Ben Cherington’s “Next Great Red Sox Team” has a gaping hole at 1b.
Mike Napoli has been a power source and serviceable around the bag and may fill in again in 2014, but there is no obvious candidate to replace him and become the everyday 1b for Ben’s next generation, home-grown team. http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/05/13/youre-ben-cherington-finally-in-charge-architect-of-the-next-great-red-sox-team/
- Promote a player from his farm system.
- Make a trade for an available 1b prospect from another team.
- Make a trade for a 1b on the 40-man roster of another team.
- Sign a Free Agent from the 2014 pool.
- Draft a college player from the June 2014 MLB class.
ED. NOTE: Although it has met with doubt and disdain, I proposed moving Xander Bogaerts to 1b immediately in two previous posts. http://fansidedblogs.net/app/?id=14&post_id=17244 , http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/03/18/just-ask-earl-2nd-edition-bogaerts-to-3b-hit-and-run-play/2/
In Part One, we consider Ben’s first two options: 1. Promote a player from his farm system and 2. Make a trade for an available 1b prospect from another MLB team to find a 1b for Ben Cherington’s “Next Great Red Sox Team.” http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/05/13/youre-ben-cherington-finally-in-charge-architect-of-the-next-great-red-sox-team/
FARM SYSTEM PROMOTION
With the promotion of a large cohort from the farm that includes, the Sox will hit a dry cycle for a few years and the current “prospects” at 1b are more like “suspects.”
1B Jake Davies* [Gulf Coast Lg.] [.216]
1B Mark Hamilton* AAA [29, Cardinals release Mark Hamilton, 8/17/13]
1B/OF Drew Hedman* AA [.244, 1063 ABs, 18 HRs]
1B Travis Shaw* AA [.256 career, .221, 1119 ABs, 43 HRs]
1B Nathan Minnich* A- [.243 career, 144 ABs, 1 HR]
1B/3B David Renfroe A+ [.222 career, 216 ABs, 3 HRs, RHB]
TRADE FOR IB PROSPECT
Let’s take a look at the Top Ten listed by Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com’s Draft and prospect expert at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2013/
#1 Jonathan Singleton
“One of the top power hitting prospects in the game, Singleton hit 11 home runs in 90 games after serving a 50-games suspension for failing a second drug test. He had 21 home runs in Double-A last season.”
COMMENT: Not likely to be available in a trade; the Astros see him as a cornerstone for their franchise future, as their clean-up power guy.
#2 C. J. Cron
“…advanced college bat taken in the first round. Though it was done in the hitting-friendly California League, the fact the son of Tigers minor league manager Chris Cron led the Minors in RBIs while topping the Angels system in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage…”
COMMENT: The over-paid and underachieving Angels are making due with the platoon of Trumbo and Calhoun, but with the return of Pujols in 2014, they will be looking to unload a 1b.
Cron is the best candidate for the Red Sox; he has the ceiling of a middle-of-the-order righty hitter with some power and a low K rate. He will not be a big improvement over Napoli on defense and there are some concerns that he may be over-matched by MLB heaters.
#3 Dan Vogelbach
“He can hit the ball out of any park, to any field. He isn’t a one-trick pony at the plate, though. He has excellent plate discipline with a lot of bat speed and projects to be a good all-around hitter. Vogelbach was overweight as an amateur, but he worked hard to trim down, something he’ll have to watch for the remainder of his career. Even with better conditioning, he’s a well-below-average runner who will never be better than average defensively, so his bat will have to propel him up the ladder.”
COMMENT: At 6 feet and 250 he looks like Matt Stairs playing 1b. He has gap power, but he will be a major liability at First and a real danger to other base runners. With Rizzo locked in at 1b, the Cubs will be glad to trade him to an AL team, where he could thrive as a DH.
#4 Matthew Olson
Once Vanderbilt bound, he signed with Oakland. “His smooth and quick swing from the left side of the plate should allow him to hit for average and power as he progresses. A third baseman in high school, Olson moved over to the other corner and looks like he could be an outstanding defender there, even despite his below-average speed.”
COMMENT: The A’s see him as the long-term solution at 1b and in the 3 slot, so this LHB will be costly in a trade with Beane. Think Lars Anderson; only this kid  will stick in MLB.
