Dynasty: Boston Red Sox 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Shelly Verougstraete takes a look at the Top 50 Red Sox prospects.

The Boston Red Sox system has seen better days. They have traded away many of their top prospects like Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Anderson Espinoza, in pursuit of major league ready talent so they can stay in their competitive window. Also, being competitive means you pick later in the draft and the Red Sox have not drafted particularly well, except these past couple seasons. The Red Sox have been good on the international front with many young, exciting players further down in their system. Chaim Bloom, who came over from the Rays, is known for creating prospect depth, unlike his predecessor Dave Dombrowski. Overall, the system is better than it has been in recent years but it has a long way to go before one can get overly excited.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as high. 

1.  3B Triston Casas

Age: 19

Highest Level: A+

Drafting a prep 1B type is a risky profile, but the Red Sox might have struck gold here. Casas was one of the most powerful prep bats in the 2018 draft and he continued his power hitting ways. He spent pretty much all of the 2019 season in A ball, where he hit 0.254 but an impressive 11.8% walk rate resulted in a 0.349 OBP. There is some swing and miss in his game but you take a gamble with a 6’5” slugger with a potential 55 Hit and 60 Game Power.

ETA: 2023

2. 3B Bobby Dalbec

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

Dalbec is knocking on the door of the major leagues after making it to AAA in 2019. His strikeout rates around 25% are a bit concerning and will plague him throughout his career. However, Dalbec’s contract rate increased from the low 60% range to low 70% range this season. He has also increased his pulled% from 18% to 32.4%. Sprinkle in the above average power and expect Dalbec to be banging many doubles off the Green Monster, if they aren’t going over.

ETA: 2020

 

 

3. RHP Bryan Mata

Age: 20

Highest Level: AA

Mata returned from a rough 2018 season, where he underperformed and dealt with a back injury, to have a breakout 2019 campaign, in which he got over the 100 IP mark for the first time in his career and his walk rate returned to pre-2018 levels of around 9%. He has four pitches: a mid-90s four seam, a sinker that has reached the upper 90s, and a decent changeup and cutter. His season was cut short as he dealt with a shoulder strain during the season. Command will probably be an issue but there is the makings of a starter here, if the Red Sox pitching development can actually produce a pitcher. Worse case scenario is Mata ends up in the bullpen but stuff should play up towards the back end or closer type.

ETA: 2021

 

4. OF Gilberto Jimenez

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

Jimenez is a switch-hitting outfielder with true 80 grade speed. Reports have him around 4 seconds from home to first base from the left hand side. However, his size (5’11’) and slap hitting approach put limits on how much power he will have. Even though he stole fewer bases in 2019 vs 2018, only 14 swipes, his efficiency greatly improved from 53% to 70%. His incredible bat-to-ball skills, hand-to-eye coordination, and above average fielding should allow Jimenez to reach the majors sometime in his career.

ETA: 2022

 

5. LHP Jay Groome

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

Jay Groome was thought to be one of the talentest draft prospects in 2016 but fell to the Red Sox because of off-the-field concerns. However, we have not seen much of the electric talent from the southpaw as his career has been muddled with injuries. He returned late in the season from TJ to throw a few innings before making a couple of starts in the New York-Penn League playoffs. 2020 will be a HUGE test for Groome who will be Rule 5 eligible next year. Signs are pointing to a bullpen role unless he proves he can start.

ETA: 2021

 

6. OF Jarren Duran

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

If this list would have come out about mid-season last year, Duran would have been much higher than #6. In 50 games at High-A, he hit .387/.456/.543 with 18 stolen bases. After the promotion to AA, Duran struggled to make contact. His contact rate dropped from 78% to 74% and strikeout rate jumped from 19% to 24%. He was invited to the AFL but his line of .269/.333/.385 in a hitters league did not inspire many. With that being said, Duran is very athletic with a tall, lean body that could add a bit of strength. It is doubtful he will develop over the fence power but could be a double machine with 20+ stolen base potential.

ETA: 2022

 

7. SS Matthew Lugo

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

None of Carlos Beltran‘s nephew’s tools light up the scouting report but Lugo is good at everything and should be able to stick at short. Because he is so young, there is a non zero chance Lugo turns into an everyday guy at short but he has some work to reach that level.

ETA: 2024

 

8. RHP Thad Ward

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

Thad Ward performed well this season with the help of a new cutter. In college, he was used heavily in a relief role but moved to starting after being drafted. There is still some risk he will end back in the bullpen but with his athleticism and added pitch, he is trending more towards a back-end starter.

ETA: 2022

 

9. SS CJ Chatham

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

Chatham does not have stand out tools but he is the type of bench player that can fill in in a pinch.  A poor man’s Brock Holt, if you will. He has a pretty linear bat path which limits his power potential. He flashes some interesting power in BP so if he can start to elevate to the pull side, there might be some more pop in the bat. He should make he debut in Fenway this year, especially with Dustin Pedroia‘s setback this off-season.

ETA: 2020

 

10. OF Nick Decker

Age: 20

Highest Level: A-

In his first full season as a pro, Decker had a pretty good debut in Low-A, showing off his 55 FV power with six home runs and ten doubles. However, he will need to cut down on those strikeouts; almost 30% is not sustainable for success. There is still much to like here and Decker profiles as an everyday corner outfield type. He can move up quickly with a hot start in 2020.

ETA: 2023

 

11. RHP Brayan Bello

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

Despite hurling more than double the amount of innings in 2018, Bello was better in the second half of the season and even hit high 90s at times. The right hander is still on the bit of the skinny side (6’1” and 170 lbs) so expect him to add some needed weight. If everything pans out, we are looking at back-end starter with a nasty fastball, changeup, and slider.

 ETA: 2022

 

12. RHP Tanner Houck

Age: 23

Highest Level: AAA

After dominating for Team USA in 2017, Houck was picked in the first round by the Red Sox. The team wasn’t thrilled with his delivery, arm slot and or pitch mix so they had him change pretty much everything before the 2018 season, including adding more of a four-seam approach. After some pretty subpar results, they realized their mistake and let him return to his old ways at the end of the season. He began this year in the rotation but was transitioned to the bullpen in hopes he could help the bullpen in Boston but it did not go well. He moved back to starting in the AFL and pitched pretty well, throwing 23.1 innings with a 2.70 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts. With Boston’s system lacking high minors pitching talent, he might remain a starter for a couple of seasons but his ultimate destination is probably the bullpen. 

ETA: 2020

 

13. LHP Chris Murphy

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

While in college, Murphy missed bats but struggled with his control and the Red Sox picked him in the sixth round. He was assigned to Low-A and his control improved; in 33.1 IP, he struck out 34 batters to the tune of a 1.08 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. The 6’1” southpaw has an impressive four-pitch mix and a fastball that sits in the mid-nineties. If Murphy can keep his walks under control, he profiles as a mid-rotation starter, if not, there are worse things than a middle reliever. 2020 is a huge season for him.

 ETA: 2023

 

14. RHP Aldo Ramirez

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

Since signing with the Red Sox in 2017, Ramirez has impressed with his ability to throw strikes against much older competition. His fastball sits in the mid-nineties with an above average curve with a developing changeup. At 6’0”, he is one the small-ish side but there are the makings of a back-end starter.

ETA: 2023

 

15. SS Cameron Cannon

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

Cameron Cannon performed well in college so there is still hope the performance will come around. He lacks a true position as he cannot stick at short.  

ETA: 2023

 

16. SS Brainer Bonaci

Age: 17

Highest Level: DSL

Bonaci is a switch hitting shortstop with a surprising amount of pop for a 5’10” guy. He should be able to stick at the position due to his arm and range. Look for him to quickly rise up lists.

ETA: 2024

 

17. 3B Brandon Howlett

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

The Red Sox took Howlett in the 21st round and in a surprising move, Howlett forwent his Florida State commitment and signed. Other than his 39 games in the GCL, Howlett has struggled and shown he has a long way to go developmentally. Lucky for him, the Red Sox are pretty good at developing hitters; however, 2020 will be a big test for him.

ETA: 2023

 

18. RHP Noah Song

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

Noah Song was by far the hardest prospect to rank on the list. The Red Sox took a gamble as Song was committed to the Navy flight school when they drafted him in the fourth round this past summer. He has three pitches and would have been a first round pick if it was not for the commitment. His fastball sits in the mid-nineties but he overpowered batters in the Premier12 tournament with close to 100 MPH. His arsenal also includes a wipeout slider, curveball, and changeup. There was a change in policy that would allow recruits to defer or alter their commitment and there was hope Song would be grandfathered in. However, late last year it was reported that he lost his appeal and would have to report to the academy in the spring. If he won his appeal he would have placed in my top five but after missing the next two years, his baseball career is uncertain.

ETA: 2023

 

19. RHP Chih-Jung Liu

Age: 20

Highest Level: N/A

In a surprise move this fall, the Red Sox signed Liu after he performed well in the Premier12 tournament. He was pitching in a relief role with a fastball/slider and a curve he mixes in occasionally.

ETA: 2023

 

20. OF Marcus Wilson

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Wilson came over from the Diamondbacks last season for Blake Swihart. He performed well in High-A and got a taste of AA where his average ticked back down. There will always be swing and miss in his game but he has a bit of pop. He was added to the 40 man so we should see him in Boston if any OF gets hurt, or worse, traded.

ETA: 2020

 

21. LHP Yoan Aybar

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

Yoan Aybar was signed as an outfielder but transitioned to the mound in 2018. The southpaw is still pretty raw but the Sox added him to the 40 man this offseason so they still believe. He should begin the season in High-A but needs to work on command before coming out of the pen in Boston.

ETA: 2021

 

22. OF Eduardo Lopez

Age: 17

Highest Level: R

Lopez was the biggest J2 signing the Red Sox made in 2018. He is a switch-hitter with a good feel for the zone, especially being such a young player. Scouts have loved his instincts and there is room for the hit tool to be average or plus.

ETA: 2024

 

23. SS Antoni Flores

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

After signing with the Red Sox in 2017, Flores busted onto the scene by hitting an impressive .347/.439/.510 and also flashing with a slick glove at short. Boy oh boy, what a difference a year can make. In Low-A, he only hit .193/.293/.227 and his strikeout rate jumped up to 28%. Because he is so young, it is too soon to write him off but there is still work to be done.

ETA: 2023

 

24. OF Eduardo Vaughan

Age: 17

Highest Level: R

Vaughan was one of the top prospects in Panama before being signed by the Sox in July 2018. At 6’3” and 185 lbs, there is a bunch of potential power here, especially if he adds some muscle

ETA: 2024

 

25. RHP Durbin Feltman

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

Feltman was thought to be the closer of the future in Boston after being drafted in the third round in 2018. His first couple of stops in professional ball were great but this season was just a mess. He spent all year in AA where he was still striking out guys, but lost all command. There is work that needs to be done but there is still a major league reliever here, just not sure if it is closer material. 

ETA: 2020

 

26. RHP Ryan Zeferjahn

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

Picked in the third round this past June, Zeferjahn looks like a starter (6’5”, 225 lbs, FB hits 98 MPH) but needs to work on his secondaries and control. With the lack of depth in Boston’s system, he will probably stay as a starter. However, his high effort delivery and amount of work that needs to be done means he will probably transition to the pen.

ETA: 2022

 

27. SS Ceddanne Rafaela

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

A sneaky player that can play around the infield with great contact skills. He hit a surprising six home runs in 41 games in the GCL despite being only 5’8”. He is a possible super utility player in the majors.

ETA: 2022

 

28. OF Bryan Gonzalez

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

Very young and super far away, Gonzalez has the potential to be a middle of the order bat that plays in a corner. 

ETA: 2024

 

29. RHP Mike Shawaryn

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

Shawaryn moved to the pen this year. He is a bit of a slinger (low ¾ arm slot) and could see some run in the pen to get a couple of righties out.

ETA: 2020

 

30. 1B Pedro Castellanos

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

Castellanos has always frustrated me. He has plenty of raw power but has never been able to translate it into game power. He has been able to be above league average at every stop but the age of 22, he is probably just organizational depth at this point.

