SoxProspects News

December 29, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Castillo & Vazquez stay hot


This week's roundup covers play from the period of December 22-28. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)
Due to the Christmas holiday, many leagues had shortened weeks, including in Puerto Rico. Rusney Castillo (pictured) appeared in his final game of the winter on Monday, going out on a high note by going 2 for 3 with two doubles, three RBI and a walk. Over 37 at-bats, Castillo's line finished up at .405/.415/.541, and he drew raves from manager Alex Cora.

The busiest participant this week was Christian Vazquez, who saw action in six games and finished 6 for 20. He had his best game of the week on Monday, going 2 for 5 with his first home run of the winter. Henry Ramos saw limited action, going 0 for 3 in his only game. Joseph Monge saw his first action since December 19 and went 1 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts, the hit his first of the winter in 12 at-bats.

Finally, Jemile Weeks made his late debut for Mayaguez on Saturday and went hitless in three at-bats with a walk and a strikeout. The league's final regular season games take place tomorrow.

For reference, it is not uncommon for some major leaguers to report to their winter league teams just before or just during the playoffs, which can run through the end of January and are followed by the Caribbean Series, which features the league champions from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Mexico.
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December 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Will Middlebrooks: Successes and struggles of a former top prospect


It has been an eventful offseason for former Red Sox minor leaguers. The team reunited with former top prospects Hanley Ramirez and Justin Masterson, while longtime ace Jon Lester's huge contract to take over at the front of the Chicago Cubs rotation ended hopes of a similar reunion after his midseason trade to Oakland. While this trio represent examples of major successes in player development, it is also both useful and necessary to take a step back and examine when things do not go as planned. Such is the case with third baseman Will Middlebrooks, dealt to the Padres last week in exchange for catcher (and Andover (Mass.) High School product) Ryan Hanigan.

Middlebrooks, then ranked by this site as the top prospect in the system, took Boston by storm in 2012. Stepping in for an injured Kevin Youkilis, Middlebrooks hit a grand slam in his third major league game, two more home runs in his fourth, and 10 bombs to go with a .558 slugging percentage through his first 46 games over 178 plate appearances. But that early breakthrough turned out to be the height of Middlebrooks's time with the Red Sox. He missed the last two months of the 2012 season with a fractured wrist, and injuries and ineffectiveness at the plate marred his last two seasons.
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December 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Vazquez continues to swing hot bat


This week's roundup covers play from the period of December 15-21. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.


Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

The strong performance of  Christian Vazquez (pictured) at the plate has been one of the biggest positives in the Red Sox organization this winter. The 24-year-old catcher saw his six-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday, but still had another productive week overall. In four games, Vazquez was 7 for 17, including a dominant game Saturday in which he went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a rare stolen base. His season line stands at .294/.371/.365.
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December 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Aaron Kurcz dealt to Atlanta for Anthony Varvaro


The Red Sox have announced an exchange of right-handed relievers with the Atlanta Braves. Boston will receive major league veteran Anthony Varvaro, with Aaron Kurcz (pictured) headed to Atlanta. 

Kurcz, 24, originally came to the Red Sox organization in March 2012 as part of the compensation package from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Theo Epstein. He impressed in an assignment to Double-A Portland, striking out 72 in 50 1/3 innings. However, an elbow injury suffered in July of that year required Tommy John surgery, and an extended rehab kept Kurcz off the field throughout the 2013 campaign. He returned to Portland in 2014, and again pitched well, posting a 2.14 ERA an 52 strikeouts in 42 innings across 34 appearances. 
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at 12:00 PM

Offseason Notes: Trades, signings, and awards


We normally run a notes column at the beginning of every month in the offseason, but with this December being completely crazy, we will break this month up into two parts. Here are the notes for the first half of December:

  • In a trade that took a couple days to complete, the Red Sox sent Rubby De La Rosa (pictured), Allen Webster, and Raymel Flores to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Wade Miley. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino teamed up to analyze all four players in the trade, with Fiorino offering a detailed report on Miley for the fans who are unfamiliar with him. 
  • In a separate trade with the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox acquired Zeke Spruill for Myles Smith. Spruill was one of the players the Braves traded to Arizona for Justin Upton, but he was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on December 8. The right-hander still has one option left, so he may see time in Pawtucket in 2015. 
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December 15, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Marco Hernandez received from Cubs to complete Doubront trade


The Red Sox have acquired shortstop Marco Hernandez from the Chicago Cubs. Hernandez heads to Boston as the player to be named later in the deal that sent left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront to Chicago in July. The news was first reported by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, the 6-foot, 170-pound Hernandez made an impression in his first appearance stateside in 2011. As an 18-year-old for the Cubs Arizona Rookie League affiliate, Hernandez opened some eyes with a .333/.375/.486 and defensive skills that scouts saw as likely to stick on the left side of the diamond. Baseball America rated him the #6 prospect in the circuit and #16 in the Cubs system, saying "he has enough bat speed and strength for gap power and the plus speed to beat out bunts." 
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at 12:30 PM

Podcast Ep. 69: Hot Stove on High


Well, that was a week wasn't it? With the Red Sox trading Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Raymel Flores, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, Gabe Speier, and Myles Smith in deals for Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Zeke Spruill, as well as signing former SoxProspects.com number 1 prospect Justin Masterson (oh, and there was the failed pursuit of Jon Lester), Chris and Matt had plenty to talk about. Plus, your emails asked about who will lead off and about the defensive prowess of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

And by the way, please take our one-minute survey at http://bit.ly/SPPodSurvey!

Click through for links and in-site player!
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at 12:00 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Castillo/Vazquez headline action in Puerto Rico


This week's roundup covers play from the period of December 8-14. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

In his first game of the week on Wednesday, Rusney Castillo went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI against Mayaguez. Castillo proceeded to go 1 for 9 with a run scored in his final three contest of the week. In seven games for Caguas, Castillo is batting .320/.333/.440.

Joseph Monge continues to see very limited action, appearing in just one game this week, going 0 for 3. Fellow outfielder Henry Ramos went 3 for 14 with an RBI in four contests this week.

Christian Vazquez (pictured, above) made his way into five games this week, going 6 for 20 with a double and four RBI.

On the mound, Dayan Diaz made his way into three games, pitching an inning of scoreless relief in each of his appearances.
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December 12, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Trade analysis: Scouting the players in the Wade Miley deal


As first reported Wednesday night and made official on Friday, the Red Sox have acquired left-handed pitcher Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks, with right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and infielder Raymel Flores headed to Arizona in the deal. The Red Sox dealt from a position of depth, as they have a plethora of right-handed pitching in the upper minors and middle infield prospects in the low minors. For Arizona, it reunites De La Rosa and Webster with De Jon Watson, senior vice president of baseball operations with the Diamondbacks and the director of player development with the Dodgers while the two pitchers were members of that franchise.

Red Sox:  
Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino has previous experience scouting Miley, and provides his take on the left-hander

- Miley was a supplemental first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft. The lefty starter will be entering his age-28 season with three years of remaining control through arbitration. Miley is listed at 6-feet, 220 pounds and has a filled-out frame with a durable and strong upper and lower half. I've seen Miley pitch live on numerous occasions, and the first thing that stands out is his fast tempo on the mound. Miley wastes no time between pitches and likes to work extremely quickly. He keeps hitters guessing and off-balance with little time to think between pitches. In turn, he keeps his own defense engaged and active.
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at 9:35 PM

Sox acquire Zeke Spruill for Myles Smith in second D-Backs trade


Immediately after announcing the completion of their trade for Wade Miley, the Red Sox announced a second trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, acquiring right-hander Zeke Spruill in exchange for right-hander Myles Smith.

Spruill, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 2008 draft, spent most of last season with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno, making 28 appearances. He posted a 6.04 ERA in 79 innings pitched, working predominantly out of the bullpen.
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at 2:28 PM

Justin Masterson: An unlikely All-Star reunites with the Red Sox


After signing with the Red Sox to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million, with incentives that can push it up to $12 million, Justin Masterson returns to the organization that drafted him and first brought him up to the big leagues. Masterson, who was the top-rated prospect on SoxProspects.com in June of 2008, has not had a linear career path after being one of the most aggressively promoted Red Sox prospects in recent memory.

Similar to our pieces on Hanley Ramirez and Jon Lester, Masterson is the focus of our latest Player Retrospective. For another interesting read on Masterson's time in the system, read SoxProspects.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Andrews interview with Masterson from July 2007. 
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December 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Trade analysis: Scouting the prospects dealt for Porcello


As reported this morning, the Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier are headed to the Tigers in return. In dealing Cespedes, Wilson and Speier, the Red Sox took advantage of two of the deeper positions in their system, with a surplus of major league outfielders and pitching depth in the upper and lower minors, in order to trade up for proven major league-quality pitching.

- Alex Wilson is well known at this point, having been in the system since being taken in the second round out of Texas A&M back in 2009. He has a sturdy pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, with a well-filled out lower half. He throws from a ¾ arm slot with effort in his delivery stemming from long arm action that includes a stab and arm loop.

Wilson relies primarily on his fastball (both four-seam and sinker varieties) and his slider. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range generally, touching 95-96 mph on occasion, but is on the straight side. His sinker has slightly less velocity usually, sitting in the low-90s with late downward action. He has average-to-better command of the offering and solid control. Wilson’s best secondary pitch is his slider, primarily thrown in the 84-87 mph range. The pitch has tight rotation and depth that allows it to serve as a potential plus outpitch. Wilson has feel for the slider and the confidence to throw it in any count. In the higher end of velocity range, the pitch shortens up and looks more like a cutter. On those occasions, he’ll throw it in the high-80s with short, horizontal movement. Wilson’s final pitch is an 86-88 mph changeup that he throws sparingly. The pitch is below-average as it lacks velocity separation from his fastball as well as movement.
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at 12:58 PM

Astros select Jason Garcia in Rule 5 draft, trade him to Orioles


Capping off an eventful morning, the Houston Astros selected right-hander Jason Garcia from the Red Sox with the fourth pick of the Rule 5 draft, then trading him to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named or cash. The Red Sox selected Jandel Gustave from the Astros with the sixth pick, but reports are that he will be flipped to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.

Garcia, currently ranked as the 36th best propsect in the system, has seen his stock rise in recent months after reports came out in the fall that he was hitting 100 and sitting in the high 90s with his fastball. The 22-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013, and came back to throw 56 1/3 innings in 2014 between Lowell and Greenville, with an ERA of 3.67. He appeared in his first game on June 13, and after shaking off some rust, he ended the season on a tear for Greenville, going 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last 29 innings for the Drive, striking out 32. 
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at 12:17 PM

Red Sox reportedly trade Cespedes, Wilson, Speier for Rick Porcello


The Red Sox have reportedly traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, reliever Alex Wilson (pictured), and left-hander Gabe Speier to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for right-hander Rick Porcello. The deal was first reported by CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports, and the inclusion of Wilson and Speier was first reported by WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
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at 7:30 AM

Jon Lester: The rise of the $155 million man


When SoxProspects.com got its start back in 2003, left-hander Jon Lester was a tantalizing but raw talent in Single-A. The site has followed him as he rose from a projectable arm to legitimate phenom prospect to recognized ace, and now, one of the highest paid players in baseball after signing a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Lester's time with Boston was eventful. On the field, he played key roles on two World Champions and made three All-Star teams. Off the field, he famously beat a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Twice the Washington native was almost traded in deals that would have brought superstar players to Boston, only to have those deals fall through.

When the 30-year old was dealt to Oakland at the trade deadline, there was some belief that the departure could be temporary. However, it was not to be. With his time with the club officially coming to a close, we at SoxProspects.com decided to make Lester the subject of our latest Player Retrospective.
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at 1:14 AM

Report: Red Sox to part with Webster, De La Rosa in deal for Wade Miley


As first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi and since confirmed by multiple outlets the Red Sox have made their first move to help bolster their rotation, making an agreement in principle with the Arizona Diamondbacks that will bring 28-year-old left-hander Wade Miley to Boston in exchange for right-handers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, as well as another minor leaguer. At press time, the deal is not complete, with the identity of the minor leaguer still to be decided.

Update, 12/12: The Red Sox officially announced the trade this evening, with Raymel Flores announced as the third player headed to Arizona. For more on the trade, see our Trade Analysis by Ian Cundall and Chaz Fiorino.
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December 8, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Rusney Castillo returns to action


This week's roundup covers play from the period of December 1-7. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

After missing six weeks with a thumb injury that occurred in the Arizona Fall League, Rusney Castillo (pictured) made his debut in Puerto Rico, going 4 for 11 with a walk. His best game came on Thursday, when he laced three singles while adding a stolen base and scoring a run. His teammate in Puerto Rico, Henry Ramos, also had a solid week, going 4 for 9 with three walks, and he also reached base three times on Thursday. Christian Vazquez managed only one hit in his nine at-bats this week, and he did not get a chance to show off his arm, as nobody attempted to steal in his two games behind the plate.

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December 5, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Dodgers claim Ryan Lavarnway off waivers


The Red Sox announced this afternoon that catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway has been claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lavarnway had been designated for assignment on November 25 to make room on the 40-man roster for Pablo Sandoval.

For a look back at Lavarnway's time with the Red Sox organization, be sure to check out Will Woodward's retrospective from last month.
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December 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Off-Season Notes: Rankings galore and hot stove action


Much of the attention is being paid to major league free agency, but we have you covered with news and notes from the month of December:

  • This month we wrapped up the Top 40 in Review series, which culminated with a feature on the top prospect in the system, catcher Blake Swihart (pictured, right). Due to all the young talent making its way to the majors this year, we expanded the series to cover Graduates in Review, featuring Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman and Jackie Bradley Jr. Find all of those write-ups, loaded with season summaries and scouting reports, though this link.  
  • The SoxProspects.com staff were not the only ones pouring over rankings. Alex Speier wrote Baseball America's Red Sox Top 10 rankings earlier this month. He then came on the podcast to discuss those rankings.
  • Baseball Prospectus also released its Red Sox Top 10 rankings this week, and one of the heads of their prospect team, former SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Chris Mellen, joined the podcast to dig a bit deeper.
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December 1, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Podcast Ep. 68: Chris Mellen returns with BP's #diesel Red Sox top 10


Within a week of the major league club making a pair of huge signings in Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, Baseball Prospectus has dropped its Red Sox Top 10 prospects list (subscription req'd), which means one thing... the return of Chris Mellen to the podcast! Hatfield, Matt, and Ian welcomed back the Dean of #diesel, now one of the men in charge of the BP prospect team, to discuss BP's list and the state of the farm.

And by the way, please take our one-minute survey at http://bit.ly/SPPodSurvey!

Click through for links and in-site player!
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at 1:34 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Aneury Tavarez continues hot streak


This week's roundup covers play from the period of November 24-30. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the off-season.

Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

On Saturday, Edwin Escobar threw an inning with two strikeouts without allowing a baserunner as Lara cruised to an easy victory.

