April 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM
The SoxProspects.com writing staff presents the System Restart, our season-opening, position-by-position preview of the Boston Red Sox farm system for 2017. This is the third of seven parts, covering the outfield.
Position at a Glance: After the graduation of the entire starting outfield for the current Red Sox—for the purposes of this series, we are going to treat the consensus top prospect in the game, Andrew Benintendi (pictured, far right), as graduated, especially given that he has already literally graduated as of this date—and the trades of several other high-end prospects, the farm system is bereft of high-end talent in the outfield. Ironically, this has been an issue for some time despite the youth and talent in the current major league outfield—consider that Mookie Betts is a converted second baseman and Benintendi tore through the system in a little over a year. As it now stands, no player in the farm system projects as a surefire starting outfielder, but there are a handful of intriguing prospects, headlined by Aneury Tavarez and followed up by a pair of 2015 draftees and a pair of interesting prospects in Greenville. – Ian Cundall
Aneury Tavarez, LF/RF, Portland (#28)
Receiving Tavarez (pictured, left) back at the end of spring training from the Baltimore Orioles, who had selected the talented Dominican in December's Rule 5 draft, was a potential godsend for the Red Sox outfield depth in the upper minors. Tavarez just turned 25 years old and is coming off a tremendous year in Portland that saw him hit .335/.385/.506 in 106 games. He has continued to hit throughout the winter in the Dominican Professional Baseball League, where he hit .283/.349/.362 in 46 games, and the early going in 2017, as he his currently hitting .342/.409/.447 for the Sea Dogs. While Tavarez has spent much of his time in the Red Sox system since first signing in October 2010 flying under the radar, he is forcing his way into what should be an imminent promotion to Pawtucket and, perhaps, into the picture should an outfielder be needed in case of injury at the major league level. – Nick Rabasco
Tate Matheny, CF, Salem (#29)
Scouting reports on Matheny often note that no one attribute, whether physically or tools-wise, stands out—at least, perhaps, as much as his name does, being the son of St. Louis Cardinals manager and former major league catcher Mike Matheny. After a dreadful start in his professional debut in 2015 in Lowell, in which he hit just .181, the former fourth-round pick out of Missouri State put up solid numbers in Greenville last season, finishing with a .277/.330/.382 line with five home runs, earning South Atlantic League All-Star honors both for the midseason game and at the end of the year. Now that Luis Alexander Basabe is gone to the White Sox system, Matheny will get to play the lion's share of innings in center for Salem this year and the opportunity to show that he can become a depth option down the line. – Eric Gendron
Kyri Washington, LF/RF, Salem, (#30)
Boston took Washington in the 23rd round of the 2015 draft due to the exciting power potential he displayed at Longwood University. Washington put together a solid season in Greenville last season, hitting .262/.326/.487 with 16 home runs and 16 stolen bases. His hit tool will have to develop as he rises through the minors in order for him to tap into that power, as he struck out in 28.5 percent of his plate appearances last season, walking only 7.8 percent of the time. If he’s able to make more consistent contact, he could profile as a power-hitting corner outfielder. Washington also has room to improve in the outfield – Conor Duffy
Tyler Hill, LF, Greenville (#31)
Hill has shown steady improvement since he was drafted in the 19th round in the 2014 draft. After only appearing in four games with the GCL Red Sox in 2014, and repeating the level in 2015 with a nondescript .250/.344/.280 line in 132 at-bats he became a bit of an afterthought. That changed in 2016 when Hill was named a New York-Penn League All-Star and a SoxProspects.com All-Star after hitting .332/.402/.487 with 23 extra-base hits and 11 steals in 61 games for Lowell. Despite the gaudy numbers, however, Hill has plenty of development ahead to build on his breakout. With a left field-only defensive profile, his chances to project as a major leaguer rely even more heavily on his becoming more consistent generally, developing his pitch recognition, and cutting down on mental errors on the field. – Jim Crowell
Lorenzo Cedrola, CF, Greenville (#32)
Cedrola has been one of the top-performing players in the lower minors for the Red Sox over the last two years. After he signed for $35,000 out of Venezuela in February 2015, the organization named him its the 2015 Latin Program Player of the Year after batting .321/.420/.415 with 27 steals in the Dominican Summer League. He came stateside in 2016 and was a solid contributor for the GCL Red Sox, batting .290/.350/.393. He impressed the Red Sox enough for them to call him up to Lowell for the playoffs last season, though he did not appear in either of the two games. The center fielder has shown the ability to hit for average and post a strong on-base percentage, and he has flashed plus-plus speed that allows him to impact the game on both offense and defense. However, the question is whether his size—his is much smaller than his listed 5-foot-10—will limit his ability to develop enough power to impact the baseball. – Jim Crowell
System Depth Chart (number in parentheses = SoxProspects.com ranking)
(Note: It is common for minor league teams to rotate four outfielders, especially when they can utilize the DH to do so.)
Boston: The Red Sox boast perhaps the most exciting young outfield in the game, with a great fourth option in Young. This minimizes how problematic the lack of minor league depth is for the organization... for now.
Starters: Andrew Benintendi, LF (#1); Jackie Bradley Jr., CF; Mookie Betts, RF
Bench: Chris Young, LF/CF/RF; Steve Selsky, 1B/LF/RF (#36); Brock Holt, Util
Pawtucket: Where the Boston outfield is full of young players who've met or exceeded expectations, Castillo, Brentz, and Craig are, at this point, examples of performance failing to meet projections.
Starters: Bryce Brentz, RF (#51); Rusney Castillo, CF; Junior Lake, LF
Depth: Allen Craig, DH/1B/LF/RF
Injured: Brian Bogusevic, LF/RF
Regulars: Aneury Tavarez, LF/RF (#28); Joseph Monge, CF (#37) (pictured, right); Danny Mars, LF/CF/RF (#44); Cole Sturgeon, LF/CF/RF
Part-time outfielder: Nick Longhi, 1B/LF/RF (#9)
Salem: An intriguing group, but steps forward are necessary for all to really get on the radar.
Regulars: Tate Matheny, CF (#29); Kyri Washington, LF/RF (#30); Mike Meyers, LF/RF (#56); Bryan Hudson, LF
Depth: Chris Madera, LF/CF/RF
(Injury Rehab: Trenton Kemp, LF/RF)
Greenville: Hill, Cedrola, and Aybar all have one or more major holes to fill in their games, but could rise quickly if able to do so.
Starters: Tyler Hill, LF (#31); Lorenzo Cedrola, CF (#32); Yoan Aybar, CF (#46)
Depth: Ryan Scott, LF/RF
Extended Spring Training: The Red Sox may look to shore up this group in the draft and with international signings.
Projected Lowell: Ramfis Berroa, LF/RF (#59); Nick Hamilton, CF/RF; Matt McLean, LF/CF/RF; Juan Barriento, RF
Projected GCL: Juan Carlos Abreu, LF; Marino Campana, LF/RF; Granger Studdard, LF/RF
Projected DSL: Juan Hernandez, CF; Daniel Rincon, LF/CF/RF; Willis Figueroa, LF/CF/RF; Fabian Andrade, LF/CF/RF; Rafael Rincones, RF; Jose Mejias, LF; Keibert Petit, LF; Dawill Aponte, LF; Alexander Martinez, LF/RF
Suspended: Chad Hardy (projection: GCL)
Photo credit: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi; Aneury Tavarez, and Tyler Hill by Kelly O'Connor