Let me start out by saying we’ll have an updated Red Sox Top 50 sometime around midseason. Any Prospects1500 rankings listed in this piece are from Ryne Alber’s Red Sox Top 50 Prospects from back in January. What you’ll find below is a peek at Boston’s AAA, AA and both High and Low A teams and some players (both hitters and pitchers) that have been standouts during the first month of the season. In some cases I’ve had to spotlight some of the top Red Sox prospects who’ve also gotten off to slow starts. I welcome any and all comments here on Prospects1500 and please follow us on Twitter at @Prospects1500 to keep up with all the great content our staff is generating. OK Red Sox Nation and fellow dynasty leaguers, here we go!
Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA – International League)
To be honest I don’t see a lot to be excited about on this current PawSox club, but I will spotlight a few players. With guys like Bryce Brentz, Matt Dominquez, Steve Selsky (saw some MLB time earlier this year), Noe Ramirez, and Allen Craig we’re basically looking at a AAAA team. C/OF Blake Swihart is still on the DL. Their top prospect at this level, 1B Sam Travis, has gotten off to a slow start after a very good spring.
Aneury Tavarez, OF (currently #18 on SoxProspects.com’s list of top Red Sox prospects)
Tavarez had been selected by the Orioles in this past December’s Rule 5 Draft but was returned to the Red Sox on April 2 and assigned to Portland (AA). He was very good in 18 games for the Sea Dogs (.377 BA/.473 OBP/.475 SLG/.948 OPS, adding 6 SB) and just last week was promoted to Pawtucket and has continued right where he left off. In his first 3 games he’s hitting .385 with 2 HRs. Don’t get too excited #RedSoxNation because he’s at best a 4th/5th outfielder but if he keeps it up could see some MLB PT later this season.
Rusney Castillo, OF
I know, I know. Really? Hey, he’s hitting .301 (25-83 in 21 games). That’s awesome for him. Just sayin’.
Sam Travis, 1B (Prospects1500, #4, SoxProspects.com #3, MLB Red Sox #3)
Returning from a torn ACL last year, Travis showed great signs this spring with 3 HR, 12 RBI and a .318 AVG. That hasn’t translated yet with Pawtucket as he’s struggled over his first 20 games, hitting .236 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. Temper the expectations but don’t give up on him. He’s still working his way back.
Henry Owens, P
Owens isn’t prospect/rookie eligible anymore (85 IP in MLB) but he’s still only 24. Seems like he’s been around and had his chances for several years now. Oh wait, he has. But check this out. Has he turned a corner or are AAA hitters just that much more easy to put up good numbers against compared to the majors? I’d lean toward the latter but his 2017 numbers are very good so far. The Sox might give him another chance soon because Kyle Kendrick is NOT the answer. Owens is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 5 games started, although he’s still walking too many for my liking. (18 BB in 26.2 IP, 1.31 WHIP)
Two other pitchers who have fared well to monitor are Marcus Walden (2.01 ERA in 22.1 IP) and Brian Johnson. (2.28 ERA with 1 MLB spot start a couple weeks ago)
Portland Sea Dogs (AA – Eastern League)
This team is playing well and they’re 15-9, only 1.5 games behind Trenton in the Eastern League Eastern. There is a good amount of talent here and I was fortunate enough to see them play 2 games in Hartford against the Yard Goats this past week – which was a 3-game sweep as part of a recent 6 game winning streak. Of course the one big name that everyone’s talking about is…
Rafael Devers, 3B (Prospects1500 #2, SoxProspects.com #1, MLB Red Sox #1 and overall #15)
This kid is crushing it. Devers was 7-12 with 3 HR in the Hartford series, which included a 5-for-5 night this past Tuesday. He’s hitting .476 with 4 HR, 9 RBI in May. Overall his slash line is pretty decent (.325/.364/.602/.966) and I’m hearing a lot of fans in Boston calling for his promotion with absolutely nothing doing at 3B at Fenway. (Sandoval, Rutledge, Hernandez, Marrero et al) If it was my choice I’d try to hold him off until 2018 to get him more seasoning in MiLB. Give him some time in AAA later in the year but he’s only 20 years old. The future is definitely bright with this one!
Tzu-Wei Lin, SS
Lin has fallen on Red Sox prospect lists over the last couple of years, but having seen him play this past week, I’m telling you he still has a nice swing and has some good pop in his bat. He’s hitting .353/.421/.574 with a .995 OPS and 14 runs scored already, but compare that to a career .240/.313/.317/.630 line and maybe 2017 is just an aberration so far.
Jalen Beeks, LHP (Prospects1500 #24, SoxProspects.com #17, MLB Red Sox #27)
Beeks, a 12th round pick in 2014, is really putting it together so far in 2017. The 23-year-old is 4-1 with 1.63 ERA in 5 GS. You have to like the 34 K in 27.2 IP as well, which ranks him 2nd in the Eastern League in strikeouts, only 1 behind Binghamton’s P.J. Conlon. Beeks’ ERA is 3rd in the league, only behind Trenton’s Chance Adams and Hartford’s Yency Almonte. (who just left his last start with right shoulder inflammation)
Jamie Callahan, RHP (SoxProspects #21)
Callahan’s been around for a little while now (2nd round pick in 2012) but is still only 22. He’s right now enjoying his best season so far, but now he’s coming out of the bullpen. The switch has definitely been good for him as he’s posted a 3-1 record with 2 saves and some awesome numbers – 1.64 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 17 K in 11 IP. I may be pushing it some but totally would not be surprised to see a promotion to either AAA Pawtucket or possibly even Boston later in the year if the Sox need bullpen help with the still uncertain status of Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith.
Salem Red Sox (High A – Carolina League)
Like their AA brothers, Salem has also started 2017 off with a great start. Sitting at 19-10 above the Carolina League Northern division, the High A Red Sox squad is home to some of Boston’s top prospects.
Michael Chavis, 3B (Prospects1500 #9, SoxProspects.com #9, MLB Red Sox #10)
Chief Chavis (@MichaelChavis11 on Twitter) is always watching the clock and loves to let you know when it’s 11:11! This could be the year he starts to figure it all out at the plate. The 2014 1st rounder has a career .244 BA but has jumped out to a .358/.463/.716/1.179 line so far in 19 games this year. His batting average is 2nd in the Carolina League (just behind Down East Wood Duck (Texas Rangers) Chuck Moorman’s .362) and he’s cranked out 6 HR and 18 RBI. He and Devers are the future at 3B, although Chavis has seen time as SS in the past.
Josh Ockimey, 1B (Prospects1500 #10, SoxProspects.com #8, MLB Red Sox #8)
As with Chavis, Ockimey is tearing it up so far in High A ball. He and Chavis are 2nd/3rd in batting average overall in the league (and before his promotion to AA Josh Tobias was right behind them in 4th) and he’s tied for 6th with 31 base hits. With a slash line of .356/.460/.586/1.046 all Red Sox prospect followers should continue to keep their eye on this 21-year-old. Go grab a 2017 Bowman Ockimey autograph NOW before the value skyrockets.
Travis Lakins, RHP (Prospects1500 #25, SoxProspects #7, MLB Red Sox #7)
Lakins spent 2016 in Salem and showed some signs of the talent Boston scouts were hedging on when they drafted him in the 6th round in 2015, but he struggled for a lot of the 91 IP. His 5.93 ERA and 1.62 WHIP were not numbers that would bump him up the ranks in the system. Fast forward to the first month of 2017 and we’re now seeing that high potential pitcher. Lakins is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA in his first 6 GS, adding 35 K in 31.1 IP. Very good numbers indeed.
Roniel Raudes, RHP (Prospects1500 #6, SoxProspects.com #12, MLB Red Sox #5)
Raudes (19 years old, a 2014 International signing out of Nicaragua) hasn’t been as lights out so far in 2017 as he was last year in Low A Greenville when he was named Red Sox’s 2016 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Now in High A Salem we’re seeing a bit more of a struggle. Raudes is 1-1 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, but those peripheral numbers have been improving. His ERA has been lowering each time out since a tough first start of the year in which he gave up 5 ER and 6 H in only 4 IP. He’s only allowed 8 ER in 23.2 IP since.
Greenville Drive (Low A – South Atlantic League)
Boston’s Low A affiliate is also off to a great start, pacing the SALLY atop their Southern Division with a 19-9 record. Look to this club for some additional top notch talent and more of the quality Red Sox prospects which still ranks Boston’s farm system as one of the best in baseball.
Tyler Hill, OF (Prospects1500 #14, SoxProspects.com #34) and Bobby Dalbec, 3B (Prospects1500 #5, SoxProspects.com #4, MLB Red Sox #4) have both started off slow. Hill is batting .191 with 3 HR/12 RBI in 23 games. Dalbec is hopefully starting to come on now, having just hit his 2nd HR on May 6. His line of .265/.357/.367/.724 will improve as the weather heats up.
Shaun Anderson, RHP (Prospects1500 #13, SoxProspects.com #13, MLB Red Sox #17)
Boston’s 3rd round draft pick in 2016, Anderson looks very good so far in 2017. He’s 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA/0.95 WHIP in 6 GS and 32 K in 33.2 IP. This is especially good to see as he kicks off his first full season in pro ball after a rough beginning last year. In only 2 games and 2.2 IP in short season Lowell, he gave up 12 hits and 9 ER during his professional debut.
Michael Shawaryn, RHP (Prospects1500 #11, SoxProspects.com #14, MLB Red Sox #12)
This kid was actually one of the highlights in my Twitter feed last night coming off a 6 inning no decision with 3 H, 1 BB and 12 K against the Augusta Greenjackets. Shawaryn is 2nd in the SALLY with 44 K (in only 29.1 IP). This 2016 5th rounder out of University of Maryland is also pitching in his first full season. He had a nice debut with the Lowell Spinners last year, putting up a 2.87 ERA in 15.2 IP with 22 K.
Stephen Nogosek, RHP (Prospects1500 #32, SoxProspects.com #24, MLB Red Sox #23)
Last but not least in this article, Nogosek has been very good at the back end of Greenville’s bullpen, finishing 10 of the 11 games he’s appeared in so far. He’s leading the South Atlantic League with 7 saves. In 16 IP he’s racked up 22 K and sports a 2.25 ERA.
Photos of Devers and Callahan (although not great) are my own. Taken 5.3.17 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, CT.