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October 16, 2017 at 2:00 PM

2017 SoxProspects.com All-Stars


As the Red Sox look back on clinching a playoff berth for the second consecutive season, the roster is a clear indication of the value the franchise has gotten from its farm system in recent years. Eight of the nine regular starters in the lineup made their major league debuts with Boston, and its top two starters were both acquired in 2016 in deals included a trio of top prospects. Highlighted by current major league third baseman and graduated top prospect Rafael Devers, we present the 2017 SoxProspects.com All-Star selections:

Catcher: Roldani Baldwin
A year after struggling with an aggressive placement at Greenville in 2017, the 21-year-old returned to the South Atlantic League to have a breakthrough season. Baldwin tied for the organization lead with 35 doubles, and he blasted 14 homers after totaling only 11 in his first three pro seasons. The Dominican product also spent the season as a full-time backstop after previously splitting times between catcher and third base, throwing out 33% of potential base stealers. Baldwin also earned recognition as South Atlantic League All-Star for his .274/.310/.489 campaign.




First base: Pedro Castellanos
The youngest member of the 2017 SoxProspects.com All-Stars, Castellanos hit .339/.385/.457 as a 19-year-old in the Gulf Coast League and went 3 for 9 in a very brief stint at the end of the year with Greenville. The 2016 SoxProspects.com DSL Player of the Year excelled in his stateside debut, finishing second in the GCL in both batting average and hits and also placing in the top ten in on-base percentage and runs batted in. Castellanos was also one of the hardest players in his league to strike out, with only 15 whiffs in 208 plate appearances.




Second Base: Chad De La Guerra
A 17th-round pick in the 2015 draft, De La Guerra started the season strong with Salem and kept on hitting right through a promotion to Double-A Portland at midseason. After tallying only 13 extra-base hits with Greenville during all of 2016, the 24-year-old hit .294/.368/.463 in 58 games with Salem. In 52 contests with the Sea Dogs, he slashed .270/.353/.408, and he finished the 2017 campaign with 31 doubles and nine home runs. While he gets All-Star recognition as a second baseman, his main position in his first two years in the organization, De La Guerra actually saw more action at shortstop than second in 2017, a welcome development for a player who looked a bit rough with the glove after being drafted.

Third Base: Rafael Devers
Like Andrew Benintendi last year, Devers gets recognized as a SoxProspects.com All-Star in a season he closed as Boston's post-season starter. Originally signed back in 2013, Devers earned recognition in this space in each of the four years he was eligible. As he spent 2017 completing his minor league education, he was named SoxProspects Player of the Month in May and won Player of the Week three additional times. After dominating the Eastern League to the tune of .300/.369/.575, Devers needed only nine games at Triple-A and an absurd .400/.447/.600 line before the Red Sox decided to make him their starting third baseman.

Shortstop: Tzu-Wei Lin
One of three players on this list to make his major league debut in 2017, Lin's path to the majors was far more meandering. Signed out of Taiwan to a big bonus back in 2012, Lin struggled to make hard contact while being pushed aggressively through the minor leagues as a middle infielder. Not ranked among the top 60 prospects in the system headed into the season, Lin opened eyes with improved versatility and an improved launch angle. After failing to post a .660 OPS in any of his first five seasons, Lin hit .302/.379/.491 with Portland, earning him a call to the majors and several at-bats as the team tried to figure things out at the hot corner. Lin slumped some when he joined Pawtucket, but his breakthrough campaign rocketed him into the system's top 20.

Outfield: Jeremy Barfield
A long-time minor league veteran with over 3,000 minor league plate appearances, Barfield had been out of affiliated ball since the end of 2015. He was a member of the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League when the Red Sox signed him in May to help address the outfield depth in the organization. What followed was a totally unforeseeable power surge. In 92 games with Portland, Barfield blasted 27 homers, drove in 75, and led the Eastern League with a .584 slugging percentage. In one stretch in late July, Barfield blasted 9 homers over 13 games on his way to Player of the Month honors. Although he would have been a minor league free agent, Barfield has said on Twitter that he has already re-signed with the organization for 2018.

Outfield: Bryce Brentz 
This is Brentz's fourth time recognized as a SoxProspects.com All-Star. On it's own, that's an impressive accomplishment, but in context it becomes much more amazing. The last time he appeared on this list was 2013, a year he reached Pawtucket for the first time. His International League-leading 31 home runs this year were a career high, besting the 30 he hit way back in 2011--a season in which both Andrew Miller and Erik Bedard started games for the Red Sox. Brentz also won the IL's home run derby during All-Star weekend, a fitting honor during a power-fueled comeback by the 28-year-old.


Outfield: Rusney Castillo
Like Barfield and Brentz, Castillo was older than the typical prospect but put forth an on-field performance impossible to ignore. Castillo's was particularly strange, because his contract, more than his performance, kept him in the minor leagues. After a couple years stateside with middling results in both the major and minor leagues, Castillo looked like the player the Red Sox may have envisioned they were getting when they gave him $72 million as an international free agent four years ago, with a .314/.350/.507 slash line and good center field defense. However, with the team's outfield situation set and the budget precariously close to the competitive balance tax threshold, Castillo was left to punish Triple-A pitching.

