After the Boston Red Sox drafted Tanner Houck in the first round, they drafted outfielder Cole Brannen 63rd overall.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 (.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.
After starting out 5-0, the Portland Sea Dogs have been forced to only play six games. Likewise, they have not played a game since last Tuesday, in which they defeated Binghamton 2-0. Weather has not been a friend to the Sea Dogs, causing many changes to the game schedule.
Games previously set for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were postponed. The first two were away match-ups versus the Rumble Ponies while Friday’s match-up was the first of three against the Trenton Thunder. It was also set to be the start of a six-game homestand. The postponement was Portland’s second moved home game of the year. They were previously forced to move the Opening Day game against Reading.
They got the chance to resume their schedule Saturday when they played a doubleheader beginning at 1 pm. Both games were against Trenton.
Portland Sea Dogs Modified Game Schedule
According to the Sea Dogs website, “tickets for Friday’s postponed game may be exchanged for tickets of equal or lesser value to any remaining 2017 Sea Dogs home game, subject to availability. Any questions regarding rained out tickets can be directed towards the Sea Dogs Ticket Office at 207-879-9500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Sea Dogs played a single-admission doubleheader on Saturday, April 22nd, which consisted of two seven-inning games. Tickets for April 22nd were good for both games of the doubleheader.
The Binghamton road games have been rescheduled to June and August.
Obviously, the Sea Dogs have been hard-pressed to continue what started as a historic season. Thus far, they have relied heavily on superb pitching performances—mainly from Teddy Stankiewicz and Jalen Beeks. Additionally, the Sea Dogs have benefited from the rising stardom of Rafael Devers and Danny Mars.
The grand thing about baseball is that there is usually a tomorrow.
The Sea Dogs split the doubleheader with Trenton on Saturday, 3-0 and 0-5 respectively. On Sunday, they walked off in a 6-5 thriller. Monday, Portland lost to Hartford 5-0. As for Tuesday’s game, it was moved to May 16th at 5:00 due to rain.
Ranked 338th on the Baseball America top 500 prospect list, the Boston Red Sox snagged outfielder Danny Mars in the sixth round. The Chipola College prospect was rated low mostly because he played at the Junior College level, but he still tore up the competition nonetheless. In fact, his teammate Ian Rice, whom the Red Sox also drafted, was ranked higher, but he has yet to sign with the team. Unlike Rice who Boston drafted in a late round, the Red Sox offered Mars slot money, so he quickly signed with the Red Sox and reported to Lowell for his pro debut.
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In nine games for the Lowell Spinners this year, Mars is tearing the cover off the ball. Known as a contact hitter, Mars is hitting a whopping .405 in 37 at-bats while boasting a .450 OBP. To put it this way, Danny Mars is definitely doing his part and then some for the team. He is a switch hitter who hits much better from the left side of the plate, so eventually he might stop hitting righty all together.
On defense, Mars, who is an outfielder, can play all three outfield positions, although center field is his preference. He definitely has what it takes to stick in center field given his speed and athleticism. With this being said, Mars is also the type of guy who could potentially be a serious threat on the basepaths in the future.
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Right now, it is clear that Danny Mars is a legitimate prospect despite whatever he was ranked. In the sixth round, Mars was a steal for Boston and has a chance to really make a name for himself. In the future, Mars has what it takes to be a lead-off hitter and other teams will be jealous that they did not draft him. As for this year, Mars will likely get a promotion to Greenville at some point if he keeps up what he is doing, putting him in a great position for a breakout 2015 season.