The Boston Red Sox made a major trade for Chris Sale.
Our minor league top 10 series is coordinated by Benjamin Chase, one of our contributors at Call to the Pen.
He has pored over thousands of minor league games over the course of the year via milb.tv along with speaking with a number of team and independent scouts. These lists are based out of those conversations.
Each system will have prospects from 10 to 1, and then finish with one newcomer to the system that is worth keeping an eye on that is not in the top 10 at this time.
Conversations are certainly encouraged in the comments section on each system as we go along!
This year, the Red Sox were able to see both ends of Dombrowski
Red Sox System Review
Many Red Sox fans were worried last offseason when Dave Dombrowski came in that their system would be torn apart. Dombrowski has the reputation around the game of using his minor league system mainly to acquire major league talent, but that is over played, and he showed it in 2016. When there’s a guy that he wants to keep on the system, he will, and he has at previous stops.
This year, the Red Sox were able to see both ends of Dombrowski. Two guys that were important to the future of the team were given time with the big league club, even in the midst of a playoff run, though both still remain eligible for this list.
Now the Red Sox got a big-time pitcher, and that cost them a number of prospects. The good news for Red Sox fans is that while they don’t have the 7-8 top 100 guys that they did coming into the last offseason, there are still 3-4 likely top 100 guys on this list even after that big trade.
Birthdate: 8/11/95 (21 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: low A, high A Stats in 2016: .237/.313/.372, 8 HR, 4 SB
Coming out of high school, Chavis swung one of the most impressive bats in the 2014 class, which made him lasting all the way to the 26th pick a surprise in the eyes of many.
While he showed well after being drafted, he struggled in his first full season in low-A, striking out 144 times and hitting just .223. The Red Sox returned him to the league this year to open, and he really couldn’t get his feet under him before tearing a thumb ligament and never having a great handle on things upon returning.
(Chavis) really couldn’t get his feet under him before tearing a thumb ligament
Chavis has a big, powerful swing, and he’s likely never going to be a guy that hits .300 consistently with the swing, but if he can keep the batting average in a decent range and the strikeouts reasonable, there is legit 30 home run power in the bat.
Chavis defensively did show big strides this year before he was hurt this year after having some issues with his handling of balls at third in 2015. He’s got the plus arm to handle the position well or profile well in an outfield corner if need be.
Chavis will likely open at high A in 2017, and while he will be 21 for nearly the entire minor league season, he has plenty of work to do to re-establish his value.
Birthdate: 9/17/94 (22 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: short season A Stats in 2016: 15 2/3 IP, 2.87 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 10.45 BB%, 32.84 K%
Shawaryn was one of the most successful returning juniors in this year’s draft class, but college success does not always mean a big league future. In the case of Shawaryn, a mixed bag of a junior season led to him falling to the fifth round, where the Red Sox were happy to grab him.
Shawaryn raised some eye brows as more scouts got views on him due to his unique arm angle. He throws from an extended low 3/4, with his arm nearly slinging the ball toward the plate, yet he has the ability to get his hand on top of the ball for his slider.
At his best, (Shawaryn) works with a pair of fringe-plus offerings
His arm angle led many to believe he will end up a reliever, but Shawaryn has a very durable frame and has shown no issue with work load over time nor maintaining stuff deep into games.
At his best, he works with a pair of fringe-plus offerings in a fastball that works at 90-94 and can touch 96 with heavy sink and angle on the pitch. He also has a sweeping slider that is devastating on opposite handed hitters.
Shawaryn’s change is still a work in progress in consistency, but when he throws a good one, there’s not many like it due to the movement and arm angle, leaving hitters helpless at the plate.
Shawaryn threw solid at the New York-Penn League this year after being drafted, enough to figure he’ll throw in full season ball to open 2017, whether that be at low-A or high A.
Birthdate: 12/22/94 (21 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: rookie, short season A Stats in 2016: .242/.299/.417, 5 HR
Chatham ended up being the first college shortstop chosen when the Red Sox picked him in the second round this June at #51 overall.
Chatham draws a lot of comparisons to J.J. Hardy due to his tall frame, average speed, but great instincts that should allow him to play short going forward.
Chatham’s best offensive tool is an ability to barrel balls, and though he’s not likely to be a guy to knock out 30+ home runs on a consistent basis, he’s got the type of frame that he could grow into a few years topping that number along with a lot of 15-25 home run seasons.
Chatham was known for his strike zone judgement in college, but that was one area that he showed some work left to be done in his pro debut. Scouts that saw him often mentioned how he seemed eager to impress, and that could have led to expanding the zone some.
Chatham should start 2017 in full season ball, most likely in the South Atlantic League, but he has the natural skills that he could be the type of college pick that moves quickly once he gets his feet under him.
Birthdate: 1/16/98 (18 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: low A Stats in 2016: 113 1/3 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 4.91 BB%, 22.22 K%
Raudes was one of the youngest players in low-A this season, and certainly one of the youngest on the mound, and he was a guy who consistently got excellent reports for his pitching feel and sequencing.
Signed in 2014 out of Nicaragua, Raudes has been overshadowed by fellow 2014 signee Anderson Espinoza, but now that Espinoza’s with the Padres system, Raudes should be getting much more attention.
Raudes was one of the youngest players in low-A this season, and certainly one of the youngest on the mound, and he was a guy who consistently got excellent reports for his pitching feel and sequencing
Raudes works with a fastball in the low-90s that can touch 93-95 depending on who is reporting. He’s got plenty of projection in his 6’1″, 160-pound frame that could even be a few pounds shy of reality in that listing, and with that added projection could certainly come added velocity.
Even at his current velocity, Raudes knows how to control at a plus level already, using excellent location on all of his pitches to make each of them play up even more.
He works with a curve that’s a fringe-plus curve and a change that flashes plus ceiling, but once again, their location plays them up a full grade.
He will be in high-A to start 2017 most likely, and at that level as a teenager is very impressive indeed!
Birthdate: 10/18/95 (21 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: low-A Stats in 2016: .226/.367/.425, 18 HR
If you’re only going to have one above-average tool, having power that is legit plus power is probably the best way to go. Ockimey fits that pure power swing to a T.
While the power is obvious, Ockimey does have a solid knowledge of the strike zone, as evidenced by his 141 OBP delta. Ockimey has had a reputation for being perhaps too muscle-bound in the past, at a point of inflexibility in his swing and movement.
Playing in Fenway would be excellent with Ockimey’s pull side power as a lefty hitter
Ockimey doesn’t have great hands at first nor the arm to handle the outfield, so he’s likely going to play at a DH spot going forward.
Playing in Fenway would be excellent with Ockimey’s pull side power as a lefty hitter, and having Yankee Stadium in the division would not hurt, either. However, with Hanley Ramirez around for a while and Travis going to be coming up soon, Ockimey may have to leave the organization to get his chance.
As it sits, Ockimey will likely be playing at high-A as a 21-year-old in 2017, and if he can continue progress with his pitch recognition, he could really leap forward in the next year or two.
Birthdate: 8/27/93 (23 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: AAA Stats in 2016: .272/.332/.434, 6 HR
Travis teamed up with Kyle Schwarber in college to lead Indiana to their first College World Series. While Travis didn’t get quite the notice of Schwarber, he’s certainly talented as a hitter in his own right.
Interesting as that connection with Schwarber is, Travis was having a solid offensive season before shredding his ACL in May and missing the rest of the year, much like Schwarber did at the major league level.
At his best, Travis is a guy who is led by an excellent hit tool. He squares up balls well at all velocities and does a solid job of using the whole field. Travis hits with solid velocity, and while that hasn’t translated the way he might like in the minor leagues due to the parks he’s been in, he has consistently shown excellent gap power that should translate very well to Fenway.
he has consistently shown excellent gap power that should translate very well to Fenway
In many organizations, Travis would be preparing himself to take over a major league job in 2017, especially when there is an open 1B/DH job at the major league level like there is in Boston. However, the Red Sox have a significant issue of Pablo Sandoval still hanging around, and whether he claims 3B, 1B, or DH or ends up getting cut will be an offseason topic for sure.
If he isn’t up on opening day, Travis won’t be far behind with his excellent swing from the right side and solid contact skills. He also offers soft hands and good receiving at first base that would allow Hanley Ramirez to move to DH full-time.
Birthdate: 6/29/95 (21 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: short-season A Stats in 2016: .386/.427/.674, 7 HR
Dalbec drew a ton of attention when he led the Cape Cod league in home runs in 2015. To that point, many were considering him more of a prospect off the mound than as a hitter, but that performance put him in the consideration for the first round at this time last year.
Then he got into his college season and seemed to struggle to get going offensively all year long. He was dominant still as Arizona’s closer, leading them to the College World Series championship game. However, his bat was inconsistent at best throughout the year.
Dalbec has legit big power with solid contact skills
The Red Sox took a chance on Dalbec in the 4th round after he’d been passed up by every team multiple times. They were quickly rewarded.
Dalbec has legit big power with solid contact skills. His arm will allow him to play at third going forward, and he’s worked hard to get his body into the kind of shape that should allow him to stay at the position as well.
Birthdate: 8/23/98 (18 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: rookie, short-season A Stats in 2016: 6 2/3 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 13.79 BB%, 34.48 K%
Coming into the 2016 spring, Groome was regarded as the top left-handed high school arm, if not the top prospect in the entire draft. After a spring of some off-field concerns, his stock was a bit in the air coming into the draft in late May. Groome ended up slipping all the way to the Red Sox at #12.
Groome has a plus-plus fastball that has upper 90s top-end velocity, but sits in the 90-94 range with very good armside run. He has a curve that breaks like a big looper, but it comes in about 5-7 MPH faster than most looping curves you see in the league, making it hard to pick up for hitters.
his biggest attribute has been and will likely continue to be his ability to get the ball into the zone consistently
Groome’s change has flashed well, but his biggest attribute has een and will likely continue to be his ability to get the ball into the zone consistently.
He did struggle some with location in his one start in the New York-Penn League, but he did not get a ton of innings as the Red Sox just let him get his feet wet at this point. Some believe that he’ll be starting at high-A Salem in 2017, which would be incredibly impressive for a guy who will be 18 until late August of 2017.
Groome has a good build at 6’6″ and 225ish pounds, and he has a very good delivery that should prove to be repeatable. The biggest issue will be some of the off field stuff that never did get resolved for many teams before the draft. He will be intriguing to see how he is placed on industry top 100 lists as he has a wide range of opinions from those I’ve talked with.
Birthdate: 10/24/96 (20 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: high-A Stats in 2016: .282/.335/.443, 11 HR, 18 SB
When reviewing Devers from 2016, those who are just looking at him from the end of season stats will miss the season Devers truly had.
While his defense had been somewhat in question due to instincts at the position, he came a long ways at third base to the point of hearing some outside scouts call his defense plus.
However, the more impressive thing was the bat. He was hitting around .200 as of May 1, yet he finished the year at .282, which or a guy who was a teenager in the Carolina League is extremely impressive.
Devers has the sort of power to be a legit 30-HR hitter, but he also currently maintains a high level of athleticism, and his eight triples in 2016 was a great example of this. He also had 18 stolen bases.
Devers has above-average contact skills to go along with his power, and frankly, his presence in the system along with Moncada’s move to third base gives the Red Sox two legit third base prospects who will likely be in the top 25ish of all prospects.
Devers is a guy who could be moved in a blockbuster this offseason if the Red Sox go hard after a big time starter, but regardless, he’ll be at AA at just 20 years old, making him someone to definitely keep an eye on!
Birthdate: 7/6/94 (22 years old) Level(s) Played in 2016: high-A, AA, MLB Stats in 2016: .312/.378/.532, 9 HR, 16 SB
One of the striking things when you first see Benintendi just how small he is. He’s listed at 5’10” and 170 pounds, and both numbers may be generous. However, you’ll also notice upon closer examination that he has significant muscle build, including in his forearms and upper legs. For a guy with the reputation for smacking the ball the way Benintendi does, that’s a surprising sight!
Benintendi is probably not a guy with 30+ home run power or 30+ stolen base type of speed, however, he is a heady ball player that could steal 30 with the right type of offense around him or knock out 30 in the right park (and Boston certainly qualifies there.
What Benintendi will do that is incredibly impressive year in and year out will be hit. He’s got tremendous feel for the bat head in the zone and does an exceptional job at getting the bat in perfect position on the ball while also having his body in perfect explosive position to drive the ball.
Benintendi offers defense at a level to be an above-average center fielder, but playing left field as he will in Boston should allow Benintendi to be an elite defender.
While maybe not checking the elite HR or SB numbers off on a check list, Benintendi should be a guy who hits 30+ doubles, threatens double digits in triples, and puts up 20ish home runs each season while hitting .300 or better. That’s incredibly high value, even if it may not be the type of fantasy output that typically gets guys noticed.