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What’s the difference between a doughnut and a Dave Dombrowski Farm system? The doughnut usually leaves some crumbs behind! Wocka Wocka! In grand double D fashion, the long-necked one, emptied the farm to upgrade the major league squad. Some moves worked (Chris Sale & Craig Kimbrel) others have fallen flat(I.E. Travis Shaw+ for Tyler Thornburg). Regardless, the Red Sox minor leagues have acted as Dombrowski’s personal check book in the early part of his tenure. For the past ten years Boston has had one of the strongest farm systems in the game, producing talent like Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Bogaerts, Bradley, Betts, Benintendi, and recently Rafael Devers. The team now faces the challenge of restocking the once proud farm, following three years of trades, and a lost international period, due to a penalty received for rule violations. The last two drafts have been solid, but unspectacular, and have taken the Red Sox in a different direction. The focus has been heavily on pitching, giving the Sox depth in an area where they’re typically weak. Six of the following Top Ten is comprised of pitchers, and four of the six were drafted over the past two years. It likely would have been an even split between pitchers and positional players if not for the unfortunate, and tragic passing of July 2nd gem, Danny Flores. The shocking loss certainly leaves an already thin system further exposed. Will it be completely emptied to land Giancarlo Stanton? Or will the Sox stand pat this offseason, add in the June draft, and look to be players at next year’s trade deadline? One thing is for sure, with Dombrowski at the controls, someone’s getting traded in this beeyatch.

1) Michael Chavis, 3B | Level: AA | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .282/.347/.563, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 2 SB

Chavis ranked 45th in my most recent Top 50 Prospects, and is far and away the only “close to the majors” talent with above average upside. The third baseman played some first base in instructs as well as during his time in the Arizona Fall League, but he’s a little small for a first baseman at 5’10. Regardless of his future defensive home, Chavis brings plus raw power, driven by his lightning quick bat speed. His contact is loud, making him an exciting at bat to take in live. Early in his career there were justifiable concerns regarding Chavis’ strikeouts, but with marked improvement, he seems to balance aggression and patience well. My guess is Chavis is assigned to AA Portland initially before being promoted to AAA Pawtucket sometime in the early summer. There’s an outside chance he makes his big league debut in August or September of 2018. That is if he isn’t traded… ETA: 2019

2) Jay Groome, LHP | Level: A | Age: 19 | 2017 Stats: 3-9, 55.1 IP, 5.69 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 72 Ks, 30 Bb

It’s been a tumultuous two years for the player many considered to be the top talent in the 2016 draft. With off the field concerns, injuries, and ineffective play, 2017 was rough. Through it all, Groome has two very important things on his side, talent, and youth. A monster 6’6 lefty with a big mature frame, uncommon for a 19 year old, giving Groome an element of physicality other prep arms lack. His delivery is easy, clean, and repeatable, he hides the ball well, and gets good extension. His fastball sits low 90’s, hitting 94 at it’s peak (though some claim they’ve seen 97), his curveball is a future plus offering with 1-7 shape, and good feel. Groome mixes in a change as well, but it’s still quite raw. High bust potential, but also the ability to be a high end number two, making him the very definition of risk/reward. ETA: 2021

3) Bryan Mata, RHP | Level: A | Age: 18 | 2017 Stats: 5-6, 77 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 74 Ks, 26 Bb

A tall projectable righty signed out of Venezuela for $25,000 back in 2016. Mata handled a full season assignment in the Sally League, making 17 starts, and putting up very respectable numbers for a teenager. His three pitch mix is led by a sinking fastball with nice movement that sits 89-93. The pitch has some ceiling for higher velocity as Mata fills out his frame. His best secondary is his mid-70’s 11-5 curveball, which he shows some feel for, while his changeup is a work in progress. Mata has some nice upside as deep league play, but has a long way to go developmentally. ETA: 2021

4) Tanner Houck, RHP | Level: A- | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: 0-3, 22.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 25 Ks, 8 Bb

