SoxProspects News

September 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM

2014 SoxProspects.com All-Stars


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.

Catcher: Blake Swihart
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). 

First Base: Travis Shaw
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.

Second Base: Sean Coyle
Like Shaw, Coyle rebounded from a difficult 2013 season to re-establish his prospect status in 2014. The 5-foot-8 Coyle hit .295/.371/.512 on the season. After missing much of May with an injury, he returned to win Player of the Month honors in June, hitting .348/.450/.652 in 92 at-bats. A third round selection in 2010 out of Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Coyle is a SoxProspects.com All-Star for the second time. He was previously honored in 2011, when he was also honored as the organization's Rookie of the Year.

Third Base: Rafael Devers
It was a rapid ascent in 2014 for the 17-year-old Devers, who began the league in the Dominican Summer League and finished it ranked the number three prospect in the organization. Signed to a $1.5 million bonus in July 2013, Devers did not disappoint in his highly-anticipated professional debut. He dominated in his initial assignment to the DSL, hitting .337/.445/.538 and getting promoted after only 28 games. Devers' output in 42 Gulf Coast League games pales only in comparison to the standard he set in the DSL. As the youngest player in the GCL, he finished 12th in the circuit with a .484 slugging percentage. 

Shortstop: Deven Marrero
The Red Sox top pick in the 2012 draft continued to move up the ladder quickly, reaching Pawtucket in his second full professional season. Long noted for his prowess with the glove, Marrero got off to a strong start with the bat during his stay with Double-A Portland. The Arizona State University product hit a solid .291/.371/.433 line, breaking out in June by hitting .368/.441/.552. While he slumped to a ,210 average after a July 2 promotion to Triple-A Portland, Marrero's defense continued to shine, drawing raves from the SoxProspects.com staff an community.

Outfield: Mookie Betts
Seventeen months ago, Mookie Betts was at Low A Greenville not yet ranked among the top 60 prospects in the Red Sox system. The rise since then has been remarkable - earning honors as the SoxProspects.com Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, Taking over as the number one prospect in the organization in April, and then graduating from prospect status two weeks ago after another sterling season. On opening day, Betts went 4 for 4 with a homer and three runs scored, and did not look back. He hit .355/.443/.551 for Portland, and followed with a .335/.417/.503 line after his promotion to the PawSox. Perhaps most impressively, his monstrous offensive production came while Betts was learning a new defensive position. The 2013 SoxProspects.com All-Star at second base made his first professional start in the outfield on May 18 with Portland.

Outfield: Manuel Margot
Signed to an $800,000 bonus in 2011, Margot continued to show steady improvement before an August breakout. The 19-year-old center fielder was hitting a solid .258/.330/.404 with Greenville when the calendar turned from July. Then Margot went on an incredible 13-game hitting streak, going 25 for 56 with four doubles, two triples and two home runs, raising his season OPS by 70 points in just two weeks. Margot continued to rake after a promotion to High A Salem, delivering a. 340/.364/.560 line in 16 games to close out the season.

Outfield: Alex Hassan (tie)
Hassan made his second consecutive SoxProspects.com All-Star team, an idea that seemed almost inconceivable in early June. The 26-year-old was hitting only .217/.318/.303 on June 1 when injuries necessitated a call-up to Boston. He collected his first major league hit in his debut, but struggled mightily in his second appearance, going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts against Cleveland. Back in Pawtucket, Hassan made critical adjustments that turned his season around, hitting .328/.413/.500 over his last 70 games.

Outfield: Luis Alexander Basabe (tie)
The speedy Basabe was overshadowed at times by Rafael Devers, who followed a similar path of starting the season in the DSL and clubbing his way over to the Gulf Coast League. Signed out of Venezuela in 2012 to a $450,000 contract along with his twin brother Luis Alejandro, Basabe hit .284/.408/.480 highlighted by 11 triples in his repeat engagement in the DSL. After coming stateside on July 23, Basabe helped bolster the GCL-winning Red Sox with a .248/.328/.324 line and error-free outfield defense.

Utility player: Carlos Asuaje
A 2013 11th-round pick, Asuaje had an outstanding offensive season while seeing significant playing time at each of second base, third base and left field. In his first full professional season, Asuaje hit .310/.393/.533 across Greenville and Salem, leading the organization in slugging and with 101 runs batted in. The 23-year-old was remarkably consistent as well, slugging at least .489 in every month. He was promoted to Salem in mid-July, and didn't miss a beat, hitting for a higher batting average an on-base percentage after moving up a level.