#5 Dominic Smith
“…the best pure prep hitter in the 2013 Draft class. The SoCal first baseman has the chance to be an above-average hitter and should add more power as he develops. While he’s a quality defender at first, he is limited to that position, so how much pop he does add will determine just how well he profiles at the corner infield spot. Most are confident, however, that his bat should carry him to the big leagues.”
COMMENT: The Mets will be in a rebuild mode in 2014 and willing to deal, but, at just 18, this LHB is a long-shot for the Sox and he will need to develop power to stay at 1b.
#6 Hunter Morris
“Morris topped the organization [Milwaukee] in hits, homers, RBIs and slugging percentage while finishing second in batting average. Added up, that gave Morris the Double-A Southern League MVP Award. His improved plate discipline in 2012 allowed him to find better pitches to drive, both for two-base hits and for home runs. Some really feel he has a chance to hit at the highest level. He’s a below-average runner, but should be just fine defensively at first base.”
COMMENT: The Brewers have a committee at 1b with J. Francisco, Y. Betancourt, M. Maldonado, S. Halton and, since Morris is MLB-ready for 2014, they will want to try him at 1b to use his excellent D to complement their new SS star Juan Segura.
#7 Christian Walker
“Wherever Walker has gone, he’s hit. And won. He has a very good feel for hitting…he doesn’t have light-tower power, he does have the ability to drive the ball. He’s limited defensively, but should be adequate at first.”
COMMENT: With Chris Davis planted at 1b and converted OF, Michael Morse as his back-up, the Orioles may want to hold onto LHB Walker as platoon mate, starting in 2015. “He has drawn comparisons to Kevin Millar.” [BA Prospect Handbook, 2013, p. 55.] The Baltimore development staff believes his power will come and will be reticent to trade him.
#8 Keon Barnum
“Barnum’s raw power is as legit as it comes, and he has the strength and bat speed to hit the ball out to all fields. His swing does get long, and he has work to do in terms of his approach and plate discipline, both of which lead to a good amount of strikeouts. Defensively, he should be OK at first base…”
COMMENT: Any prospect in the White Sox system has to be suspect and, at 20, it is difficult to project this LHB who has raw power, but may not stick at 1b. He may be a lefty version of Adam Dunn, or Chris Carter, but he is not a good fit for the Sox.
#9 Ronald Guzman
“The tall lefty out of the Dominican Republic signed at age 16 and already has a swing worthy of a spot in the lineup. He takes the ball to all fields with a long, effortless stroke, good bat speed and solid raw power. His makeup, work ethic and aptitude for hitting also come as highly praised as his offensive prowess. Defensively, he’s already made the move to first base due to a below-average arm and lack of speed, but the Rangers aren’t worried because, well, the kid can hit.”
COMMENT: At just 18, the kid does not fit into the Red Sox time frame, but he looks like a solid prospect for Texas, who will hit for average and power, but need a ton of work on D. Imagine this future INF: Guzman [1b]. Odor [2b], Profar [SS], Gallo [3b].
#10 Max Muncy
“Coming out of Baylor in 2012, Muncy’s patient approach at the plate made him just the kind of advanced college hitter the A’s have become known for drafting. He has excellent pitch recognition skills and remains adept at working walks… thanks to a power surge [21 home runs in 93 games at Class A Advanced Stockton before earning a promotion to Double-A Midland. He will have to prove it wasn't just a Cal League mirage, but Muncy has always had big raw power waiting for him to unlock it. Muncy is more athletic than his frame indicates and is a solid defender at first base. He earns high marks for his makeup and understanding of the game.”
COMMENT: With two LHB 1b coming up the chain, the A’s might be more willing to trade the older  Muncy, as they think Olson  has a higher ceiling. Age-wise, Muncy would fit into the Sox current cohort and Beane might be tempted to settle for a power OF, say, J. C. Linares or C [Christian Vazquez], or even 2b [Sean Coyle].
- With his farm system in a dry cycle, Cherington will not find his 1b of the future in-house.
- There are a few possibles from other teams’ 1b prospects. Probably the best fit for the “20-something” cohort on his “Next Great Red Sox Team,” would be Oakland’s Max Muncy, #10 on Jonathan Mayo’s Top Ten list http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2013/.
He is likely to be available, MLB-ready, and could be acquired for a reasonable price.
WHO WOULD YOU PROMOTE OR TRADE FOR?
Baseball America PROSPECT HANDBOOK 2013.