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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Connor Seabold needs to take the last step

There’s a solid depth arm there now, but the hope is that’s not all he is.

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Connor Seabold, 2021
Kelly O’Connor

We’re on the verge of a pitcher run here in the community top prospect list, with three of the last four names getting the nod all being pitchers. What’s interesting is that they have all been different sorts of pitchers at different points in their career. Jay Groome, number nine on our list, finally had his first healthy season and now looks ahead to what is hopefully his breakout season in Double-A. Wilkelman Gonzalez, number 11, is just starting his pro career and will be coming up on his first full season. And then now coming in at number 12, we have a relative veteran in Connor Seabold, who received 38 percent of the vote.

Seabold also comes in as the second prospect on this list to have not started his professional career in the Red Sox organization. Jeter Downs was the other, who was ranked seventh. Seabold was instead originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies as a third round pick in 2017 coming out of Cal State-Fullerton. The righty, as is typically the case for recently drafted college pitchers, didn’t really throw much in that first pro summer, finishing with just 10 innings, though doing well in that time.

After that small taste of pro ball in ‘17, it would be 2018 when Seabold made his true professional debut, starting that season in High-A Clearwater in the Phillies organization. It was a bit of a push to skip Low-A, but the righty didn’t appear too affected by the move as he pitched well in that stint. Across 12 starts and 71 23 innings, Seabold pitched to a 3.77 ERA, striking out 24 percent of his opponents with a low five percent walk rate. That was enough to get him a bump up to Double-A despite it being his first full season. There were some growing pains there, which is to be expected, particularly with his walk rate jumping up to 7.6 percent and his ERA up to 4.91 over 11 starts. Still, overall it was a successful first season without a doubt, making 23 solid starts and making it up to Double-A in that first full season.

That performance started to put Seabold on some maps heading into 2019, but arm trouble started to pop up, costing him pretty much the entire season. The righty made just seven starts in Double-A and pitched only 56 13 innings across all levels, including rehab assignments, due to an oblique injury. When he did pitch he was solid, pitching to a 2.25 ERA with a six percent walk rate and 22 percent strikeout right in Double-A, but an oblique injury to a pitcher is always something to watch. When you add on top of that the fact that the minor-league season was wiped out in 2020, Seabold was something of a question mark.

Of course, it wasn’t that he didn’t pitch at all in 2020, because he reported to Boston’s Alternate Site in Pawtucket after the team acquired him at the trade deadline in that shortened season. The deal fetched Boston Nick Pivetta as well as Seabold in exchange for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, already a win before even seeing what the latter turns into. Excitement grew a bit for the righty in Pawtucket that September, and at the time he seemed like the bigger get in that trade.

Unfortunately, the injury bug bit once again early in 2021, opening up durability questions before we even got to see him pitch in a real game for the organization. Due to elbow inflammation, Seabold’s season was delayed by a couple of months. Ultimately, he’d be able to make 11 starts at Triple-A Worcester, pitching to a 3.50 ERA with a 4.27 FIP. His 8.4 percent walk rate was the highest he’d had in the minors, while striking out a solid but unspectacular 23 percent. Seabold also made his big-league debut late in the year, struggling in his lone major-league start. He lasted just three innings against the White Sox, allowing two runs on three hits (including a homer) and two walks without striking out a batter.

Seabold is the kind of prospect that every good organization wants to have ready at Triple-A, even if he’s not the kind of guy who will typically rank highly on a list like this. There is a full-time major-league starter somewhere in here thanks to above-average control and three solid pitches with his fastball, changeup, and slider. That said, the injury concerns are going to be there after two of his three full seasons have included significant stays on the injured list. Plus, the stuff is such that the ceiling is not much higher than a fifth starter, and it may relegate him to more of a depth starter role at the end of the day.

The hope is that this is the last year we see Seabold on this list, not because of his talent but because of eligibility. He’s expected to start the season (whenever that may be) at Triple-A, but he’ll be among the first pitchers called up in the event of injury. For him, it’s not so much about looking for a big leap, but rather keeping that control well above-average while staying healthy.

Here is our list so far:

  1. Triston Casas, 1B
  2. Marcelo Mayer, SS
  3. Nick Yorke, 2B
  4. Jarren Duran, OF
  5. Brayan Bello, RHP
  6. Bryan Mata, RHP
  7. Jeter Downs, 2B/SS
  8. Blaze Jordan, 3B/1B
  9. Jay Groome, LHP
  10. Gilberto Jimenez, OF
  11. Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP
  12. Connor Seabold, RHP

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number 13 prospect. 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. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...