Starting Pitcher: Brian Johnson
It was a breakout season for Johnson, who had a record-setting season while moving across three levels. The former Florida Gator began the season with High A Salem, posting a pedestrian-seeming 3.86 ERA that was belied by excellent peripheral numbers--33 strikeouts and only seven walked in 25 2/3 innings. It was after an early-May promotion to Double-A Portland that the left-hander's season took off. Johnson posted a 1.75 ERA in 20 starts, a Portland franchise record and the lowest mark in the Eastern League since 1985. He closed the regular season with a nearly-unhittable stretch of eight starts, allowing only four earned runs and 21 hits in 53 1/3 innings, good for a 0.68 ERA and .121 batting average against. Johnson finished his season by making his Triple-A debut in Game 2 of the Governors' Cup, allowing two runs in six innings, striking out seven.

Starting Pitcher: Henry Owens
How dominant was Portland's pitching staff while setting a franchise-record 88 wins? The pitcher who had the lowest ERA in the circuit in 29 years lost the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honor to his own teammate. Owens didn't post an ERA quite as miniscule as his fellow lefty, but was arguably the more dominant force. The 6-foot-7 Owens won 17 games between Portland and Pawtucket, leading the organization with 170 strikeouts and 159 innings pitched. He began the season with six no-hit innings on opening day, and had a 2.60 ERA through 20 starts when he was promoted to Pawtucket. There he delivered a 4.03 ERA in six outings, striking out 44 and issuing only 12 walks in 38 frames.

Starting Pitcher: Anthony Ranaudo
Ranaudo followed up his 2013 comeback with a repeat on the SoxProspects.com All-Star team. The 2010 first-round pick out of LSU made 24 starts for Pawtucket on his way to being named International League Pitcher of the Year. Ranaudo had a 2.61 ERA and 1.203 WHIP, striking out 111 in 138 innings. The New Jersey native made his major league debut on August first at Fenway Park against the Yankees, earning the win with six strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Haley
Of the four starting pitchers selected by the community, Haley is the only one without a first-round pedigree. The 2012 sixth-rounder moved between the rotation and a piggyback role with Salem, making 11 starts an eight appearances out of the pen. He posted a 2.82 ERA in 92 2/3 innings, with an impressive 74 strikeouts against only 23 walks. Haley then took Henry Owens' spot in the Portland rotation after Owens got the call to Pawtucket. Haley continued to impress, with a microscopic 1.19 ERA an .222 opponents' batting average in six starts.

Swingman: Jonathan Aro
For the second consecutive season, Aro has been honored for his work in the often-difficult piggyback role. The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander began the season in the Greenville bullpen, where he had a 2.27 ERA in 25 outings. Aro's best stretch came in May, as he allowed just one run in 21 1/3 innings giving up eight hits and striking out 25 on his way to Pitcher of the Month honors. He joined High A Salem at the end of July and continued his excellent work, with a 1.80 ERA in seven outings.

Swingman: Joe Gunkel
Gunkel joins Aro as the All-Star swingman, but their roles were quite different in 2014. While Aro played the traditional piggyback role, Gunkel began the year in the bullpen and had moved exclusively to the rotation by season's end. The South Atlantic League proved to be no match for the 6-foot-5 righty no matter the role. He had a 1.50 ERA in 12 relief outings before posting a 2.96 ERA in six starts. He met more resistance with Salem, posting a 4.64 ERA in 10 starts after a mid-June promotion. His overall season line showed a 3.47 ERA across the two levels, with a very impressive 101 strikeouts and only 24 walks in 103 2/3 innings

Relief Pitcher: Tommy Layne
At 29, Layne is the oldest member of this list, but that does little to take the shine off what has been an excellent season both at Triple-A and at the major league level. The former San Diego Padre's recognition comes for his work with the PawSox. There, he posted a 1.50 ERA in 35 appearances, striking out 53 and walking only 20 in 48 innings. His strong work got his contract purchased by the Red Sox before a July doubleheader, and the lefty has done the most with his opportunity, allowing only two runs in 19 innings.

Relief Pitcher: Noe Ramirez
A 2011 fourth-round pick, Ramirez earns an All-Star nod for the second straight season after converting the the bullpen full time in 2013. A fixture at the back of the Portland bullpen, Ramirez earned saves in 18 of his 42 appearances, going more than three outs eight times. He finished the season with a 2.14 ERA and 56 strikeouts against only 16 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings.


Relief Pitcher: Keivin Heras
Heras, signed out of Venezuela in 2011, earns a spot after not allowing an earned run in any of his 14 appearances. The 2012 winner of the Red Sox Minor League Latin Program Pitcher of the Year award came stateside in 2013. After pitching in a swingman role that year, Heras moved excluslively to the bullpen in 2014. The 19-year-old allowed only six run, all unearned, in 27 2/3 innings, adding a 0.915 WHIP, 16 strikeouts and only four walks.



Photo Credit: Keivin Heras by SoxProspects, LLC; All other photos by Kelly O'Connor

 
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