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Weekly Prospect Update: Boston Red Sox

Three months of the season are in the books. While a lot of teams at the Major League level are competing for a playoff spot, some are focused more on their farm systems. Regardless of how the Major League club is doing, prospects are always fun to watch. Last week I took a look at what the Yankees’ top prospects were up to. This week, it’s the Boston Red Sox who get the spotlight.

The Red Sox’s farm system looks quite different than it did a year ago. This is in large part due to the four-prospect package they sent to White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale. The Red Sox shipped away highly touted prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz in the deal. Despite losing the first and eleventh overall prospect, the Red Sox still have an impressive farm system. Here’s how the top 10 players are doing so far.

10. Michael Chavis, 3B

The Red Sox selected Chavis as the 26th overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft. He has above average power that comes from his solid combination of bat speed and loft from the right side of the plate. At 21 years old, Chavis is still finding his stride at the professional level. He played shortstop in high school but transitioned to a third baseman, and some think he could move over to second. He’s struggled the past two seasons but is putting together a good season in 2017.

2017 stats (High-A Salem): 54 games, .345/.414/.694, 17 HR, 55 RBI.

Chavis has looked like a completely different hitter in 2017. He’s improved his batting average, on-base and slugging percentages by over .100 points each. His slugging percentage jumped from .372 across 81 games in 2016 to .694 in 54 games in 2017. It’s still early, but Chavis is showing that he is a top 10 prospect in the system and is making a case as a top 100 prospect in baseball.

It’s too early to be targeting Chavis in dynasty leagues, but if he continues this pace through the rest of the season, his stock will certainly rise. He has good defensive abilities, allowing him to play anywhere across the diamond, which could eventually help his fantasy value.

9. Nick Longhi, 1B/OF

Longhi has come a long way since being drafted 893rd overall in 2013. He didn’t dominate in high school, but his patient approach at the plate was enough to catch the Red Sox’s eye. He hits for more average than power, but his 40 doubles in 2016 could be a sign that his power is still to come.

2017 stats (Double-A Portland): 50 games, .257/.307/.382, 4 HR, 27 RBI.

The 21-year-old didn’t get off to the hottest start but is heating up as the weather gets warmer. In nine games in the month of June, Longhi is batting .313 with six doubles, a homer, and nine RBI. He just had his best game of the season on June 11, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI.

8. Josh Ockimey, 1B

Like Salem Red Sox teammate Michael Chavis, Ockimey was drafted by the Red Sox in 2014 as the 164th overall selection. His value relies heavily on his power from the left side of the plate. He made big improvements in both his walk and strikeout rates in 2016, which he has carried into 2017.

2017 stats (High-A Salem): 61 games, .300/.408/.473, 7 HR, 50 RBI. 

Similar to Chavis, Ockimey has seen huge improvements to start the 2017 season. A year after leading the league with 88 walks and ranking fourth with 18 homers, Ockimey is off to a similar start at High-A Salem. Last season he slashed .297/.435/.531 before the All-Star break and .152/.291/.313 after, so he’s hoping not to lose his pace this season. He’s batting just .214 in June.

7. Travis Lakins, RHP

Lakins became the best right-handed starting pitching prospect in the Red Sox’s system after Michael Kopech and Anderson Espinoza were traded away. His fastball has touched 97 and features some sink. He also features a curveball and changeup that could develop into plus pitches in time. Lakins was shut down in the middle of 2016 with an elbow injury. He didn’t require surgery, but the threat of it resurfacing is worrisome.

2017 stats (High-A Salem): 38.0 IP, 5-0, 2.61 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, 43 K, 13 BB(Double-A Portland): 15.0 IP, 0-3, 10.20 ERA, 2.267 WHIP, 10 K, 13 BB.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a great start to the season at High-A Salem before being promoted to Double-A on May 14. He hasn’t had nearly the same success after four starts since the call-up. Lakins has given up five runs in all but one start and has walked 11 batters in 15 innings. His best start of the season at Double-A came on May 29, when he went five innings, gave up just one hit, two runs, and struck out six.

6. C.J. Chatham, SS

The 22-year-old shortstop was drafted in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft. Chatham is a contact hitter who has shown some pop early on in his minor league career. He was promoted to the Lowell Spinners in his first professional season, where he slashed .259/.319/.426 with four homers. Chatham was promoted once more to Single-A Greenville to start the 2017 season but was injured in the first game of the year. He’s currently on the 7-day DL.

2017 stats (Single-A Greenville): 1 games, .333/.333/.333, 2 RBI.

