Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 5 Prospects for Week 1
The Boston Red Sox's main concern for 2017 is winning another AL East title. But in the meantime, they'll also be keeping an eye on their top prospects.
Yes, they still have some good ones left even after all their wheeling and dealing. The aim here is to check in on Boston's top five prospects—as ranked by MLB.com—after one week of minor league baseball.
Be warned that the following strings are attached:
- No major leaguers
- No players who have been injured
- No players who haven't played yet
These strings don't have any big ramifications, except for one: Although he's still technically a prospect, left fielder Andrew Benintendi won't be put under the microscope here.
For the latest on five others, read on.
Roniel Raudes, RHP
Red Sox Rank: 6
Overall Rank: N/R
With Michael Kopech gone, Roniel Raudes is the best young right-hander the Red Sox have.
That doesn't look like a good thing right now.
Raudes made his 2017 debut for the High-A Salem Red Sox on Sunday and got lit up by the Down East Wood Ducks (the Texas Rangers' High-A affiliate). In four innings, he served up five runs (all earned) on six hits and two walks. Two of the hits he gave up left the ballpark.
This is not the first impression Raudes was hoping to make after posting a solid 3.65 ERA for the Single-A Greenville Drive in 2016. But there are a couple things to keep in mind.
He's only 19, making him four years younger than the average High-A player. And with a career 1.6 walks and 0.6 home runs per nine innings, the walks and homers he served up Sunday look out of character. Raudes isn't overpowering, but he generally throws strikes and keeps hitters off-balance.
Still, a reality check like the one Raudes got does raise questions. The longer it takes for him to find answers, the harder it will be to make excuses for him.
Bobby Dalbec, 3B
Red Sox Rank: 5
Overall Rank: N/R
Not even a year has passed yet, but landing Bobby Dalbec in the fourth round is already looking like the Red Sox's best move from the 2016 draft.
The Arizona alum destroyed the competition with the Low-A Lowell Spinners last summer, putting up a 1.101 OPS and hitting seven home runs in only 34 games. With an .878 OPS through six games, he's continuing to fare well despite facing tougher competition with the Single-A Greenville Drive so far in 2017.
Numbers such as these raise the obvious question: Why didn't Dalbec go higher in the draft?
Probably because teams weren't sure what he was. He was both a pitcher and a hitter in college. Having to only focus on hitting as a pro has made a difference.
"We're focusing just on hitting and playing defense rather than who I'm facing, or what their lineup has or how I'm going to pitch guys," he told Christopher Smith of MassLive.com last year. "I really think it's helped me get more of a routine at the plate because when I did (pitch), I really didn't have time in college."
At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Dalbec may be too big to be an effective third baseman. And as his 10 strikeouts and one walk in the early goings prove, his hit tool needs some work.
It's becoming increasingly apparent, though, that his bat is dangerous all the same.
Sam Travis, 1B
Red Sox Rank: 4
Overall Rank: N/R
Sam Travis opened eyes during spring training, hitting .318 with three home runs and a .991 OPS in 21 games with the big club.
"He's pretty exciting with the bat," said Red Sox manager John Farrell in March, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
The 23-year-old has since rejoined the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, where he's had ups and downs in five games.
He got on base four times in the club's opener against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate) and had a double and a walk on Monday. He's otherwise gone hitless, resulting in a .167 average and .652 OPS for the young season.
Numbers aside, bear in mind that Travis doesn't need to prove he can hit minor league pitching. He's a .300 career hitter with an .813 OPS in the minors. What he's really down there to do is bide his time until the Red Sox have an opening at first base.
Once it comes, he should prove to be a solid hitter in the majors too.
Jay Groome, LHP
Red Sox Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 39
Dalbec is the guy who's hit the ground running, but it was Jay Groome who seemed like Boston's biggest steal in the 2016 draft at the time. He arguably had the talent to go No. 1. The Red Sox got him at No. 12.
His 2017 season, however, is not off to a good start.
The 18-year-old lefty got the ball for Greenville against the Lexington Legends (the Kansas City Royals' Single-A affiliate) on Monday and lasted just an inning-and-a-third. He served up nine runs (all earned) on seven hits and three walks. He struck out just one.
To boot, injury was added to insult. As reported by the Boston Globe, Groome suffered a lat strain. It's not yet clear how long he'll be out.
Beyond the fact he's still a teenager, the thing to keep in mind is that Groome looked solid in his first taste of pro ball last year. He made three starts in the low minors and whiffed 10 batters in only 6.2 innings. It was a tease of what he'll be able to do with his plus fastball and plus curveball.
For now, though, he needs to worry about getting healthy and righting the ship.
Rafael Devers, 3B
Red Sox Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 16
With Yoan Moncada in Chicago and Benintendi nearing the end of his prospect eligibility, it won't be long before Rafael Devers is the best prospect in Boston's system.
He looks more than ready for the honor.
Devers took an immediate liking to Double-A ball, going yard in his first at-bat with the Portland Sea Dogs last Friday. He's since collected five more hits and is hitting .375 with a 1.063 OPS overall.
This is good stuff for a mere 20-year-old, but that shouldn't surprise anyone. Devers has been younger than the competition every step of the way since beginning his pro career in 2014, and has still carved out a .294 average and .809 OPS in the minors.
The home run he hit last week could well be the beginning of his power coming into its own. His power is regarded as his best tool, with MLB.com giving it a 60 grade and describing it as "prodigious."
What remains something of an unknown is whether Devers can stick at third base. The fact that the answer still isn't "no," however, is reflective of the hard work he's put in on defense.
All told, things continue to look up for Boston's soon-to-be No. 1 prospect.