The Red Sox have a most valuable player, but it is in Portland. Aneury Tavarez will probably be elsewhere in 2016 despite winning a batting title.
I am certainly curious about all things Red Sox with a special affinity to which prospects appear on a positive path. The usual suspects dot the various scouting sites, one Aneury Tavarez apparently is considered like a “strange” uncle being invited to an elegant family wedding. The major league prospect list for Boston does not even have him listed among the top 30. The unofficial Sox Prospects has Tavarez slotted in at number 53.
Tavarez recently was named team Most Valuable Player for the Portland Sea Dogs. Tavarez spent the entire 2016 season with Portland except for a five-game sojourn to Pawtucket. What I do know is Tavarez is a 24-year-old left fielder who bats left and throws right. The Red Sox signed him as an international free agent in 2010 for a bonus of $80,000 and the native Dominican was on his way.
Through the magic of Baseball-Reference and Sox Prospects, it is easy to find and give an idea of what Tavarez has accomplished as he moves up the baseball ladder. Greenville, Salem, Lowell and nothing stands out – absolutely nothing. In 2015 Tavarez slashed .226/.266/.355 at Portland. At Pawtucket in 2015, it was .389 in only six games.
"You won’t find him on any top prospect list but Tavarez, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound outfielder, is putting up some of the best numbers in the Red Sox minor league system. – Portland Press Herald"
What makes him stand out? Power? There is none to speak of. In six seasons of domestic and foreign baseball, the home run total is just 38 with 95 doubles and 30 triples. Speed is certainly not his calling card with 89 steals and 43 caught stealing in 574 games. As non-remarkable prospect as one could find.
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The Sox Prospects scouting report is blunt and to the point: Small frame, fringe hit tool, marginal power, and average speed. This season something has happened. Some type of hitting resurgence that will win Tavarez an Eastern League batting title.
Tavarez leads the team in just about every department – average, OBP, hits, doubles, triples, runs scored, total bases and even stolen bases with just a meager four. Tavarez is also fourth in the EL in OPS (.872) and third in OBP (.379). In 356 at-bats Tavarez has fanned 61 times and walked 28.
Where is he going?
A batting title – he is up nine points with a week to play – does get you some street cred and so does an MVP, even in the Eastern League, but it does not open the door to left field at Fenway Park and probably not at McCoy Stadium. Boston has Andrew Benintendi for Left or Brock Holt or Chris Young and even a recuperating Blake Swihart. Tavarez also is facing a roster crunch as the Red Sox will have to protect him or have him eligible for Rule 5 in December. Maybe they will protect Tavarez, but my guess would be he will be gone.
Tavarez certainly has the history that screams out “one year wonder” since there is little in his history to show any reason that suddenly Tavarez has placed it all together in the science of hitting. Even if that epiphany has taken place his “tools” certainly do not make the Red Sox view him as an MLB contributor – at least for Boston.
The Red Sox could certainly package Tavarez with other players and send him on his way to organizations with patience and greater needs. The 2016 season certainly warrants a move to the next level and that will happen. For one season Tavarez has made an impression and that is the type of impression that will get you further employment and maybe the opportunity to show 2016 was not a mirage. Wish him well.
Sources: Baseball-Reference/Sox Prospects/MLB Prospect Watch/Portland Press Herald/Portland Sea Dogs
Stats through 8/28