November 13, 2015 at 8:30 AM
This marks part three of three of our look at players who were once in the top 40 but fell out for various reasons. Next week, we start our recap of the current top 40.
Austin Rei, C
2015 Teams: U. of Washington Huskies; Lowell Spinners
Final Stats: 130 PA, .179/.287/.295, 2 HR, 11 BB, 39 K (minors); 110 PA, .330/.445/.681, 7 HR, 12 BB, 28 K (NCAA D-I)
2015 Peak Ranking: 21 (July)
Current Ranking: 41
The 2015 third rounder entered the rankings at 21 on the strength of pre-draft scouting reports that pegged him as one of the best defensive catchers in the draft and a Baseball America top 100 draft prospect. He missed time during his junior season at Washington with a torn left thumb ligament which may have hurt his draft stock, and it is quite possible that it still bothered him in Lowell, as he did not nearly come as advertised, struggling both at the plate and in the field. He flashed plus tools defensively at times, but at others, he had a hard time even catching pitches in the strike zone. At the plate, the numbers tell the story, although he did right the ship somewhat after a 2-for-30 stretch to start his pro career. While he may have been a candidate to start 2016 in Salem, after his performance in Lowell, Rei will almost certainly begin 2016 in Greenville.
Tate Matheny, OF
2015 Teams: Missouri State Bears; Lowell Spinners
Final Stats: 210 PA, .181/.237/.218, 0 HR, 9 BB, 52 K (minors); 296 PA, .291/.417/.449, 5 HR, 37 BB, 37 K (NCAA D-I)
2015 Peak Ranking: 32 (July)
Current Ranking: 59
Like Rei, Matheny was a disappointment in Lowell after the draft. Not only were the offensive numbers poor, but so was the scouting – in one game scouted by the SoxProspects staff, for example, he went 0 for 4 with 12 swing-and-misses. The scouting report for Matheny—a center fielder in college who saw lots of time in left and right field in deference to Andrew Benintendi and Luis Alexander Basabe—was not particularly exciting even before the draft, profiling as a “tweener” defensively who played above his average toolset in college. After the draft, he never got going in Lowell, and his numbers would have been even uglier if not for a 7-for-17 stretch to end the season. Matheny will head to Greenville for his first full season, where he will likely cede most of the center field reps to Basabe again.
Joe Gunkel, RHP
2015 Teams: Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, Bowie Baysox
Final Stats: 144 2/3 IP, 2.68 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 113 K, 27 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 26 (June)
Traded to Baltimore on June 3 for Alejandro De Aza and cash considerations
Gunkel had worked his way into the SoxProspects Top 30 by the time he was traded for De Aza and cash in June, profiling as a major league reliever with a great ground-ball inducing sinker who could be death to right-handers. Gunkel continued the success he saw with Salem and Portland for eventual Eastern League champion Bowie, posting a 2.59 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 104 1/3 innings after the trade. However, he posted a career low strikeout rate with just under six per nine innings in that time. Gunkel likely still projects as a major league reliever, although the Red Sox are likely satisfied with their return of three months of De Aza and relief prospect Luis Ysla.
Dalier Hinojosa, RHP
2015 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Philadelphia Phillies
Final Stats: 24 2/3 IP, 0.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 23 K, 11 BB (majors); 55 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 52 K, 22 BB (minors)
2015 Peak Ranking: 34 (April)
Claimed off waivers by Philadelphia on July 15 (ranked 38th at time of DFA)
Top 40 Season in Review: 2014
Hinojosa may not have been a high-level prospect, but his loss ranks as one of the most unnecessary of the Ben Cherington tenure. The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster in April to make a single MLB appearance, only to try and pass him through waivers unsuccessfully three months later. After he was claimed by Philadelphia, Hinojosa spent a week in Lehigh Valley before a successful three-game stint in the majors (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K). Hinojosa was sent back to Triple-A for most of August, but had a dynamite September call-up for the Phillies, allowing just three runs, two earned, on 13 hits and eight walks while striking out 16 over 18 innings. Although his longtime struggles finding the strike zone do not appear to have subsided in that sample, five of the eight walks were in the first two of his 15 appearances. Hinojosa has positioned himself to take a spot in Philly’s bullpen next season, and while nobody would say he is necessarily a future closer or even setup man, the solid MLB bullpen arm he may become, with two options remaining, has a lot of value on a roster.
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor