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Thread: Keith Law's Prospect Stuff on Sawx

  1. #1

    Keith Law's Prospect Stuff on Sawx

    That time of year. I do respect the paywall, so just put out the relevant extracts:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story...0prospects2015

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story...-prospects-mlb

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story...kings-2015-mlb

    Red Sox #5 system in the league

    The Red Sox lost four top-10 prospects to promotions last year, yet they remain a top-5 system, thanks to big moves forward by Blake Swihart, Manuel Margot and Rafael Devers, the latter of whom will play all of 2015 at age 18, and the midseason trade that netted them lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, now their No. 2-ranked pitching prospect.
    Guys in the Top 100

    10. Blake Swihart (#56 last year)

    In an era when no one seems to have any catching, the Red Sox are fortunate enough to have two young backstops close to major league-ready in defensive specialist Christian Vazquez, now their primary catcher for 2015, and top prospect Swihart, a supreme athlete who is nearly as good a defender as Vazquez but with All-Star upside with the bat.

    Swihart is a switch-hitter who was a part-time catcher in high school but has taken to the position incredibly well in pro ball, improving rapidly in every aspect of the game, to the point where he's now a plus or better receiver with a 65 to 70 arm (nailing 46 percent of would-be base stealers in 2014). He's built like a middle infielder or center fielder, with a lithe, athletic body, and runs better than most backstops do. At the plate, his hand-eye coordination is outstanding and has helped carry him as his pitch recognition and power have developed over the past three seasons. His right-handed swing is better and still produces more power, but he's improving from the left side and has the loft to hit 10-15 homers against right-handers.

    The Red Sox have long raved about Swihart's work ethic and aptitude, both critical in developing a true two-way catcher given the mental and physical demands of the job.
    20. Henry Owens (#42 last year)

    Owens continues to rack up huge strikeout numbers (fourth in the minors in 2014) despite the lack of a big fastball, thanks to one of the minors' best changeups and a ton of deception that leaves hitters guessing until it's almost too late to adjust to whatever he's thrown. He still has some projection remaining, and some work to do on the breaking ball, putting him perhaps a half-year away from the major league rotation once there's a spot for him.

    Owens will pitch at 90-94 mph, even sitting in the lower end of that range but getting a little more velocity once he needs it. The changeup is his money pitch, as his arm speed is indistinguishable between that and the fastball and he knows how and when to use it, but in the early part of 2014, hitters started to adjust to the fact that he was mostly fastball/changeup, forcing him to work on the curveball more to change eye levels. That pitch, in the mid- to upper 60s in high school, is now 72-76 and at least fringe-average with a change to be above-average to plus in time; the spin is there, but the rotation needs to keep getting tighter, though the fact that he can throw it for strikes is a huge help already. He'll probably pitch with an average fastball or just slightly better, but a 70 change and a 55 curveball with good command and an advanced feel for setting up hitters adds up to a well above-average major league starter.
    29. Eduardo Rodriguez (#43 last year)

    The Red Sox stole Rodriguez from the Orioles in a deadline deal for reliever Andrew Miller, who is a great pitcher to be sure, but not enough to make me willing to give up six years of Rodriguez, who has the elements to be a No. 1 starter with a few developmental hurdles ahead of him. Rodriguez is up to 97 mph with his fastball and will sit between 93 and 95, with a plus changeup, quick arm and athletic delivery. He seemed to gain confidence after the trade, throwing harder with better strikes once he went to Boston.

    Fastball command is one real issue, although the Red Sox were pleased with how well he could work side to side with the pitch, and the slider is another, as I've seen it anywhere from a 50 grade to a 40. To be a No. 1 or No. 2, he needs to have that as a solid average or better pitch. He turns 22 in April, young enough for these two problem areas to improve, and the change of scenery seems to have agreed with him. He's not major league-ready, and is not likely to be so this year, but he should be in Boston's rotation in 2016.
    55. Rafael Devers (Unranked last year)

    Devers signed in July 2013 for $1.5 million, and the Red Sox, believing his approach was mature enough to handle it, pushed him to the Gulf Coast League midway through this summer. Despite his youth -- he was the third-youngest regular in the GCL -- and his late arrival, he finished tied for eighth the league in homers, and was also 12th in slugging percentage. Everything he does at the plate is easy; his wrists are extremely strong and quick, so he can backspin the ball all over the field, crush it to right-center or drive it out to the left-field wall, and he adjusts very well to changing speeds. He's very capable at third base despite his broad frame, with quick feet and more agility than you'd expect from his build, although he split time at the position last year with first-round pick Michael Chavis.

