November 1, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Here are this month's minor league notes:
- Much of the prospect news this month was centered on the Arizona Fall League. Yoan Moncada (pictured, right) was obviously the biggest name of the Red Sox. He started off on fire going 6-for-14 with a double, home run, two RBI and five runs scored over the first 10 days of the league. After that, he got only one hit over his next 10 at-bats. Strikeouts were a problem throughout his time in the AFL, striking out in 42% of his at-bats.
- The fall league continues through the 19th of November, but it will continue without Moncada. He injured his thumb which required a trip to a specialist according to Bernie Pleskoff of FanRag Sports. In the days since Moncada has been seen with his thumb wrapped with a splint and his time in the AFL is over. However, multiple reports have cited the fact that the injury is just a sprain and he should be ready for spring training.
- The other top Red Sox prospect garnering a lot of attention in the AFL is righty Michael Kopech, currently the ranked fifth on the SoxProspects.com rankings. He was a logical candidate to be sent to the AFL with his advanced stuff, but also due to the fact that he was suspended 50 games to start this season and needed to make up the innings.
- Kopech's strong Arizona Fall League performance has earned him a spot on the 2016 Fall Stars roster. Over his first three starts, Kopech has impressed, throwing 10 innings with a 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts to one walk. He is coming off a 2016 regular season where he dominated to the tune of a 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 86 strikeouts to 33 walks over 56 1/3 innings.
- It is no surprise he continues to receive national attention. Both Pleskoff and ESPN's Keith Law had very positive write-ups on Kopech's recent starts. Like everyone, Law was impressed by the upper-90s velocity and said he had "top-of-the-rotation" potential, but also stated that he needed to work on his command and his inconsistent secondaries. Pleskoff, a former Astros and Mariners scout, was much more glowing in his report, ultimately giving him a 60-grade ("all-star quality") grade.
- MLB Pipeline handed out their 2016 Organizational Prospects of the Year for each organization this past month. The Red Sox hitter of the year went to outfielder Andrew Benintendi while Kopech took home the award for pitchers.
- Baseball America also released their 2016 Top 20 Eastern League Prospects list and two Red Sox top the list: Yoan Moncada earned top honors just edging out teammate Andrew Benintendi who finished second.
- Lefty Trey Ball was also named to the Fall Stars roster, which is determined by a combination of performance as well as prospect status. Ball has been pitching out of the bullpen and overall his numbers in the AFL are not pretty: 8.10 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, and six strikeouts to nine walks. However, almost all of that damage was over one awful start where he gave up five runs on five walks without getting an out. Over his five other appearances, he has been much more respectable, allowing only one run with five strikeouts and four walks over 6 2/3 innings.
- The subject of the latest SoxProspects.com video, Mauricio Dubon (pictured, left), has slowly crept up the rankings, ending the year as the 10th ranked prospect in the SoxProspects.com rankings. His stock was buoyed by his strong statistical performance this year, finishing with a .323/.379/.461 line with 30 steals split between Salem and Portland. His success has continued during his time in the AFL, hitting .293/.310/.537 over 41 at-bats in Arizona, and he has also been working on his versatility, seeing time in center field for his first time as a professional. Dubon is a write-in candidate to make the Fall Stars roster along with Kopech and Ball.
- If you have missed any of the early action in the Arizona Fall League or any other winter leagues, we've got you covered with our weekly Fall/Winter League Roundup. There were three from this past month: October 17, October 24, and October 31.
- On the latest edition of the SoxProspects Podcast, executive editor Chris Hatfield and director of scouting Ian Cundall discussed Ian's trip to the Fall Instructional League and also answered listener submitted questions.
- Ian also submitted his third and final edition of Scouting Scratch from his time down at instructs. Players featured include right-handers Bryan Mata, Mike Shawaryn, Stephen Nogosek, Joan Martinez, and Juan Perez.
- There was a lot of news for the Red Sox front office this week. The first domino to fall was when Mike Hazen was named GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Soon after, word broke that Red Sox Vice President of Amateur & International Scouting Amiel Sawdaye would be joining Hazen as his Assistant GM. Many praised Sawdaye on his way out, including the Boston Globe's Alex Speier. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains that Sawdaye decided to go to Arizona largely because of his history with Hazen. MacPherson also points out that Sawdaye was only offered the Assistant GM job in Boston due to what Dave Dombrowski described as a "lack of readiness". Boston will not name a GM, instead choosing to leave the position open. It is also widely speculated that current Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo will interview with the Diamondbacks for their opening manager position.
- Other losses for the organization include the Red Sox mental skills coach, Bob Tewksbury whose contract was not renewed by the team as Speier reported. In turn, the Red Sox announced that Brian O'Halloran will retain his VP and Assistant GM titles to be joined as Assistant GM by Eddie Romero. Dombrowski explained his thinking on the restructuring of the Red Sox front office to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- MLB has mentioned recently that they are thinking of moving towards an International Draft, an idea that has received huge pushback. Baseball America's Ben Badler is always on top of all things related to amateur international baseball, and this is no different. Badler made a well-written argument about how any change would need to start at the top, saying that the people creating the rules do not understand how international players are developed and ultimately signed.
- Soon after, international trainers started to threaten to have their players boycott MLB's annual showcase in the Dominican Republic in protest against a potential international draft. This ultimately resulted in the event being canceled. In response, MLB responded by also asking many players from that event to take drug tests, as Badler reports. Scouts are siding with the international prospects and trainers, continuing to display outward signs of frustration with the way MLB attempts to regulate this part of the game. This could have a very large impact on the game moving forward as international players continue to comprise a large portion of the players and prospects in Major League Baseball.
- Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America has begun analyzing all of the 2016 draft classes. Earlier this month, he looked at the Red Sox's class covering a bunch of categories.
- The Paw Sox announced that they have won the 2016 Community Involvement Award from the Providence Business News. Their accomplishments include their charity program that was established in 1999 to which the team has donated over a million dollars to date, as well as having players and mascots appear at over 120 community events this year, tripling their 2015 appearances.
- As we continue to try and bring you the best Red Sox prospect coverage out there, we are looking to add four new staff members to our team: two (2) web editors and two (2) social media specialists. I can say personally that it has been an amazing, rewarding, and fun experience working with the SP staff and would highly recommend applying. Here are the full job listings.
Photo Credit: Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon by Kelly O'Connor.
Will Woodward is a Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.