The Prospector

Prospect Post-Mortem: The Royals PDF Print E-mail
The Prospector
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:00

In continuation of last week, we continue to acknowledge the accomplishments of our World Series participants with a progress report on the Kansas City Royals. The system has some interesting pitching prospects and a number of tools-laden hitters, but unfortunately a number of them are still quite raw and hitting some bumps in the road.

System Graduates: The odds that a 2014 draft pick would make it to the Majors and make it to the World Series less than six months after pitching in college are rather long. The fact that Brandon Finnegan was a Royal pick makes those odds even longer, but there it is. Odds and teams aside, first round college picks moved to the bullpen have often been able to fly through the system. (Hello Chris Sale to name one). A starter in college, the Royals moved the lefty to the pen upon promotion to Double-A and then jumped him to the Majors to be a relief specialist. Finnegan has a plus fastball/slider combo which has aided the transition. As a starter, Finnegan also features an average changeup, but it is unknown whether the Royals will move him back into the rotation (and a possible minor league demotion to get the necessary innings) or keep his live arm in the pen.

While Finnegan’s quick emergence has been a surprise, Yordano Ventura’s has not. The young righty won a job in the opening day rotation, as expected, and is now a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors. Ventura has encountered some minor shoulder issues over the course of the season but was able to maintain his excellent velocity regardless (97 mph fastball) and use that alongside his plus curve and changeup to produce a 7.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Health permitting, Ventura is a possible #2 or better long-term starter.

Stock Rising: Christian Binford pitched at three levels in 2014. The righty completely overmatched A+ ball over 14 starts with a 10.0 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 before encountering a slight bit more resistance over eight Double-A starts, where his K/9 dropped to a 7.1, while maintaining his ability to pound the zone. A brief stay as a reliever in Triple-A (10 innings) was rougher. Binford’s command is elite, but his fastball is nothing special in of itself, nor are his breaking pitches, but he mixes them well and throws them all for strikes. At the moment, the righty looks like a #4 starter.

Sean Manaea had his way with A+ ball batters, producing a 10.8 K/9 over 25 starts. A supplemental first round pick, Manaea struggles with his health and control at times but did manage to stay healthy this season. A lefty, Manaea has a mid to upper nineties fastball, plus slider, and an average to plus changeup as well. Do not be surprised to see him move more quickly next season with a possible late season MLB audition in the cards.

Steady as it Goes: 2013 first round pick Hunter Dozier is certainly not on the same quick trajectory as Brandon Finnegan, but he did a half year in A+ ball and the second half in Double-A. In A+ ball, Dozier showed the plate discipline, power potential and defense that was expected. The 23-year-old’s progress at Double-A, however, was less than stellar with a .209/.303/.321 output. Dozier earns praise for his makeup and intelligence and it is far too early to write him off. A return to Double-A to start 2015 is possible. The key will be his ability to cut down on strikeouts and reassert his quick, line-drive stroke.

Jorge Bonifacio is gifted with a great deal of natural raw power, but at 21 years of age, he has still yet to tap into it. It may yet come as he physically matures, so some patience is required here. On the positive side, the righty’s approach is better than some of his compatriots, including showing a willingness to draw a walk, and while his strikeout rates are above 20%, they are not of the obscenely high variety. If the power comes and he maintains this approach, the Royals may have their future right fielder.

It was tempting to put Raul A. Mondesi in the “stock falling” category, but he is who he is – a raw player with tremendous natural tools and at 19 years of age, there is still plenty of time left to turn those tools into skills. The switch-hitter is not going to be a power hitter, but he is an excellent defensive shortstop with a quick bat and above average speed. Right now though, for someone with his power, 122 strikeouts against 24 walks is a significant concern. Mondesi has been sitting on keeper league Minors squads for a season or two now, and there are probably better MLB-ready options worth carrying, except in leagues with particularly deep minor league rosters.

Miguel Almonte continues to throw strikes and has a plus fastball and good change, but he needs to further develop his breaking pitches in order to build off his solid 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. At the very least, he has a good foundation for a move to the bullpen.

Stock Falling: 2011 first round pick Bubba Starling's stock is plummeting. Starling still has significant tools and 20-20 or better potential, but he simply cannot make contact. The righty was overmatched in A+ ball as a 21-year-old with a .218/.304/.338 line. As with others, there is still time given his age, but the righty has yet to adjust his game in 2+ seasons of minor league ball. 2015 could be make or break for him.

Orlando Calixte spent a second straight season in Double-A, where apart from a tiny increase in power, he showed little to no improvement to his game and in fact was even less selective at the plate than in the year prior. The 22-year-old has good pop for a shortstop and is capable in the field, but given mediocre ability to hit at even the Double-A level or to even get on base (.288 OBP), his role seems to be moving towards a utility one.

Key Injuries: 2012 first round pick Kyle Zimmer made just five minor league starts but was receiving additional work in the Arizona Fall League, where he had been impressive in his three starts before getting shut down for the season with shoulder tightness. If the righty can ever stay healthy, he has a ceiling at least as high as Yordano Ventura.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:32
Prospect Post Mortem: The Giants PDF Print E-mail
The Prospector
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:00

This week, in honor of our upcoming World Series, we’ll consider the progress of the San Francisco Giants farm system. While the Giants did not promote many players to the Majors this season, overall the organization's prospects fared rather well as they advanced through the Minors with few surprising failures.

System Graduates: The most notable system graduate is, of course, the Giants' current starting second baseman, Joe Panik. Panik was also the lone prospect to exhaust his rookie eligibility (not including DFA’d minor league journeyman Brandon Hicks). A former 29th overall selection in the 2011 draft, Panik demonstrated superior plate discipline and contact making throughout his minor league career. In fact, his selectivity has yet to fully translate to the Majors and better OBPs may be in store. Beyond that ability, Panik has a relatively low ceiling as a gap-power hitter with mediocre at best foot speed. Long term, Panik looks like a .280 to .300 hitter with solid OBP skills, worth in the low to mid double-digits in NL-only leagues.

Andrew Susac did not exhaust his ROY eligibility, but solidified enough of a place on the roster to be a part of the postseason roster and could be the opening day back-up to Buster Posey in 2015. In fact, in many other organizations, he might have already taken over the starting job given an improving catch and throw game, a patient approach and mid-teens or better per season home run power. With Posey locked up until at least 2021, Susac could end up trade bait barring a position change for he or Posey.

Like Susac, Gary Brown is still technically a rookie but is on the postseason roster for his defense and speed primarily. The former top prospect appears, however, to be on more of a back-up outfielder career trajectory. The righty’s second tour of duty in Triple-A was better than his first, by a few hits and a greater number of stolen bases. Otherwise, Brown continues to strike out far too often and walks too little for someone of his speed skills/limited power ceiling tools. Despite a good Triple-A line that could earn 20-plus dollars if reproduced in the Majors, he needs to prove he can cut down on the K’s and handle right-handed pitching more effectively if he ever wants to be a starter.

Utility infielder Matt Duffy also made the postseason roster after a .332/.398/.444 campaign in Double-A. The former 18th round pick has pretty much already hit his ceiling as far as a roster spot, but he does bring a well-disciplined and contact-oriented approach, solid defense and above average speed. There’s an outside shot Duffy could have more long-term value than Panik if the opportunity were to arise.

Stock Rising: Michael Santos is a long way away as a 19-year-old pitching in short-season ball. He’s a tall, projectable righty with a plus fastball and two average to potential plus secondary pitches that he commands well. He’ll move up to full season ball next year. An interesting arm to track, but it's going to be a long time coming, that is if he can even stay healthy.

Another 19-year-old, Christian Arroyo, played well in the Northwest League, showing emerging power and solid play at second base. It remains to be seen if he has simply good power for a second baseman or enough power to be considered a third base option, given that he has good enough arm strength to handle the position.

6’2” lefty Keury Mella made just 12 starts in full-season A-ball, but he made an impression with an 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. The 21-year-old throws rather hard, reaching the upper nineties, and has the makings of being a complete pitcher with an average to plus curve and change. He should move up to A+ ball next year. His power arm may be too tempting to leave in the rotation and his role could eventually be a specialist left-hander.

Steady as it Goes: The report on Kyle Crick really has not changed. At 21, the righty was young for Double-A but managed a 11.1 K/9. On the other hand, he continues to be amazingly wild, logging a 6.1 BB/9. Crick still has top of the rotation stuff, but he has a lot to learn about command, mechanics and developing into a pitcher. If he can’t, the potential for him to be a dominant relief ace is there too.

Clayton Blackburn has more than passed the Double-A test, showing excellent control of his pitches, but he did see his K/9 drop over a full point to 8.2. He is somewhat of an antithesis to Crick as a polished pitcher with solid average and well-controlled stuff that gives him a safe trajectory to the Majors but an upside of no more than that of a fourth starter.

Former first round pick Chris Stratton made it to Double-A despite issues with the longball in A-ball. Still, he has a plus-fastball/slider mix that makes his strikeout rates more likely to transition upwards than Blackburn’s. The keys to his game are command within the zone and the development of his change. It’s a fair bet he’ll return to Double-A to begin 2015.

Joan Gregorio is a hard-throwing, 6’7” righty who can already reach the mid-nineties on his fastball and has a good slider to boot. The 22-year-old needs to prove himself at higher levels of competition, but with just 22 innings of A+ ball under his belt, there is no guarantee he’ll be immediately advanced to Double-A.

Kendry Flores followed up on a good A-ball season by increasing his strkikeout rates in A+ ball (9.5) despite not having overpowering stuff. Instead, Flores relies on good mechanics and a solid fastball and changeup combination. He did, like Stratton, have some issues with the home run. He’ll join Stratton in Double-A next year. As with Blackburn, Flores is perhaps a safer bet to make it than Stratton, but Stratton’s upside makes him more worthy of picking in most fantasy leagues.

Stock Falling: Mike Kickham spent nearly another full season in Triple-A, producing a near carbon copy of skills and results as in 2013. Kickham has a live arm and decent enough secondary stuff, but he is inconsistent with his control and command which has resulted in him being more hittable than he should be in successive seasons. The lefty may now be on the organizational path with a move to middle relief being his best way of getting to the Majors.

Ty Blach made 25 starts in Double-A, pounded the strikezone with a 2.5 BB/9, kept the ball in the park and managed a very respectable 3.13 ERA. However, the 24-year-old’s K/9 dropped from 8.1 to 5.8. He’s not a power pitcher but has multiple solid pitches and commands them well. Blach looks more like an innings eater #3 or #4 starter at best, one who will continue to pitch to contact.

Key Injuries: After tapping nicely into his power in 2013, former 3rd round pick Mac Williamson injured his elbow to the point of needing Tommy John surgery, costing him most of the 2014 season. He’ll return in 2015 and no long term effects are expected from the surgery. But, he’ll be 24 years of age with fewer than 100 at-bats of A+ ball experience and will have to show a lot in a hurry to fit into the Giants' plans.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 08:54
Prospect Post-Mortem: The Rays PDF Print E-mail
The Prospector
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:00

The Rays 2014 season was not the success at the MLB or minor league level that the organization had hoped for, but there were several significant players promoted to the Majors who will be in the 2015 opening day lineup while other prospects continued to ascend the ladder to the Majors.

System Graduates: On the hitting side of things, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer were the two minor leaguers to shed their rookie status. Kiermaier, 24, is unlikely to ever be a significant power threat, but that isn’t his game. Kiermaier is a low to mid-teens HR threat known best for his prowess as a centerfielder and a contact-oriented approach at the plate. The lefty struggled against southpaws (.203/.224/.284) and will have to translate his minor league contact skills to the Majors in order to avoid becoming a platoon player. There is .280+, 10 HR, 15 steal or better potential in this skill set. Brandon Guyer has spent the better part of three seasons in Triple-A, showing that he really has nothing left to prove at the level. Guyer also lacks any standout tools, but he does have above average speed (20+ SB potential) and similar, if not better pop than Kiermaier. He’ll continue to be a bench player for the Rays with a potential to play regularly against lefties.

The real rookie standouts were Jake Odorizzi and Brad Boxberger. Odorizzi’s quick and dominant transition to the Majors was essential given the injuries to the Rays staff. The former Brewer and Royal farmhand was able to command his pitches well and generate strikeouts with two plus pitches in his 4-seam fastball and split-fastball. His strikeout rates, while likely to regress a little in 2015, seem to be generally sustainable. Boxberger, like the Yankees' Dellin Betances, became one of the best setup men in all of baseball with his effort which generated a 14.5 K/9 alongside a 2.8 BB/9. However, Boxberger pitched in just 63 games and despite his 104 strikeouts, did not have a very heavy workload when compared against his Yankees competitor, so that bodes well for a strong follow-up in 2015 provided of course that Boxberger’s much improved strike-throwing carries forward too.

Stock Rising: 2014 first round draft pick Casey Gillaspie hit the ground running, showing the power and plate discipline expected of him with seven homers and a 14% walk rate in A-ball. The 20-year-old switch-hitter continues the family tradition of having an excellent plate approach, but he has better raw power tools than either of his brothers and has 20 to 25 home run potential long-term. Defensively, he is less versatile than his brothers and is limited pretty much to first base.

Ryan Brett enjoyed a solid Double-A campaign, showing gap power, above average speed and ability to make solid contact. He’ll ascend to Triple-A next year and if the Rays so desire, they could move Ben Zobrist back to an outfield position in order to make room for Brett’s above average glove at second base. Possible .280, 5 HR, 25 SB threat in the Majors.

Jacob Faria enjoyed a break-through season in his first full season of pro-ball. In 23 starts, the righty managed an 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. The 21-year-old has two to three average or better potential pitches and an advanced feel for pitching. He’ll move up to A+ ball in 2015 with a chance to end it at the Double-A level.

Steady as it Goes: Former first round pick Mikie Mahtook enjoyed the finest season of his career in 2014, but that does not really mean his stock is rising. Yes, he hit .292/.362/.458 while playing centerfield and hit a career high 12 homers to go along with 18 steals, which is all impressive, but he did it with a by far career high .380 BABIP and much increased strikeout rate (25%) as compared to the rest of his career. If Mahtook can go back to his usual contact-making ways while still bringing additional pop, then he may indeed have a future as a back-up or part-time starter. Right now, he still looks like the .250s hitter he was in the lower minors.

Taylor Guerrieri lost time due to a PED suspension and Tommy John surgery but came back strong over five short-season rookie ball starts, throwing strikes and missing bats. Granted it was a low level of competition, but at least the former first round pick is looking healthy and most importantly for someone coming off elbow surgery, throwing strikes, even if over a small sample size. Expect him to start 2015 in A+ ball, if healthy.

Alex Colome made it to the Majors pitching as both a starter and reliever for the Rays. The righty is one of the harder throwers in the system and has multiple average to plus pitches to back up his fastball. Command and health issues are the major concern here as is his path to a rotation spot. A trade or injury would have to occur for that opportunity to emerge. Possible #3 starter long-term.

Stock Falling: Like Colome, Enny Romero pitched in Triple-A this year but failed to get a single call-up. Despite an 8.4 K/9, the lefty continued to have some control issues and sported a 4.50 ERA and has yet to develop much of a changeup. Plus, because of his command problems, he developed an issue with allowing the longball in 2014. Romero has a nice upside, but his two power pitches could be well utilized as a loogy.

After coming over in a deal last offseason with the Nationals, Nate Karns continued to rack up strikeouts with his solid fastball/curve combination, but he continued to struggle with his command and posted a 5.07 ERA. The righty also has yet to develop much of a changeup which seems to suggest more and more that the former 12th round draft pick will eventually transition to the bullpen, where he could indeed flourish.

Hak-Ju Lee continues to rate amongst the top of the Rays minor league talents despite his difficulties staying healthy and his ineffectiveness at Triple-A this season (.203/.287/.276). Lee is potentially an elite defender who has displayed excellent bat control skills in the past along with gap power and 30-plus stolen base potential. Lee will be 24 years old to start next season and will have to show quite a bit more at the plate to avoid getting the “glove only” moniker.

