Red Sox Prospects To Watch This Summer

Following key trades over the past year, Red Sox prospects have been hard to find. But as May begins, here are five young players to watch through the summer months.

Danny Mars – Portland, OF

The sixth round draft pick in 2014 is second on the team in average (.313) and slugging red sox prospects(.500). At 23, the Mars is already excelling beyond expectations at Double-A, meaning that by the end of the year he could find himself in Pawtucket. However, the Red Sox young and talented outfield already poses a roadblock to Mars.

Jalen Beeks – Portland, LHP

So far in 2017, the southpaw from Arkansas is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in four starts. Beeks (pictured above) is also averaging 6.5 K’s per game and has a WHIP of 1.08. After spending the second half of 2016 in Double-A as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Beeks makes his way to Pawtucket as well.

Aneury Tavarez – Pawtucket, OF

Tavarez, on the other hand, has already been called up to Triple-A this season. While with the Sea Dogs, he was batting .377 with 6 stolen bases. But like Mars, he also faces the reality of a crowded outfield not only at the big club but also with the PawSox. Never the less, he is one of the most well-rounded Red Sox prospects in the entire organization.

Shaun Anderson – Greenville, RHP

In 27.2 innings pitched with Greenville this season, Anderson has 24 K’s, averaging just under one per inning. And with a 0.98 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP, the young righty could move quickly through the low minors in a bullpen role. Anderson’s professional role is ambiguous because he pitched for Florida in college and was the closer simply because the staff was so deep.

Josh Ockimey – Salem, 1B

Ockimey is a Cherington draftee whose ascension through the minors has been steadily progressing. But so far this season, the 6’1″ 215-pound infielder has excelled with Salem, batting .347 with a .549 SLG. Scouts also point to Ockimey’s impressive power and work ethic. By season’s end, I  project that he could play his way into Double-A games.

Teddy Stankiewicz Emerges As Sea Dogs Ace

In 2013, Teddy Stankiewicz was drafted in the 2nd round by the Boston Red Sox, one round after fellow Portland Sea Dogs teammate Trey Ball. He played college ball at Seminole State and finished his senior year with a 2.52 ERA upon being drafted. stankiewiczPreviously, he had been drafted by the Mets in 2012.

Stankiewicz began his career in the Red Sox organization in 2013 with Lowell, where he recorded a 2.29 ERA at the age of 19. Over the next three years, Stankiewicz progressed through the ranks, spending a year at Greenville, Salem, and Portland respectively.

However, the first season in Portland was not as planned. In 2016, the 6’4’ righty went 5-9 with a 4.71 ERA in 25 starts. It was his third consecutive season with 25+ starts. That kind of consistency has been key to his progression through the minor leagues.

At one point, Stankiewicz was among SoxProspect.com’s Top 20 but has since fallen out of that list due to the constant income and outcome of prospects in the system.

But sometimes it’s the unsung heroes that contribute significantly.

So far in 2017, Stankiewicz has two no-decisions but has 13 innings pitched in two starts, a 2.77 ERA, and a 1.38 walk per nine innings ratio. Although teams spray hits against Stankiewicz, he has a 1.08 WHIP.

Stankiewicz’s Makeup

His stuff isn’t unhittable, but it gets the job done. He has a slider at about 81-84 MPH and a change-up at 84-86. His curve ball has an 11-5 break and can be thrown anywhere in the count to steal strikes. The fastball tops out in the low-to-mid 90’s and prevents him from walking hitters. Overall, he is confident on the mound and definitely has room for growth.

SoxProspects.com summarizes that Stankiewicz has the “Potential to be an emergency spot starter or long relief type. Won’t be flashy, but will throw strikes and utilize four-pitch mix to get outs. If [his] command doesn’t improve and secondary pitches don’t develop, will have to move to the bullpen. Lacks an above-average offering, which limits upside. Fastball and slider combination shows [the] most potential. Understands how to pitch. Strong makeup.”

Even though the Red Sox will obviously resort to Henry Owens or Brian Johnson before him for spot starts, Stankiewicz has emerged as the ace of the Double-A club. If he continues to improve his stuff and keep the ERA down, he could find himself in Pawtucket.

Devers Showing Signs of Maturity And Stardom With Portland

Since Dave Dombrowski took over the reigns in August of 2015, the Boston Red Sox have traded over a dozen minor league players. While adding “power pitchers” will deverscontribute to team success, one can only look back if a prospect becomes a major league superstar. But there is one prospect who has remained in the farm system throughout the entire tenure. His name is Rafael Devers.