Utility: Michael Chavis
Primarily a third baseman, Chavis gets the nod as a utilityman for two reasons. First (and mostly), he shares third base with the only player on this list who possibly could have kept Chavis off, but his season deserved all-star recognition. Secondly, an elbow injury kept Chavis primarily as a designated hitter, as it took him until June to play consecutive games in the field. And if you want to really fudge it, he will be seeing time at first base this offseason in the Arizona Fall League. At the plate, the 2014 first-round pick was sublime. He torched the Carolina League in the first half with an absurd .318/.388/.641 slash line and 17 homers in only 250 plate appearances. After a promotion to Portland at the All-Star break, Chavis saw his batting average dip some, but his power numbers did not let up. He blasted another 14 in Double-A, finishing the season with 68 extra-base hits and 94 runs batted in.

Starting Pitcher: Jalen Beeks
A 12th-round pick back in 2014, the former Arkansas Razorback continued to improve while climbing the ladder in 2017. He began the season with a return to Portland, where he finished the 2016 campaign. The Eastern League could no longer catch up with Beeks, who posted a dominant 2.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in nine starts. Upon his promotion to Pawtucket, the left-hander turned in 17 starts, going 95 2/3 innings and striking out 97 while walking only 33. With 155 punchouts and a 3.29 ERA across the two levels, Beeks was also recognized as the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year.



Starting Pitcher: Hector Velazquez
An unheralded signing out of the Mexican League last offseason, Velazquez turned in a dominant season with Pawtucket and ended up contributing valuable innings to the major league club. The 28-year-old got off to a hot start, posting a 1.55 ERA in his first five outings, earning a spot start for Boston when injuries hit. Overall, he turned in a 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 105 innings across 19 Triple-A outings, and he had six appearances in which he went at least six innings without allowing a run. After getting recalled when rosters expanded in September, Velazquez had seven scoreless innings in the majors. 



Starting Pitcher: Mike Shawaryn
Looking at his 2017 stat line, Shawaryn's strikeout total immediately jumps out. The 2016 fifth-round pick punched out 169 in his first full professional season, good for ninth-most in all of minor league baseball. In 134 2/3 innings split between Greenville and Salem, Shawaryn was also able to keep his walk numbers down, issuing only 48 free passes. Opposing batters hit just .228 against the University of Maryland product. The strong 2017 campaign propelled Shawaryn into the top ten prospects in the system on SoxProspects.com.




Starting Pitcher: Dedgar Jimenez
It was a big season for the big left-hander. After four years in the organization with mixed results, Jimenez was 15-3 between Salem and Portland. He returned to the Carolina League, a place where he struggled in 2016, and earned recognition with selection to that circuit's All-Star Game. In 18 Salem starts, Jimenez posted a 3.07 ERA in 99 2/3, striking out 93, walking 22, and allowing only 2 home runs. He didn't miss a beat against the more advanced Eastern League competition, with a 2.91 ERA in 46 1/3 innings across eight starts.


Starting Pitcher: Kyle Hart
Tommy John surgery during his junior season at Indiana delayed Hart's professional debut until after his redshirt senior season, but the left-hander's first full professional season was a memorable one. Hart posted a 2.15 ERA in 117 frames between Greenville and Salem, the lowest mark in the organization among pitchers with over 100 innings pitched. Hart struck out 109, walked 40, and surrendered only five home runs all season. Opposing batters managed a meager .603 OPS against Hart on the year.





Relief Pitcher: Bobby Poyner
The Red Sox have turned frequently in their drafts this decade to Florida Gators arms, and 2015 14th-round pick Poyner is looking like a deft pickup. Despite lacking an overpowering fastball, the six-foot lefty continues to post outstanding numbers. In 22 innings with Salem to start the 2017 campaign, Poyner allowed only six runs, striking out 32 and walking only six.  He was even better following an early June promotion to Portland, posting a microscopic 0.94 ERA and striking out 52 in 38 1/3 innings.




Relief Pitcher: Denyi Reyes
The 20-year-old Reyes delivered arguably the most dominant statistical season in the Red Sox organization. Used primarily in a piggyback role for Lowell, Reyes turned in a 1.45 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 62 innings across 15 outings. A 6-foot-4 right-hander out of the Dominican Republic, Reyes displayed outstanding control, walking only seven batters against 53 strikeouts. He won SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month in August when he allowed two runs, struck out 32, and handed out only one walk in 33 2/3.




Relief Pitcher: Joan Martinez
Every year, it seems that at least one hard-throwing right-hander emerges in a bullpen in the low minors. In the tradition of Gerson Bautista and Victor Diaz, among others, Martinez took on that mantle in 2017. After impressing with his velocity in the fall instructional league and spring training, the 6-foot-3 Martinez had the performance to match this year. In 32 1/3 innings between Lowell and Greenville, he gave up only four earned runs on 19 hits, striking out 31 and walking only nine. His 1.11 ERA and 0.87 WHIP were both the lowest in the system of all stateside pitchers with at least 20 innings.
At only 19, Requena impressed against the older and more advanced hitters of the South Atlantic League. Beginning the year in the Greenville bullpen before shifting into the rotation in late July, the right-hander out of Venezuela excelled in both roles. Requena had a 1.98 ERA in 95 1/3 innings, giving up just 72 hits and striking out 84 against 31 walks. After finishing the regular season with 28 consecutive scoreless innings, Requena turned in 7 1/3 shutout frames in the Drive's semifinal-clinching win. He then got the start (and no decision) in Greenville's league championship winning contest.



Photo Credit: Hildemaro Requena and Pedro Castellanos by SoxProspects.com, LLC; All other photos by Kelly O'Connor

 
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