January 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM
This is about a week late, but happy new year! Closing the book on 2016, we saw the Red Sox return to the playoffs after a pair of last-place finishes, while President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski continued his trend of trading away pieces of the farm system to augment the Major League roster. In an annual tradition, we look back at our most-read News Page posts of the year. When you're done checking these out, look back at the top posts of 2015, 2013, and 2012!
Thanks to everyone for reading. Cheers to a great 2017!
With all respect to Bautista, who currently sits at number 21 in the SoxProspects rankings and has an intriguing future as a bullpen arm, the big story here was Director of Scouting Ian Cundall's second look at Boston's top pick in this year's draft, former New Jersey high school right-hander Groome. Although some things—such as Groome's larger-than-expected body for a high school grad—took Ian by surprise, he generally liked what he saw, particularly his three-pitch mix from the left side. It was enough for us here at SoxProspects to keep what as probably a minority opinion by (barely) keeping Groome ahead of Michael Kopech up to the time the latter was traded to the White Sox.
The arrival of Yoan Moncada in the majors was an exciting headline to the sometimes-mundane September call-up news. But, as Ian wrote, "How he will perform, however, is still a question mark, as he is not a finished product and is more raw than Benintendi was when he made the same jump from Double-A to the big leagues a few weeks ago. Out of the gate, there could be some struggles, both at the plate and in the field...," and that proved to be the case, although as I've said on the SoxProspects podcast, we were taken by surprise by both how quickly Moncada was handed the everyday job at third and how quickly he lost it.
Ian and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino made the trip to Port Charlotte to see the High and Low A clubs play the Rays on their first day in Fort Myers (in a piece that I edited from Obrycki's at BWI before catching my own flight south, actually). Chaz's writeup on Moncada was the big-ticket item here, of course, as the system's top prospect's day included facing major leaguer Jake Odorizzi. Adding reports on Luis Alexander Basabe, Travis Lakins, and Jake Cosart, among others, made this a great start to our trip to Spring Training.
When a player ranked by some outlets as the top on-field talent in the draft falls to number 12, it's going to cause a stir. That's just what happened when the Red Sox selected Groome in this June's draft, a moment that I admit stunned me—call it the inverse of when the club selected Trey Ball over other talents that had been ranked higher (coughAustinMeadowscough) in 2013. At the time, Groome gave the organization a trio of talented young arms along with Kopech and Anderson Espinoza (pictured, top), the likes of which it had not had in years.
Managing Editor Matt Huegel wrote this after seeing the Red Sox fifth-rounder out of the University of Maryland throwing for the Lowell Spinners. Shawaryn turned in a fine performance in his professional debut, starting to look like a potential steal.
5. The Write-Up: Andrew Benintendi, July 7
The SoxProspects.com Player of the Year, Benintendi (pictured, right) was in the midst of a superlative summer and less than a month away from his Major League debut when Chaz penned this report. Just over one year from being selected seventh in the 2015 draft, Benintendi blazed through the system in a way not often seen in baseball, nevertheless in the Red Sox system. This report, complete with video, served as a great preview for those unfamiliar with Benny Baseball when he arrived in The Show.
4. 2016 Red Sox Draft Preview, June 6
Senior Staff Writer Will Woodward put together this list of potential picks for our preview of this year's draft. Although he was unable to peg the Sox pick at #12, #51, and #88, he did successfully identify Shawaryn as a potential later-round pick, as well as Bobby Dalbec, Stephen Nogosek, and the unsigned Nick Quintana as former Team USA players who may be on the club's radar.
Ahhhh, Dealin' Dave. With the Red Sox in contention for the American League East, the club went all-in and dealt for Ziegler and Drew Pomeranz to shore up the roster for the stretch run. In exchange, the team gave up infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe and right-hander Jose Almonte for setup man Ziegler, as well as promising young right-hander Espinoza for NL All-Star Pomeranz. The Analysis of the Ziegler trade projected Basabe and Almonte favorably compared to the return the Red Sox received, but noted that the club paid a steep price for Pomeranz should Espinoza settle in at or even a bit below his potential.
1. Scouting Scratch: Jason Groome, Sept. 8
You didn't think that we would just mention that number 10 was Ian's second look at Groome without mentioning the first, did you? When Groome got a two-start cup of coffee with the Spinners at the end of the year—with the second coming in the playoffs, meaning only the first was for certain—Ian made sure to get down to Connecticut to catch the club's first-round pick. Again integrating video from the SoxProspects YouTube page, Ian's report noted how impressed he was despite Groome's significant command and control struggles in the outing.
Photo credit: Anderson Espinoza and Andrew Benintendi by Kelly O'Connor
Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor at SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.