Garrett Whitlock is proof of the strength of Red Sox prospects
For years we have heard the same thing from a lot of the national media talking heads and a lot of fans across the baseball world – the Boston Red Sox have a terrible minor league system.
To be fair to them, the Red Sox had traded away a ton of big names (most notably when they acquired Chris Sale.
Boston has done a great job retooling however. Both through the draft and through trades. Not to toot my own horn here but I’ve been very vocal that the Red Sox MiLB system is much better than they get credit for.
One easy way to prove this is by looking at the top of their system. Coming into the season, Garrett Whitlock was the number 30 ranked prospect in their system (he is now 29th with Bobby Dalbec graduating from the system).
Whitlock began the season with the Red Sox in the Majors as an arm out of their bullpen. What has he done so far, you ask? Well if you’re reading this you probably know he has been one of the best pitchers out of their bullpen. In fact, he has been one of the best pitchers out of any bullpen.
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The 24-year-old right-hander has appeared in four games for the Red Sox so far this year. In that time, he has thrown nine innings. What has he done in those nine innings? Only allowed zero runs on three hits and zero walks while striking out 11. So, you know, utter dominance.
This is that proof I’ve been looking for. Now, sure you could argue that he was still a top-30 prospect or that sometimes it is not the big name prospects that make waves in the Majors. You could also argue that Whitlock only has nine innings under his belt. All are true.
That being said, you can’t deny that it makes a strong point. Maybe this Boston system is actually good?
Let’s look at a few reasons why that might be true. Triston Casas is the top prospect, anyone that has seen him play knows he has superstar written all over him.
Bryan Mata is the fourth prospect in the system, fourth. This is a 21-year-old that has been so dominant that he was consistently the youngest player in his league whenever he got called up to a new level. I’ve been calling him an ace for years and El Idolo has never disappointed.
Jeter Downs is ranked second and Jarren Duran is third. Downs is an all-around Mookie Betts type and Duran has stupid speed and seems to have added some power to his elite-contact bat.
Fifth is Gilberto Jimenez who is somehow faster than Duran and might have also added a little bit of power to his game.
They really are pretty stacked.
With that in mind, you have to wonder about who the next Whitlock could be for Boston. Who will come from down towards the end of the top-30 (or maybe even off it) and dominate in the Majors immediately?
As far as pitchers go, Durbin Feltman should definitely be considered. He’s not even in the top-30 anymore and just two years ago was seen as the closer of the future and a possible call-up at any moment.
Rio Gomez (son of the late, great journalist Pedro Gomez) has a 2.35 career ERA and enjoyed a dominant 2019. Meanwhile, a healthy Roniel Raudes could climb up the ladder quickly.
On the offensive side of the plate, first baseman Pedro Castellanos is still only 23 and had his best season in 2019 with career-highs in doubles (23), home runs (9), RBI (71), runs scored (61), walks (22), and steals (10). The power is legit and seems to be coming around.
There is also outfielder Tyler Esplin. He is underrated defensively with a good arm. Offensively, he has a nice well-rounded game. 2019 was also a career-year for him with career-highs in doubles (26), home runs (5), RBI (43), runs scored (52), walks (41), and steals (6). Esplin is only 21 and has all-around potential that could make him a useful player that can impact the game in a number of different ways.
All of those players I listed are not in the top-30 for the Red Sox. And there were plenty more that weren’t named that could be contributors in Boston in a few years.
Whitlock has opened eyes. The Boston Red Sox minor league system is coming.