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November 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM

2015 Top 40 Season in Review: Chandler Shepherd and Kyle Martin

Last week, we recapped the 13 players who were in the top 40 in the SoxProspects.com rankings at some point this season, but no longer are. Today, we start our recap of the seasons of the players ranked in the site's end-of-season rankings. Note that because we set the schedule for this feature several weeks ago, we are going to move forward with using the season-end rankings, despite the recent trade of Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje to San Diego.

2015 Teams: Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox
Final Stats: 67 IP, 3.09 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 62 K, 10 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 40 (October)

Season in Review: Shepherd was one of the sensations of the Cape Cod League back in 2013, generating buzz as a potential top-100 pick the following spring. Unfortunately, a laceration on his pitching hand forced him into the Kentucky bullpen, and the right-hander ended up falling all the way to the 13th round of the 2014 draft. The Red Sox gave Shepherd a slightly conservative placement out of spring training this year, assigning him to Low A Greenville. The 6-foot-2 righty faced little resistance at that level, striking out 16 of the 64 batters he faced (25 percent) in seven outings and earning an early promotion to Salem on May 14.

High A proved a more appropriate challenge. In 52 1/3 innings across 28 appearances, he continued his trend from Greenville with a very impressive 46 strikeouts against only seven walks. The more advanced bats of the Carolina League did reach Shepherd more frequently, scoring off him in 10 of those 28 outings. Perhaps the most interesting note in his game log was the change in his usage in mid-July. Shepherd initially served in more of a long relief/swingman role, getting at least six outs in 13 of his first 14 outings with Salem, facing 10 or more batters in eight of those and going at least three innings five times. In his next 14 appearances, he pitched exactly one inning eight times, and in no outing did he go beyond six outs or eight batters faced. At the end of the season, Shepherd was assigned to the Arizona Fall League where to date he has struck out 14 in 8 2/3 innings while allowing five runs on five hits and six walks. - James Dunne

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Shepherd is a right-hander with an athletic, filled-out frame and a live arm. His delivery is smooth and repeatable, but he can be inconsistent in repeating it. He throws strikes and has solid pitchability. Shepherd’s fastball sits in the low-90s when he is fresh, but he struggles to hold velocity when he gets deeper into an outing. His best secondary offering is a slider at 82-84 mph that shows horizontal movement and solid-average potential. He also will mix in a changeup at 86-88 mph that is on the firm side, but will flash arm-side fade. His changeup lags behind his slider, but in a bullpen role that is not much of an issue. Shepherd is strictly a bullpen arm, but he has a solid three-pitch mix and the poise and polish to project as a middle reliever. He will start next season in Portland with the eye towards a promotion to Pawtucket at some point, which would position him for a potential first call-up to Boston in 2017. - Ian Cundall

#39 Kyle Martin, RHP
2015 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs; GCL Red Sox (rehab)
Final Stats: 46 IP, 4.11 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 52 K, 16 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 38 (July)

Season in Review: For the second straight season, Martin both showed encouraging growth and suffered setbacks. In 2014, the towering 6-foot-7 right-hander out of Texas A&M posted dominating strikeout and walk numbers with Salem but allowed 11 home runs in 80 2/3 innings.  He cut that homer rate significantly in 2015, giving up only three in his 42 innings of non-rehab work, but his walk rate nearly doubled, from 1.8 per nine innings up to 3.1, and he allowed a surprising .319 average to right-handed batters despite not surrendering a home run to a same-sider. Martin also spent two months on the disabled list from mid-May until mid-July, missing key development time. Still, despite some frustrations, the former Aggie was the first pitcher in the Red Sox 2013 draft class to reach Double-A and he is not Rule 5 eligible for another year. In order to make up some of those mid-season innings, Martin was also assigned to Arizona, and in 8 1/3 innings, he has allowed two runs on six hits and one walk while whiffing eight. - James Dunne

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Martin struggled through injuries and inconsistency this year, but when he is on, he is difficult to hit. Martin has a tall, filled-out frame, listed at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds. He starts on the first base side of the rubber and throws from a three-quarters arm slot with long arm action. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and has touched higher with some arm-side run. His changeup is a potential above-average offering that could miss bats at the big league level. He throws it 79-82 mph with strong feel. The pitch shows late drop and fade, and he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. It also has solid separation from his fastball and at its best will fall off the table as if he pulled the string on it. Martin will also throw a slider in the low-80s, but the offering is inconsistent and more a work in progress. With the potential for an above-average fastball and changeup and the ability to command both of those pitches, Martin has the potential to pitch in a middle relief role at the big league level. He will start next year in Pawtucket, and if he excels could position himself as an option to help out the big league bullpen at some point. - Ian Cundall

Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor