January 4, 2016 at 7:00 AM
As we near the end of our countdown, this week we will recap the players ranked 4, 3, and 2 in the SoxProspects.com season-end Top 40. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#4 Manuel Margot, CF
2015 Teams: Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs
Final Stats: 480 PA, .276/.324/.419, 6 HR, 32 BB, 51 K, 39 SB
2015 Peak Ranking: 3 (May, August-September)
Season in Review: The 21-year-old athletic center fielder entered the year ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the system on the SoxProspects.com rankings after a 2014 season that saw him impress in both Greenville and Salem. He got 2015 off to a similarly strong start, hitting .362/.391/.586 with six stolen bases over his first 15 games. He garnered headlines as the last player in the minor leagues to strike out, failing to whiff in his first 62 at-bats of the season and continuing his streak including the end of last season to combine for an amazing 79 at-bats. However, after that strong start, even while continuing to not strike out, his numbers collapsed as he tried to play through what would eventually be diagnosed as a strained intercostal muscle. Over his next 12 games, he hit just .116/.204/.116 before finally heading to the disabled list for 20 days. In 19 games after coming off the disabled list, Margot hit .313/.337/.463, even despite some rust in his first week back, and he was promoted to Double-A Portland on June 21. Shortly afterward, his selection to the 2015 Futures Game was announced, where he later went 0 for 2 with a strikeout, starting in center field and hitting seventh for the World team.
In Double-A, Margot started off well enough—for example, hitting .295/.358/.443 with one home run after 16 games. However, as one of the youngest players in all of Double-A—he was the second-youngest player in the Eastern League at the time of his promotion—the league did eventually catch up to him and his aggressive plate approach. After 64 games, he finished with a .271/.326/.419 line, that after a late-season flourish in which he hit .326/.380/.506 in his final 22 games. His line on the year also showed a player who feasted on left-handed pitching (.385/.446/.670) while match-ups against fellow right-handers were more along the line of famine (.239/.283/.336).
The biggest Margot-related news, of course, came after the season was over. He was a key piece of the Red Sox trade for closer Craig Kimbrel, heading to the Padres along with fellow prospects Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje. Being able to be a large part of such a trade shows how highly valued the center fielder has become in the four years since he was signed out of the Dominican Republic. - Will Woodward
Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Ian Cundall and Chaz Fiorino wrote up detailed scouting reports of the prospects traded to San Diego for Craig Kimbrel in our Trade Analysis feature (excerpt below).
His best present tools are defensive ability and speed, but he also has potential to hit for average and some power. Margot is a potential plus-to-better center fielder with no questions about his ability to stay up the middle. He gets solid reads off the bat and does a good job tracking the ball, wasting little movement in his routes. His arm strength is only solid-average, but he is accurate with his throws and has a quick release that will play in center. Although he is not the same caliber defender as a Jackie Bradley, he still plays a very impressive center field, and with his instincts and speed he will be a very good fit in the spacious outfield in San Diego. Margot is also a plus-to-better runner with the type of speed that makes the defense rush. He gets out of the box well for a right-hander, and though he has not put up big-time steal totals in the minors, he has the potential to steal 30-plus bases at the big league level.
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor