The minor league season may end in September, but that doesn’t mean the year is over for some prospects. Let’s take a look at who the Boston Red Sox are sending to Arizona for extra work.
There are many leagues that MLB teams use to get their players more playing time during the offseason. Six players in the Boston Red Sox organization will be going to the most competitive of these, the Arizona Fall League.
The AFL is the top place to send prospects who are close to breaking into the majors. The Red Sox have a good track record with that, as current major leaguers Deven Marrero and Robby Scott both played in the 2014 AFL season.
After a minor league season that saw him hit .282/.347/.563 with 31 home runs, MLBPipeline.com’s No. 2 Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis headlines the list of players being sent to Arizona. Chavis, the organization’s first-round draft pick in 2014, started the season playing in Class A Advanced, for the Salem Red Sox.
After 59 games he and his .318/.388/.641 batting line were promoted to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Over the next 67 games the power hitting third baseman slashed .250/.310/.492 with 14 home runs.
The Red Sox expect Chavis to take some reps at first base, and are hoping he can handle the transition to first. Chavis is blocked by Rafael Devers at the major league level, and seeing if he can play first will put him in line to challenge Sam Travis for the eventual future of that position.
Joining Chavis in Arizona will be left-handed pitchers Brian Johnson and Henry Owens. Johnson will be going to Arizona to make up for the time he missed this season with an injured throwing shoulder. Johnson had a rocky season between Triple-A and Boston active roster this season. The highlight of his year was a complete game shut out on May 27. However, he didn’t didn’t have the same success the rest of his time in Boston. He posted a 6.23 ERA in his next three starts, and was sent back to Pawtucket for the rest of the season.
The Red Sox have shown they are still committed to former top prospect Owens, despite demoting him from Triple-A to Double-A this season. He was sent down to change his mechanics and try to regain his control throwing from a lower arm slot.
The change hasn’t worked yet. He finished the season in Portland with a 4.58 ERA and 55 walks in 57 innings.
The Red Sox are hoping the wild lefty can iron out some of his control issues. Walks have become a major issue for Owens. He’s given up more walks every season since 2015.
The Red Sox will also send right-handed pitcher Ty Buttrey to Arizona to try to end his season on a high note. The former starter-turned-reliever has had a rough go if it lately. He started off strong in Portland with a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings. However, he struggled at the next level (9.20 ERA in 14.2 innings).
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The Red Sox may be sending him to Arizona to regain his confidence. It’s possible that contributed to his high ERA in his last stint in Portland (4.82 in 18.2 innings).
With all the good right-handed relievers in the Red Sox system, Buttrey might have a tough time cracking the roster. He may be going to Arizona to play in front of scouts. If he plays well, look for him to be a trade chip this offseason.
Left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner is another intriguing prospect headed out west. The Red Sox have struggled to develop home grown pitching for a while now. It’s nice to see that Poyner had a very promising breakthrough in Portland this season. After being promoted in June, Poyner put up a 0.94 ERA in 38.1 innings for the Sea Dogs. He collected 9 saves, 52 strikeouts, and only walked 11 batters. A strong showing in Arizona will go a long way in setting up an important 2018 for the 24-year-old.
Second baseman/utility infielder Josh Tobias and infielder Chad De La Guerra finish out the list. While neither are the most impressive prospect, the Red Sox think they have something to gain with the added playing time.
Tobias was sent over to the Red Sox in the Clay Buchholz trade, and hasn’t had the best time in the Sox system. He started the season strong in Salem (.345/.412/.494 with 2 home runs in 21 games), but hasn’t been able to carry that success over to Portland (.268/.321/.352 with 3 home runs in 92 games). With a strong fall, Tobias could rise up the ranks. However, for now he’s not a major prospect.
De La Guerra is a pretty decent minor league player. He’s breezed through the minors; advancing from Low A Lowell to Portland in 3 seasons. Like Tobias he’s an infield prospect without much power, and could use a strong showing in Arizona to help his stock. He is another potential trade chip; a strong showing out West could end with De La Guerra being shipped out of town.
The Arizona Fall League begins on October 10th, and runs until November 18th. Keep your eyes peeled here for updates as these Red Sox prospects try to make it to Scottsdale for the AFL Championship game.