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November 29, 2022 at 12:00 PM

SoxProspects.com end-of-season rankings countdown: 30-21


Welcome to day two of our SoxProspects.com end-of-season countdown! Following yesterday's recap of prospects 31 through 60, we now move forward in groups of ten. This group features a pair of 2022 draftees, as well as two potential key 2023 bullpen pieces in Zack Kelly (pictured) and Franklin German.

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30. Brooks Brannon
Preseason Rank: NA; 2022 ninth-round pick
2022 Stats: 5 games, 15 PA, 6 for 13, 2 3B, 5 RBI @ FCL
Brannon, Boston's ninth-round pick in July, got an overslot $712,000 bonus to sign him away from a commitment to Chapel Hill. He put up video-game type numbers as a high school senior, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 91 in 34 games, posting a 1.330 slugging percentage. As he moves to the professional ranks, the question becomes whether he can stick at catcher. If he can, the power potential is obviously huge. If he can't, he'll be in a position where the offensive bar is quite a bit higher. 


29. Wilyer Abreu
Preseason Rank: NA; Acquired via trade
2022 Stats: 129 games, 579 PA, .247/.399/.435; 19 HR, 31 SB, 114 BB, 153 K @ Double-A Corpus Christi and Portland
Acquired in the deal that sent Christian Vazquez to the Astros, Abreu is sort of a classic take-and-rake type. He sorts through a ton of pitches, waiting for his one to drive, and doing so frequently enough that pitchers need to be careful with him. He works a ton of walks through his approach, but also finds himself in many pitchers' counts, and with a good bit of swing-and-miss in his game, generates a lot of strikeouts and low batting averages. His ability to play the outfield corners capably and possibly center field in a pinch may give him a path as left-handed pop off the bench, but he'll need to make enough contact to stick in the role.


28. Ronaldo Hernandez
Preseason Rank: 28
2022 Stats: 105 games, 439 PA, .261/.298/.451, 17 HR, 21 BB, 92 @ Worcester
Hernandez is ranked 28th, exactly where he was at the start of the season. Usually, when a player's ranking is at or near where it started the season, it was pretty uneventful, with the player largely meeting expectations. Hernandez's season was more the baseball equivalent of that episode of the Simpsons where Moe Szyslak had his face reshaped intentionally and then by accident, only to end up with the exact same face at the end of the episode. Hernandez got off to a miserable start in 2022, going 7 for 53 without a walk and only four extra-base hits in April, falling well out of the system's top 40. He then had a solid May, an outstanding June, bounced back and forth in the summer, then finished the season with an 8-for-55 September. Hernandez took a circuitous, sometimes frustrating route to get back to where he started. He reportedly has also added a fourth option due to the COVID year, so even that puts him in the same spot as before.


27. Zack Kelly
Preseason Rank: 37
2022 Stats: 44 games, 49 2/3 IP, 2.72 ERA, 72 K, 25 BB @ Worcester; 13 games, 13 2/3 IP, 3.95 ERA, 11 K, 4 BB in MLB
Kelly may have been the best feel-good story for Boston during what was largely a feel-bad season, but the upshot is that he can really pitch. As was on display during his brief jaunt to the majors, his change-up is a true major league out pitch, and his improved fastball command has really turned that ability to change speeds into a weapon, keeping hitters off balance. His ceiling isn't necessarily as high as some of the other arms in the system, but he's ready to be a contributing piece of a contending team's bullpen.


26. Shane Drohan
Preseason Rank: 52
2022 Stats: 27 games, 25 starts, 129 2/3 IP, 3.89 ERA, 157 K, 51 BB @ Greenville and Portland
Boston had only four picks in the shortened 2020 draft, and three of them rank in the top 30. Drohan, the team's fifth-round pick that year, battled control inconsistency during his time at Florida State, but has been one of the most reliable arms in the organization over the last two years. His 157 strikeouts led all of Boston's minor leaguers. His curveball had long been his best pitch, but his changeup took a big step forward in 2020, giving him the credible third pitch he would need to stick as a starter. The left-hander also possesses a free, smooth delivery that borders on effortless looking. While Drohan's control has improved from his days as a Seminole, it remains a concern, as does his fastball command. Lacking elite velocity, his propensity to catch too much of the strike zone led to his 20 home runs allowed. Unless there is untapped velocity that he can reach, improving that command will be vital s he starts to go up against the more advanced hitters of the high minors