    Devers turned 18 in October and is probably three years away from the majors in an optimistic scenario, but he has All-Star upside, with the bat speed and strength to hit 30 homers and still post high batting averages while staying at third base.
    70. Manuel Margot (Listed last year as org sleeper)

    Margot isn't flashy or explosive like system mate Rafael Devers, but he has been very steady and performed very well last year in two full-season leagues, all before his 20th birthday. He's an above-average defender in center field with good reads, and he has a simple, selective approach at the plate that has allowed him to succeed even when facing older and more experienced competition. His swing has good rotation but produces only doubles power; he might peak at 12 to 15 homers but could be a 35-plus doubles guy because he's able to go the other way so effectively.

    He's currently a plus runner and should be a stolen-base threat in the majors as long as he doesn't get too big, although that same issue would be the only reason he'd move out of center field. It's a strong leadoff profile with the chance for high OBPs and 30-odd steals a year along with grade-60 defense, as long as he continues to work on his patience and can maintain his conditioning to stay in center.

  2. #2
    Crazy seeing Devers and Margot on here!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mvp 78 View Post
    Crazy seeing Devers and Margot on here!
    Devers in a full season league as an 18 year old is really really exciting stuff. Same with Margot being able to potentially get to Portland before he can legally drink.

  4. #4
    The preamble - to give an idea of the formula

    The Guidelines
    • The rankings are limited to players who still have rookie eligibility; that means they have yet to exceed 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors and have not yet spent 45 days on the active roster of a major league club, excluding call-ups during the roster expansion period after Sept. 1. That means Milwaukee Brewers infielder Luis Sardinas, for instance, is ineligible, based on his days on the 25-man roster.

    • Only players who have signed professional contracts are eligible.

    • I do not consider players with professional experience in Japan or Korea "prospects" for the purpose of this exercise, which means no Jung-Ho Kang this year (among others). I also exclude Cuban players who are considered professional free agents by Major League Baseball by virtue of their experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional de Béisbol. This list includes Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas, but will consider Cuban players whom MLB treats as amateurs, like Roberto Baldoquin (who just missed this list) and Yoan Lopez.

    • When ranking players, I consider scouting reports on players -- usually my own, supplemented with conversations with other scouts and front-office executives as needed -- as well as performance, adjusted for age and context. I've made one adjustment in my ranking philosophy in recent years, favoring higher-upside prospects over lower-ceiling prospects who are closer to the majors. This better reflects how these players are valued now by front offices and scouting departments, and gives me a chance to deliver more information on prospects whose names or scouting reports might be new to you.

    • I use the 20-80 grading scale in these comments to avoid saying "average" and "above average" thousands of times across the 100 player comments. On that scale, a grade of 50 equals major league average, 55 is above average, 60 is plus, 45 is fringy or below average and so on. Giancarlo Stanton has 80 raw power. David Ortiz has 20 speed. Carlos Gomez is an 80 defender. An average fastball for a right-hander is 90-92 mph, with 1-2 mph off for a lefty.

    • I've included last year's rank for players who appeared in the top 100 in 2014. An "ineligible" player was still an amateur at this time last January, whereas an "unranked" player was eligible but didn't make the cut. I've also tagged players who were on last year's sleepers list or list of 10 players who just missed the cut.

  5. #5
    Welcome back SK! Great stuff man!
    We miss you Mike.

  6. #6
    Very good stuff. I particularly enjoy reading about the young guys who have such high upside at 18-20 years old.

  7. #7
    Couple of chat items:

    John (Boston)

    How much consideration did Red Sox LP Brian Johnson get? Was he close?
    Klaw (1:28 PM)

    Another high-floor, low-ceiling guy. Pitches with an average fastball, no knockout pitch.

    ---------------------------------

    Johnny (Billerica, MA)

    Blake Swihart, what is the plan with him? Long-term Catcher? A move to 1B? Trade Vasquez? Thanks!
    Klaw (1:39 PM)

    Catcher. No-doubt catcher.

    --------------------
    Tim (AZ)

    How important was position of the player in determinging ranking? For example does a player like Susac get rated higher because he plays a premium position?
    Klaw (1:45 PM)

    Yes, absiolutely. Catchers and shortstops rule. First basemen are scarce. I think Dom Smith is the highest 1b on the list, and even he's probably a bit controversial because he didn't hit for power last year.

