guessed Triston Casas you are dead wrong, because the answer is Josh Ockimey.
Obviously, there are a couple of things we can gleam from this comparison, and they don’t even have to be mutually exclusive.
The first is the supposition that Bobby Dalbec may not be as good as people hope, to be compared so unfavorably with Josh Ockimey, who is largely seen as a fringe prospect at best. In fairness to Dalbec, he has a power stroke that few in the system do, so this may be what separates him from Ockimey in the long run.
The second is the possibility that Josh Ockimey is better than we are giving credit for. He just needs to be used right, potentially in a platoon with Dalbec. Dalbec is a serviceable if not unspectacular player with incredible power. Ockimey really shouldn’t ever face left handed pitchers, but against righties he tends to be quite the presence. If you can use Dalbec against lefties, and Ockimey against righties, you may have the makings of a dangerous combo on the cheap.
While I’m not sure I want to see it (you could just bring back Mitch Moreland and get the same effect but be more sure of it, while also providing good defense), there’s a decent argument for us (the royal us) having undervalued Ockimey. If you look at him for what he is, a platoon bat, suddenly, his stock becomes much more interesting.
For my part, I am going with Nick Decker as my unheralded prospect. Nobody is going to mistake Decker for a top prospect in the system. His shine has faded a lot from his draft days when he was a regular fixture at the fringe of the top 10 of the system-wide rankings. There’s a pretty good reason for it: so much swing and miss, not much improvement.
But I think Decker gets a bad rep. First, some facts: Decker was drafted in 2018. He had to immediately jump into pro ball, due to being older than his other high school peers, while others could more easily adjust themselves at their own pace. Then Decker got a nasty wrist injury that tabled him, losing him valuable development time early in his career. He was aggressively pushed up anyway to the next level and he struggled as a result. Then in 2020 he lost all of his development time due to a pandemic.
None of these things are really Nick Decker’s fault. And yet, despite everything, he’s still on the periphery, just enough for us to be aware that he is there.
Is Nick Decker a future All-Star? Most likely not. While he still has a decent enough hit tool, all things considered (I think grading it a 35/40 is generous right now), and his raw physicality is still very impressive (I am certain there is 60 grade raw power in that frame of his, and he still runs well), he projects more like a bench bat than a starting regular.
This coming year will be a big one for Decker. It will give him a chance to cast aside any doubt about his talent and get back on track, finally having his first full professional season. The key for Decker will be cutting back on the swing and miss in his game, and maybe sell out for his raw power a little less. He has a good natural loft in his swing that will still let the ball fly if he focuses on hitting more to contact.
Other FanPosts from the Site
Bizarre Baseball Slang - james.earl74: This FanPoster goes through a list of some really interesting slang terms and where they come from. For example, a shoestring catch is exactly what it sounds like... a catch. Made at the shoestrings. Leave some of your favorites in the comments.
VLTC’s Top 30 List - VLTC: VLTC makes these lists every year and they are always a treat. This year, he lists 30 players, and then lists 12 more that didn’t make his list for a variety of reasons. His list is about as good as you can get without going to FanGraphs or maybe The Athletic these days.
See you all next week!