Live Scouting Report: Carter Kieboom and a Trio of Red Sox Farmhands
The only thing better than scouting one top prospect like Carter Kieboom is getting to scout him plus three other prospects of note all in the same game. It’s a task that requires plenty of cell phone battery to record countless videos and understanding from your wife that you’ll be too busy to have your arm around her the entire game to warm her up even though it’s 70 degrees out. Yes, it can make for a long night, but for a prospect hound like myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In addition to Kieboom, there were a few other prospects I had my eyes on. After a quick, two hour and 20-minute game, here are my takeaways and scouting reports.
Carter Kieboom (SS – WAS)
Game Line: 1/4, 2B, K
Over the last few months, the prospect star for Carter Kieboom has been skyrocketing. He came into the season as a back-end top-100 prospect, but with his strong play, has vaulted well into basically every top-50 prospect list around. That elite shortstop prospect quartet of Fernando Tatis Jr, Bo Bichette, Royce Lewis, and Brendan Rodgers is now a quintet with Kieboom taking a seat at the cool kids table. Luckily for me, the Nationals promoted him to Double-A Harrisburg about a month ago, giving me the chance to scout him live Tuesday night in Portland, Maine. His line in the box score is about as average as average can be, but there were plenty of positives to take away from this game.
Firstly, Kieboom is a special offensive talent. If you want the cliff notes version, his swing is clean and he makes a ton of hard contact. Even though he only had one hit on the afternoon, Kieboom was making hard contact in almost every at-bat, including this scorcher down the left field line that curved foul. Kieboom ended up flying out to end this at-bat.
Later in the game, he barely missed clearing Portland’s version of the green monster as he just got under one, ending up with a double for his lone hit of the evening.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love this kid’s swing. Kieboom has a very calm and balanced pre-pitch set-up. He times pitches with a moderate leg kick that begins at the same time he loads onto his back leg. As the pitch is approaching home plate, Kieboom transfers that weight forward with a clean, slight-uppercut swing with tremendous bat speed thanks to his quick wrists. This is a swing geared for both a high average and plenty of power.
On the season, Kieboom is slashing .289/.365/.459/.825 with 24 doubles, 13 home runs, 55 RBI, 63 runs, and seven stolen bases. This follows a .297 average, .889 OPS, and 25 extra-base hits (16 2B, 9 HR) in 61 games last season.
It’s not all about the swing though. Hitters need to have a good approach at the plate as well to sustain a high level of production at the Major League level. Kieboom has that too. For his career, he sports a 10.6 BB% and an even 20.0 K%.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Kieboom is a special offensive talent with strong across the board upside, including 10-15 steal wheels, and no noticeable weaknesses. I ranked him 42nd in my mid-season prospect rankings update and already regret not ranking him higher. This is a hitter with the potential for many .300/25 seasons in his career thanks to his plus-hit tool and above-average power.
Michael Chavis (3B – BOS)
Game Line: 1/4, 2B, RBI, SB, K
There’s no doubting that the best prospect currently in the Bostom farm system is third baseman, Michael Chavis. My #55 prospect before the season, Chavis missed 80 games due to suspension and hasn’t exactly hit his stride since returning in early-July. He’s hitting just .200 through his first 55 at-bats, but the power has already shown up with six doubles and a trio of taters.
While Chavis is the top prospect in the Red Sox system, he’s not a prospect I would classify as elite. Very good, yes, but not elite. Chavis’ most noteworthy tool is his plus raw power. In 2017, he mashed 31 home runs in 471 combined at-bats across two levels and profiles as a 30-homer threat in the Major Leagues. However, the hit tool needs some work and isn’t as polished as Kieboom above.
Chavis sets up with his weight already shifted back, and like Kieboom, uses a moderate leg kick to time pitches. Plus bat speed is apparent when watching Chavis swing and he generates easy loft to his pull side. That pull-happy approach can tend to get him in trouble in non-power areas though as Chavis’ pull rate continues to rise each season, all the way up to around 66% this season. On top of that, his strikeout rate is 25.5% for his minor league career and 29.2% this season.
If Chavis wants to be more than a one-trick power pony, he’s going to need to learn how to use the whole field to his advantage. When you look at his career batting averages, outside of a .318 average in the High-A Carolina League, there haven’t been too many impressive batting averages. It was promising to see him line an RBI double to right-center field to score the only run of the game, but hits like this are few and far between for Chavis. His future power potential is 55-60 grade, but unless he adjusts, his future hit tool projects as 45-grade at best.
Josh Ockimey (1B – BOS)
Game Line: 0/4, 4 K
After the last two games, I’m beginning to think I’m Josh Ockimey’s bad luck charm. In those two games, Ockimey has gone hitless in nine at-bats with eight of those at-bats ending with strikeouts. Let’s see, eight divided by nine is an 88.9% strikeout rate. Eat your heart out Joey Gallo.
Ockimey has plus raw power. That’s never been questioned. However, it’s his approach that needs some work to tap into that raw power.
Maybe Ockimey should listen to Legs by ZZ Top. First off, it’s a great song. Secondly, he needs to start using his lower half more in his swing. Your swing and upper half play a big part in your power, but so does your lower half. Ockimey has a wide stance to start and very little movement in his lower half pre-pitch. There was very minimal load and back to front weight shifting. It was basically 99.9% arms. You can get by in the lower minors against inferior pitching, but once you start climbing the ladder, facing better pitchers and higher velocity, a lack of lower half in your swing is going to get you beat more often than not. As it stands today, I would grade his hit tool as a 40 with a potential future value of 45.
Luckily, one thing Ockiney has working for him is his ability to work the walk. He didn’t do so in either game I attended over the last two weeks, but has a 16.4% walk rate this season and 15.3% for his career. As of now, Ockimey projects as a subpar average hitter that is more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues. He’s going to need to adjust his swing and incorporate his lower half more if he wants to become a legit power threat at the major league level.
Mike Shawaryn (RHP – BOS)
Game Line: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (Win)
The Red Sox farm system currently might not have as much star power as it usually does (cough, Dave Dombrowski), but there are still plenty of intriguing prospects to keep an eye on. On the pitching side of things, one of those is 23-year-old right-hander, Mike Shawaryn.
Coming into the season, Shawaryn had made 32 starts, compiling a 3.71 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, and 11.4 K/9. So, with those solid numbers, why wasn’t Shawaryn getting more love in prospect lists. Some had taken notice of Shawaryn, including Scott Greene at Prospects1500 that ranked Shawaryn 6th in his pre-season Red Sox top-50. Maybe it’s because he’s slightly older than most top prospects are in Double-A or because he doesn’t throw a million miles per hour. But when you look at Shawaryn’s entire arsenal, there’s a lot to get excited about.
Shawaryn features a 90-94 mph sinking fastball with strong arm side run and sink that can cause fits for right-handed hitters. He pairs that with a plus slider in the upper 80’s that is his main strikeout pitch and a true weapon for him. Three of his four strikeouts in the game I attended came on that slider. His change-up is behind these two pitches but has some decent fade on it at times and should be at least an average offering for him long-term.
In a lot of ways, Shawaryn is enjoying his best season to date. Yes, his strikeouts are down, but so is everything else. So far in 2018, Shawaryn has a 3.29 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and a career-low 2.2 BB/9. If you know what to expect with Shawaryn, and that’s a #4 or #5 Major league hurler, you’ll probably end up pretty happy with your investment in dynasty leagues.
For more from Eric, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04. Also, make sure to check out Eric’s waiver wire recommendations every Friday and Dynasty Dugout piece every Tuesday, here on FantraxHQ.