    ----------------------------
    John (Boston)

    Thanks for your time Keith. From the little that I've seen and his age, does Rafael Devers have the potential to sky rocket towards the top 10 next year? I'm as excited about him as anyone.
    Klaw (2:13 PM)

    If you want one guy in 51-100 who could race up to the top 10-15 next year, I think I'd say him. Sky seems to be the limit.

  8. #8
    One guy not mentioned in this list that I'm going to be keeping an eye on is Sean Coyle. I'm honestly not sure why this kid doesn't get more attention.

    The big knocks on him right now are plate discipline (k/bb is not where it needs to be) and the fact that we have so much depth at his major position (coyle is a 2B) so they're trying him at third base which is also obviously now overloaded. But a guy athletic enough to play second and practiced at third means Coyle could play a lot of positions -- the ones he plays now, plus potentially first and both corner OF slots. So if it came to finding a way to get his bat into the lineup once said bat is ready, I'm sure the team could figure it out.

    And his hitting numbers in Portland last year were impressive. 16 HR's and a 11 SB with a .883 OPS at age 22 in Portland, which I think is actually on the young side IIRC for AA, while playing mostly second base, is a player worth paying attention to. He's going to be 23 in Pawtucket next year, if he keeps his hitting up we could see him. Keep an eye on Coyle .
    Last edited by Dojji; 01-30-2015 at 10:45 AM.
    If history tells us anything, the path to redeption for any bad baseball team is marked with a deep rotation of durable starters, a world class defense in both infield and outfield, a lineup that can generate runs in more than one way, a bullpen that won't steal defeat from the jaws of victory, and a top end catcher to hold the whole package together. These are the conditions by which victory is achieved, anything that does not accomplish these objectives is a waste of resources.

  9. #9
    That's because most prospect projections use the 20-80 scale as one of the main components of their reports, and Coyle doesn't grade particularly well on any of the tools evaluated by it.
    We miss you Mike.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by User Name? View Post
    That's because most prospect projections use the 20-80 scale as one of the main components of their reports, and Coyle doesn't grade particularly well on any of the tools evaluated by it.
    So typical Dojji guy then?

  11. #11
    Actually no. Unlike most Dojji types, Coyle actually has the makings of a solid MLB regular, especially with the low offensive demands of a middle-infielder and his line-drive swing. The problem is that in the current scouting landscape, tools and projection have taken renewed significance, leaving behind production-based analytics even more so than before.

    However, the Dojji kiss of death is real, and i expect Coyle to be selling used cars for a living come 2017.
    We miss you Mike.

  12. #12
    Org writeups here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12...tseverymlbteam

    Sox rankings:

    1. Blake Swihart, C
    2. Henry Owens, LHP
    3. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
    4. Rafael Devers, 3B
    5. Manuel Margot, CF
    6. Garin Cecchini, 3B
    7. Matt Barnes, RHP
    8. Brian Johnson, LHP
    9. Deven Merrero, SS
    10. Michael Chavis, 3B

    Overview

    The Red Sox continue to churn out prospects and used an off year from the major league squad in 2014 to add Eduardo Rodriguez, Edwin Escobar (11) and Heath Hembree in trades involving impending free agents. They're especially deep in position players with defensive value and left-handed pitching, which are extremely valuable commodities in the trade market. Cecchini could play every day for at least a half-dozen major league teams right now; Barnes could be the No. 5 starter for at least as many teams. Marrero is maybe a year away from being ready for someone's lineup, although he needs to show better results on contact; he has a 60-grade glove with a 70-grade arm but is a fringe-average runner at best without pop, and aside from a 68-game stint in Portland last year, he has yet to hit for average at any level. Johnson is a four-pitch pitcher now, having added a cutter/slider and still working at 90-92 mph, with a better changeup than before and still showing great fastball command. He has a low ceiling but is probably the safest bet in the system to be a big league starter. Trey Ball (13) was awful at the start of the year, a mechanical mess without a good secondary pitch to carry him against Sally League hitters, but by the end of the summer, the changeup graded as a 55 or a 60 and he was sitting at 90-91 mph and touching 94. He's got a ways to go as a pitcher, but he was pretty raw overall as a cold-weather kid who was also a position player in high school.

    Their draft class this year had a good mix of prep and college guys. Chavis, a high school shortstop, started to hit in late July once the Sox moved him to third base, where he split time with Devers. Second-rounder Sam Travis (14), an ex-teammate of Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber, is a very polished first baseman with an advanced, patient approach and good contact skills, but it's unclear whether he has the power to be more than just a regular. Michael Kopech (12), their sandwich-round pick, will sit at 94-95 already and touch 98 with an above-average slider but isn't advanced as a pitcher yet and will likely need time to get his delivery synced up and careful handling to keep him healthy.

