This week, members of the SoxProspects.com brass will be posting their end-of-season Top 40 rankings and answering some questions about their lists. Next up is Managing Editor Matt Huegel.
1. Blake Swihart, C
2. Henry Owens, LHP
3. Manuel Margot, OF
4. Rafael Devers, 3B
5. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
6. Brian Johnson, LHP
7. Michael Chavis, SS/3B
8. Matt Barnes, RHP
9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
10. Garin Cecchini, 3B/OF
11. Trey Ball, LHP
12. Deven Marrero, SS
13. Edwin Escobar, LHP
14. Sean Coyle, 2B/3B
15. Michael Kopech, RHP
16. Wendell Rijo, 2B
17. Travis Shaw, 1B
18. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
19. Sam Travis, 1B
20. Heath Hembree, RHP
Following a 9-5 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, the Red Sox fell to 71-91, leaving the club with the sixth-worst record in the league. That means Boston will have the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft. (Houston has a compensation pick locked in at No. 2 overall for the failure to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken). The first 11 picks of the 2015 draft, which cannot be forfeited due to free-agency signings, will be as follows:
This week, members of the SoxProspects.com brass will be posting their end-of-season Top 40 rankings and answering some questions about their lists. We'll release our aggregate rankings on Friday as well, so don't worry if some of the player-specific questions don't make sense yet. They will. First up is Executive Editor Chris Hatfield.
The 2014 Red Sox minor league season went quite a bit better than things over in Boston. Posting a collective .546 minor league winning percentage that saw two affiliates take home championship titles, the organization was flush with impressive performances from its wide-spread base of talent. The awards below represent the SoxProspects community's picks for the best performers in eight different categories.
Offensive Player of the Year and Graduate of the Year: Mookie Betts
For the second straight season, Betts took home the honors for the SoxProspects Offensive Player of the Year. While 2013 saw him burst onto the scene as a legitimate prospect (he ended the season at No. 10 on the SoxProspects rankings after not cracking the top 50 at the beginning of the season), it was his 2014 performance that cemented him as a top-notch MLB prospect. The Sox aggressively started the 21-year-old at AA Portland in 2014, where he only went on to slash .355/.443/.551, good for the best OBP and OPS (.994) in the Eastern League. His otherworldly showing led to an early-June promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he maintained his excellence, hitting .335/.417/.503 in 211 plate appearances. With two call-ups to the major league squad sprinkled in between, Betts managed to rank in the top five in the International League in batting average, OBP, and OPS. Also worth mentioning is that Betts never stopped ripping the cover off the ball despite taking on the challenge of learning to play the outfield for the first time in his professional career.
Betts endeared himself so much to fans with his stellar performance that the SoxProspects community also ticketed him as the system's Graduate of the Year who will go on to have the best career. Betts graduated on September 12, and as of September 22 is slashing a healthy .285/.362/.439 with the Red Sox. Particularly notable about Betts' selection is his trumping of Xander Bogaerts - Betts received 22 votes, 9 for Xander - who just earlier this year was the consensus No. 2 prospect in all of MLB, although Bogaerts's long mid-season slump likely influenced the voting. Moving forward, Mookie could be set to helm the leadoff spot for Boston in 2015 while playing the outfield, although he also serves as an extremely valuable trade chip.
Things are bad in Boston and the minor league season is over, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about! Chris and Ian got on the horn to take your emails, talk about the recently released Fall Instructional League roster, and project who the Red Sox might protect in December's Rule 5 draft.
As the Red Sox play out the rest of the season, fans are getting a good look at some of the young players in the system. Arguably the most interesting player is Rusney Castillo (pictured), who made his major league debut on September 17. Castillo has gone 4 for 16 over his first four games, showing off his good speed and strong defense in center field.
SoxProspects.com Managing Editor Matt Huegel talked to Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles about Castillo's exciting potential. Boles had good things to say about Castillo's swing and athleticism, but admitted that he is still getting to know the center fielder and they are still in the evaluation stage. That evaluation stage will continue this fall, as Castillo will be participating in the Arizona Fall League and Puerto Rican Winter League.
The 2014 season has been eventful one in the Red Sox organization. Five of the seven minor league affiliates qualified for the postseason, with two teams, Triple-A Pawtucket and the Rookie level Gulf Coast League team, winning their respective league championships. The SoxProspects.com community has voted on the annual year-end All-Stars for the 2014 season.
The new top overall prospect in the organization also is a first-time selection as a SoxProspects.com All-Star. The 22-year-old Swihart, a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, had a standout season. He hit .300/.353/.487 with 23 doubles and 12 home runs in 92 games with Double-A Portland, earning a promotion to Pawtucket on August 4. Swihart's offensive production tailed off some against the tougher competition, with a .261/.282/.377, but the Portland Sea Dogs 2014 MVP still set career highs in games played (110), hits (122), home runs (13) and slugging percentage (.469).
After an up-and-down season with Portland in 2013, Shaw returned to Double-A and attacked Eastern League pitchers with a vengeance. In 177 at-bats, he hit .305/.406/.548 and blasted 11 home runs - a pace of one every 16 at-bats. The Red Sox showed mercy on Portland's opponents an promoted Shaw to Pawtucket in late May. He continued to impress there, hitting .262/.321/.431. With 21 home runs across two levels, the 2011 ninth-round pick led all Boston minor league players.
The 2014 Fall Instructional League kicked off on Tuesday against the Orioles at JetBlue Park. The 46-player roster includes three of the top ten prospects in the Red Sox system. 2014 first-round pick Michael Chavis (ranked #8 on SoxProspects.com) joins outfielder Manuel Margot (5th) and Rafael Devers (3rd) in Fort Myers. 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.
9/17 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox looked to cap off their outstanding season with a victory in the Gildan Triple-A Championship Game on Tuesday. Unfortunately, they were unable to pull out a win, dropping a close contest.
Pawtucket was looking to deny Omaha back-to-back Triple-A Championships, sending Edwin Escobar to the mound. The left-hander hurled five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks, striking out six in a no decision. Escobar's night was shortened due to an hour and 46 minute rain delay that started in the bottom of the fifth. Dalier Hinojosa added an inning of scoreless relief following Escobar. Miguel Celestino suffered the loss, having a tough inning out of the bullpen, allowing two runs on three hits. Jose Valdez pitched the final two innings without allowing a base runner.