While not a single Red Sox player graduated from prospect status during the 2016 season, the newly crowned American League Eastern Division champions had a distinctly homegrown feel. The team gave at least 50 at-bats to at eight players who had been named SoxProspects.com All-Stars during their ascent to the majors: Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia, Travis Shaw, Blake Swihart, and Christian Vazquez. With that backdrop, we present the 2016 SoxProspects.com All-Stars.
The 25-year old backstop turned in a solid season both offensively and defensively, earning honors as an Eastern League All-Star to go with his SoxProspects.com recognition. In 90 games with Double-A Portland, Romanski hit .308/.338/.410 with 22 doubles. While power is not a major part of his game, he did set a career high with four round trippers. He also solidified his reputation as a strong handler of pitchers and threw out 49 percent of attempted base stealers. It was the first all-star selection for the 2013 14th-round pick out of San Diego State.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Each year, the Fall Instructional League provides us here at SoxProspects.com with the opportunity to catch 50 or so of the system’s young prospects in one place at the end of a long season. This year, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall spent four days at Instructs. These are his reports from Saturday, September 24, when the Red Sox took on the Twins across town at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
The 12th pick overall in June’s draft, left-hander Jason Groome, started the game, throwing two scoreless innings, striking out three and walking one. The first thing that stands out with Groome is his build, as he does not look like a typical 18-year-old. He has a wide, mature frame and looks all of his listed 6-foot-6, 220 pounds. An up-close look at him gave me the impression that he has a body that might need some watching, given how he is built now and his youth. He has the frame to support added weight, but whether that is good or bad weight will depend on how he maintains his body and how much work he puts in off the field, both during the offseason and in-season.
Groome’s delivery is remarkably easy, and even though his velocity was down a tick from when I saw him earlier this month with Short-Season A Lowell, he still sat 89-92 mph, touching 93 mph. Given that Groome is at the end of a long year spanning high school and pro ball, it is not a surprise that his velocity is down a tick. With the ease of his delivery and arm action, as well as his youth, as he matures I expect him to add a few miles per hour to the pitch, though I would not be surprised if he sat in the low-90s generally, with the ability to ramp up if the situation calls for it.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Each year, the Fall Instructional League provides us here at SoxProspects.com with the opportunity to catch 50 or so of the system’s young prospects in one place at the end of a long season. This year, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall spent four days at Instructs. These are his reports from Thursday, September 23, when the Red Sox campers took on the Twins at Fenway South.
The standout pitcher on the day was 22-year-old right-hander Victor Diaz. Diaz’s numbers with Greenville this year—a 3.88 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with 25 walks to 63 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings—do not really stand out, particularly considering his age. But even though he is already 22, he is relatively new to pro ball having only signed when he was 20 years old. Looking further into his season, however, reveals bad performances in the first half of the season leading to a 6.59 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in his first 28 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 23 strikeouts. But in the second half, Diaz put up a 1.42 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 2/3 innings with 40 strikeouts and 13 walks. Furthermore, to end the year, Diaz did not allow a run in 16 2/3 innings over August and September, striking out 25 hitters and allowing only 8 hits and 9 walks.
In his inning of work, Diaz struck out the side, showing off not only his impressive fastball but improved secondary stuff and the ability to locate when he is locked in. Diaz is listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, but looks heavier than that. He is filled out and has a sturdy pitcher’s frame with minimal projection remaining. Because of his size, he does have effort in his delivery and a lot of moving parts. As a result, Diaz has struggled in the past to lock into his three-quarters arm slot at times, but in this outing, he was repeating his delivery well. Diaz works exclusively from the stretch and sat at 99 mph for every fastball he threw. The pitch has late life and showed bat-missing ability, eliciting two swing-and-misses against right-handers. If he can harness his command and stay within himself like he did in this outing, the pitch has elite potential and is easily one of the best fastballs in the system.
SoxProspects.comput out a new podcast last Monday to discuss and recap the minor league season. They talked about each affiliate's season and the crew mentioned players from each team that stood out. The Padres' scandal involving their trade with Boston was also discussed, along with much more.
The Fall Instructional League games got underway on Thursday down in Fort Myers, and SoxProspects.com's Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was there to catch some of the action. Check out his Twitter feed for some notes on Jason Groome, Pablo Sandoval, new draft picks, and more.
Catchers Alan Marrero and Alberto Schmidt were selected in the Puerto Rican League's draft and have been added to Criollos de Caguas' roster. Marrero is an 18-year-old who was taken by Boston in the eighth round this past June. He was just 5 for 54 with a home run this year in the GCL but is highly thought of as a defensive catcher. Schmidt was also selected in the 2016 draft, in the 16th round. He is also very solid defensively but was just 8 for 41 with three doubles for the GCL Sox this year.