Dominican Baseball League

Aneury Tavarez (pictured) continued his impressive run for Estrellas this week, going 5 for 9 with three walks, two triples, a double and three stolen bases. Tavarez's overall line now stands at a white hot .396/.455/.542 with five steals over 48 at-bats. Heri Quevedo's struggles continued as he took the loss in his only appearance this week, allowing two hits (one by former Red Sox Manny Ramirez) and two earned runs without retiring a batter.

Juan Francisco was designated for assignment when the Hanley Ramirez signing was made official, but we'll update here on the chance he stays with the organization. He had a solid week at the plate for Licey, finishing 4 for 11 with a double, three walks and four strikeouts.
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November 26, 2014 at 1:38 PM

SoxProspects Staff Announcement: Promotions and new hires!


As we're getting into the full swing of hot stove season, I want to take a minute to thank all of our readers for reading the site, and I also want to thank the SoxProspects.com Staff for all their hard work this year.  We're on pace for approximately 15 million pageviews in 2014, which will make it one of our best years ever. I also want to make a bunch of site announcements that will surely top the Red Sox' announcement of the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez yesterday.

First, in the scouting world, Chaz Fiorino has been promoted to Assistant Director of Scouting. A graduate of MLB Scouting Bureau Scout School, Chaz just joined the SoxProspects staff this past January. He hit the ground running and attended dozens of games over the course of the year, making monstrous contributions to our scouting reports. Chaz will continue to report to Director of Scouting Ian Cundall, who has fairly recently taken a more active role in the management of the site. Chris Mellen, now the Co-Director of the Prospect Team at Baseball Prospectus, remains a valued scouting adviser. 

Over in the writing department, James Dunne has been promoted to Senior Staff Writer. James joined the SoxProspects staff in November 2011. In 2014, he grabbed more breaking news stories than anyone on the staff. Jim Crowell has also been promoted to Senior Staff Writer. He has been with us since July 2011, contributing to breaking news, notes columns, the Cup of Coffee, and columns. John Gray, Will Woodward, Brian Gagnon, and Harry Burnham are all also back for 2015, rounding out a fantastic returning writing and editing staff, managed by Executive Editor Chris Hatfield and Managing Editor Matt Huegel, both of whom also serve as columnists and scouts. Additionally, Jon Meoli and Tim Healey will stick around as emeritus columnists, contributing if and when they can.  

I'm also very excited to announce that we've added four new writers to the Staff. Katie Morrison recently graduated from Northeastern (go Huskies) with a degree in communications. She has worked as an online content contributor for WEEI.com and a broadcast statistician for WEEI Radio, and came highly recommended. Jack Mitchell is a journalism student at the University of Connecticut, currently in his junior year. He has worked as an associate managing editor for The Daily Campus and done freelance work for the Hartford Courant and the Ipswich Chronicle. Eric Gendron is a reporter for The Darien Times. He has a communications degree from the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College (go Bombers). Nick Rabasco is a junior at East Stroudsburg University, majoring in communications and minoring in English. He’s also a 2B/OF on the school’s baseball team. 

It’s also bittersweet to announce that Dan Hanson and Luke Lavoie will no longer be with the staff in 2015. Dan had been with us for a while, but with a fourth child recently arrived and an expert taste in wine, he has much higher callings to attend to. Luke is writing for the Howard County Times and the Laurel Leader.

On the web editing side, I’m happy to announce that longtime stalwarts Mike Reynolds and Steve Henley will be around for another year. Additionally, Jonathan Singer was promoted to Senior Correspondent earlier this year. Jon has been with the site for about ten years, so long that I can't even nail down his start date. Additionally, JP Kitson, Andrew Kolodziej, Matt Picard, Rebecca Fishbein, and Keith Wade will return for another year as web editors in 2015. Matt will be taking on a much larger role covering player transactions, replacing Alex Skillin, who’s moving on to focus his writing with SB Nation, Hardball Times, and Beyond the Box Score.

Last but not least, the forum moderators. I’m sad to report that Adam Fox has decided to step down after over ten years as a moderator. I want to thank Adam for all his hard work and contributions to the site over the past ten years.  He will truly be missed.  The returning moderating staff for 2015 includes Josh (chavopepe2), a longtime Senior Moderator, John (jmei), a newly-promoted Senior Moderator, Norm (oregonnorm), and Matt Picard. We’re also adding two new moderators – longtime readers Norberto (pedroelgrande) and Joel (iakovos11)

With all of the new additions, I’m very excited about the "prospects" for 2015. See what I did there? 

Cheers,
Mike Andrews
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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at 7:30 AM

Hanley Ramirez: A former top prospect returns


Since SoxProspects.com launched in September 2003, fans have seen several elite prospects come through the Red Sox system. Our newer readers have followed players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts from the beginning of their careers, but only our longtime readers will remember the days when Hanley Ramirez (pictured) was the crown jewel of a top-heavy system. With Ramirez officially returning to the Red Sox on Monday, what better time to look back at the talented, at times mercurial star’s rise through the minors with the club.

