Don’t Rush Another Rafael Devers Promotion

At some point this summer, the Rafael Devers promotion was inevitable, especially considering his dominance of Double-A and the lack of organizational at third base. In Portland, Devers hit an even .300 with 56 RBI and 18 HR in 77 games. Of course, that was more than enough production to gain a call-up to Pawtucket.

Rafael Devers promotion

Thus, the 20-year-old is a stud. No questions asked. But that’s exactly why the Red Sox shouldn’t rush him.

Whenever this topic is brought up, a lot of comparisons are made to Andrew Benintendi (age 21) last season. However, Benintendi had already played two full seasons of D-I college ball in the Southeastern Conference before he was even drafted. Devers, on the other hand, was signed at age 17 and has less than 80 games in the high minors.

Dave Dombrowski vowed in a press conference on Friday that the Red Sox would not put pressure on Devers to contribute during a pennant race.

Ultimately, Devers needs the extra time in Triple-A to develop his defense and mature in all facets before he is rushed to Boston. I believe the Red Sox can invest in the 2017 team and make them competitive for a championship. I also believe they can do this without rushing another Rafael Devers promotion and certainly without trading him.

Best Course of Action

If the Red Sox want to acquire Todd Frazier or Martin Prado on a rental and buy time for Devers then I’m all ears. But Red Sox fans should not want to over pay with prospects and commit to Prado or Frazier long term. Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero could get the job done as long as the rest of the lineup hits.

The team finally solved their shortstop problem with Xander Bogaerts. Now they need to solve their third base problem with Rafael Devers.

By season’s end, he’ll probably have about 175-225 AB’s with the PawSox. Should he have a phenomenal Spring Training in February, the job could be Devers’ in April.

Although regardless of how this season or the spring pans out, it’s important to not rush young talent. There’s a certain third baseman in Round Rock, TX that could agree, and he shares my name.

Red Sox Prospects All-Mid-Season Team

As the month of July begins, we created an All-Star team for Red Sox Prospects who

Red Sox Prospectshave spent the entire season within the organization. However, we did not include players from Lowell as their season just began a few weeks ago.

Without further ado, here is the complete list.

 

Starting Rotation

Jalen Beeks – LHP – Portland/Pawtucket

Bryan Mata – RHP – Greenville

Brian Johnson – LHP – Pawtucket/Boston

Roniel Raudes – RHP – Salem

Teddy Stankiewicz – RHP – Portland

Bullpen

Austin Maddox – RHP – Portland/Pawtucket/Boston

Jamie Callahan – RHP – Portland/Pawtucket

Bobby Poyner – LHP – Salem/Portland

Pat Goetze – RHP – Greenville

Josh Smith – LHP – Portland/Pawtucket

Shaun Anderson – RHP – Greenville/Salem

Lineup

CF – Danny Mars – Portland

2B – Chad de la Guerra – Salem/Portland

DH – Rafael Devers – Portland

LF – Bryce Brentz – Pawtucket

3B – Michael Chavis – Salem/Portland

1B – Josh Ockimey – Salem

SS – Tzu-Wei Lin – Portland/Boston

RF – Ryan Scott – Greenville

C – Austin Rei – Greenville

Bench

OF – Steve Selsky – Pawtucket/Boston

INF – CJ Chatham – Greenville

C – Jordan Procyshen – Portland

Util – Heiker Meneses – Portland/Pawtucket

Red Sox Prospects Breakdown

While some of the decisions were very difficult to make, certain players stood out because of their tremendous performances. For example, Rafael Devers and his 16 home runs, Michael Chavis and his .300+ batting average. Then, of course, Jalen Beeks and his 1.1 K’s per inning. Just to name a few.

Similarly, young stars in Low-A ball like Bryan Mata and Austin Rei have consistently excelled, making way for potential second-half call-ups to High-A Salem. Meanwhile, Tzu-Wei Lin and Austin Maddox have already exceeded expectations and played in Boston.

Additionally, players such as Jordan Procyshen and Ryan Scott have come out the woodwork and become solid contributors at their respective positions. Further, Procyshen shines defensively and Ryan Scott has hit for consistent average all year.

Michael Chavis Promoted to Double-A Portland

According to sources from The Boston Globe and SoxProspects.com, Red Sox infield prospect Michael Chavis is being promoted to Double-A Portland. Infielder Chad de la Guerra is also being promoted to the Sea Dogs, who begin a homestand Friday.

In Salem, Chavis was hitting .318 with 17 home runs, 17 doubles, and 55 RBI in 59 games. De la Guerra was hitting .294 with 5 homers and 36 RBI.

Michael Chavis

Both will join a Portland infield that already includes top prospect Rafael Devers, Nick Longhi, Tzu-Wei Lin, and journeyman Mike Olt. Many speculate that this move is a precursor to the promotion of Devers (.297, 14 HR) to Triple-A Pawtucket. However, it remains to be seen what the Red Sox plan to do with their top talent.

Chavis and Devers could end up splitting some time short term, much like they did in 2015 with Greenville. There is no question that these two are special players, but their long-term development is ultimately the most important goal.

Prospects on the Move

This move follows what has already been a dynamic spring for the Red Sox farm system. So far, the Sea Dogs alone have seen the likes of Jalen Beeks, Ty Buttrey, Aneury Tavarez, Jamie Callahan, Austin Maddox, and Heiker Meneses move up to Triple-A and beyond. Likewise, Travis Lakins, Josh Tobias, Bobby Poyner, and now Chavis have left Salem for the Pine Tree State. Sam Travis made is major league debut as well.

These moves are also in the foreground of what could be an interesting trade season for the big league club. While it’s unlikely the Red Sox would trade someone like Devers or Jay Groome, other prospects could be on the move.

Despite all the ambiguity, one thing is certain. Michael Chavis, Chad de la Guerra, Rafael Devers, and others have performed exceptionally this season. And as many Red Sox fans worried about the longevity of the farm system, a renaissance has been born.

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.