I wasn’t crazy about this pick when they made it, as Houck is a college pitcher with a big fastball, and little else. He’s big at 6’5 and hides the ball well, particularly to righthanded hitters from his 3/4 arm slot. Mixes in a slider, and changeup, but each is average at best. Looks like a future dominate pen arm, but it’s early to write him off as a starter. ETA: 2020

5) Sam Travis, 1B | Level: AAA | Age: 24 | 2017 Stats: .270/.351/.375, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 6 SB

Travis is the type of player I’ll snatch up in the late rounds of a deep-deep dynasty, and hope he figures the power out. A strong hitter, Travis has a nice compact line drive swing, but his lack of loft caps his power, despite a fair amount of hard contact. His plus plate approach, and above average contact skills make him a likely second division regular, but if he can make some adjustment to his swing, and tap into more of his raw power Travis could find himself a Top 20ish first baseman in his best seasons. ETA: 2018

6) Josh Ockimey, 1B | Level: AA | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .274/.385/.436, 14 HR, 74 RBI, 1 SB

Ockimey might be the second most improved hitter in the Red Sox system behind Michael Chavis. After struggling with strikeouts, the shift, and lefthanded pitching Ockimey made adjustments and improved across the board offensively. His plus raw power, and on base ability are his carrying tools, and fit well at his defensive home of first base. Could tap into more of his raw power in games, but with good bat speed, and quick hands, more power should come. I’ve waffled on Ockimey, but the improvements of 2017 have me ready to buy in again. ETA: 2019

7) Cole Brannen, OF | Level: A- | Age: 19 | 2017 Stats: .224/.383/.252, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 10 SB

Toolsy prep talent with a ton of projection, Brannen’s plus speed and quick bat, flash signs of some future plus offensive potential, but it’s a long way from it’s pinnacle. Has the ceiling of an A.J. Pollock type, with the floor of a complete bust. Still an interesting talent for the middle rounds of first year player drafts. ETA: 2021

8) Mike Shawaryn, RHP | Level: A+ | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: 8-7, 134.2 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 169 Ks, 48 Bb

The bespectacled righthander from Maryland has been a find since being selected in 5th round of the 2016 draft. Looks likely headed for a bullpen swingman type role, but with the rebirth of that role recently at the MLB level, mean Shawaryn may end up being a key piece to the future of the Red Sox pen. For now he’s a starter, mixing a low to mid 90’s fastball, with sink, run, and deception, a slurvy slider, and a developing average changeup. ETA: 2019

9) Alex Schreff, RHP | Level: Rk | Age: 19 | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play

A righty from the Texas prep ranks, Schreff is the classic hard-throwing Texan. His fastball sits mid 90’s, touching 98 on occasion, and is by far his lead offering. Schreff’s secondaries have a ways to go, common for a prep starter months removed from his draft. ETA: 2021

10) Jalen Beeks, LHP | Level: AAA | Age: 24 | 2017 Stats: 11-8, 145 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 155 Ks, 55 Bb

One of the sleepers of the Red Sox system, Beeks broke out in a big way in 2017, putting up some of the most impressive numbers in the system. Beeks improved his mechanics in 2017, and everything seemed to tick up, he mixes four pitches with a low-mid 90’s fastball, high-80’s two-seamer, a 1-7 shaped mid 70’s curveball, mid-80’s cutter, and mid-80’s change. Has an outside chance to make it in the big leagues as a starter, but more than likely will be a middle relief type. ETA: 2018

11) C.J. Chatham, SS | Level: A | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .316/.381/.474, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB

Missed most of the season with a hamstring injury, so there’s a very small sample size to draw from. Looks like an average offensive player at best, has average power and contact ability. Not the most exciting prospect for fantasy, likely not owned outside deepest of leagues. No standout strengths, but a lack of weaknesses make him a solid prospect. ETA: 2020

12) Bobby Dalbec, 3B | Level: A | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .248/.347/.424, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 5 SB