2000-2001

Ramirez was signed in July 2000 at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic for a mere $20,000 by scout Levy Ochoa. He made his professional debut in 2001 in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .345 with a .533 slugging percentage, hitting five home runs. For a player who received such a meager bonus, he certainly put himself on the map, and the Red Sox named him the Player of the Year for the DSL team.
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November 25, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Ryan Lavarnway designated for assignment as Sandoval signs


With the Red Sox making the signing of third baseman Pablo Sandoval official, and the club has designated Ryan Lavarnway (pictured) for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

The Red Sox now have ten days to either trade Lavarnway or try to pass him trough waivers, but even if he were to clear waivers, he has the right to elect free agency if the club outrights him to Pawtucket. Thus, it is likely that the club will explore a trade for the catcher/first baseman first, although the return would probably be limited.

Lavarnway was selected out of Yale University in the sixth round of the 2008 draft after three years in the Ivy League. He began his professional career in Lowell that same year, and in 2009 was assigned to Greenville where he posted strong offensive numbers, earning the first of three consecutive Soxprospects.com Offensive Player of the Year honors after slashing .285/.367/.540 with 21 home runs.
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at 12:00 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Vazquez shines in Puerto Rico


This week's roundup covers play from the period of November 17-23. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in offseason action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.

Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

Edwin Escobar made a pair of scoreless outings out of the bullpen for Cardenales de Lara. He struck out one in 1 2/3 perfect innings in Wednesday's loss to Margarita, then followed up by allowing just one hit in 2/3 of an inning on Sunday as Lara knocked off Caracas. Escobar did not issue a walk in either appearance.
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at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Xander Bogaerts


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, are closing this year by featuring the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Peak System Ranking: #1
Graduated: May 2 (#1)
2014 Teams: Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 594 PA, .240/.297/.362, 28 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 39 BB, 138 SO, 2 SB

Links:

Season in Review: With incumbent shortstop Stephen Drew choosing to decline the Red Sox's qualifying offer last offseason, Bogaerts was cemented into the starting shortstop role for 2014. After the mega prospect impressed in 2013, forcing himself into the starting lineup during the Red Sox World Series run, expectations were high. However, it was an up-and-down season both with the bat and in the field for the young phenom, who played the entirety of the season as a 21-year-old. Through June 3, Bogaerts was Boston's most productive hitter, slashing .304/.395/.464 in 238 plate appearances and ranking in the top three in on-base percentage in the American League.
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November 24, 2014 at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Mookie Betts


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, are closing this year by featuring the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Mookie Betts, 2B/OF
Peak System Ranking: #1
Graduated: September 12 (#1)
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 213 PA, .291/.368/.444, 12 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 21 BB, 31 K, 7 SB (majors)
464 PA, .346/.431/.529, 30 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 61 BB, 50 K, 33 SB (minors)

Links:

Season in Review: In 2013, Betts raised his profile from a deep sleeper into a top-ten prospect in a deep system. After ranking outside the top 30 entering that season, the 21-year-old came into 2014 ranked 10th on the SoxProspects.com rankings and was a Preseason All-Star. The Red Sox continued their aggressive promotion of Betts and started him in Portland, where he was almost four years younger than the average position player. He immediately picked up where he'd left off in 2013, emerging on the national scene with a 66-game regular season on-base streak extending into the prior campaign. The Betts hype machine kicked into full gear in May, when he began playing games in center field, answering the often-asked question of how he would get to the majors with Boston while Dustin Pedroia mans second base.
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November 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Christian Vazquez


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, are closing this year by featuring the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Peak System Ranking: #5
Graduated: September 12 (#5)
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 201 PA, .240/.308/.309, 9 2B, 1 HR, 19 BB, 33 K (majors)
270 PA, .279/.336/.385, 17 2B, 3 HR, 21 BB, 52 K (minors)

Links: 

Season in Review: A strong 2013 campaign saw Vazquez’s bat begin to develop in the upper levels of the minors, culminating in a call-up to Triple-A at the end of the season. The Puerto Rico native began 2014 back in Pawtucket and continued his progress with the bat while displaying his trademark defensive mastery, throwing out 40 percent of would-be basestealers. Although Vazquez’s on-base percentage sat at just .313 through the season’s first two months, and he did not hit his first home run until June 6, a strong five-and-a-half-week stretch in which Vazquez batted .314/.376/.467 with three home runs and seven doubles over 29 games from the very end of May into July showed his readiness for his first taste of the big leagues. The 24-year-old got that chance on July 9, when the Red Sox designated A.J. Pierzynski for assignment and recalled Vazquez.

Vazquez became the club's primary catcher and played in 55 major league games over the season’s final few months, demonstrating why his defense had drawn such praise down in the minors. The catcher threw out 15 of 29 attempted basestealers and pitch framing numbers showed him to already be among the best in the game at stealing strikes. Even though his overall offensive numbers did not stand out, he did show some improvement down the stretch. In the month of September, Vazquez batted .277/.351/.385 in 21 games, making more consistent contact and drawing eight walks compared with 14 strikeouts, putting himself into position as the team's primary catcher entering 2015. - Alex Skillin

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Coming into the season, the main thing holding Vazquez back was his hitting ability, as his defense was universally praised. Since joining the system, Vazquez has greatly improved at the plate to the point where it is no longer a stretch to project him as an everyday catcher capable of being an average hitter (.255-.274 average) with below-average power (10-14 home runs). The offensive projection might look a little light, but the bar at catcher is very low and Vazquez's defensive ability makes it so even if he hits like he did this past season he is still an extremely valuable player. At the plate, Vazquez has a short, compact swing, strong bat-to-ball skills, and average batspeed. He has a solid approach, but can get caught chasing fastballs up in the zone and good breaking balls down. Vazquez has more gap power than home run power right now, but as he matures it should develop more.

