Red Sox still underrating outfield prospect Danny Mars

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Jackie Bradley Jr.
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Jackie Bradley Jr. /

The Boston Red Sox recently made some additions to their 40-man roster. What we learned is that they’re still underestimating outfield prospect Danny Mars.

The Boston Red Sox protected three more prospects from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. While it’s hard to complain about the newest members, there’s a glaring absence from the list. Danny Mars has been one of the best hitters in the organization and still isn’t getting any love.

The 23-year-old has been one of the best hitters in the Red Sox minor league system over the last two seasons. In 2016, Mars slashed .293/.353/.401 with 54 RBI and another 60 runs scored for the Advanced-A Salem Red Sox. Meanwhile, he hit 18 doubles and 10 triples to go with two home runs and a dangerous 31 steals.

This led to the switch-hitter starting 2017 in Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs. He would spend the entire year there, further cementing himself as a top hitter in the organization.

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Mars posted a .304/.351/.403 slash line with 47 RBI and 62 runs scored. This time around, he mashed a career-high 21 doubles and six home runs, to go along with four triples. He swiped 12 bags as well. That .304 average led all qualifying Red Sox minor leaguers.

The biggest knock on the outfielder is his power. Even that he started to address though. While six home runs may not seem like much, he only had four career long balls coming into the season. This uptick should be looked at as promising – even if he doesn’t project to be much of a power hitter in the Majors.

On defense, Mars possesses a solid glove and an underrated arm. His speed allows him to track down balls other outfielders might not be able to get to, while his arm keeps runners honest.

So let’s take a look at the Red Sox current 40-man roster. There are four full-time outfielders on the team.

Rookie-of-the-year runner-up Andrew Benintendi is joined by Gold Glover Mookie Betts and defensive superstar Jackie Bradley Jr. in the starting rotation. Finally, Bryce Brentz is set as the fourth outfielder at the moment.

After that, Tzu-Wei Lin and Brock Holt can take up positions in the outfield if needed, but most people would say that’s not where their top value comes from.

Meanwhile, in the minors, there aren’t many other viable options. Rusney Castillo had a great year, but his contract really ties the Red Sox up. If they want to limit spending due to luxury tax concerns, it’s hard to imagine Castillo getting a spot.

However, having only four true outfielders on the 40-man roster seems odd. Especially when you consider an absurd 21 spots are taken up by pitchers. In comparison, the Toronto Blue Jays have eight outfielders on their 40-man.

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If Boston loses an outfielder due to injury, they’d need to make a major roster move just to add someone to the 40-man so they’re eligible to play in the Majors anyway.

If Mars isn’t added soon though, he might not be available to the Red Sox much longer. The Sarasota native is Rule 5 eligible this December. With the numbers he’s put up over the last two years, it’s hard to see him not getting snatched up by another team.

This season, Mars told me he felt he improved in the box. The jump in levels from 2016 to 2017 led to him facing more consistent pitching. This helps him learn when to be aggressive, and when to work counts. Although his walks were down, he had longer, more impressive at-bats over the season.

With that improving approach at the plate, Boston could have a star in the making.

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Despite that, Boston seems to continuously underrate Danny Mars. If they do so again, he could be gone for good.