Scouting Report: Cole Brannen

After the Boston Red Sox drafted Tanner Houck in the first round, they drafted outfielder Cole Brannen 63rd overall.

Cole Brannen

The 6’1” left-handed hitter is known for his speed and athleticism. As a senior in high school at Westfield (GA), Brannen batted .439 (36-for-82). This came with a total of 23 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. He also scored 42 runs and stole 22 bases, drawing 26 walks against only 11 strikeouts. There is definitely some potential for power, but I think the Red Sox will let him develop based on his young age.

In the summer of 2016, he competed in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field and in the Nike Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.

Due to his tremendous exposure, Brannen had originally committed to play ball at Georgia Southern, but told reporters “I made up my mind. I’ve known for a long time that’s what I want to do. I want to play ball. I’ve wanted to play professional baseball since I was three years old. That’s always been my goal. I’ve worked hard. I’ve put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. God’s given me a lot of things that I can do that a lot of people can’t do. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for him. I’m very thankful and blessed for all the things I’ve gotten to accomplish.”

Breakdown

There is no question that the hit potential is there. But in addition to that, Brannen’s athleticism allows him not only to steal bases and advance but also to play any of the outfield positions.

However, Brannen doesn’t have a ton of experience against high-level pitching, so there will definitely be at least a few periods of adjustment. Additionally, his swing is a tad lofty, so long-term power as he ages is no guarantee. Despite that, I still see him as a potential plus-hit for average tool.

It is unclear what the Red Sox plan to do with Cole Brannen long-term. But short term, he’ll probably play the rest of the season in the Gulf Coast League. Should he still be with the organization next season, he’ll probably split time between Lowell and Greenville based on his performance.

Right now, I feel comfortable comparing him to Danny Mars or Aneury Tavarez, both of which are other outfielders in the farm system. Brannen’s absolute ceiling would be comparable to Jackie Bradley Jr, but perhaps with less defensive ability.

Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, Represent the Future at Third

Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers are not household names in Red Sox Nation yet, but they very well could be soon.

Michael Chavis

When the team traded Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada last offseason, they were ultimately committing to Pablo Sandoval to play third base. Especially considering it was their originally plan when they signed him to a five-year $90-million-dollar deal. Although with nagging injuries to both Sandoval and Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero has had the most reps so far this season.

Despite upside in many or all of these players, none of them seem to be a long term plan. Rather, the Red Sox have two future options developing in the minors.

Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers have the potential to be All-Stars. But their young age means they’re a few years away from making a splash.

With Salem, Chavis is hitting .357 in 41 games with 12 home runs. His OPS is 1.130 as of May 31, a truly elite number for a minor leaguer. Chavis already has more RBI (41) in as many games with Salem than he did in 74 games with Greenville last year.

The following scouting report on his hitting mechanics says Chavis has “a short, compact swing. Wide base in stance. Starts slightly open and utilizes a toe-tap timing device. Quick hands and loose at the plate. Possesses plus bat speed. Tracks the ball well. Swing can get long, creating a hole on the inner half. Developing approach and pitch recognition skills. Potential solid-average to plus hit tool.”

His baseball IQ and coachability is also an upside.

However, Chavis hasn’t been promoted to Portland yet because the Sea Dogs have a superstar of their own. Rafael Devers is also and third baseman. And this season, he has been on fire as well.

As of May 19, Devers was hitting .325 – but has since cooled off a little to a humble .288 average. Regardless, he has been a driving force in the Portland offense, slashing .288/.348/.497 in 43 games.

Bottom Line

Both players are obviously too young to make an impact in Boston this season. It’s arguably better for their development to get at-bats in the minors. Some may make comparisons to Andrew Benintendi. But let’s not forget he also played two years of NCAA baseball in the SEC.

Chavis and Devers, on the other hand, turned pro at high schools ages. Therefore, they have needed extra minor league time to develop. If given the chance to mature properly and not be rushed, one or both of these players could occupy the hot corner at Fenway soon.

Scouting Report: Travis Lakins

After the Red Sox traded away Michael Kopech and Anderson Espinoza, Travis Lakins and Jay Groome became the top pitching prospects. Due to Groome’s notoriety as a number one draft pick, Lakins is the seemingly unknown one among Red Sox nation.

Travis Lakins

Lakins was drafted in the 6th round in 2015 after attending Ohio State University. He finished college with a 3.10 ERA and 40 games. His first pro appearance came in 2015, but he only had 2 IP with Lowell.

In 2016 he spent the whole season with Salem, however, his ERA was 5.93 and he only had 91 IP in 19 starts, an average of 4 2/3 innings per start. Despite that, Lakins was still highly regarded in the system and among scouts because of his pitch repertoire and potential. I had even suggested that he be packaged in a trade last July due to his value.

Scouting Report

His curveball is arguably his best pitch. It goes at about 75-76 MPH with tight rotation and a two-plane break. As he develops, it has the potential to be a plus offering that misses hitters.

Lakins also throws a changeup and a fastball. His four-seamer tops out at 95 and could rise as he matures. His changeup lives at 83-86 mph with a late dive away from lefties. He locates it well down and away and can miss hitters like his curveball.

At 6’1”, 180 lbs, he has room for added strength as he develops. He’s also only 22 after joining the Double-A Sea Dogs on May 17. In his last outing with Portland, Lakins went 5.0 IP with 6 K’s and only one hit allowed. The only problem being his high pitch count due to 4 walks. The Sea Dogs eventually won the game on a walk-off single by Denier Lopez.

Overall, I think he profiles best as a reliever – desirably in a seventh/eighth inning role. Mostly because he has the potential stuff to get guys out late in the game. His command consistency, especially for his fastball, will be keys going forward. If he cuts down on the walks and keeps the strikeout numbers where they are, he may stay in the rotation as he progresses to Pawtucket. Should he remain in the system, I expect to see Travis Lakins regularly in Boston by mid-2019.