Vazquez’s calling card comes behind the plate, where he has the potential to be one of the best all-around defensive catchers in the game. He has a solid catcher's frame, listed at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds. He is maxed out physically with a thick lower half that will be able to withstand the rigors of a full season's workload behind the plate. His best attribute is his throwing ability; his arm profiles as elite, consistently popping sub-1.8 second times on throws to second (2.0 is average). He has a quick release and is very accurate with his throws. The other attributes of his defensive game have greatly improved since he joined the system, especially his receiving and game calling. He used to struggle with blocking balls in the dirt, for example allowing 23 passed balls in 2013, but has greatly improved in that area, nearly halving that number in 2014. Vazquez is liable, however, to sometimes cheat on with runners on to get in a better position to throw, leading to an occasional passed ball. Vazquez got a taste of the big leagues this year and put together a respectable line at the plate and showed off his excellent defensive ability. He is set to become the everyday catcher in 2015 with the Red Sox, or at worst someone who catches the majority of the games in a platoon. After that, things could get tricky, with Blake Swihart likely ready for the big leagues as well sometime in very late 2015. - Ian Cundall

Additional editorial support provided by Norm Cimon.

Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor


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at 12:04 AM

SoxProspects.com Podcast #67: Reserved at the Reserve List Deadline


Thursday's reserve list deadline came and went without much fanfare, but that doesn't mean there was nothing to talk about. While the roster additions were the four we all expected, Chris and Matt ran through those who were not added to the 40-man roster and may be potential selections in next month's Rule 5 Draft. Of course, that wasn't all that happened this week, so the guys said goodbye with a look back at Alex Hassan's time with the organization, then moved on to shiny new toy Juan Francisco and what he brings to the Red Sox. Finally, a pair of listener emails led to discussions of Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada and whatever happened to Jose Vinicio.

Click through for the links and player!
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November 20, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Swihart, Rodriguez, Coyle and Shaw added to 40-man roster


The Red Sox have announced the additions of four minor leaguers to their 40-man roster on Thursday, the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. As expected, Boston has added catcher Blake Swihart, left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, second baseman Sean Coyle and first baseman Travis Shaw. With the addition of these four, the 40-man roster is now full.

Swihart is coming off of a season that may have cemented him as the top catching prospect in all of baseball. The switch-hitting, 22-year-old hit .293/.341/.469 between 92 games for Portland and 18 for Pawtucket. In addition to being both a SoxProspects.com preseason and postseason All-Star, Swihart was an Eastern League All-Star and the Sea Dogs MVP in 2014. A first-round pick in 2011, Swihart projects to kick off next season as Pawtucket's starting catcher.
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at 12:07 AM

Red Sox to decide who to protect from Rule 5 Draft on Thursday


On Thursday, teams must set their reserve lists—the most well-known and most important of these, of course, being the major league 40-man roster—in preparation for December's Rule 5 Draft. By midnight, each team will set their rosters, deciding who to protect and who to expose to potential selection in a major league roster oddity that has grown increasingly less important in recent seasons. Indeed, an average of 12 players have been selected in the major league phase of the draft over the last three drafts, with a low of just nine selections in 2014. In this era, Thursday's roster deadline is arguably far more important than the Rule 5 Draft itself.

This year, the decisions facing the Red Sox are not quite as simple as some past years—for example, the 2013 offseason, in which Anthony Ranaudo, Bryce Brentz, and Garin Cecchini were protected—nor quite as difficult as other years—take 2012, when the Sox designated five players for assignment and added six on roster deadline day.
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November 19, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Kukuk arrested, charged with aggravated robbery


Red Sox minor leaguer Cody Kukuk was one of five men who were arrested in connection with a reported home invasion in Lawrence, Kansas, which took place on November 8. According to WOW! 6 out of Lawrence, Kukuk was arrested on Monday in California, and he will appear in court early Thursday morning before potentially being extradited to Kansas.
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at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Allen Webster


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, are closing this year by featuring the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status. Note that there will be no entry tomorrow, but the series will return on Friday.

Peak System Ranking: #3
Graduated: August 15 (#5)
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 59 IP, 5-3, 5.03 ERA, 58 H, 35 R/33 ER, 28 BB, 36 K, 1.46 WHIP (majors)
122 IP, 4-4, 3.10 ERA, 107 H, 45 R/42 ER, 44 BB, 100 K, 1.24 WHIP (minors)

Links:

