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SoxProspects News

October 6, 2021 at 11:00 AM

2021 SoxProspects.com Awards: Graduate, Homegrown and Ex-Prospect


We continue our SoxProspects.com Awards season with the 2021 Graduate of the Year, Homegrown Player of the Year, and the Ex-Prospect of the Year. The graduate and homegrown player of the year each played big roles in getting Boston to the postseason, while the ex-prospect had a career year on the opposite side of the country.

Follow along with us all week: 
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 Year
Friday: Player of the Year; Pitcher of the Year
 
Graduate of the Year: Tanner Houck
Though he wore out the Mass Pike headed back and forth between Worcester and Boston, Tanner Houck (pictured, left) was one of the crucial arms for the Red Sox on their way to a Wild Card berth. The Missouri product followed up a tremendous 2020 debut with 87 strikeouts in just 69 innings pitched across 18 outings, 13 of which were starts. Houck was fifth among Boston pitchers in bWAR, at 1.6, and allowed an OPS of just .608.

Boston made use of roster flexibility with doubleheaders and off days through the summer, as he was recalled and sent down four times starting July 16, before he was called up for good August 24. Manager Alex Cora deployed the 25-year-old primarily as an arm that would throw multiple innings, but Houck did not get as deep into games as a traditional starter, as he averaged 3.83 innings per appearance. This allowed Houck's slider and fastball to feature prominently, as he was not facing very many hitters for a second time. However, his best start came in his final outing of 2021, as he threw five perfect innings, recording eight strikeouts on the penultimate day of the regular season. Overall, Houck pitched to a strong 3.52 ERA this season and had a 4.14 strikeouts/walk ratio.

Homegrown Player of the Year: Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts (pictured, right) is fresh off his third All-Star game nod and it was another strong season for the shortstop. He slashed .295/.370/.493, leading the team's qualifiers in both batting average and on-base percentage, while he was fourth in slugging percentage. His 34 doubles, good enough for 20th leaguewide, also represented his sixth consecutive full season with at least 30 two-baggers, while he reached the 20-homer plateau for the fourth time. His 20 home runs were also ninth among major league shortstops. The Aruban also set a career-high in line-drive percentage, with 28.8 percent of his swings generating line drives. His ground ball percentage, 40.2 percent, was also the lowest since his rookie season in 2014.

Bogaerts has become a franchise cornerstone and has solidified the all-important shortstop position, which prior to his full-time shift to the position in 2014, had arguably been missing a consistent contributor since the trade of Nomar Garciaparra at the 2004 trade deadline. Having completed his eighth full season in Boston, Bogaerts is a fan favorite and is a clear leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He has had a very productive career and come up big for the team in big moments, including in the first inning of Tuesday night's Wild Card game, drilling a two-run home run.

Ex-Prospect of the Year: Frankie Montas
Signed as an international free agent in 2009, Frankie Montas was part of the trade that brought Jake Peavy to Boston to help with the 2013 pennant chase and eventual World Series title. Now in Oakland, his third organization since departing Boston, Montas did not complete a full major league season until 2020 and prior to this season, had not yet had a 100-inning season in the big leagues. However, he had a strong 2021, making 32 starts, which was one off the league lead. He was also tied for fifth in quality starts with 20 and was 13th in strikeouts with 207. The 28-year-old led the Athletics in a litany of pitching categories, including innings (187), strikeouts, and ERA among qualifiers (3.37).
 
Montas, who had a 3.7 bWAR, was part of two other trades after departing Boston, as he was sent to the Dodgers from Chicago as part of the three-team trade that brought Todd Frazier to the White Sox from Cincinnati, then the Dodgers sent him to Oakland as part of the return for Rich Hill.

Photo Credit: Tanner Houck and Xander Bogaerts by Kelly O'Connor