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SoxProspects News

September 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM

2019 SoxProspects.com All-Stars: Position Players

With the minor league regular season in the books, the SoxProspects.com Awards Week is here. Over the next five days we will be presenting our annual awards on the news page. The schedule will be as follows:

Monday: All-Star position players
Tuesday: All-Star pitchers
Wednesday: Graduate of the Year; Homegrown Player of the Year; Ex-Prospect of the Year
Thursday: Rookie of the Year; Breakout Player of the Year; Comeback Player of the Yer
Friday: Player of the Year; Position Player of the Year

We kick things off with the position players selected by the SoxProspects.com staff as for their All-Star performances in 2019. While we do consider factors such as age advancement and opponent quality, these awards are in recognition of the players' in-game performances rather than a commentary on any status as a prospect. However, the Red Sox also got notable production from its most-highly rated prospects, as all five position players currently ranked in the Top 10 turned in All-Star caliber campaigns. 

Catcher: Kole Cottam
It was a season of steady improvement in Cottam's first full professional campaign. The 2018 fourth-round pick out of Kentucky had a modest .213/.348/.333 line through the end of May, but kicked off June with a seven-game hitting streak and did not look back. Cottam hit .311/.427/.513 in June and July to earn himself a mid-August promotion to Salem. His .377 on-base percentage with the Drive placed him tenth among all South Atlantic League players with at least 300 plate appearances. The former Kentucky Wildcat is currently ranked 44th in the system.

First Base: Triston Casas
It was an outstanding season for Boston's top pick in the 2018 draft, capped by him rising to the top of the organization's prospect rankings. Casas led the system with 51 extra-base hits and 81 RBI appearing in 118 games with Greenville and two at the very end of the year for playoff-bound Salem. He ranked fourth in the South Atlantic League in slugging (.472), tied for third in homers (19), and led the circuit in extra-base hits (49). His appearance at the top of those leaderboards came despite being one of the league's youngest players: the 19-year-old Casas had just 13 plate appearances all season against pitchers younger than he was. 

Second Base: Chad De La Guerra
The 2017 All-Star selection makes his second appearance on this list despite injuries that limited him to only 61 games. When De Le Guerra did play his production was monstrous, needing only 253 plate appearances to reach 13 home runs on his way to a .288/.361/.540 overall line. The season was a bit redemptive after he struggled mightily in his first taste of Triple-A a season ago. He was particularly dominant in the month of June, hitting .354/.446/.719 on the way to his first Player of the Month recognition. 

Shortstop: CJ Chatham
The first of two 2016 draftees that make up the All-Star squad's infield, Chatham is recognized for the second consecutive season. Spending most of the season with Portland before a late promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Chatham led the organization with 31 doubles and finished second in hits with 130. After injuries cost him essentially the entire 2017 season, the shortstop started 2018 in Greenville and has steadily been climbing the ladder. He hit .298/.333/.408 overall on the year and is currently ranked the 10th-best prospect in the system..

Third Base: Bobby Dalbec
If you were asked before the season who would lead the Red Sox organization in homers, the near-universal answer would've been "Bobby Dalbec." Sometimes the conventional wisdom exists for good reason. The slugging third baseman followed up a 32-homer campaign in 2018 with 27 blasts between Portland and Pawtucket. The 20 he hit while with the Sea Dogs were good for second most in the Eastern League, despite getting promoted from the circuit on August 3. He then took seven more supercharged Triple-A baseballs deep in the final month. Perhaps most importantly, Dalbec slashed his strikeout rate from 32.4% in 2018 to 24.7% this year. 

Outfield: Gilberto Jimenez
It has been a meteoric rise for Jimenez, who went from unheralded athlete having a solid DSL season after getting a $10,000 bonus to one of the best players in the New York Penn League and the sixth-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system. The 19-year-old outfielder won that circuit's batting title with a .359 batting average, and also had 84 base hits to lead the league. His .393 on-base percentage was tops in the organization among those with 200 plate appearances, and he was among the hardest to strike out, whiffing in just 15.0% of his plate appearances. Unranked at the end of the 2018 campaign, Jimenez is now ranked sixth in the system. 

Outfield: Jarren Duran
Duran began the year as one of the hottest players in professional baseball, torching Carolina League pitching with a .387/.456/.543 line in his first 50 games. A promotion on June 3 to Double-A Portland brought on the advanced pitchers and defenders of the Eastern League, which was an adjustment initially: he hit just .208/.276/.252 in his first 41 contests for the Sea Dogs. A 12-game hitting streak during which he went 22 for 52 gave his season a recharge, reflected in a .292/.343/.398 from that point forward. He finished the season as the organization's leader in hits (157), runs (90), triples (8), and stolen bases (46). 

Outfield: Marcus Wilson
Acquired from the Diamondbacks in April in a deal for Blake Swihart, Wilson struggled mightily in his initial stint in Portland by going 10 for 62 with 33 strikeouts. A reset with Salem got him back on track: Wilson had multiple hits 18 times in 45 games, hitting .342/.413/.603. Perhaps most importantly, Wilson was able to sustain most of those gains after returning to the Sea Dogs in mid-July. Though his average dipped to .250 in that second Portland stint, he totaled 13 doubles and 7 homers in the 43 post-promotion games. His final line between both stops was .273/.358/.489, with a .383 wOBA that was highest in the organization with at least 300 plate appearances.

Utility: Ryan Fitzgerald
Perhaps the most unlikely name on this list given where he was two years ago, Fitzgerald was signed in early 2018 out of the independent American Association primarily for his solid middle infield defense, but the Creighton product has also hit well during his time in the organization. The shortstop was Duran's partner in crime atop the Salem lineup early in the year with a .330/.414/.445 line that propelled him to Carolina League All-Star status. His consistency helped him rank in the top five in the system in several categories, including his 125 hits (4th), seven triples (2nd), 65 RBI (4th), and 25 doubles (5th).

Photo Credit: All pictures by Kelly O'Connor