I loved Dalbec coming out of the draft, but his strikeout issues manifested themselves this season, and limited the third baseman’s offensive output. There’s still power, and approach, making Dalbec an ultra-three outcome hitter. If he can make an adjustment, and cut into his strikeout rate, he has a chance to make it as a lower tier power-hitting corner infielder. Prospecting Pal John Calvagno of Sally Notes, noted (Pun point me!) That Dalbec’s season took a nosedive following a shoulder injury, that most likely sapped him of the opposite field power he flashed early in the season. ETA: 2019

13) Jake Thompson, RHP | Level: A- | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: 0-3, 11.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 11 Ks, 6 Bb

Starter on a top ranked Oregon State team, Thompson returned from a back injury his Sophomore year, to stellar results in his junior campaign. The righthander went 14-0 with 1.52 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. His three pitch mix is led by a mid to high 90’s fastball, that gets plus grades. While a plus slider with hard break, and fringe changeup, round out his arsenal. Thompson has a chance to rocket up this list if he performs well in 2018. ETA: 2019

14) Danny Diaz, SS | Level: N/A | Age: 16 | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play

Signed in July for $1.6 million, scouting reports laud his plus approach and potential plus power, likely to move over to third base. ETA: 2022

15) Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP | Level: A | Age: 20 | 2017 Stats: 4-5, 103.1 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 116 Ks, 49 Bb

A lefty with protypical size and stuff, a low-mid 90’s fastball, low to mid 70’s curveball, and fringe-work-in-progress changeup. Hernandez’s plus fastball, and above average curveball help Hernandez project to have future swing and miss ability. A nice deep league arm, that could return some value if he develops his changeup. ETA: 2020

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

   
  1. Miketron says:
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    Let’s say the Sox do not sign someone to play 1B. Do we see a Travis/Ockimey platoon by the end of 2018?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Miketron: I don’t think so, I think Hanley will be in the mix, with another player they add via trade. I’d be shocked if we get a Travis/Ockimey platoon. Might see that at Pawtucket though.

  2. Rich says:
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    This looks so much like Dave’s old Tiger systems. A bunch of relievers …yawn.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Rich: Seriously! Outside of Groome and Mata, not a lot of upside arms.

  3. Tommy Boy says:
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    Any chance we can get this page updated with fresh links, 2018 Dynasty Leagues & Minor League Preview Index.

    Thanks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Tommy Boy: All set, sorry about that!

      • Tommy Boy says:
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        Thanks, appreciate it. Appreciate your work as well.

  4. Jack Deth says:
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    I always question when a fantasy analyst writes about their team. In this case I have no question. Well done, showing some integrity. You should pour yourself a nice glass of Chavis Regal, it’s Sunday

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jack Deth: Hahaha, it doesn’t hurt that, much like I am with myself, I’m far more critical of my team. I’ve also observed almost all of these players in person, with the exception of Schreff, Diaz, and Brannen.

      Thanks FOH! I’m about to hit the Chavis!

      • Jack Deth says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I like that you are, as am I. Nothing worse than some fantasy hack blowing his team and telling you to own their players because they can’t take off their (insert team colors) glasses off

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Jack Deth: I like my glasses to be hot pink stutter shades.

          • Jack Deth says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: your analysis does have a spicy tenderness to it

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @Jack Deth: I’m like a flamboyant Max Headroom, but consisting of flesh and bone.

              • Jack Deth says:
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                @Ralph Lifshitz: and giving bones! Hey yo!

  5. Jose says:
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    MVP Ronald Acuna finished his AFL season with an MVP performance in the Championship game. He went 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs.

    The only thing I am disappointed about is that he did not worked more on his base stealing game, between AA & AAA he got thrown out a few time, especially trying to steal 3B, when he was in scoring position already. I thought that he was going to work on taking better leads and picking the proper pitch to steal on during instruct and the AFL.
    I hope ATL has Otis Nixon work with him in ST.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jose: Yeah, he’s not the most efficient base stealer. Stands to reason some part of his game would still be raw at this point. There’s not too much to complain about at this point with Acuna.

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