Season in Review: After making his MLB debut in 2013 and throwing 30 1/3 big league innings, Webster broke camp in 2014 as the Opening Day starter for the PawSox, needing to prove his way back into the majors. he went just 3 2/3 innings and picked up the loss in his first start, but he rebounded to pitch to a 2.12 ERA over his next 51 innings, giving up only 40 hits while walking 21 and striking out 35. He had his worst start for Pawtucket on May 25, surrendering six runs on nine hits over five innings, but he came back with an absolutely dominating performance his next time out, firing eight innings of one-run ball, walking only one and striking out seven while notching 18 swinging strikes. Webster was solid yet unspectacular over his last nine games with the PawSox, giving up 20 runs in 54 1/3 innings (3.31 ERA), walking 18 and striking out 50. The decline in his walk rate and his uptick in his strikeouts were positive signs, but he did have trouble with the long ball at the end of his Pawtucket tenure, serving up five home runs over his last eight games.
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November 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Brandon Workman


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, this week we will feature the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Peak System Ranking: #8
Graduated: June 6 (#8)
2014 Teams: Boston Red Sox, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 87 IP, 1-10, 5.17 ERA, 88 H, 57 R/50 ER, 36 BB, 70 K, 1.43 WHIP (majors)
61 1/3 IP, 7-1, 4.11 ERA, 61 H, 28 R/28 ER, 17 BB, 55 K, 1.27 WHIP (minors)

Links:

Season in Review: It was an up-and-down season for Workman, both in terms of performance and roster status. After Workman played a key role in the Red Sox 2013 championship run, the former Texas longhorn opened the 2014 campaign in the Boston bullpen. Despite allowing only one run over 6 1/3 innings in three first-week outings, Workman was a victim of the numbers game when Craig Breslow returned from the disabled list. Back with Pawtucket, he returned to the rotation and failed to impress, perhaps due to the disappointment of being back in Triple-A after being a key part of the major league club last October, giving up at least three runs in six of his seven starts before being recalled to Boston in mid-May.
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November 17, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Alex Hassan claimed off waivers by Oakland


The Oakland Athletics announced today that they have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers. The 26-year-old Hassan had made his major league debut with the Red Sox in June, during his sixth year with the organization. Hassan is the second player in less than a week depart Boston for the A's:  catcher Carson Blair was signed as a minor league free agent, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America

Hassan, a product of Milton, Massachusetts and BC High School, was originally taken by the Red Sox in the 20th round of the 2009 draft out of Duke. As he made his way through the system, he gained notoriety for his keen batting eye. With Portland in 2011, he walked 76 times on top of a .291 batting average, compiling a stellar .404 on-base percentage and garnering Eastern League All-Star recognition. 
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at 12:00 PM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: AFL winds down, Vazquez makes debut


This week's roundup covers play from the period of November 10-16. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in offseason action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.

Arizona Fall League

Surprise wrapped up action this week, dropping their final game, 5-2 to Peoria on Thursday. The Saguaros finished 16-15 for the season. At the plate, Sean Coyle finished up his last three games strong, going 5 for 12 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Coyle's infield partner, Deven Marrero (pictured) was 3 for 8 with a run scored in his last two games, finishing with a .328/.414/.443 line in 17 games. Marrero finished first in OBP and third in batting average among AFL participants.
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at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Jackie Bradley, Jr.


As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, this week we will feature the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Peak system ranking: #2
Graduated: April 18 (#2)
2014 Teams: Boston Red Sox, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 423 PA, .198/.265/.266, 19 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 31 BB, 121 K, 8 SB (majors)
69 PA, .212/.246/.273, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 18 K (minors)

Links:

Season in Review: An elite 2013 spring training performance catapulted Bradley to the big leagues despite having a mere 271 plate appearances above High A, and readers will be familiar with the weak performance across 107 big league plate appearances that followed. After some Triple-A seasoning that saw him post a robust .842 OPS, the 24-year-old entered 2014 poised to take over the starting job in center field following the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency. Unfortunately, on the offensive side of things, it resulted in a nightmare that no one could have anticipated. Things started out alright, as Bradley hit .244/.344/.372 through the end of April, more than enough to justify his elite glove in center field. However, once May came around, the 2011 first-round supplemental draft pick entered an extended funk, slashing .190/.261/.258 with a 13 walks to 52 strikeouts over 181 plate appearances through June. July represented a modest improvement (.278/.325/.347), followed by a horrible 5 for 35 slump that finally resulted in his demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket on August 18, with the Red Sox replacing him with top prospect Mookie Betts.
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November 14, 2014 at 11:15 PM

Red Sox name Mike Rikard Director of Amateur Scouting


The Red Sox have made a pair of front office moves. Amiel Sawdaye, the team's Director of Amateur Scouting since the 2010 season, has been promoted to team Vice President. Mike Rikard, who most recently served as National Scouting Coordinator, will take over as the Amateur Scouting Director.