5. Roniel Raudes, RHP

Signed out of Nicaragua in 2014, Raudes has been the Red Sox’s best teenage pitching prospect since Anderson Espinoza departed. His value comes in his command of his three pitches, helped by deception in his pitching motion. His fastball ranges from 88 to 93 mph, while his changeup and curveball have shown improvements. Raudes was named the Red Sox’s minor league pitcher of the year at just 18 years old.

2017 stats (High-A Salem): 47.0 IP, 2-2, 4.60 ERA, 1.404 WHIP, 42 K, 15 BB.

Raudes hasn’t been as sharp this season as he was in 2016. He has yet to pitch out of the fifth inning and has been susceptible to the longball. His K/BB sparkled in 2016 at 4.52 but sits at just 2.80 this season. Raudes is walking far more batters this season, something that is concerning for someone who relies so heavily on his command. He’s coming off his best start of the season, pitching five innings, giving up three hits, one run and striking out four without walking a batter.

4. Bobby Dalbec, 3B

After a huge 2015 season in college, Dalbec looked like a first-round pick in 2016. However, a subpar junior year at Arizona dropped him to the fourth round. He put together a great season at short-season Lowell and looked like a steal for the Red Sox. Dalbec has huge power, which has been helped by limiting his approach at the plate and using the whole field to his advantage.

2017 stats (Single-A Greenville): 29 games, .264/.358/.358, 2 HR, 12 RBI.

After a slow April, Dalbec began to heat up in May, collecting eight hits in 24 at-bats. His season was put on hold when he was injured on May 10. He landed on the 7-day DL and has yet to return to action.

3. Sam Travis, 1B Lists: Top 10 1B Prospects (#8)

The first Red Sox prospect to appear on an list is also the closest to seeing MLB action. Travis, a second-round pick in 2014, has seen his stock rise over the past two seasons. The 23-year-old is beyond his years at the plate. His power comes naturally and he has great control of the strike zone. Travis has drawn comparisons to Kevin Youkilis. A 2016 knee injury slowed Travis’ development but was called up to the Red Sox on May 24.

2017 stats (Triple-A Pawtucket): 39 games, .270/.337/.419, 4 HR, 14 RBI. (MLB Boston) 6 games, .471/.526/.588 2 doubles.

Travis enjoyed his first cup of coffee in 2017, playing in six games and batting .471 for the Red Sox. He collected eight hits, including two doubles, while playing a solid first base. Travis was optioned back to Pawtucket after Dustin Pedroia was reinstated from the DL.

By far, Travis has the most immediate fantasy value than any other Red Sox prospect. He should be owned in all dynasty leagues, as he could be the starting first baseman in Boston as soon as next season. Also, his time in the big leagues in 2017 is likely not over, as he could be called back up as soon as someone hits the DL.

2. Jay Groome, LHP Lists: Top 100 Prospects (#36), Top 10 LHP Prospects (#2)

Groome was taken 12th overall by the Red Sox in the 2016 Draft despite being rated the top prospect by Questions about his maturity caused him to fall in the Draft, but he was still given a franchise-record $3.65 million for a drafted pitcher. Groome’s fastball touches 97, but his best pitch is a power curveball. Still only 18 years old, Groome is still growing into his 6-foot-6 frame and should add more velocity as he does.

2017 stats (Single-A Greenville): 1.1 IP, 0-1, 60.75 ERA, 7.500 WHIP, 1 K, 3 BB.

Groome’s season has been far from expected. He threw just an inning and a third before being removed with back pain. He was placed on the DL and is just now beginning his rehab assignment. 2017 is lost as far as Groome’s development goes, and he’ll just focus on getting back in the groove and staying healthy.

Regardless of how his 2017 season has been, Groome should be owned in all dynasty leagues. He has the upside of an ace, and while he may not see the Majors for a few years, he has a great chance of living up to that potential.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B Lists: Top 100 Prospects (#12), Top 10 3B Prospects (#1)

Devers is easily the Red Sox’s most prized possession and made the loss of Yoan Moncada less painful. He was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He is a well-rounded hitter who has power to all fields. The 20-year-old has already made big adjustments at the plate and continues to recognize pitches better.

2017 stats: (Double-A Portland): 56 games, .305/.366/.548, 11 HR, 39 RBI. 

Devers has been tearing the cover off the ball in the month of June. In 11 games, he’s batting .372 with six doubles, three homers, and 10 RBI. He has yet to struggle mightily at the professional level and is seemingly putting it all together in 2017. He’s still a ways away from the majors, but a promotion to Triple-A should not be far away.

Like Groome, Devers should be owned in all dynasty leagues. He has the potential to hit 25-30 homers in a season while maintaining a respectable batting average. He won’t be called up until 2018 at the earliest, but the time to secure the future slugger is now.

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