Boston Red Sox infielder Bobby Dalbec is on the cusp of breaking into the top 100 rankings list provided by MLB Pipeline.
Only one player represented the Boston Red Sox farm system on the top 100 prospect list revealed by MLB Pipeline this month but they were very close to having another.
Triston Casas moved up to No. 77 in the updated rankings and he should see his stock rise as he climbs the minor league ladder. The Red Sox have one of the weaker minor league systems in baseball because they are thin on appealing prospects who are close to being ready for the big leagues.
One exception is Bobby Dalbec. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum included the Red Sox infielder on their list of players who barely missed the cut when they put together these rankings
Narrowing down thousands of prospects across various levels of the minor leagues is no easy task. Naturally there are going to be some tough omissions and MLB.com made a list of honorable mentions who came up just short of cracking the top 100.
Dalbec was one of those prospects and they explained why he warrants consideration.
"“A hero on the mound for Arizona at the 2016 College World Series, Dalbec became a full-time slugger after signing for an over-slot $650,000 in the fourth round that June. He has some of the best raw power in the Minors (ranking sixth with 59 homers in the last two seasons) and is a quality defender with a well-above-average arm at third base, though the presence of Rafael Devers will push him to first base in Boston.”"
Dalbec spent the majority of last season at Double-A Portland where he hit .234 with a .825 OPS, 20 home runs and 57 RBI in 105 games. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket for a brief 30-game sample and hit .257 with a .779 OPS, 7 home runs and 16 RBI for the PawSox.
The batting average is a concern and it won’t improve significantly unless he cuts back on the strikeouts – Dalbec struck out 139 times in 562 plate appearances last season. That’s a 24.7 K% that would have placed him in the bottom 20 among American League hitters last year. We can only assume that his strikeout rate will rise against major league pitching.
For comparison’s sake, Michael Chavis posted a similar strikeout rate of 25.2% at Double-A in 2018 and went on to post a staggering 33.2% rate as a rookie with the Red Sox last season.
The power in Dalbec’s bat is legit though and that’s what will help punch his ticket to the majors. He may sputter through frustrating slumps as he deals with the learning curve of hitting at the highest level, just as Chavis did last year. The Red Sox won’t mind as long as he shows a similar aptitude for racking up extra-base hits.
Dalbec also performed much better against left-handed pitching, hitting .250 with a .910 OPS against southpaws last season. He could provide value in a platoon role even if he isn’t quite ready to be an everyday player for the Red Sox.
He fell just shy of making the top 100 prospect rankings but a strong start to the 2020 season could lead to Dalbec breaking through in the next edition. He could leap ahead of other prospects who under-perform while others will graduate from prospect status once they spend enough time in the majors. That could open a spot for Dalbec on the list. Unless, of course, Dalbec cements a role for himself with the Red Sox to remove his own prospect status.