Coming down the stretch in MLB, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about in the world of SoxProspects! In this episode, the guys wrap up each affiliate’s season, discuss the Fall Instructional League roster, and the Padres trade scandal. Plus your emails! Which players might get protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason (take 2)? What mechanical flaws are immediate red flags? What’s the deal with Rafael Devers’ 18 steals? Plus, thoughts on Jake Cosart, Austin Glorius, Matt Kent, and more!
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SoxProspects.com unveiled its 2016 season-end award winners this past week. It was a good year for the system, and there were several worthy candidates for every award. In the end, the winners were as follows: Andrew Benintendi won Player of the Year, Jake Cosart won Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year went to Bobby Dalbec (pictured, right), Mauricio Dubon was the Breakout Player of the Year, Jhonathan Diaz won Comeback Player of the Year, Pedro Castellanos and Ritzi Mendoza won the DSL Hitter and Pitcher of the Year awards, Cubs first basemen Anthony Rizzo won the Ex-Player of the Year, and finally, Red Sox star right fielder, Mookie Betts, won the Homegrown Player of the Year.
The Red Sox announced their own season-end award winners this past week as well, and there were not many double-ups from our awards. The repeat winners were Castellanos and Mendoza who won the Red Sox Latin Player and Pitcher of the year honors as well. Other award winners were Yoan Moncada as Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, Roniel Raudes as the Minor League Pitcher of the Year, third basemen Rafael Devers won the Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Mauricio Dubon was awarded the Baserunner of the Year.
It was a great year for the Red Sox farm system. Officially, the system saw no graduates this year and several of their top prospects had performances that only resulted in their stock continuing to rise. The fact that Baseball America's Player of the Year did not win a SoxProspects.com award shows the depth of talent in the system. That depth was only buoyed by the addition of several highly regarded draft picks, with a few already impressing as professionals.
The system saw team success again this season as well, with the DSL Red Sox1 winning the Dominican Summer League title, Salem losing in the Southern Division Championship Series, and Lowell losing in the New York-Penn League semi-finals.
Coming off a season where he was drafted seventh overall in the MLB Draft and took home both the SoxProspects.com Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, Benintendi somehow managed to keep those amazing performances going as he raked at level after level. After a 2015 in which he produced a .972 OPS between Lowell and Greenville, he began 2016 in Salem, where he was a year and a half younger than the average position player. Over his 34 games there, his production only increased, hitting .341/.413/.563 over those 135 at-bats. The next stop on the tour was Portland, where he was over three years younger than the average positional player. You might think that he would hit a slump at some point with the never-ending series of aggressive promotions, but that slump just never came. After hitting .295/.357/.515 and getting a few reps in left field while at Portland, he got the call to the majors.
His first game came on August 2, and his first major league hit came a day later. Through August 24, he was hitting .324/.365/.485 and had earned the everyday role in left field. Turns out the only thing that could slow the 22-year-old down was an injury. While running the bases, he tweaked his knee and the worst was feared, but an MRI later revealed no structural damage. He spent about three weeks on the DL and was activated by the Red Sox on Monday, the hope that he will be able to help them as they make their playoff push. His production across all levels, including the majors, is what was able to separate Benintendi from a competitive field led by Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Yoan Moncada and earn him Player of the Year honors.
SoxProspects.com has confirmed the full roster of participants and schedule for the 2016 Fall Instructional League, reported on Tuesday by Baseball America. Players will report to Fort Myers on September 18, followed by the first game on September 22.
The 47-player roster includes a host of 2016 draftees such as Jason Groome (pictured, right), CJ Chatham, Shaun Anderson, Bobby Dalbec, Michael Shawaryn, Stephen Nogosek, Ryan Scott, Santiago Espinal, and Alan Marrero.Groome, Dalbec, Chatham, and Anderson are all ranked in the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox organization by SoxProspects.com.
The league is used to develop players in the low minors and includes both classroom training and on-field workouts. The games are frequently open to the public, though the game start times are not necessarily entirely accurate.
Here is the full roster of participants, broken down by position:
Baseball America has named Yoan Moncada(pictured, right) its Minor League Player of the Year. The 21-year-old infielder has had a meteoric rise throughout the Red Sox system in 2016, starting with High-A Salem, eventually leading to his promotion to Boston a little under two weeks ago.
Moncada, who was originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2015, has consistently been ranked as one of the top prospects in all of baseball and is currently ranked the #1 prospect in the Red Sox system by SoxProspects.com. In 106 games with Salem and Double-A Portland, Moncada hit .294/.407/.511 with 15 home runs, 31 doubles, 62 RBI, and 45 stolen bases.
The Red Sox minor league season concluded this week, as the Lowell Spinners and Salem Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention but the DSL Red Sox1 wrapped up the summer in style with a DSL championship.