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The Red Sox Farm System Roundup

courtesy of stadiumjourney.com 

The 2018 MLB regular season is coming to an end.  Just yesterday it felt like it was April and here we are about to see if this Boston Red Sox team has what it takes to win it all.  Be sure to check out BostonSports on Tap’s website to see a preview of what the playoff roster could look like.  Since we are at the end of the season I think it is a good time to look back on Boston’s farm system.  Over the last few years there have been a lot of prospects traded away for proven veterans.  The Red Sox have gone from having a flourishing young system with a lot of potential to the opposite.  At least that’s what the baseball community says.  Well, the community is right.  To close this baseball year, the Red Sox only have one player on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects List.  Even though things in the minors look bleak right now,  I think there could be some players that explode onto the national scene as soon as next year.  I guess you could say that I have a little optimism for the Sox prospects.

Let’s flashback to the year 2015.  Before Dave Dombrowski became the President of Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox.  If you can picture the state of the Red Sox in 2015, than you’re probably visualizing an organization with the best farm system in the MLB.  They had six players in the MLB top 100 prospects list.  And on top of that Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts had just graduated off their prospects list.  They were loaded with exciting young players with immense potential.   As I said before, things are a little different now. 

Things did not get off on the right foot for the organization.  Jay Groome started the year as the organization's number one pitching prospect.  He was drafted out of high school and was supposed to start showing some of the top end talent that made him the 12th overall pick.  Unfortunately for the Red Sox and Groome he had Tommy John surgery early in the summer delaying his development by maybe two years.  Another top prospect was suspended for using PED’s.  On top of all that, their first round pick in 2018, Triston Casas, was lost for the year due to a thumb injury just weeks after he was drafted.  But a few of their other prospects are beginning to trend in the right direction.  One was even the MVP of his league.  There are some reasons to be excited for the future wave of Sox players…even if it’s just a few. 

Michael Chavis was the player who was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.  The former first round draft pick sits atop the Red Sox prospects list.  He was starting to show off his power last season…**cough, cough** ....now we know why.  So you can imagine the Sox brass had one major question they were hoping would be answered when he returned.  Was all his power due to the roids?  In 41 games Chavis hit 9 home runs, he batted around .300 and had an OPS of .919.  All pretty solid numbers, and his power seemed there.  Chavis did this across three different minor league teams, but he did end the year on the Red Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox.  The potential young slugger is the only player that dons a Sox hat in the MLB Top Prospects List.  He still doesn’t have a true position in the field, and still struck out about 30% of the time this year.  Not good, but at the age of 23 he still has a year or two in the minors to prove he can play before he is given the dreaded bust label.  Chavis will continue to work on his game when he plays in the Arizona Fall League, which is one of the most prominent developmental fall ball leagues.  You will see him on the list of top prospects again next year and could possibly help out the major league roster in 2019 and beyond if he keeps crushing balls out of the ballpark. 

Bobby Dalbec is my favorite prospect in the Red Sox system.  Boston drafted Dalbec in 2016 out of the University of Arizona.  As a Wildcat, Dalbec displayed his raw power.  Matter of fact, when he was in college some scouts compared his ability to that of Kris Bryant.  That’s obviously lofty considering Bryant was a top 3 pick and Dalbec wasn’t even selected in the entire 1st round.  Regardless, if someone just saw a small glimpse of Bryant in his game that says a ton.  Not only does he have power in the batter’s box but also on the mound.  He threw high 90’s as his college squad’s closer.  He wasn’t drafted as a two way player but I think that does speak to his athleticism.  The third baseman put together a very solid stat line in 2018.  Dalbec hit 32 homers, which was fourth in the entire minor leagues and drove in 109 runners.  He was named the Carolina League MVP.  Bobby Dalbec also was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Red Sox organization.  I think this kid has a lot of talent and could continue to rise through their system.  He won’t be in the majors any time soon but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that he makes some scouts top 100 prospects lists.  Dalbec will be in playing with Chavis in the Arizona Fall League.  Could that duo become the future bash brothers?  Probably not, but as a fan all I can do is hope.

For a franchise to have long term success, they have to continuously develop good pitchers.  You can always sign and trade for quality arms but it is far more important to have homegrown talent at that position.  Young arms can save money for the organization because they come cheaper than proven veterans from other organizations.  The Red Sox have not had a lot of success bringing up young pitchers.  If you look up and down their active roster you won’t find many guys who have come up through the system.  Boston’s top pitching prospect just had Tommy John surgery this past spring.  Even though things seem really rough when it comes to the Sox pitching prospects there are a handful of names that could change things for the better. 

Let’s start with the best name in the minors.  Boston’s 2018 third round draft selection, Durbin Feltman.  If you read my piece on this year’s draft then you are familiar with Mr. Feltman.  If you didn’t read it, take a few minutes after you’re done with this article and take a peak.  Durbin Feltman was a prolific closer in college.  He uses his two plus pitches to get outs.  His fastball and slider are both very highly regarded pitches by scouts.  Once he reported to the Sox organization he hit the ground running.  He finished the season with a 1.93 ERA and struck out 36 batters in 23 innings.  On top of that he only walked 5 batters showing he has the control to pitch at the highest levels.  Feltman is a competitor and asserts himself on the mound from the first pitch he throws and on.  He won’t be pitching in the Arizona Fall League, but he will stay with the Sox and continue to develop in their Instructional League.  I expect him to fly through the minors and be in the Sox bullpen sometime next season.  Let the Durbin era begin.

Along with Feltman, the Red Sox 2017 first round pick Tanner Houck will also participate in the Fall Instructional League.  Houck started off pretty poorly.  They tinkered with his arm slot and that resulted in poor performances.  But once he went back to what made him a good enough pitcher in the SEC to ultimately become a first round pick, he began to start generating the strikeouts he is familiar with.  His stats this season didn’t reflect that of a former first rounder but there is still hope he can find success.  The second half of the season was a lot better for Houck.  Next season will really give the Sox an idea if he will be a starter or transition to the bullpen.  Scouts believe he that he could be a number 3 starter in the rotation or a back end of the bullpen arm.  That’s if he continues his development, of course.  Houck may never become a stud but he absolutely possesses the talent to become a contributor for the Red Sox in the future. 

Travis Lakins is a former college starter that has since transitioned to the bullpen.  He has pitched well this year and could be an option to help out this terrible bullpen in the future.  Lakins posted a 2.32 ERA in the minors but he split time between AA and AAA in 2018.  While he pitched in Pawtucket he had an ERA of 1.93.  Lakins was able to record outs and strike out a batter an inning.  Don’t be shocked if the former Ohio State Buckeye starter is a contributor to the 2019 Boston Red Sox bullpen. 

**BONUS**
Our awesome fantasy expert Ryan Besse wanted to get an update on Rusney Castillo.  If you play fantasy sports or are even thinking about getting into fantasy sports, be sure to go check out his pieces on our website.  Also while you’re thinking about Boston Sports on Tap hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and wish Ryan, Mitch or BJ a Happy Birthday.  Their B-Days were earlier this week.  Back to Rusney Castillo.  For those of you who have never heard of this man before, he is an outfielder that the Red Sox signed as a free agent when he came over from Cuba to a very lucrative deal in 2014.  He turned out to be a bust and was sent to the minor leagues despite how much money he made.  And to this day he has yet to be called up due to that money.  However, in 2018 Castillo had himself a solid season.  He hit.319 with 31 doubles and 13 stolen bags.  These stats are all from the Paw Sox, but still solid.  If money wasn’t an issue I do think Castillo would have made his way to the big league roster.  He could be a fourth outfielder for a major league club.  Who knows if he will ever make his way back to Boston, but I think it is more likely he will play in Worcester before he gets back to Fenway. 

All in all I don’t think this farm system is strong.  But I do think that it will look better within the next two years.  Other players to look out for are CJ Chatham and Josh Ockimey.  Both batters improved their skills this season.  The system does have some talent but it will take time.  However with Dombrowski in the front office, you could see half of these guys traded before Spring Training.  We will all have to wait and see what their minor leaguers look like come next March, but it has a chance to be improve.  You could even see a couple guys help out the Boston Red Sox as early as next season. 

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