Prospect depth not limited to upper levels of the minors
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox have drawn a good deal of praise for the depth at the upper levels of their minor league system, and rightly so. However, the talent in the Red Sox organization does not drop off below the highly-regarded names like Mookie Betts, Henry Owens, Garin Cecchini, and Blake Swihart. In fact, the Red Sox almost have a second wind of prospects should the players currently inhabiting Double-A and Triple-A not pan out; guys like Trey Ball, Rafael Devers, Manuel Margot, Deven Marrero, and Teddy Stankiewicz would all be in the top ten of most teams’ prospect lists and some would even make it to the top five. However, an incredibly deep Red Sox’ system has kept most of them from receiving the recognition they deserve.
Even below the top-level pitching prospects such as Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, and Anthony Ranaudo, the Red Sox have a number of high-ceiling arms that could develop into major prospects in coming years. Names such as Trey Ball, Jamie Callahan, Simon Mercedes, and Teddy Stankiewicz all deserve recognition as being guys that could receive some limelight in the approaching years.
- Trey Ball was taken as the Red Sox’ first round pick (seventh overall) in the 2013 Amateur Draft and, though he has struggled a bit in his first exposure to professional baseball, has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Red Sox organization. Ball is just 19 years old and has a projectable 6’6″ 190 pound frame. He currently throws his fastball in low 90’s with a developing change and curveball that could make him an elite pitching prospect once he figures everything out.
- Jamie Callahan is also 19 years old and was the Red Sox’ second round selection in the 2012 Amateur Draft. He had his first taste of the minors last season and was relatively successful in Short Season-A Lowell, where he posted a 3.92 ERA and 3.18 K/BB, and has spent the first month-and-a-half of the 2014 season in Single-A Greenville. So far this season, Callahan has a 5.06 ERA but his low 90’s fastball and developing change and curve could make him a legitimate prospect within the next few seasons.
- Simon Mercedes has one of the best arms in the system, and while he likely profiles as a reliever in the future, it’s fun to dream about his future as a starter. Currently 22 years old, Mercedes’ fastball sits in the mid 90’s and he has touched 100 mph. Mercedes was able to put his live arm to good use in Lowell last season, posting a 3.13 ERA and 3.35 K/BB ratio but has a 4.26 ERA in High-A Salem this season in his first regular exposure to relief duty. Still, his peripherals have remained strong, and if he can control his plus offerings, he could move quickly through the system as a reliever.
- Teddy Stankiewicz was the Red Sox’ second round selection in the 2013 Amateur Draft and offers an intriguing mix of stuff and control that could make him an interesting option a few years down the line. He throws in the low 90’s with a plus curve and developing slider and has displayed excellent command in a brief sample size across the last two seasons. In Single-A Greenville, Stankiewicz has a 4.38 ERA and 3.0 K/BB ratio in 37.0 innings pitched.
While the Red Sox have a number of high-ceiling pitching prospects even in the lower levels of the minors, the hitting doesn’t quite match up. However, what the lower-level hitting prospects lack in high ceilings, they make up for in relatively low floors. While none of them may wind up as stars, it’s easy to imagine any of Deven Marrero and Wendel Rijo as MLB regulars, and there are some high ceilings down in the lower levels, primarily represented by Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot.
- Rafael Devers was a high-profile international signing from the Dominican Republic last summer. He was widely viewed as one of the most advanced bats in that class of international players and, despite limited defensive potential, has as much star potential as any other bat in the Red Sox’ minor league system. Devers is still very raw but scouts love his bat speed and advanced approach and he profiles to have well above-average hit and power tools. However, he’s still so far away that it’s difficult to project him any further than that.
- Manuel Margot emerged on most prospect radars in 2012 when he impressed in the Dominican Summer League, slashing .285/.382/.423 with 33 stolen bases. He continued to cement himself as a quality outfield prospect last season when he slashed .270/.346/.351 in Lowell and he has been even better in Greenville this season, slashing .265/.331/.434. The power is starting to develop for Margot and if he can add power to his advanced approach as well as his dynamic speed and defense potential, he could make himself into a pretty valuable player.
- Deven Marrero is essentially the definition of a high-floor prospect. He’ll probably never be an All-Star, but at 23 years old, it’s pretty clear by now what type of player Marrero will become. He’ll get on base at a good rate and will play great defense at shortstop; the power may never develop, but especially at shortstop, he should have enough to become an MLB regular. He is currently manning shortstop for Double-A Portland and is slashing .282/.383/.437 and could be in the market for a cup-of-coffee towards the end of the season.
- Wendel Rijo gained a bit of attention after a good season for the GCL Red Sox last season as he slashed .271/.368/.359, showing a great plate approach and offensive potential despite being just 17 years old. Rijo, a natural second baseman, started the 2014 season in Greenville and his season has been a resounding success so far as he has slashed .317/.439/.475 at just 18 years old. He is still a bit raw but he could cement himself as a legitimate hitting prospect in coming seasons.