In 2013, the Dominican infielder was signed to his first pro contract and began playing in the Red Sox farm system in early 2014. At the time, Boston already had Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias, Deven Marrero, Xander Bogaerts, and Garin Cecchini ahead of him on both the organizational depth chart and top prospect lists. (As of today only Bogaerts and Marrero remains on the big-league roster.)

Ascending the Ranks

As his bat developed and some of those players left the system, Devers began to ascend the ranks. By 2014’s end, Devers was already in the conversation for the top five Red Sox prospects. This was during a time when Blake Swihart and Henry Owens were still highly regarded in the minor leagues. Theoretically, the only thing keeping Devers from being major-league ready was his age, physical maturity, and defense.

However, as 2017 begins, Devers finds himself as the #2 prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He started the season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs and belted a home run in his first at-bat. As of Thursday night, he’s 10-25 with three doubles in addition to the homer. This already surpasses his April hit total from 2016 with Salem.

SoxProspects.com projects Devers as having “All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate.”

Their report continues to say: “Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. Fluid, easy swing. Natural hitter. Strong, quick wrists. Future plus hit tool. Easy plus bat speed and an advanced approach for his age. Solid swing mechanics and separation in stride. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age and has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments. Will stick at third base for the foreseeable future, but if his bat develops as projected, it would profile at first base.”

Considering third base has been a revolving door for the Red Sox, Devers could be the answer at the hot corner. This is especially true when taking into account fellow Red Sox prospect and first baseman Sam Travis. In the meantime, the 20-year-old slugger will continue to dominate with the Eastern League’s best team.

Top Prospects Must Stay With Red Sox

As the trade deadline approaches, talks loom about who the Red Sox will let go in exchange for a strong pitcher. The most recent news points to the White Sox scouting players like Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. According to ESPN, the White Sox sent scouts to watch Boston’s Double-A team on July 28th. Moncada and Benintendi play there now. Personally, I don’t think any pitcher in the MLB is quite worth giving up Moncada or Benintendi, especially Chris Sale. If Boston wants to make it to another World Series, then the Red Sox top prospects must stay in the farm system.

Yoan Moncada has already stolen 43 bases in stints at Single and Double-A this season.Red Sox Top Prospects Must Stay He’ll easily be a .300 average hitter in time. He can also hit for power. The fact that he can play infield, and serve as a designed hitter only adds to his value.

Andrew Benintendi is the next Carl Yastrzemski. He’s currently hitting over .300 with twelve triples between stints at Single and Double-A levels. You can attribute his triples to his developing strength and speed. Overall, he’s developing power, speed, and eye coordination, which will be both offensive and defensive assets. These factors signal that he’ll become a Boston superstar.

Let’s not forget about Michael Kopech. The guy is a wizard on the mound. Anyone his age that can throw 105 MPH is definitely worth keeping around. He pitched a immaculate inning a few weeks ago. He’s currently carrying an ERA of 1.35 in 26 innings this season. While that’s not a lot to bank on right now, it’s a VERY promising sign of what’s to come.

Experts like famed sportswriter Peter Gammons claim that all three of these prospects are “untouchable” and can’t be traded. According to ESPN, however, Dave Dombrowski said last week that “teams’ motivations tend to change as the deadline creeps closer.” Let’s hope that Gammons is right on this one.

Red Sox Top Prospects Must Stay To Create A New Dynasty

Seeing all three of these prospects on the field in Fenway Park in the near future would be riveting. They’ll be a throwback to the days of Yaz, Boggs, and Clemens. Players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Steven Wright, and Xander Bogaerts will be veterans by then. They can guide Moncada, Benintendi, and Kopech towards a dynasty that Boston hasn’t seen the likes of since the turn of the 20th century when the Red Sox won five World Series between 1903 and 1918. Moncada, Benintendi, Kopech, and other Red Sox top prospects must stay with the team if this dynasty is ever going to come to fruition.

Michael Kopech Throws Immaculate Inning

Boston Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech recently flashed the greatness that made him a #1 draft pick in 2014. People watch with curiosity and awe when Kopech throws. During a July 7th game against the Carolina Mudcats, Kopech struck out six in four innings. He also only gave up one hit. What was particularly impressive was how he threw an immaculate inning in the fourth. Such an accomplishment is no small task at all.

