Mid-April Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 5 Prospects
With Andrew Benintendi no longer qualifying as a prospect, there's a big hole in a Boston Red Sox farm system that had already been thinned out enough in recent years.
There's still some quality talent to be found there, however. And following a Week 1 update, it's now time to check in on the best of the best with a mid-April update.
Let's play a game of stock up, stock down with the Red Sox's five best prospects, as ranked by MLB.com. The obligatory word of warning is that this game has the following ground rules:
- No major leaguers
- No players who have been too injured to play
But with Benintendi now officially out of the prospect picture, none of these rules applies to Boston's top five prospects. So let's get to it.
Roniel Raudes, RHP
Red Sox Rank: 5
Overall Rank: N/R
Roniel Raudes is the best pitcher left standing in a Boston system that's been pillaged of arms in recent trades. So far in 2017, it's been a struggle for him to look the part.
That's partially been his fault. Raudes had a terrible debut for the High-A Salem Red Sox on April 9, coughing up five runs on six hits (including two home runs) and two walks in only four innings.
It's also partially the fault of Mother Nature. Raudes got through three scoreless innings when he returned to the mound last Friday, but then rain came and forced an early exit.
The positive to take away from Raudes' rain-shortened outing is that he allowed only one hit while striking out three. But with a walk and a hit batsman, he didn't really sharpen up his command either.
There are reasons to remain optimistic about Raudes. The big one is that he's a 19-year-old who could be doing a lot worse against older and more seasoned competition. And as his career 1.6 walks per nine innings in the minors goes to show, his command problems are very much out of character.
Even still, there's no denying he needs to get on track.
Bobby Dalbec, 3B
Red Sox Rank: 4
Overall Rank: N/R
Anyone frustrated by the Red Sox's lack of home runs should feel free to daydream about Bobby Dalbec.
At 6'4" and 225 pounds, he certainly has a slugger's build. And he hit like a slugger after being drafted in the fourth round last year, launching seven home runs in only 34 games at Low-A Lowell.
All he needs now is a good approach, which appears to be a point of emphasis early in his tenure with the Single-A Greenville Drive. He's hitting .318 with a .423 on-base percentage in 44 at-bats and is working on cleaning up a problem with aggressive swinging.
At last check, the 21-year-old had 10 strikeouts and one walk to his name. He's since struck out only seven times in 17 at-bats and has also drawn six walks.
What had been missing was Dalbec's home run power, but he got his first dinger of 2017 out of the way on Tuesday. And in all, the right-handed swinger has continued to do a fine job of driving what he's put in play.
Dalbec still has a ways to go before his approach is on par with his power, and the quality of his defense is yet another question mark. But for now, he's going in the right direction.
Sam Travis, 1B
Red Sox Rank: 3
Overall Rank: N/R
Sam Travis is having a weird beginning to 2017.
Things started well, as he returned from a torn ACL to hit well in spring training. He then got on base four times in the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox's opener. But then he fell into a mini-slump, and was injured when he collided with Blake Swihart while chasing a pop-up last Tuesday.
Travis has only played in three games since then. He went 0-for-3 in the first, but then 2-for-4 with his first homer of the season in the second. Then he was hitless again, going 0-for-4 in the third.
Taken as a whole, the 23-year-old's season has been a mixed bag. And beyond the injury scare, the negative side of it is encapsulated in his .172 average and .273 OBP through eight games.
The silver linings are that his injury wasn't worse and that he's at least kept the power coming. He slugged .591 in spring training and four of his five hits so far this season have gone for extra bases. He's driven the ball to both sides of center field.
In all, Travis' status as Boston's first baseman of the future remains more or less intact.
Jay Groome, LHP
Red Sox Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 38
At first check, Jay Groome's 2017 season was off to a terrible start.
The left-hander didn't look the part of the Red Sox's prized No. 12 pick from the 2016 draft in his debut with Greenville last Monday. He served up nine runs (all earned) on seven hits and three walks in only an inning-and-a-third. To boot, he exited with a lat injury.
He remained positive afterward, tweeting: "Just the beginning of a long road! Thanks everyone who has me in their prayers!"
Things haven't taken a turn for the better, however. Although Groome's injury doesn't appear to be too serious, it's serious enough to warrant a trip to the disabled list last Thursday.
At just 18 and with a plus fastball and curveball in his arsenal, Groome's upside remains through the roof. But he did come into the pros with mysterious character concerns. He then struggled with his control in his first taste of pro ball. And now this.
So, suffice it to say he'll have some stock to repair when he gets healthy.
Rafael Devers, 3B
Red Sox Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 15
With Benintendi out of the way, Rafael Devers is now officially the Red Sox's No. 1 prospect. And, boy, is he looking worthy of the title.
Devers has been showing promise ever since beginning his pro career as a mere 17-year-old back in 2014. So it goes in his first 10 games for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. He homered in his first at-bat and is hitting .375 with a .940 OPS overall.
The nit to pick is that Devers has only drawn one walk. But that's just him staying in character, and he can get away with aggressive swinging for two reasons: He doesn't swing and miss too much and he is continuing to develop his all-fields power.
Thus, the heir apparent to Pablo Sandoval to third base is a lot like peak Pablo Sandoval.
The word of warning is that Devers' defense remains a work in progress. When Jarrett Seidler of Baseball Prospectus saw him in person last week, Devers made both brilliant plays and bad plays.
However, there's no hurry. At just 20 years old, the Red Sox can give Devers all the time he needs to get his defense on par with his offense.