2013 first round draft pick Nick Ciuffo scuffled in rookie ball, battinng .223. That said, we are talking about a 19-year-old catcher with the ability to stay behind the plate long-term and excellent bat speed, power, and make-up that could still make him an everyday player down the road. No need to roster him given his ETA, but definitely don’t lose track of Ciuffo.

2012 first round pick Richard Shaffer’s first foray into Double-A was a disappointment. There was plenty of power on display (19 HR) and good deal of walks (11%) but also few strikeouts and ineffectiveness against righties. Possible low-average, good OBP/HR threat at the MLB level. Think .230 or .240s hitter at the moment.

Next week, we move over to the National League for a change of pace.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 08:49
Prospect Post-Mortem: The Yankees PDF Print E-mail
The Prospector
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 00:00

This week, we continue wrapping up how each organization’s prospects fared in the past year and what holds for 2014. Let's take a glance at the New York Yankees farm system.

System Graduates: The Yankees had one rookie batter exhaust his rookie eligibility in Yangervis Solarte, ultimately sending him to the Padres in the Chase Headley deal. They were more successful in the pitching department with Dellin Betances establishing himself as one of the top setup men in the game and a potential closer candidate down the road. In 90 innings of work, Betances was able to focus on his nasty fastball/slider combination, throwing both pitches for strikes and posting a 13.5 K/9 while showing little to no platoon splits. The righty was dominant all season long, so the only concern is whether the heavy usage will catch up with him in 2015.

As well-known a prospect Betances was coming up through the Yankees system, Shane Greene was not. The former 15th round pick has not been noted for his command throughout his minor league career and has indeed seen his ERA see-saw up and down since being drafted in 2009. However, the righty has translated his strikeout rates at around the high 7 to low 8’s mark from one level to the next and had turned things around with his mechanics at A+ ball in 2013 with a 1.2 BB/9 and has since managed to keep it well under 4.0. The result was a very promising MLB debut and a good chance of making the 2015 opening day rotation.

After three seasons in Triple-A, fellow 15th round pick Chase Whitley was promoted and was used as a swing man, a role he’ll likely remain in for much of his career. The righty has fairly average stuff, but throws strikes and changes speeds pretty well.

Stock Rising: 20-year-old Luis Severino pitched at three levels this season with little to no difficulty in making that transition. In Double-A, the righty still posted a 10.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. As one would expect, Severino is still refining his stuff, but he already throws three plus to potential plus pitches consistently for strikes, giving him upper end of the rotation potential. Expect him to spend most of 2015 in Double-A with a shot at a September call-up and becoming a full-fledged rotation member in 2016.

2013 first round pick Aaron Judge already has some fascinating plate discipline skills, walking at high rates at two minor league stops while already tapping into his plus power potential with 17 homers. The 22-year-old will get more of a challenge in Double-A this season. He’s a future right fielder who will have to prove, because of his 6’7” frame, he can handle right-handed pitching at the upper levels of the Minors.

Rob Refsnyder hit over .300 or more at two minor league levels in 2014 along with 14 homers and a .380+ on-base percentage. A 2012 fifth round pick, Refsnyder is a very advanced line-drive hitter with low-teens pop and slightly above average speed. The righty is originally an outfielder and has been making the transition to second base the last two seasons. He's probably a utility guy long-term but does remind me a little bit of the Mets' Daniel Murphy in terms of modest ceiling, advanced game, adequate at best defense.

Gregory Bird showed his 20-home run A-ball output was for real with a combined 14 homers between A+ and Double-A in 2014. The 6’3” first baseman also translated his high walk rates to each new level of play without a substantial rise in swings and misses, though he did manage just a .253/.379/.558 line in Double-A. Not bad for a guy who missed April with a lower back injury. He’ll return to Double-A and if all goes well, could make a late-season appearance in the Bronx as a possible long-term replacement for Mark Teixeira, though it would be unwise to expect Bird to have a peak anywhere near as high as Tex.

