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November 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM

2015 Top 40 Season in Review: Christopher Acosta and Ben Taylor

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. Monday we began our recap of the players ranked in the site's end-of-season top 40, and today is the third installment. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here. 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.

2015 Teams: DSL Red Sox
Final Stats: 33 2/3 IP, 4.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 22 K, 5 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 30 (May)
Season in Review: 2014

Season in Review: At this time last year, Acosta was almost always linked in conversation with 2015 breakout phenom Anderson Espinoza. The two even shared a paragraph in our System Restart back in Spring Training. While there might be some natural inclination to be disappointed that Acosta didn’t match Espinoza’s breakthrough, that would be totally unfair to Acosta (or to any player, really). Realistically, 2015 did not give much more insight into the 17-year-old right-hander than there was heading into the season. A 4.28 ERA is not the sort of dominance one would hope to see out of a $1.5 million pitcher, but DSL stats are notoriously non-predictive and Acosta pitched only nine times. If you are looking for bright spots, Acosta did not allow a home run, he issued only five walks, and his arm was healthy – his four-week stint on the disabled list was due to an ankle injury. - James Dunne

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Because he's the only player in the top 40 yet to make his debut stateside, we have no first-hand scouting information on Acosta, so here is an edited version of what we wrote last year: Acosta reportedly is not as raw as you would expect a 16-year-old July 2 signee to be. Seen as the top pitching prospect in the Dominican Republic last signing period, Acosta shows an advanced feel for pitching and utilizes a three-pitch mix. He is lanky at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, and should add 20-30 pounds as he matures. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, and his mechanics could use some tightening up. His fastball already sits in the low-90s with good movement, and he throws his changeup—one of the best in last year's international class—often, and in any count. Acosta's third pitch is a curveball that could use some work, but he has shown confidence in it as well. Acosta will make his stateside debut next year in either Lowell or the GCL, with the latter perhaps a shade more likely. - Chris Hatfield

#35 Ben Taylor, RHP
2015 Teams: Lowell Spinners, Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 55 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 54 K, 17 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 31 (Current, post-trade)

Season in Review: The Red Sox used their seventh-round selection in the June draft on the 6-foot-3 right-hander out of the University of South Alabama. As a reliever for the Jaguars who received only a $10,000 signing bonus, Taylor seemed to profile as a signability pick, but his performance after signing showed him to be more than roster filler. Assigned to Short Season-A Lowell after signing, Taylor was excellent in his four outings, allowing two runs on eight hits in 10 innings, walking only two and striking out 17. This earned him a promotion to Greenville and, perhaps surprisingly, a spot in the Drive rotation. Taylor had not worked at all as a starter for South Alabama, but he took to the role quickly, allowing a run on four hits in four innings in his Low A debut on July 18. Taylor was not a dominant force in the South Atlantic League, allowing at least one run in each of his 10 starts, but he was consistently solid. He gave up exactly one run in five of his outings and allowed more than two only three times. In 45 innings with the Drive, he struck out 37, walked 15, allowed only two home runs, and surrendered fewer than a hit per inning. - James Dunne

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: One of the less heralded members of the Red Sox' draft class, Taylor could turn out to be a sleeper in the bunch as he showed a polished three-pitch mix and strong pitchability. Taylor has a filled-out, sturdy pitcher's frame, listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot from the first base side of the rubber. His delivery is repeatable and compact and has some drop and drive in it with a slight arm hook behind. His fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and gets up to 95 mph with arm-side run. His secondary pitches include a changeup and slider, both thrown in the low-80s. His slider shows short, vertical break, and his changeup is thrown with deceptive arm speed and late fade. Taylor doesn't have a true plus pitch, but with a solid three-pitch mix and advanced arsenal, he could move quickly through the low minors. Long-term, his stuff likely profiles best out of the bullpen, where he would only have to focus on developing one of his secondary offerings, but he will be developed as a starter for now. Taylor will likely start the 2016 season in Salem with the eye towards a promotion to Portland later in the season. - Ian Cundall

Photo credit: Christopher Acosta by Baseball America and Ben Taylor by Mike Kitrell, AL.com