Third base prospect Bobby Dalbec became the first Boston Red Sox player to hit a home run in a spring training game this year.
If you haven’t heard of Bobby Dalbec, the first game of the spring exhibition schedule provided an emphatic reason to start paying attention to one of the top prospects in the Boston Red Sox farm system.
The Red Sox opened the spring schedule by hosting Northeastern University at JetBlue Park on Friday. The lineup was constructed mostly of players who probably won’t make the Opening Day roster, with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart being the rare exceptions. Spring training gives us the perfect opportunity to familiarize ourselves with prospects we seldom get to see, including Dalbec.
The 23-year old third baseman announced his presence this spring with a mammoth home run to center field in his first plate appearance against the Huskies. The first hit by a Red Sox player this spring was a solo shot that put the team ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
Sure, it came against a college pitcher but the competition Dalbec faced for the majority of last season in A-ball isn’t much steeper than what Northeastern provides.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound slugger has the type of power potential that scouts drool over. Dalbec mashed 32 home runs in time split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2018. He also racked up 35 doubles and three triples to go along with a .558 slugging percentage and .919 OPS.
The one concern with Dalbec is his penchant for striking out. He struck out 176 times in 543 plate appearances for a whopping 32.4 K% last season. He needs to make better contact in order to move up through the system, as pitchers at the higher levels will easily expose the holes in his swing.
More from Red Sox Prospects
- Predicting top Red Sox outfield prospect Ceddanne Rafaela’s timeline to the majors
- Predicting Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer’s timeline to the majors
- Red Sox risk repeating rookie mistake with Eric Hosmer release
- Red Sox invited group of players you’ve probably never heard of to Spring Training
- Jeter Downs’ official departure will continue to haunt Red Sox
Working in Dalbec’s favor is that baseball is trending in a direction where many power hitters don’t seem bothered by high strikeout rates so long as they offset the K’s with impressive home totals. That’s how they make the big bucks! Dalbec would fit right in.
Dalbec still has a long road ahead of him before reaching Fenway so there’s plenty of time for him to make adjustments to his swing that will enable to him to cut down on the strikeouts without sacrificing his enticing power. His path at the hot corner is blocked for the foreseeable by Rafael Devers and fellow top-prospect Michael Chavis, who is much closer to the big leagues than Dalbec is. Boston may need to consider having some of these young players switch positions at some point in order to fit them all on the roster in the future. Otherwise, at least one of them could be traded away to upgrade an area of weakness.
It may be a while before Dalbec plays in Boston – if he makes it at all – but we should see plenty more of him in camp this spring. Don’t be surprised to see more balls fly out of the park off his bat one Grapefruit League action begins.