ETA: 2022

 

31. SS Jonathan Arauz

Age: 21

Highest Level: AA

The Red Sox selected Arauz in the Rule 5 draft this offseason. Arauz is a bit interesting as he has the defensive chops to stick at SS in the majors but the bat is not yet ready. Personally, I have a feeling Arauz will be returning to Houston before the end of the year.

ETA: 2020

 

32. LHP Jorge Rodriguez

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

Since being drafted in 2017, Rodriguez has but up some pretty interesting numbers. He struck out 58 batters in 47 innings in the GCL before being promoted to Low-A. However, he is on the shorter side (5’11”) and does not have overpowering velocity (FB sits in the high-eighties). If, and it is a big if, he can get some velocity, there might be a starter here but might have to move to the pen.

ETA: 2023

 

33. RHP Eduardo Bazardo

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Bazardo moved to the pen exclusively this season and SwStk% and ERA held. His curveball is pretty interesting but we are looking at a mid-innings bullpen role at this point.

ETA: 2021

 

34. OF Juan Chacon

Age:  17

Highest Level: N/A

Chacon received the highest international signing bonus from the Red Sox this past summer. The 17-year-old is a very lanky 6’2” that has the potential to be an everyday player. He has a long way to go though.

 ETA: 2024

 

35. RHP Yusniel Padron-Artilles

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

YPA performed well in the New York-Penn League this summer. In 64 innings, he struck out 84 batters with a 2.67 ERA. However, he is a bit undersized with not super overpowering stuff. He gets so many strikes because of his deceptive, overhand arm slot. Ceiling is a spot starter but probably organization depth at this point.

ETA: 2022

 

36. 1B Danny Diaz

Age: 19

Highest Level: GCL

Diaz has plus raw power, but when you strike out 26.5% of the time with an impressive 35.4 SwStk% in the GCL, there is little hope he will ever make enough contact to show off the power.

ETA: 2023

 

37. RHP Brock Bell

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

The 6’4” righty was drafted in the ninth round of the 2019 June draft after he did not pitch much in college and had TJS during his sophomore year. His fastball sits in the mid-nineties with an above average curve. His ceiling is probably a reliever but with so little mileage, you never know.

ETA: 2022

 

38. SS Ryan Fitzgerald

Age: 25

Highest Level: A+

Ryan Fitzgerald’s story is interesting, as the Red Sox picked him up out of Indy ball and because of that, he has been old for level everywhere he has played. If everything comes together, I could see him with a big league club as a bench piece.

ETA: 2021

 

39. OF Darel Belen

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Belen signed with the Red Sox in February 2019, which is pretty late for an international signing. Belen is already 19 but at 6’4” and 195 lbs, there is a lot to like in the frame. He performed well in the DSL, hitting .281/.370/.430 with 5 HRs and 11 doubles. Enough stuff to keep your eye on going forward.

ETA: 2023

 

40. RHP Joan Martinez

Age: 23

Highest Level: A-

Strictly a reliever, Martinez’s fastball sits 94-97 and has touched 99. He was hit around in High-A but someone with that much velocity is hard to quit, especially if he can harness a decent secondary pitch.

ETA: 2022

 

41. RHP Andrew Politi

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

Politi was moved from the pen to a starting role this season and it went surprisingly well. He has a pretty deceptive delivery with an above average slider and developing changeup. His mechanics are pretty max effort so he might struggle with injuries during his career. He showed enough this season to be interesting.

ETA: 2022

 

42. RHP Kutter Crawford

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Performed well in High-A and AA this season but after having TJS in late October, we probably won’t see him again until 2021. Due to his high stress delivery and strikeout stuff, it looks like he will transition to the pen.

ETA: 2021

 

43. LHP Jhonathan Diaz

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

Diaz spent all season in High-A and pitched well. His stuff is not overpowering but he is able to repeat his mechanics. Diaz is likely organizational depth with the possibility of a spot start.

ETA: 2022

 

44. RHP Felix Cepeda

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Cepeda was really hit around in the CGL this year. In 38 innings, he had a 6.16 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. He was still getting swings and misses with a 21 SwStk%. However, in 2018, he showed much more promise so it is still a bit too soon write him off.

ETA: 2023

 

45. LHP Nixson Munoz

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

Munoz was the Latin Program Pitcher of the Year in his debut season in the DSL. In 60 innings, he had a 2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 62 strikeouts. He currently sits high eighties so here is hoping some velocity comes soon.

ETA: 2023

 

46. LHP Kyle Hart

Age: 27

Highest Level: AAA

Easily the oldest guy on the list but Hart had a pretty good season in AAA, especially considering they were using major league balls. He began the season in AA, and after posting a 2.91 ERA, he was promoted to AAA, where in he posted a 3.86 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. He has a four pitch mix that is especially devastating on lefties. There is a non zero chance we see Hart make a start or two in Boston this year.

ETA: 2020

 

47. RHP Luis Perales

Age: 17

Highest Level: N/A

Perales was signed this past July and his fastball was reportedly up to 95 with some late armside run. If he puts on some good weight, we might have an interesting starter but he has a long way to go.

ETA: 2023

 

48. RHP Denyi Reyes

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Reyes spent his season in AA and was not overly impressive. He is on the 40 man (for the time being) so he might get some run as a reliever this year.

ETA: 2021

 

49. RHP Wilkelman Gonzalez

Age: 17

Highest Level: DSL

Gonzalez signed with the Red Sox in 2018. In his first season in the DSL, he had a 3.30 ERA but an impressive 31.8 SwStk% which had to be included on the list.

ETA: 2024

 

50. 1B Josh Ockimey

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

Ockimey is a 1B/DH platoon bat that can smash righties but should not ever face a southpaw. His power keeps him interesting but there are many 1B in the system that have passed him by. He has not been protected in the Rule 5 draft the past two seasons, which tells you what the Sox think, and has not been selected, which tells you what other clubs think.

ETA: 2020

Triston Casas by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Zach Ennis (@zachennis on Twitter and Instagram)

Shelly Verougstraete

Shelly currently writes for Pitcher List, RotoGraphs, The Dynasty Guru, and Prospects365. She can also be heard on the Dynasty's Child podcast on The Dynasty Guru. She is a proud Dog Mom to Orsillo and Soto.

3 responses to “Dynasty: Boston Red Sox 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects”

  1. Avatar theKraken says:

    I don’t think the RP risk with Groome is huge at this point. It is a real risk for just about anyone, but I don’t think he is there yet. He has probably battled the same injury since turning pro. All you really have is one injury spanning three seasons. 2016 was his draft year (indication of nothing), 2017 got cut short, 2018 didn’t exist and 2019 pretty much didn’t exist – all the same injury and rehab. I like the fact that they took it slow and that he got on a mound last year with solid stuff – that actually sounds good to me as far as TJ goes.

    How tough is it to rank Song? On paper he seems like one of the top arms in the past draft but he won’t be playing for a few years. Does he rank higher next year? I think that is an interesting question as well. If the answer is no, then he probably doesn’t belong here at all. Personally I think he certainly belongs on the list and probably fairly high, especially since there just isn’t much in this system. Most of these guys will never do anything at the MLB level for different reasons.

    These writeups seem somewhat derivative of the fangraphs writeups.

    • Avatar Shelly Verougstraete says:

      Groome had an intercostal strain early in the 2017 season and then was shut down with the dreaded forearm stiffness at the end of the season. He tried to come back in 2018 but had to have TJS and didn’t return to action until late this year. I was happy they are taking it slow with but he has to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason. If he suffers from injury again, adding him will be a much tougher decision. Song was the hardest for me to rank. It is not totally official he is going to the Academy but very VERY likely. If he misses two years, that pretty much kills his ranking. If he doesn’t have to report, he would rank in the #3-#5 range.

  2. Avatar Harry Lime says:

    Sad farm system from where it use to be. As a RS fan it must have been tough to write about. But 7 of 9 in the MLB starting batting order are home grown.

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