Winter Meetings have come and gone, and in 80 days there will be meaningful baseball. In what has been the slowest offseason, in what seems like history. The Red Sox still find themselves in a decent position within their farm system. Dave Dombrowski did trade away many good prospects last year in numerous deals to help improve the team, and it is hard to fault him for doing that. While the farm system does not appear to be as strong as it has been in year past, the system is still loaded with some great value. The following 10 players are the prized prospects in the system.
Some of the following 10 players have helped the Red Sox already, and some are ready to help the Red Sox this year and beyond. The 10 players on this list are all players who are not slated to open the season on the current MLB roster.
10. Tzu-Wei Lin
Lin made his debut with the Red Sox last year, as a fill in at third base. Lin showed some flashes of a good hit tool, and has a flashy glove. He won over the hearts of the Red Sox Nation by the way he plays. Lin has never known another organization, as the Red Sox signed him as an International Free Agent out of Taiwan. The Red Sox hope that Lin can take further strides and become a better hitter. Lin already posses plus speed and a good eye at the plate, but has not shown the ability to be a consistent average hitter in the minors.
Lin is the player on this list who could very easily break camp with the big club, as the start of the season for Dustin Pedroia may still be up in the air. If Lin can develop a consistent hitting tool, he could be an above average player in the MLB, and projects at the top of lineups. He already has a good enough glove and enough speed to be an MLB regular.
9. Bryce Brentz
Brentz put up great numbers last year, while never getting a chance to show if he could replicate those numbers against Major League pitching. Brentz has been with the Red Sox before, and has hit for a good average but not much power. The mystery as to why Brentz was not called up last year, towards the end of the year when Hanley Ramirez was struggling is a question no one has an answer to.
One knock against Brentz is his age. He is already 29 years old, and it will be hard for a 29 year old rookie to do damage for a long time in the Major Leagues. Brentz should absolutely be given a shot with the big club, and probably will be given his chance to make an impression on Alex Cora during Spring Training. If he does not make the team with the crowded outfield, he may make enough of an impression that he could force the hand of Boston if he continues his power hitting tear he was on in the minors last year.
8. Brian Johnson
Johnson is one of my favorite prospects in the Red Sox system. A system that is not ripe with pitching talent, but Johnson is one of the few pitchers the Red Sox have developed that could potentially turn into something. Johnson made a splash last year in his second major league start as he threw a complete game against the Mariners. Johnson flashed the talent the Red Sox saw when he was drafted out of the University of Florida.
Photo Credit: Tyler Milliken
When Johnson is right he is a strike thrower who never gets much of the plate, he doesn’t throw hard but he does have a lot of movement on his pitches and a nasty curveball. He can strike out a lot of guys, and not give up much. While pitches who throw harder can mask a miss in location with velocity, Johnson does not have that luxury, so if he is missing with his location he has the potential to get hit very hard. Johnson will be the first pitcher called up to start if a guy goes down, or someone struggles. He will pitch well enough to earn a few spot starts, but wont pitch well enough to beat out an incumbent starter.
7. Jalen Beeks
Beeks came onto the scene last year out of virtually nowhere. Beeks profiles better as a middle reliever at the major league level, after being a starter at the minor league and college level. Normally this spot would be occupied by Ben Taylor, who filled in nicely for the Red Sox last year, but with the way Beeks pitched last year. He has passed Ben Taylor on the potential mop up guy role in the minors. Plus Ben Taylor could likely make the Red Sox out of camp, because of his experience with the team last year.
Beeks has a 4 pitch mix, and throwing from the left side, could also be utilized as a left handed specialist. He throws two great off speed pitchs, and his curve ball will be the out pitch in the Majors. Beeks will get a long look in camp and if Ben Taylor or Robbie Scott struggle early, Beeks should be next in line.
6. Mike Shawaryn
The Red Sox were lucky to land Shawaryn. He was a potential first round pick after a decorated career at the university of Maryland. Injuries really hindered his final season with the Terps. A right handed pitcher who is a strikeout guy with a big time slider and a developing changeup. Shawaryn will not see any time with the Red Sox this year as he still needs time to develop in the minors and work on further developing his pitches.
Shawaryn will probably find himself in Pawtucket this year as a back of the rotation starter. If he can continue to develop his pitches he should be able to stick in the majors as a middle to back of the rotation starter. He still needs to develop a pitch to get left handed hitters out consistently. Shawaryn is planning to be a big part of the Red Sox future.
5. Sam Travis
Travis is another guy, who like Lin won over the hearts of the Red Sox faithful. Travis served as a nice fill in at first base for Mitch Moreland, and killed left handed pitching. Travis was a power hitter in college at Indiana, but the power has never seemed to develop at the pro level. Travis should be a consistent threat to hit for an average.
Photo Credit: John Wilcox
Travis will start the year in the minors due to the Red Sox resigning Mitch Moreland. The Red Sox also value Sam Travis having the ability to play every day in the minors as that will help his development more than anything. If he starts the year in Boston it will be due to injury or a circumstance the Red Sox were not expecting. Travis needs to develop because he is going to be a great hitter, and seeing his development stunted by sitting the bench is not what anyone in Boston should want.
4. Bryan Mata
Mata is an 18 year old pitcher who made his debut in the states last year. He pitched for Greenville last year, and is still filling out his frame. Mata is ranked this high because of projectability and pure stuff. Mata has 4 pitches and throws his fastball with sink at lower velocities and the same pitch shows as a cutter when he throws it harder. Mata has easy fluid mechanics which should let him pitch without any arm problems for a long time.
Mata is already throwing around 93-94 miles per hour. With his mechanics and the ability to fill out his body he could be up to 97-98 as he gets older. The verdict is still out on how good Mata will be, as he is still young and learning how to pitch. I am higher on Mata than most, but that is just based on his potential and the natural movement of his pitches, which should all develop into plus pitches.
3. Tanner Houck
Houck was the Red Sox first round draft pick last year. The right hander out of Missouri should be a fast mover through the system, and will be a successful pitcher at the major league level. Houck has been clocked as high as 98 already as a 21 year old. Houck was Missouri’s Friday night starter, and if he can develop into another former Tiger Friday night starter named Max Scherzer, everyone will be elated.
Houck has a really challenged delivery to pick up if you are a right handed hitter, he throws from a ¾ arm slot. Some scouts are torn as to whether he will project into a starter or a reliever, because at this point he only has one plus pitch and that is his fastball. He throws the fastball with velocity and it has a lot of natural movement. How fast he develops his other two pitches will determine how fast he moves through the system, which should be fast as he is a quick learner.
2. Michael Chavis
Coming off of his best season in the Red Sox farm, Chavis put himself on the map. Chavis is a third baseman and is currently older than Rafael Devers, so it remains to be seen if Chavis ever plays any meaningful games for the Red Sox. The Red Sox are going to try and keep Chavis, but if he continues to hit the ball like he did last year, he may force the hand of Boston to either call him up or trade him.
Photo Credit: Kelly O' Connor
Chavis is going to be a great hitter. He has a compact swing to go along with his muscular frame. He will hit for an average and should develop good power. In the field he has a cannon for an arm and is a better fielder than Devers currently is. His ceiling is not as high as Devers ceiling is and he is not seeming to develop his bat as fast. He will not play in the big leagues this year as he is still a year away.
1. Jason Groome
Groome is the prized possession in the farm system. He is going to be the future ace of the Red Sox, and is moving through the system fast. The native of Barnegut, NJ may not be the best prospect in the Red Sox system, but could also be one of the better prospects in all of baseball if he has a big year this year.
Groome has a lot of natural movement on his pitches and looks to have two plus pitches already. The Red Sox drafted what many considered to be the top talent in his draft class. While he was slowed last season by injury. He should have a great season this year and move through the system quickly. Groome should make his debut sometime during the 2019 season if all goes as planned.