In 2012, Rikard was identified by Baseball America as one of 10 Future Scouting Directors. He joined Boston's scouting department in 2004 as east coast crosschecker after four years as a scout in the Padres organization. He moved up to national crosschecker in 2010 before taking over as scouting coordinator in December 2012. A former college shortstop at UNC Greensboro, Rikard was an assistant coach both Wake Forest and Elon before moving to the professional ranks. He also had some experience in the New England baseball community before joining the Red Sox, serving as manager of the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League in 1999 and 2000.
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at 7:30 AM

Top 40 in Review: Blake Swihart


All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 451 PA, .293/.341/.469, 26 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 31 BB, 80 K, 8 SB

Links:

Season in Review: Expectations were very high for Swihart coming off a year in which he hit .298/.366/.428 for Salem and was named the organization's Defensive Player of the Year. To begin the year he was assigned to Portland, where he was almost three years younger than the average position player in the Eastern League. Swihart had little trouble making the transition from High A to Double-A, becoming an almost boring model of consistency. He never went more than two starts without a hit with the Sea Dogs and showed increased power, hitting 12 home runs in 380 plate appearances after hitting just nine in 800 trips to the plate in the previous two seasons. His final line in Portland was .300/.353/.487, and had he qualified, he would have finished seventh in the league in average and slugging and ninth in OPS, while also throwing out an impressive 47 percent of runners, good for, essentially, second in the league.
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November 13, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 in Review: Henry Owens


All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#2: Henry Owens, SP
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 159 IP, 17-5, 2.94 ERA, 121 H, 53 R/52 ER, 59 BB, 170 K, 1.13 WHIP

Links:

Season in Review: Owens entered 2014 looking to follow up on his breakout 2013 campaign, in which he went 11-6 with a 2.67 ERA between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, striking out 169 batters in 135 innings and becoming a consensus Top 100 prospect, ranked as such by Baseball America (#40), Baseball Prospectus (#69), and MLB.com (#30). The lanky lefty started the season strong, hurling a rain-shortened, six-inning no-hitter in his first start and following with 6 2/3 shutout innings in his next start, striking out nine in each outing and making many wonder if he was not long for the level. Owens did come down to earth in his next three starts, giving up 12 earned runs in 16 innings, allowing 19 hits and 10 walks while striking out only 11 hitters, but that stretch proved to be essentially the final bump in the road as he reeled off a stretch of 11 starts between early May and the All-Star break in which he allowed just 38 hits and 27 walks in 71 innings, posting a 1.39 ERA and striking out 76 hitters. He threw several gems in that stretch, but the most eye-popping was an eight-inning display of dominance on July 6 to enter the break, in which he allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out 11.
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at 12:19 AM

SoxProspects.com Podcast #66: Deluxe Discussion of Instructs, and the Mailbag!


A long-time coming, Chris, Ian, and Matt got on the horn to talk about Ian's trip to the Fall Instructional League! Michael Kopech, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, Javier Guerra, Jake Cosart, and many more players were in our Director of Scouting's crosshairs. Also on the agenda: a quick run through the offseason leagues, with a chat about what to make of the numbers put up by Sean Coyle, Deven Marrero, and Robby Scott in the Arizona Fall League. PLUS, a listener mailbag spectacular! What should the Sox do with their glut of upper-minors pitching? Who did we like in Lowell this year? What does next year's draft look like? The answers to those and more await!

Also, we're asking our listeners for a BIG favor. If you're even a part-time listener of the show, please fill out the survey at http://bit.ly/SPPodSurvey. You'll be doing us a big-time solid.

Click through for links and the in-site player!
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November 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 in Review: Manuel Margot


All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#3: Manuel Margot, CF
2014 Teams: Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox
Final Stats: 469 PA, .293/.356/.462, 25 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 39 BB, 54 K, 42 SB

Links:

Season in Review: Of the many breakout performances in the Red Sox system in 2014, perhaps the most striking was that of Manuel Margot. Coming off a solid stateside debut with Lowell in 2013 that saw him hit .270/.346/.351 and earn plaudits for his glove and speed (his 18 steals tied for fourth in the New York-Penn League), Boston assigned Margot to Low A Greenville to open 2014. In the fifth game of the season, the 19-year-old Dominican homered twice, an impressive feat given that his single home run in 49 games the previous year had been of the inside-the-park variety. He went deep again two days later, but then fell into an extended power outage. In a 50-game stretch from April 12 through the All-Star break, Margot homered only once and hit just .257/.332/.335 - fine numbers for his age, but not more than that. However, Margot began heating up with the weather, blasting six doubles, four home runs and ten stolen bases from his return from the break on June 19 through the end of July.
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November 11, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 in Review: Rafael Devers


All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#4: Rafael Devers, 3B
2014 Teams: GCL Red Sox, DSL Red Sox
Final Stats: 302 PA, .322/.404/.506, 17 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 35 BB, 50 SO, 5 SB

Links:

Season in Review: Other than Mookie Betts, Devers was arguably the best hitter in the Red Sox farm system this year, hitting for both average and power despite being only 17 years old. Given a $1.5 million signing bonus in July 2013, some thought that Devers might debut in the Gulf Coast League after impressive showings in the 2013 Fall Instructional League and 2014 Spring Training.The Red Sox instead assigned the young third baseman to the Dominican Summer League, challenging him to show why he belonged at a higher level. He did not disappoint, hitting a monstrous opposite-field home run in his first game and starting the season with an 11-game hitting streak that saw him bat .442/.537/.814 with with three home runs and more walks than strikeouts. After continuing to dominate in the DSL, the Red Sox promoted Devers to the Gulf Coast League on July 2. His final DSL line of .337/.445/.538 is basically unparalleled for a Red Sox player in that league, and you have to go back to Ronald Bermudez (who was two years older and repeating the league) in 2007 to find a similar offensive performance.
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