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SoxProspects News

July 3, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Minor Notes: International signing period opens

Here are Monday's minor league notes:
  • The 2017-18 international signing period began on Sunday and the Red Sox were able to add some impact talent for the first time in three years. Boston could not pay bonuses of more than $300K in 2015-16 due to exceeding their bonus cap during the previous period. They attempted to work around these restrictions by using package deals-- signing multiple players from the same agency and redistributing the wealth-- and were unable to sign international free agents last period due to penalties from MLB. When the new period began on July 2nd, the Red Sox signed three notable Venezuelan prospects: catcher Daniel Flores (ranked as the 2nd-best international prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com) and shortstops Danny Diaz (ranked 7th by BA and 13th by MLB.com) and Antoni Flores (ranked 35th by BA and 20th by MLB.com). These three players will earn bonuses of $3.1M, $1.6M, and $1.4M respectively. The Red Sox signed two more players unranked by BA and MLB.com: shortstops Nelfy Abreu ($450K bonus) and Denny Daza (bonus unknown). 
  • Daniel Flores, considered one of the best catchers ever at his age, is clearly the standout of the class for Boston. Some evaluators considered him the best international prospect this year and Ben Badler of Baseball America describes his skill set. While his elite defense is his calling card, Flores is also a switch-hitter with the potential to hit for average and power. Diaz is currently a shortstop but scouts expect him to move to third base in the future. Wherever he plays, he'll be defined by his bat and has the potential to hit for power in the middle of a lineup. Antoni Flores has a better chance to stick at shortstop in the future and profiles as a contact hitter who could grow into some power. 
  • The Red Sox made a few trades to add more international bonus money, dealing Nick Longhi (pictured) to Cincinnati and moving Imeldo Diaz and Stanley Espinal to St. Louis. Longhi, whom the Red Sox selected in the 30th round in 2013, ranked 13th on SoxProspects.com. Longhi profiles as an average contact hitter with some raw power but it's unclear whether he'll hit enough as a first baseman or corner outfielder. He was hitting .262/.306/.401 with six home runs in Portland. Diaz nor Espinal, both infielders who had been playing in Lowell, were unranked in the SoxProspects.com top 60. 
  • The rosters for the Futures Game were announced last week and third baseman Rafael Devers was named to Team World. While Devers is Boston's only representative this season, he'll be joined by some old friends. Second baseman Yoan Moncada and shortstop Mauricio Dubon will join Devers on Team World and right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech will play for Team USA. 
  • Since he signed with the Red Sox, scouts have questioned whether Devers will be able to play third base long term. Alex Speier wishes to dispel this notion, as Devers has flipped his script and now looks like an athletic defender with a strong arm. If the Red Sox give Devers a shot at a major league job this season, his defense won't hold him back. 
  • Third baseman Michael Chavis has been the breakout star in Boston's system this season, slashing .318/.388/.641 in Salem and .242/.265/.545 in nine games after a promotion to Portland. This success isn't a result of a change in approach but rather Chavis being fully healthy and playing the way he's capable.
  • Cole Brannen, whom the Red Sox drafted in the second round this year, made his professional debut last week in the GCL. He started in center field, going 0 for 2 with a strikeout, in his debut on Thursday.  
  • Several notable players began rehab assignments last week. Third baseman Bobby Dalbec, listed at 9th in the SoxProspects.com rankings, began an assignment in the GCL on Friday and southpaw Brian Johnson, ranked 12th, started for Lowell on Friday. Two major leaguers also started rehab assignments, with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez starting for Portland on Thursday and Brock Holt playing for the PawSox on Saturday. 
  • After a dismal four-year tenure in the Red Sox organization, Boston has released first baseman Allen Craig. Craig was slashing .253/.352/.316 in limited playing time in Pawtucket. A former All-Star and career .276/.333/.435 major league hitter, Craig was never able to fully recover from a Lisfranc injury in 2013. 
  • The Greenville Drive won the South Atlantic League's Southern Division in the first half, marking the first time since 2010 that the Drive will appear in the postseason. They've accomplished this despite key contributors like Dalbec and Jason Groome missing significant time with injuries. 
  • The Red Sox did not come to terms with any more 2017 draft picks last week. Fourth-rounder Jake Thompson remains their only top-ten pick who hasn't signed. Below is a list of official 2017 draft signings so far, listed by round:

          1 - Tanner Houck, RHP - $2,614,500 (slot: $2,614,500)
          2 - Cole Brannen, OF - $1,300,000 (slot: $993,900)
          3 - Brett Netzer, 2B - $475,000 (slot: $532,800)
          5 - Alex Scherff, RHP - $700,000 (slot: $296,500)
          6 - Zach Schellenger, RHP - $175,000 (slot: $230,000)
          7 - Tyler Esplin, OF - $250,000 (slot: $180,700)
          8 - Zach Sterry, 1B - $5,000 (slot: $150,900)
          9 - Tanner Nishioka, 2B - $5,000 (slot: $138,600)   
          10 - Jordan Wren, OF - $5,000 (slot: $131,400)
          11 - Andre Colon, SS
          12 - Beau Hanna, C
          13 - Garrett Benge, 3B
          16 - Kutter Crawford, RHP
          17 - Frankie Rios, SS
          18 - Dominic LoBrutto, LHP
          19 - Angel Gonzalez, CF
          21 - Lukas Young, RHP
          22 - Hunter Haworth, RHP
          24 - Charlie Madden, C
          25 - Kory Behenna, LHPeu
          27 - Xavier LeGrant, 2B
          31 - Michael Osinski, 3B
          32 - Taylor Ahearn, RHP
          33 - Tanner Raiburn, LHP
          34 - Luis Torres, CF
          35 - Trey Ganns, 1B
          36 - Rio Gomez, LHP
          UDFA - Durin O'Linger, RHP
          UDFA - Jecorrah Arnold, 3B

          Total cap (cap + 5%): $5,667,100 ($5,950,455)
          Cap spent so far (amount +/- cap for picks signed): $5,529,500 (-$260,200)


Players of the Week: 6/26-7/2

Bryce Brentz, OF, Pawtucket Red Sox
7 G, 29 AB, 14 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, .483/.545/1.103

Brentz has been on a torrid stretch since the beginning of June, hitting .361/.443/.759 with 11 home runs in that span. He rode that into another hot week, smashing nine extra-base hits and 10 RBI while raising his average from .255 to .282 in seven games. Brentz had a particularly huge game on Tuesday when he went 2 for 4 with two home runs, three runs, four RBI, and two walks. He's now hitting .282/.356/.564 with the PawSox, establishing himself as a solid depth piece. 

Rafael Devers, 3B, Portland Sea Dogs
5 G, 17 AB, 9 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, .529/.600/1.176

After such dominant weeks, it seemed unfair to choose between Brentz and Devers. Devers was named to the Futures Game and celebrated with another excellent week, bringing his line up to .306/.370/.590 with 17 home runs in 71 games. On Wednesday, Devers was 3 for 4 with two homers and three RBI. It seems to be only a matter of time before Devers is promoted to Pawtucket and he could be in line for a late-season promotion to Boston. 

Michael Shawaryn, RHP, Salem Red Sox
1 GS, 6 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 0.67 WHIP, 1 BB, 6 K

On Friday, Shawaryn turned in his best start since being promoted to Salem. He's now turned in back-to-back strong starts against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, allowing a combined one run in 12 innings with 11 strikeouts and three walks. He got off to a rough start after his promotion but has brought his ERA down to 4.30 through five starts. The 2016 fifth-rounder has had a strong first season and could gain attention if he maintains this in the upper minors. 

Photo Credit: Nick Longhi and Rafael Devers by Kelly O'Connor