An immaculate inning in baseball is when the pitcher retires the side on nine pitches. That’sKopech throws three strikes per batter for three outs. Only 75 pitchers in Major League Baseball history have ever thrown an immaculate inning. Out of those 75, only three were rookies. In fact, none in Major League Baseball were thrown between 1929 and 1952. Clay Buchholz and Pedro Martinez are the only two Red Sox pitchers to have accomplished the feat in team history. So seeing Kopech throw an immaculate inning this soon in his career is immaculate in itself. What is perhaps just as impressive is that several of Kopech’s pitches topped 100 MPH, including a 103 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. When someone like Kopech throws 103 MPH, it’s not going to be taken lightly.

Kopeck has not played without controversy. He received a 50-game season-ending suspension last summer for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Oxilofreine. Kopech broke his right hand in a fistfight with his roommate the following year, further delaying his return to baseball. So despite his brilliance on the mound, Kopeck still has a ways to go before he can reach the majors.

Major League Baseball currently ranks Kopech the fifth-best prospect in the Red Sox organization behind Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. Baseball Prospectus ranks him 98th overall. His high ranking is partly why the Red Sox continue to support him. Kopech himself is thankful. “I don’t want to be portrayed as a bad person by any means,” Kopech said in a June 16th Boston.com article. “I mean, the past is the past and I’m ready to just better myself.”

The Incredible Potential of Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox are loaded with young talent throughout their organization, but the player who excites me the most is possibly Yoan Moncada, the Cuban infielder with enormous potential. A 21-year old phenom, Moncada has now been promoted to Double-A Portland, and that should really enthuse Red Sox Nation, which is in for a treat when the youngster finally arrives at Fenway Park.

Yoan Moncada

In sixty-one games with the Class-A+ Salem Red Sox this season, Moncada hit .307 with 4 home runs, 34 RBI and 25 doubles. His on-base percentage was .427, and he stole 36 bases in 44 attempts. That is a lethal combination that can really help a team win, and excite the fans simultaneously.

Moncada has also taken a big step forward since 2015. Last year, he hit .278 with 8 homers and 49 steals for the Class-A Greenville Drive. After proving himself at the lowest levels of minor league ball, the hulking specimen will now face his first real challenge, adjusting to what many people regard as the most talented tier below the Majors. While Triple-A is often home to diminished veterans, Double-A is typically loaded with elite prospects, which means more time is required there than at any other stage of the development process.

It’s important that the Red Sox give Yoan Moncada time to adjust at that level, where he’ll learn a lot about the game and American culture. The process of acclimating to the professional game can be a challenge for Cuban players. Boston has learned that with Rusney Castillo, who passed through waivers this week, just two unsatisfying years after agreeing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. Yet with Dustin Pedroia marshaling second base at the big league level, Moncada has time to smooth off some of the rough edges in his game, particularly defensively, before arriving in Boston.

When Will Yoan Moncada Arrive?

He should be ready to join the big league club by the end of next season, perhaps as a September call-up, so there’s room to breathe here. A lot can still go wrong, as the poor performance of Cubans such as Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler illustrates, but the potential upside is enormous. If he isn’t rushed, Yoan Moncada can be the cornerstone around which the Red Sox are built for the next decade.

Right now, MLB.com ranks him as the fifth-best prospect in baseball, and the third-best position player. The speed is electric, while the swing is fluid from both sides of the plate. He has a tremendous arm, and his overall defense should improve with more preps. Red Sox execs have spoken about potentially getting Moncada to play multiple positions to aid his versatility, but they want him to master second base before worrying about that.

The Red Sox made a huge commitment when they signed Yoan Moncada to a $31.5 million bonus, shattering the previous record. Ownership went the extra mile for Red Sox Nation, beating the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres to the signature of a player capable of transforming a franchise. That willingness to spend big to accrue elite prospects should be lauded, as the Sox try to win now and in the future. Therefore, I expect Moncada to be untouchable as Dave Dombrowski attempts to trade for pitching, except for the most elite of returns, namely Jose Fernandez.

The kid is on a path to superstardom, and it’s going to be fun to watch. All he needs is a little nurturing, before an elite player will emerge. I, for one, cannot wait to see him pull on a Red Sox uniform, as the pipeline of young talent continues to overflow.