November 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM
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
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.
When August dawned, he exploded, hitting safely in 13 straight and compiling a .446/.492/.696 line that the South Atlantic League could no longer contain. Promoted to High A Salem on August 15, Margot continued to dominate, going .340/.364/.560 in 15 Carolina League contests. A sprained ankle suffered while running the bases in a late August game proved to be the only thing that could stop him, as the injury kept him from participating in the Carolina League playoffs. The burst in power in 2014 was the most notable development in a stat line that was full of positives. Margot had put his name on the map with a combination of contact, speed, and defense with Lowell in 2013, but his isolated slugging was just .081. In 2014, that number more than doubled to .169, as he delivered 42 extra-base hits on his way to a .293/.356/.462 line across two levels. He was one of just five minor leaguers with 10 home runs and 40 stolen bases. Beyond his power burst, Margot saw across-the-board offensive improvements. He led the organization with 42 stolen bases and struck out only 59 times in 469 plate appearances - his 11.5 percent strikeout rate representing a sharp drop from an 18.5 percent clip the previous year. He capped the year as the first overall pick in the Dominican (Winter) Baseball League's draft by Este, and he has seen some time as a defensive replacement for los Toros. - James Dunne
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Long a player oozing with five-tool potential and excess athleticism, Margot began taking potential and making it reality this season, showing the skills that will allow those tools to play up to their potential. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound center fielder has a strong, athletic build and uses his above-average speed to great effect both in chasing down flyballs and on the basepaths. Patrolling center field is the place where Margot's talent is most immediately prevalent. He combines plus range with good reads and precise routes, and projects as an above-average defender in center. Reports have varied on his arm, ranging from fringe-average to solid. He also possesses plus-plus speed that plays well on the bases. He still has work to do in learning to read pitchers, having only stolen bases at about a 74-percent clip this season, and he projects to steal something like 25-30 bases in the majors.
At the plate, Margot's batspeed has long forecasted power potential; the crack off his bat has a distinctive sound that is uncommon among players his age, and did even before he was able to generate much in-game home run power. He has a fluid swing and generates power with leverage at the point of contact. He is aggressive at the plate and is still developing a plate approach, but he does show patience. Improving his ability to recognize breaking pitches will be one key development point in coming seasons, particularly as he shows increasingly advanced arsenals. Margot was one of the youngest players in the Carolina League to end the season, so it is likely he will return to Salem to start 2015, with a good chance to see Portland by season's end if he can adjust to the league much in the same way he adjusted to and began dominating the South Atlantic League this year. - Chris Hatfield
Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.
Photo Credit: MiLB.com