Steady as it Goes: Gary Sanchez remains on pace to make the Majors and possibly win a starting job as soon as mid-2015. The long-term deal to Brian McCann, however, places a major damper on that opportunity, making Sanchez a candidate to be dealt. Sanchez has tapped into his power and made strides in reducing his aggressiveness at the plate while making more consistent contact. His below average running speed, however, puts a cap on his ability to hit for average long-term. Think .250 to .260 hitter who might manage 15 to 20 homers given the opportunity.

Taken 26th overall in 2013, Eric Jagielo spent time on the DL with a ribcage injury,but still managed to showcase his power in A+ ball with 16 homers. The lefty is a third baseman for now, but profiles best at 1B or DH where he’ll have to show he has enough power to warrant the job. So far, Jagielo is on the right track, but he will have to keep the strikeouts at bay at Double-A next year to be considered for a starting job long-term.

2013 first round pick Ian Clarkin enjoyed a solid first full season of pro-ball, posting a 9.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 at full season A-ball. Clarkin is a projectable lefty with two potential plus pitches. Clarkin is right on target as far as progress goes, but he’s not really for consideration in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues as of yet.

Stock Falling: J.R. Murphy is a fairly good defensive catcher with modest low to mid-teens power potential who earlier in his career showed a good approach and ability to make consistent contact. 2014 was a struggle as his offensive game deserted him at Triple-A with a weak .246/.292/.397 line. Murphy performed slightly better in the Majors and will now have to fight for the back-up job behind McCann. If he can’t win that job, he’ll end up as Sanchez’s Triple-A back-up.

Gosuke Katoh made a splash in the GCL in 2013, but he appeared mostly overmatched in A-ball, producing a 31% strikeout rate. On the other hand, the 19-year-old walked 15% of the time, played solid defense, showed gap power and decent speed. While it is too early to write him off, Katoh has a ton to prove.

Mason Williams has excellent all-around tools, including above average bat speed, but he has not shown any ability to do anything with the ball. In two seasons at Double-A, he has failed to hit above .223 and may have to repeat the level a third time.

Key Injuries: Slade Heathcott (missed all of 2014 except for 36 at-bats) and underwent knee surgery.

Next week, more prospect post-mortem.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 08:20
Prospect Post-Mortem: The Red Sox PDF Print E-mail
The Prospector
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00

Last week, we began our year-end organizational wrap-up. So how did those shiny prospects do this year? Which ones prospered? Which ones failed? Which ones came out of nowhere? Let’s dive in with a look at the Boston Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have a deep farm system and dipped into it on many occasions this season, often with great success.

System Graduates: Mookie Betts was the breakout prospect for the Sox this year. Well regarded previously, the 21-year-old was not expected to soar through the system. Instead, Betts displayed legitimate leadoff hitter on-base and contact skills, 30-plus stolen base speed, and developing power to the point that he has hit a combined 16 HR between three professional levels. Betts’ skills have translated well to the Majors and suggest the right-hander has yet to hit his ceiling with improved plate discipline. The Red Sox have a logjam in the outfield but Betts has proved worthy of a spot in the lineup next year. Beware, at 5’9”, 155 pounds, a power regression has to be expected for the upcoming year.

After a strong 2013 postseason, Xander Bogaerts was a lock for the opening day roster. He managed to stick with the team all season long, splitting time between shortstop and third base. My draft day expectations for the 21-year-old in his first full MLB season were “Jhonny Peralta” and I purposefully threw out a $15 bid to crickets at AL Tout Wars this year with that comparison in mind. Unfortunately, I got Peralta in one of his weaker campaigns. After showing a patient approach early on, MLB pitchers adjusted and Bogaerts floundered and has yet to readjust, resulting in a higher strikeout rate and much lower walk rate than his minor league pedigree suggests. It didn’t help that the Red Sox bounced him between third and shortstop. The good news to remember: he is only 21! Most players his age are still in A+ to Double-A ball. Bogaerts did manage to show some pop, has good bat speed, and has in his past displayed a good plate approach. He’ll come at a discount next season, but it is rather possible that Bogaerts, should he indeed break out as an offensive player, may take a few seasons to adjust and physically mature. He’ll be in his third season of MLB ball at 23 when most players are getting their first cup of coffee.