25. Franklin German
Preseason Rank: 35
2022 Stats: 32 games, 38 1/3 IP, 2.58 ERA, 46 K, 16 BB, 0.939 WHIP @ Portland and Worcester; 5 games, 4 innings, 8 earned runs, 4 BB, 4 K in MLB
The Red Sox needed only to take on one year of Adam Ottavino's contract from the Yankees to pilfer the power right-handed reliever from their rivals. A middling starting prospect for much of his minor league career, German (pictured) took to a bullpen role in a late 2021 transition, showing increased velocity and elite spin rates on his fastball. He was solid and occasionally dominant in his stops at Portland and Worcester before struggling in a very brief call to the majors in September. Only 25 and with three options remaining, German is likely going to be ticketed for an up-and-down depth role between Triple-A and the majors to start the year, but has the potential to play himself into a solid position on the roster in the immediate future.


24. Jeter Downs
Preseason Rank: 13
2022 Stats: 81 games, 335 PA, .197/316/.412, 16 HR, 18 SB, 38 BB, 99 K @ Worcester; 14 games, 41 PA, .154/.171/.256 1 HR, 1 BB, 21 K in MLB
Much like with Alex Verdugo, Downs has had to deal with the unreasonable expectations that come with being a key player traded for Mookie Betts. A potential shortstop of the future when he was acquired, Downs has scuffled offensively for two years at Worcester. However, a low batting average masks what were some significant steps forward in 2022--his on-base percentage improved from .272 to .316, while his slugging jumped from .333 to .412. His defense also took a step forward, making a path as a utility infielder more realistic. However, he continued to strike out too much and hit too many pop-ups, and he struggled mightily in his major league stint. 


23. Thaddeus Ward
Preseason Rank: 20
2022 Stats: 7 starts, 33 1/3 IP, 2.43 ERA, 41 K, 14 BB @ Portland (also made six rehab appearances at three levels)
Ward's prospect status took something of a dip with the surprising decision to leave him off of the 40-man roster, exposing him to the upcoming Rule 5 draft. The 2018 fifth-round draft pick had an outstanding full-season debut in 2019, winning SoxProspects.com and South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year recognition. He experienced the double setback of the 2020 COVID season and 2021 Tommy John surgery, keeping him out of competitive action until this past July. He reached Double-A in August and performed well, peaking with back-to-back 10 strikeout efforts, but was shut down again after his September 8 start for precautionary reasons. Health concerns and lost development aside, Ward seems a likely candidate for some team to take a flier on to see if he can hold a roster spot.


22. Connor Seabold
Preseason Rank: 14
2022 Stats: 19 starts, 86 2/3 IP, 3.32 ERA, 89 K, 19 BB @ Worcester; 5 starts, 18 1/3 IP, 11.29 ERA, 19 K, 8 BB, 5 HR in MLB
Another trade acquisition, Seabold came from the Phillies with Nick Pivetta in the 2020 deadline move that sent Brandon Workman to the Phillies. Seabold was effective with Triple-A Worcester in both of the last two seasons, but has struggled in his exposure to major league lineups. In 18 1/3 innings with Boston this season, he allowed 24 runs on 35 hits, including five home runs.  He's succeeded in the minors by being able to command, control, and mix his four pitches well, but doesn't profile as the type whose stuff is likely to excel in a bullpen role. 2023 will be his final option season, putting him at something of a crossroads at his development. 


21. Cutter Coffey
Preseason Rank: NA; 2022 second-round pick
2022 Stats: 11 games, 40 PA, .125/.399/.156, 7 BB, 11 K @ FCL
Boston's four largest bonus's in July's draft went to high school position players. Coffey got a slightly-underslot $1.85 million deal to sign him away from a commitment to the University of Texas. Tall and athletic, it is possible that he will be a third baseman in the long term, but has the physical skills to be a very good one. A two-way player at Liberty (Calif.) High School, Coffey threw in the mid-90's, so his combination of soft hands and plus arm may make him a natural fit there. His 2022 stat line should not be considered concerning: he played in just 11 games after signing, going 4 for 32.


Photo Credit: Zack Kelly, Franklin German by Kelly O'Connor