Tag: Tanner Houck

Boston Red Sox 2020 Preseason Top 10

Boston Red Sox 2020 Preseason Top 10

1)

Player: Triston Casas
Position(s): 1B/3B Opening Day Age: 20 2019 Highest Level: A Adv.
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 238 lbs.
Quick Report: Hands down the class of the Red Sox system, Casas provides a legit power bat with a defensive profile that allows for some flexibility. He is painfully slow making third base a true secondary position, but he has good hands and a strong arm. The defensive profile really lends itself to be a plus defender at first. He makes plenty of contact despite striking out 118 times in 120 games a season ago, but he did put up 20 home runs in his first full season. The body and lofty swing will allow for plenty more power to show up and he can become a 25-30 HR bat in the middle of the Red Sox order, but is probably two full seasons away from debuting in Boston.

2)

Player: Bobby Dalbec
Position(s): 3B/1B Opening Day Age: 24 2019 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Dalbec looked good in Mexico at the Premier12, but the lack of ability to hit for average will always limit his potential impact. The bat head gets down on the ball with ease, but he will chase out of the zone frequently and is pop up prone. When he does make solid contact, the ball flies, so there is definitely plenty of potential to impact a game with the bat. He is a solid defender at third with good hands and a cannon of an arm, but his range is quite limited due to his lack of foot speed. He, like the guy ahead of him, is best suited for first, but has a much better chance to earn regular time at third as he has a bit more range and an even stronger arm than Casas.

3)

Player: Jarren Duran
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 23 2019 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Easy plus speed and good enough reads to hold down center, Duran has a chance to make an impact in the field and on the bases. The bat is nothing special as the bat speed is nothing special and there is rare effort in the swing for a left-handed hitter. The shoulders are stiff and the bat feels as though it has to fight against his body. Despite that, he has hit well over .300 in his season and a half of pro ball and found his way to AA a season ago. He does not draw enough walks, something that could definitely benefit him given the wheels, but there is plenty of potential there. He showed better patience in the AFL and he looked to drive the ball a little more, but he is best suited to shorten the swing, go the other way, and make an impact by stretching singles into doubles and playing a solid center field.

4)

Player: Bryan Mata
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 20 2019 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: I have Mata listed at 175 lbs. as it is the heaviest I have seen him listed, but he is easily 200 lbs., and that is weight works for him. He has a fastball that will get up to 99 while sitting up to 97 to go with a power slider and an above average change. The curve was once a quality pitch but he has struggled with it the past couple seasons. He created plenty of depth with an upright low 3/4 slot delivery that creates some run on the fastball. There is some late effort and stiffness in the delivery that leaves some concern, but Mata is the only pitcher in the Red Sox system with a better chance than not to make it as a starter.

5)

Player: Jay Groome
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 21 2019 Highest Level: A Short
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’5” Weight: 220 lbs.
Quick Report: No player had as much hype as Groome heading into the 2016 MLB draft, but real makeup concerns contributed to him slipping to pick 12 and into the Red Sox lap. Since arriving it has been a mixed bag, as he has flashed the plus fastball and curve at times, but the change has lagged behind and command has been a real concern. Add to that there have been weight concerns, and Tommy John surgery in 2018 means he has pitched just four innings the past two seasons and just 44.1 in full season ball thus far in his career. If he can come back healthy and in shape, Groome could skyrocket back into a top 100 type prospect in baseball, but he could also tank and land outside the Red Sox top 10 a year from now.

6)

Player: Gilberto Jimenez
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 19 2019 Highest Level: A Short
Bats: Switch Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 160 lbs.
Quick Report: Jimenez was signed for just $10k in 2017 but has quickly rocketed up the Red Sox prospect ranks. He has a first off the bus body that screams power, but that doesn’t really translate to the box. Instead he is a plus speed switch hitting center fielder that has homered just three times in his two pro seasons. He also lacks discipline at the plate, striking out well more than twice per walk, but he does a good job making contact from both sides of the plate. He should get the opportunity to make his full season debut out of camp this Spring, and has a future as a leadoff man patrolling center, there is just a lot of time and growth between now and reaching that potential.

7)

Player: Noah Song
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2019 Highest Level: A Short
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: If not for the Naval commitment, Song would come in fifth for me. I voted Song ahead of Adley Rutschman in the Dick Howser Award voting a season ago. He has four average to better pitches and commands the zone well. He comes out of a 3/4 slot with limited effort and plenty of extension allowing his fastball to play even harder than his mid-90s velo. His fastball runs as does his change, while his slider dives out of the zone late and a hammer curve. He doesn’t have front end upside, but landing as a number three starter is a real possibility and I would not be shocked at all to see him reach that potential.

8)

Player: Tanner Houck
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 23 2019 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: Where Houck will ultimately end up is a real question. He has seen time as a starter and as a reliever, and it seems nobody con come to a consensus which role fits him best. I am pretty well done with him as a starter and I think he could be a high quality reliever. He has a low 3/4 cross body delivery with a slider that sprints away from righties and a fastball that will get up to 96 while bearing in on their hands. His curve is good enough but the change still has a lot of work to go. Given there is effort in the delivery, I see him as a mid-relief guy early in 2020 with a shot at becoming a quality late inning arm before too long.

9)

Player: Thad Ward
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 23 2019 Highest Level: A Adv.
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: Ward is long and lean with four pitches that flash average to better but very inconsistent. He creates some deception with multiple speeds in his leg kick that allows his fastball play faster than the 91-93 he typically sits. The change does not have enough velo gap off the fastball and the curve spins too often. His slider is easily his best secondary offering, bordering on plus potential, and will likely be the carrying pitch. My guess is he will shed the change and/or curve before too long and transition more into relief where the fastball should tick up and the slider could really play well.

10)

Player: Matthew Lugo
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 18 2019 Highest Level: A Short
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: Lugo and Song were my favorite selections for the Red Sox in the 2019 draft. Lugo has a big load in his swing that he times quite well and keeps his hands back well even when he mistimes the kick. The hands clear well and there is some natural loft to the bat plane. There is little doubt he can stick as a shortstop long term, showing plenty of arm and quickness to go with natural instincts at the position. I am hopeful he starts the season in Greenville where I expect him to show well enough to land in the top five in next year’s Red Sox list.

Just Missed:

C.J. Chatham – SS – 25 – AAA
Cameron Cannon – INF – 22 – A Short
Nick Decker – OF – 20 – A Short
Brandon Howlett – 3B – 20 – A
Antoni Flores – SS – 19 – A Short

 

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