Jackie Bradley, now 24, has exhausted his rookie eligibility and his career may actually already be at a crossroads. Prior to 2014, he was looked at as a legitimate replacement to Jacoby Ellsbury with mid-teens power potential, 30-plus stolen base speed, and a patient approach at the plate. Like Bogaerts, Bradley has not been able to take his minor league skills up to the Majors yet. Now, after over 500 MLB plate appearances and near 30% strikeout rate with four homers and ten steals, he could be out of the Red Sox long-term plans.

Brandon Workman was removed from the rotation just this week. The righty performed well out of the pen in 2013 for the MLB team and enjoyed a solid campaign for Pawtucket. But after pitching initially solidly for the Sox this season, he appears to have run out of steam and has been absolutely torched of late in line to a 1-10 record despite a 7.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. The 26-year-old works mostly with a fastball, cut-fastball and curveball combo of solid, but not lights out quality. A move back to the bullpen or a role as a fourth starter are Workman’s most likely destinations.

Allen Webster, like Workman, has exhausted his rookie eligibility. More highly regarded than Workman, Webster continues to have difficulty throwing strikes at the MLB level as evidenced by a 5.4 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 52 innings this year. Webster’s stuff is technically better than Workman’s, but his lack of command and decline of fastball velocity make him a prime relief conversion project.

Stock Rising: Henry Owens is starting to throw strikes. The lefty was already striking out batters at every single level by the bushel, but now the lefty is actually commanding his pitches. He began the season in Double-A, sporting a 3.5 BB/9  in 20 starts, and followed up strongly with a 2.8 BB/9 in six Triple-A starts with a dominant 10.4 K/9. Owens is armed with three wipeout pitches and if he maintains his control gains, he might be next year’s Marcus Stroman.

The Red Sox landed Eduardo Rodriguez in a deal with the Orioles for Andrew Miller, who has found his niche as a dominant left-handed specialist. In six starts, Rodriguez produced a 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. The 21-year-old is a power-throwing lefty with three potential plus pitches and may end up a better long-term middle to upper end of the rotation option than many of Boston's home grown farm products.

Steady as it Goes: Blake Swihart was well touted and has now thoroughly proven himself against Double-A pitching with a .300/.353/.487 season in Portland while starting to add the expected power with 13 combined home runs. He’ll return to Pawtucket in 2015 and could compete for the starting job by mid-season. His above average speed and contact-making ability as a catcher make him the rare high batting average potential threat for his position.

Anthony Ranaudo has made it to the Majors but will likely still be a rookie heading into 2015 and will spend most of the year at Pawtucket. The righty has a power fastball and curveball combo, but is still working on his change and command, though the latter has started to improve a good deal this season. His long-term role as a middle of the rotation starter or late inning reliever are still up in the air.

Matt Barnes received a late season call-up after a solid, though far from dominant, Triple-A season in which his K/9 dropped four points from his Double-A performance. Barnes has an interesting fastball, but he struggles to consistently locate his curve, which has plus potential, and he has a changeup that is still very much a work in progress. A former first-round pick, Barnes is another 2015 rotation or bullpen option.

Stock Falling: Garin Cecchini has been perhaps one of, if not the most, disappointing young Red Sox this season. Early on, given the inconsistency of Will Middlebrooks' plate approach, there was a good chance for Cecchini to push his way into the starting gig. Instead, his game completely crumbled with an 8% decline in walk rate and a 4% rise in strikeout rate, and he continued to show no gains in the power department. The end result was a rather non-starter like .263/.341/.371 slash. Cecchini has always been a great skill, modest talent type player that you really want to pull for. At 23, the lefty is still young enough to turn things around and given that he has shown a high level of skill in the past, there is a very good chance that he can bounce back. While I do not want to write him off yet, he no longer has much trade or keeper value until he proves otherwise.

Next week, more prospect post-mortem.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 08:09
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