Red Sox: Five Salem pitching prospects to watch in 2017

Feb 24, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; A general view of Fenway South as Boston Red Sox takes batting practice prior to their spring training game against the New York Mets at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; A general view of Fenway South as Boston Red Sox takes batting practice prior to their spring training game against the New York Mets at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox still have some pitching prospects that may replenish the system. This is a look at five who are projected to start at Salem in 2017.

Salem is the High-A league team for Boston Red Sox pitching prospects as the wind their way up the ladder or just flame out and disappear. This current season the team will have pitchers who may or may not have a future that eventually carries them to the major league. A scan of the roster plucks a few names that warrant a further look. A few are long shots, but two are top-ten prospects.

The first one is a 23-year-old lefty who pitched at Greenville in 2016. Logan Boyd is considered somewhat of a fringe prospect being drafted in the 19th round in 2015. At Greenville, Boyd finished with a very respectable 14-7 record and a less than respectable 4.78 ERA. There is one statistic that certainly grabs my attention – BB/9.

I despise walks. This is baseball Ebola to me and Boyd had a BB/9 of 2.00 in 139.1 innings pitched. The downside is the hits allowed of 169. Boyd has a fastball in the low 90s and a decent breaking ball according to sketch reports on Sox Prospects. Logan is a very long shot.

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Daniel Gonzalez is classified as having a “Big Frame” and that usually stirs up a comparison to Pablo Sandoval last spring. Gonzalez is another international signing and calls Venezuela home. In 2016 the righty compiled a two-team 9-6 record in 23 games – 22 as starts. The advance from Low-A Lowell to Greenville showed a negative tick up statistically.

Gonzalez finished 5-5 with The Drive tossing 87.2 innings and allowing 88 hits. The attention getter is again the walks which tallied 17 in Greenville. What the stats show is a pitcher who gives up too many hits, but keeps runners off base via walks. Expect Gonzalez to make or break with the organization in 2017.

Low-risk signings are a staple for baseball teams and Cuban Jorge Hernandez is just that. The 26-year-old right-hander did rather well pitching in the hitting-happy Cuban League where he pitched for Cienfuegos. That, however, was in 2012 when the 6’3” Hernandez went 13-6.

Hernandez received attention from 20 teams and in a tryout struck out 11 of 18 batters he faced. However, looking at Cuba in 2012 Hernandez pitched 129.2 innings and whiffed just 63 while issuing 29 walks. Another hurler who limits walks.

Travis Lakins may not have the statistical info that pops out, but he is still an eighth-ranked prospect on MLB Prospect Watch. Lakins. Lakins was drafted in the sixth round in 2015 and signed for a $320,000 bonus.

"Lakins has the athleticism and arm action to hold up as a starter, but he’ll need to develop more consistency. He struggles at times to land his secondary pitches for strikes, and he has a history of vacillating on which breaking ball he trusts more. If he can put it all together, he has a chance to become a mid-rotation starter. – MLB Prospect Watch"

In 2016 the 22-year-old righty spent his time at Salem making 18 starts in 19 games. Lakins 5.93 ERA may not seem impressive, but he had an elbow injury that inflated that figure. Prospect Watch considers Lakins to have the best stuff of any right-handed prospect in the organization.

Ranked even higher than Lakins is Roniel Raudes who MLB has currently listed as sixth on the Red Sox list. What Raudes has is youth and promise – a wonderful combination. This season the 19-year-old right-hander will test his skills at the next highest level.

"Raudes can’t overpower hitters, but his ability to command a solid three-pitch repertoire and the deception in his delivery prevent hard contact. His 88-93 mph four-seam fastball plays above its velocity because he can locate it with precision. His fading changeup improved in 2016 and might represent his best chance for a plus offering, and his curveball has nice downer action if not a ton of power behind it. – MLB Prospect Watch"

The 2016 Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year went for 24 starts with Greenville and posted an 11-6 record. A 1.81 BB/9 shows a nice level of maturity for the thin framed Raudes. Raudes is not a top of the line flame thrower since his fastball ticks in at the low 90s, but he does have an assortment of pitches that he locates with consistency as noted by a 1.19 WHIP.

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Raudes is years away from Boston, but the high-end promise is certainly present. This season may be a split season for Raudes as success ar Salem could mean a trip to the next level at Portland.