2016 Prospect Primer, Part 1


Before Christmas I argued that the Red Sox should be wary of trading away their blue chip prospects for superstars, as those trades don’t always work out so well. This week, I’ve taken the liberty of breaking down those prospects and ranking them as a primer for 2016. I’ve tried to simplify by putting our entire system into tiers:

Tier 3: All Star? Possibly. Career Minor Leaguer? Also Possible

Michael Chavis
Position: 3B
Level: Low A (Greenville)

The Red Sox first round pick in 2014, Chavis hasn’t really opened eyes yet, producing relatively ordinary numbers. He posted a .223 AVG, and only 29 BBs to 144 Ks in 2015, but did manage to produce 16 HR’s. Chavis has time to develop, and will have to battle Rafael Devers and Yoan Moncada for a position in the future Red Sox infield.

Sam Travis
Age: 22
Position: 1B
Level: AA

One of the more advanced players in the lower levels of the Red Sox minor league system, Travis has shown an impressive ability to succeed at the plate. While his power is average at best, Travis can spray the ball to all fields for average, hitting 32 doubles, 6 triples, 9 homers all at a .307 AVG while also stealing 19 bases across Salem and Portland last season. Travis also has a good eye, striking out only 77 times to 59 walks in 489 ABs.

Trey Ball
Age: 21
Position: LHP
Level: High A (Salem)

An extremely raw player out of the draft, Ball was selected with the 7th overall pick in the 2013 Draft by the Red Sox. A rare two-way player out of the draft, the Red Sox stuck with him as a pitcher partly due to his 6’6” frame. Ball has struggled for the majority of the last two seasons, lacking enough command of his secondary pitches to complement his low 90s fastball velocity. Ball is still young and his ceiling is still high, but the floor is sinking.

Luis Alexander Basabe
Age: 19
Position: OF
Level: Low A (Greenville)

Basabe is a well-regarded international prospect who is bumping shoulders with some great teammates in Greenville. He is an extremely raw outfielder who has yet to hone in on one area that allows him to stick out. Basabe’s best trait may be his athleticism, which translated to 15 steals last season, but he is still learning the strike zone and it shows with a .243 AVG. However his .340 OBP hints at improvement and, as a 19 year old, he has plenty of room to grow.

Brian Johnson
Age: 25
Position: LHP
Level: AAA/MLB

Johnson was supposed to be a guy who got the big leagues fast after he was drafted out of Florida, but he has had a long run in the minors, never really dominating the way the Red Sox had hoped. Johnson is tall at 6’4”, and like his Pawtucket counterpart Henry Owens, he is soft-throwing for his size, sitting between 89-92, often at the former. He’s a groundball pitcher that will never strikeout many, though he could have a future as a bullpen arm.

Deven Marrero
Position: IF
Level: AAA/MLB

Drafted before the Red Sox before they caught Bogaerts’ fever, Marrero is similar to Jackie Bradley Jr. in  that his defense has never been questioned, it all comes down to his ability to hit at a decent clip. With Xander locking down SS for at least the next decade, Marrero finds himself in a positional logjam and as a result has spent most of his time as a defensive replacement. A first round draft pick in 2012, he has had little success at the plate at the AAA or major league level, and would be a minor trade chip at the moment for a team starved for defense up the middle. Check out this great play by Marrero, who was filling in for an injured Dustin Pedroia:

Other Notables: Ty Buttrey, Teddy Stankiewicz, Nick Longhi, Wendell Rijo, Marco Dubon

Tier 2: Major League Ready, but are we sure he’s good?

Blake Swihart
Age: 23
Position: C
Level: MLB

In his first action in the big leagues Swihart had some success but showed that he is far from a finished project. He was mediocre (-9 DRS) behind the plate but flashed a plus arm. He hit .274, but his 24.9 K% and 5.8 BB% only allowed Swihart to post a measly .319 OBP. Swihart may deserve his own tier, as his ceiling, especially in context with his position, makes him extremely valuable, though he’s not on the same level as some of the talent in Tier 1. The biggest knock on Swihart is his lack of ability to call a game, but he has shown progress as he has grown more comfortable with the Sox pitching staff.

Henry Owens
Position: LHP
Level: MLB/AAA

Owens is a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as he mixes great games with six walk implosions. For a 6’6” frame, Owens throws rather soft, sitting between 90-92, and often has trouble with his command, as he can often walk 3+ batters in a five inning stint. Owens has a great deceptive delivery and it can often make up for a slow fastball and a slower curve that needs a bit of work. His changeup is already a plus pitch.

Jackie Bradley Jr.
Age: 25
Position: OF
Level: MLB

When Bradley Jr came out of South Carolina, every scout in the MLB knew of his prowess defensively, but his offense was more than a question mark. JBJ has an advanced approach at the plate, at least when it comes to walking, showing a 10.6% BB rate, but an atrocious 27.1% K rate. Bradley Jr. came as advertised in the field, posting a 10.1 UZR in only 608.1 innings. He may be the next Red Sox’ player to be traded, as a crowded outfield must make room for 2015 All Star Brock Holt as well as the possible call-up of Andrew Benintendi next season. Here’s just a taste of JBJ’s highlight reel:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2, aka the cream of the crop.


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