Boston Red Sox 2019 Preseason Top 10

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Michael Chavis in AFL. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Michael Chavis
Position(s): 3B/1B Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’10” Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: Chavis has long been a player with truly elite raw power, but it didn’t translate into game power until his breakout 2017 campaign. The concerning part of that timing is the fact he was suspended the first 80 games of 2018 for PED use. If the game power is legitimate and not PED related, he has a chance to be an impact bat, although he doesn’t make enough contact for it to be a consistent bat. He has enough arm to stay at third, but the glove and reactions are less than ideal, leaving many to believe he ends up as a platoon first base-type (not exactly what you want from your top prospect).

2)

Player: Triston Casas
Position(s): 1B/3B Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’5” Weight: 238 lbs.
Quick Report: Take everything stated in the Chavis profile, remove the PED and pro track record, and you have Triston Casas. Casas has a quick bat that gets to the zone quickly, but opens his hips too often, leaving his bat lagging behind his powerful core. His raw power could rival anyone in Minor League Baseball, and there is some hope he can make the adjustments necessary to become at least an average hitter. Unlike Chavis, there is little hope Casas sees any real time at third as he will become a true first baseman before too long. Casas could easily have been ranked at the top of the list, but he has just five pro plate appearances and is still awaiting his first hit, so Chavis’ proximity to the big leagues was the tie breaker.

3)

Player: Bobby Dalbec
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’4” Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Another bat with impressive raw power, Dalbec is different than Chavis and Casas in the aspect that he can not only stick at third but can be an above-average to plus defender there. You can easily give him plus to plus-plus grades in raw power and arm, but the contact rate is as big a minus as any tool you are going to find in a top five organizational prospect. He has struck out in almost 36% of his pro plate appearances while walking in 7.5%. As if those weren’t concerning enough, both numbers went in the wrong direction in his 29 games at AA, 37.1% and 4.8% respectively.

4)

Player: Darwinzon Hernandez
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’2” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: I surprised myself some when I settled on four for Hernandez, as I really expected to be higher especially given the lack of talent in the Red Sox system. He has largely been a starter until reaching AA and the AFL this season, Hernandez has a real ceiling of a rare lefty closer, but a likely role as a lefty that can work high leverage innings. His fastball can get up to 99 with some cross-body action out of his 3/4 slot delivery and has a breaking ball that has flashed plus at times, but has also been a bit slurvy at other times.

5)

Player: Jay Groome
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: DNP
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height:  6’5” Weight: 220 lbs.
Quick Report: I first got the chance to interview Groome back in the summer of 2015, back when he was still going by Jason and transferring back to New Jersey from the IMG Academy. At the time he was in conversations to go number one overall, but he did confess to me at the time he had grown up a Red Sox fan. He wound up slipping to number 12 overall but was very happy to see he landed with his favorite team. He has not pitched great since being drafted and missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery. There have been plenty of concerns about Groome, although few have been on the field. He has a smooth delivery, two above-average offerings and a change some feel could get there. He has not commanded the ball well yet, but the repeatable delivery could lead to average command. If the season on the DL has worked to focus Groome, he could skyrocket up prospect lists.

6)

Player: Antoni Flores
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: Flores is not a flashy international signing with a bunch of tools, but he is a player who is solid in every aspect of the game. He has fluid movement at short and plenty of arm, making him as close to a lock to stick at the position as there is. He makes good contact despite the leg kick and loop in the swing and drifting hands. He also has shown the ability to hit for solid power that could develop into 15-20 home runs in time, which is more than enough from a sure handed middle infielder.

7)

Player: Tanner Houck
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’5” Weight: 220 lbs.
Quick Report: The real debate with Houck is whether he is a starter or reliever, but there is little debate if he has the stuff to stick. His cutting slider is a true plus pitch and he has shown both a two seam and four seam fastball (thanks in part to a failed attempt by the Red Sox to change his arm slot). He has a solid curve, but really needs to improve his change and command if he is to stick as a starter. The ceiling as a starter is mid-rotation with a back of the rotation landing spot being more realistic, while he could be a late inning reliever that can dominate against an opponent’s best right-handed hitters.

8)

Player: Bryan Mata
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: Mata has long been among the youngest players at every level he has pitched at but had had success despite his youth. He has a true starter’s three-pitch mix, with all being average to better. The concern with Mata is he lacks a repeatable delivery and struggles to find the zone. At his best, he hides the ball well and gets good extension, but at his worst he can’t find the plate and struggles to make it out of the first few innings.

9)

Player: Mike Shawaryn
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Command really isn’t much of a concern with Shawaryn as he is a genuine strike thrower, but the stuff is somewhat limited. His fastball works 88-91with a cutting slider and solid change. Both his change and fastball run back arm-side thanks to the low 3/4 slot, while his thick lower half could allow him to eat innings. Some feel his stuff will limit him to a long relief/spot starter type, but he has the upside of being a guy that holds down a spot on the back end of a rotation.

10)

Player: C.J. Chatham
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: Chatham has had an injury riddled pro career thus far but has shown well when healthy. He has the defensive chops to play any of the infield spots and a knack for putting the bat on the ball. The bat path is a bit long, but he has plenty of bat speed to handle any pitcher. He hit for some power in college, although that hasn’t translated in pro ball yet. He doesn’t have a slender frame, but there isn’t a lot of strength in the frame either. It will be really interesting to see how he bounces back from his first healthy off-season as a pro and what kind of strength he adds. While he hasn’t made it past High A thus far, don’t be surprised to see him play his way to Boston as a depth piece before the end of the year.

Just Missed:

Durbin Feltman – RHP – 21 – High A
Nick Decker – OF – 19 – Rookie
Daniel Diaz – 3B – 17 – Rookie
Travis Lakins – RHP – 24 – AAA

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