2016 Prospect Primer, Part 2

devers

If you missed yesterday’s Part 1, click here.

And now for the rest of the rankings…

Tier 1: LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH

Subcategory: CAUTION: Don’t trade, high probability it bites you in the a@#

Yoan Moncada
Age: 20
Position: 2B/3B
Level: Low A (Greenville)

The highest ranked international prospect since Xander Bogaerts in 2013, Moncada came in with a massive hype train after signing for an absurd $31.5 million, blasting through the international spending limit.  The total investment was $63 million after the 100 percent international free agency cap penalty, making Moncada the most expensive amateur free agent signing ever. After struggling to adjust in the first couple months at Greenville, Moncada caught fire, showing a rare mix of speed and an advanced approach at the plate. While the strikeout numbers were high (83 K’s in 81 games), he posted a .278 average with a .380 OBP, 42 walks, and 19 doubles. Scouts buzzed about his speed, as Moncada stole 49 bases in only 52 tries, a testament to his baseball IQ as well his athleticism. At only 20 years old, Moncada is a legit threat to be Boston’s next superstar, and he still has room to grow.

Andrew Benintendi
Age: 21
Position: OF
Level: Low A (Greenville)

The Red Sox first round pick out of Arkansas, Benintendi showed that he was well deserving of being drafted 7th overall. Benintendi has a rare mix of contact, power, and speed, which he combines with a high baseball IQ. Though he bats from the left side he’s been compared to Mookie Betts, a player comp which may not be too far off. Benintendi absolutely destroyed the competition in his first year in the minors, posting more BBs than Ks, a .313 AVG and 11 HRs and a staggering 1.011 OPS in 198 ABs. At this rate, Benintendi may force the Red Sox to move some outfielders because he could very well be called up by June if Boston can clear a spot in their crowded outfield.

Rafael Devers
Age: 19
Position: 3B
Level: Low A (Greenville)

One of the many top flight international prospects in the Sox farm system, Devers is the the organization’s best bet to put up a 40-plus HR season at the major leagiue level. In his age 18 season in Greenville, Devers put up 11 HR, 70 RBI, 38 doubles, and only 84 K’s in 508 ABs. Devers is just beginning to put some muscle on his lean 6 foot frame, and his advanced approach at the plate and fly ball tendency has him looking like the next great Red Sox power hitter, though he’s still a few years away from a major league call up.

Anderson Espinoza
Age: 17
Position: RHP
Level: Low A (Greenville)

The youngest player on this list, Espinoza has flashed some unbelievable stuff for only being 17 years old. He’s drawn comparisons to a young Pedro Martinez due to his size (6’0″, 160 lbs) and electric stuff that includes a heavy curve and a fastball that touches 100 mph. In 2015 he split his time between the Gulf Coast League and with the Greenville Drive, where he combined for a 1.23 ERA, a 4.64 K/BB ratio, and a staggering 0.94 WHIP in 15 starts.

Michael Kopech
Age: 19
Position: RHP
Level: Low A (Greenville)

One of the few top Red Sox pitching prospects that was also drafted by the team, Kopech joined many of these other players in tearing it up with the Greenville Drive. In his age 19 season he posted a 2.63 ERA, 70 K and only 2 HR allowed in 65 innings over 15 starts. Kopech is more developed than some of his other sub-20 year old counterparts at 6’3” and over 200 pounds, and it has translated to a spike in velocity, with a fastball that can reach 101 mph to go along with a mid-80’s slider and a low 80’s changeup.

Subcategory: Just graduated, proven Major Leaguers

Eduardo Rodriguez
Age: 22
Position: LHP
Level: MLB

Rodriguez was acquired in the deal that sent reliever Andrew Miller to the Orioles at the 2014 trade deadline. Once considered to be mid-level prospect at best, Rodriguez turned it on when traded to the Sox. Post-trade, he had a 3-1 record with a staggering 0.69 ERA for Double-A Portland after putting up a 3-7 record with a 4.79 ERA for the Orioles Double-A affiliate.  Rodriguez’s fastball sat at about 91-92 mph until his move to Boston. These days, his four-seam fastball averages 95 mph and tops out at around 98 mph. After tearing up Pawtucket through last April, the Red Sox called him up and Rodriguez showed that he was truly a top flight prospect. In 21 starts, he posted a 3.85 ERA with a 10-6 record, but those numbers are a little deceiving. E-Rod had four blow-up starts, which were responsible for 22 of the 52 earned runs he allowed. Removing those four starts, E-Rod would’ve posted a 10-2 record, with a 1.84 ERA in 107.6 innings. E-Rod may not be the next ace, but if he can harness last season’s potential and continue to improve his command of his three plus-pitches, he will be a staple of the Red Sox rotation for years to come.

Mookie Betts
Age: 23
Position: OF
Level: MLB

One of the new cornerstones of the Red Sox rebuild, Betts came on strong in the second half  after an underwhelming first half and pushed his way into the conversation as one of the best young players in the league. Betts produced a 6.0 bWAR (7th in the American League), 42 doubles (3rd in American League) and 4th in the MLB in Fangraphs’ Ultimate Base Running. Betts is currently battling defensive specialist Jackie Bradley Jr. for the right to start in centerfield in 2016, and it will be interesting to see if/how manager John Farrell rotates his duo of young outfielders between center and the corners. However, Betts easily has the most staying power out there and has developed into a potential perennial All-Star thanks to his complete game.

Xander Bogaerts
Age: 23
Position: SS
Level: MLB

Boston’s other breakout player, Bogaerts reinvented himself in the 2015 season. After being billed as the next great power-hitting shortstop, Bogaerts struggled mightily both in the field and at bat in his first year in 2014 after flashing promising potential in 2013 during the Red Sox championship run. With concerns about his performance, specifically in the field, Bogaerts flashed a plus glove tool and ditched the and ditched the pull power, opting for a full-field approach power, opting for a full-field approach. His new attack at plate led to a surge in batting average. Bogaerts hit .320 last season, good for fourth in the majors. The big question going forward: Will the power ever come back?

Whether the Red Sox hold onto this depth and let it develop or cash it in for established major league talent, the Red Sox have a promising future. No matter which way you look at it, with a payroll that knows no limits and a powerhouse of a farm system, everything looks good from here.

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