Scouting Report: Jordan Procyshen

Most pro-athletes born in Alberta are in the ranks of the National Hockey League, but not Jordan Procyshen. The 24-year-old Calgarian is the starting catcher for the Portland Sea Dogs and the organization’s top catching prospect. Of course, knowing full well that Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez are already major league caliber players.

Jordan Procyshen

The Boston Red Sox drafted Procyshen in the 14th Round in June 2014. He had previously played at Northeastern Junior College and Northern Kentucky. While in junior college, Procyshen hit 15 home runs and batted .418. At NKU, the Canadian catcher batted .276 with 33 RBI in 51 games.

Procyshen developed quickly through the low minors as he was generally older than his counterparts. In 2015, Procyshen had his first full professional season and hit .285 with Greenville before being promoted to Salem in June. This was despite late season injuries. He then spent all of 2016 with Salem, where he hit .249 in 61 games and tallied 29 RBI.

Scouting Report

He has a very solid build for a catcher – 6’10” and 210 lbs.

He has strong contact skills at the plate for a catcher and will hit his fair share of doubles. Power isn’t necessarily one of his plus tools, but he displays some home run ability is spurts.

Procyshen’s best tool is his ability behind the plate. He has a career fielding percentage of .984 and only 17 passed balls in the minors. Additionally, Procyshen has thrown out 80 of 157 runners in his short career- that’s just above 50%.

Via his SoxProspects.com profile, Procyshen has the “potential to be a plus defender. Projects confidence while working with pitchers and setting the defense. Moves well behind the plate and does a good job smothering balls in the dirt. Solid footwork, able to control the running game.”

Scouts, as well as myself, notice that he hustles on every play, which can sometimes tire him out early in a game. However, the fact that he is engaged fully in every play is a desirable trait.

Overall, Jordan Procyshen has a chance to make a big league roster as a backup/emergency catcher who adds value behind the plate. The fact that he can stay consistent at the plate helps as well. I see him maybe serving as a personal catcher for a major league club sometime by early 2019.

Scouting Report: Danny Mars

In June 2014, a 20-year old junior college outfielder named Danny Mars was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.

Mars was nothing short of spectacular while playing at Chipola College. During his 2014 season, he hit .380 with 35 RBI in 48 games. Upon being drafted in the 6th round, Danny Mars played the rest of the year in Lowell. He batted .311 while with Lowell.

danny mars

By 2015, Mars became a mainstay in Greenville, where he hit .283 in 41 games. Last season, he hit .293 with High-A Salem with 54 RBI in 108 games. In the fall, he joined the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League in order to get more at-bats.

It paid off, as Mars was promoted to Double-A Portland for 2017, where he normally bats in the lead-off position. As of May 23, Mars was slashing .314/.364/.449 with an OPS of .813 in 31 games.

If he continues to produce, Mars could see Pawtucket by year’s end. But because the system is crowded with talented outfielders, this remains to be seen.

Danny Mars in the Future

Overall, Mars has an athletic, average sized frame with room for added strength. His speed is one of his best tools and he has the ability to be a threat on the bases. His injury in early 2015 stunted some of his development, but he has since eased into a career .287 hitter.

According to SoxProspects.com, Mars has the potential to be a solid outfielder.

Saying: “Versatile and athletic enough to play all three outfield spots, but other tools profile best in center field. Takes good routes and gets good reads on balls.”

It’s hard to know for sure how he will develop and when he could end up in the big leagues. Especially considering the minor depth chart has the likes of Rusney Castillo and Aneury Tavarez on it. Let alone the Killer B’s up in Boston.

But one thing is for certain, Danny Mars can play. And if the Portland Sea Dogs love having him hot lead off, I don’t blame them.

Jalen Beeks Continues Eastern League Dominance

In a farm system notorious for developing young players, southpaw Jalen Beeks now finds himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At age 23, the 5’11” hurler has done nothing but produce since joining the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.jalen beeks

Like Andrew Benintendi, Beeks attended Arkansas. While a Razorback, Beeks also excelled, boasting a 1.07 WHIP and a 1.98 ERA in 81.2 IP his senior year. This impressive performance followed an elbow injury his junior year.

He was drafted in the 12th round in 2014. He played two-and-a-half seasons of rookie ball and A-ball. Beeks was called up to Portland in July 2016 and finished the season 5-4 with a 4.68 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. This was after going 4-4 in 13 starts with a 3.07 ERA for High-A Salem.

But this season, he has been nothing but dominant. In seven starts, Beeks is 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. He’s averaging almost six innings per start and 1.2 strikeouts per inning. And if it wasn’t for one start against Trenton back in April, Beeks would be 5-0 with an ERA of 0.51.

Baseball Mechanics and Jalen Beeks

Scouts look to his mechanics as a way to marginalize hitters. SoxProspects.com’s scouting report says Beeks “throws from the first-base side of the rubber. High three-quarters arm slot and stiff delivery with a lot of moving parts. Utilizes a high leg kick, then trunk twist and pause as he rocks back before coming forward. He also has an arm hook behind and lands stiff on his front side.”

When combined with Trey Ball and Teddy Stankiewicz, Beeks solidifies Portland’s rotation as one of the best in the Eastern League. The three starters have combined for a 2.91 ERA this season, and have led Portland in an already tight division race.

As for Beeks, however, his performance thus far is nothing short of spectacular. And while the Red Sox may call on Triple-A journeyman for rotation help, the young lefty could soon be called up to Pawtucket.

The pride of Prairie Grove, AR will strive to continue his dominance of the Eastern League.