    Others of note in the system: Teddy Stankiewicz (15) might emerge as a back-end starter but is lacking any swing-and-miss pitch, fills up the strike zone and pitches heavily off his fastball. Javy Guerra (17) struggled at the plate as an 18-year-old in the GCL but has a sound left-handed swing and plays above-average defense already at short. Sean Coyle (18) has come into some surprising power the past two years, hitting 30 bombs in 145 non-rehab games, and has always had solid bat-to-ball skills; it's hard to see him continuing to hit for this kind of power as a 5-foot-7 (if that) guy without a lot of loft, but he's going to play in the big leagues as a bench guy or platoon second baseman. Wendell Rijo (19) is in a similar vein, a really smart player with average to slightly above-average tools, probably a utility guy but with a chance to be a regular. Carlos Asuaje (20) is built like Coyle but has a better eye at the plate and a bit more natural power, though without a clear position.

    2015 impact

    Barnes could make starts for Boston this year, although he isn't likely to make the Opening Day rotation, barring an injury. Hembree throws hard when healthy and can miss bats with the fastball but doesn't command it well enough to get away with much up in the zone; he was up briefly after the trade and will likely log more service time in 2015. With Christian Vazquez behind the plate, I don't see Swihart getting the call this year, although he'd probably be fine if the Sox called him up in August or September.

    The fallen

    The Red Sox have done well with high picks in recent years, but their first selection in 2010, Kolbrin Vitek, retired in spring training after two awful seasons in Double-A. Pat Light, the 37th overall pick in 2012 (after the Sox had already taken Marrero and Johnson), still hasn't gotten past high Class A at age 23 and put up a near-5.00 ERA in Salem last year with an 11 percent strikeout rate.

    Sleeper

    Travis is the best candidate to race through the low minors; he is advanced enough a hitter that he could start in Double-A, and I'm willing to bet his power will be more than the consensus expectation -- 20-25 homers a year at his peak, which is enough to push him on to the top 100 next year.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by mvp 78 View Post
    So typical Dojji guy then?
    He seems to appreciate probability more than upside - which is fine but runs counter to the industry. I appreciate probability too - but (and this is where the Red Sox being a high payroll team matters) a team like Boston only needs its farm system to produce its future studs. (and maybe a lower level for starting pitcher but you get the idea) There are plenty of other avenues available to find the middle class guys which does not blow up their budget.

    Personally, Devers starting full season ball as an 18 year old is the most tantalizing of the possibilities, and that is not a dig at all at Margot who has been nearly as accomplished. More than anything - that the Red Sox themselves feel these guys can handle aggressive promotion and challenge says a ton.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by User Name? View Post
    That's because most prospect projections use the 20-80 scale as one of the main components of their reports, and Coyle doesn't grade particularly well on any of the tools evaluated by it.

    You mean 20-80 guys like Will Middlebrooks and Josh Reddick? yeah those guys ended well for us.

    I'll take a guy with enough present talent to produce at a starter level plus the polish to actually see some of that production quickly, over a guy who's so talented he gets away with all his bad habits in the minors. Sometimes those guys are the ones that really learned how to compete and improve their game, while the heirs apparent with all the 80 ratings by the scouts were more interested in impressing scouts with their ridiculous toolkits to put a toolbox around them.

    learning how to work hard and earn your way is more important than raw talent as long as a player has enough talent to work with. Coyle is a prospect worth keeping an eye on due to the fact that he's using a limited toolset to compete at a very high level as a middle infielder in the Boston system. That ability is a tool of its own I believe.
    If history tells us anything, the path to redeption for any bad baseball team is marked with a deep rotation of durable starters, a world class defense in both infield and outfield, a lineup that can generate runs in more than one way, a bullpen that won't steal defeat from the jaws of victory, and a top end catcher to hold the whole package together. These are the conditions by which victory is achieved, anything that does not accomplish these objectives is a waste of resources.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Dojji View Post
    You mean 20-80 guys like Will Middlebrooks and Josh Reddick? yeah those guys ended well for us.

    I'll take a guy with enough present talent to produce at a starter level plus the polish to actually see some of that production quickly, over a guy who's so talented he gets away with all his bad habits in the minors. Sometimes those guys are the ones that really learned how to compete and improve their game, while the heirs apparent with all the 80 ratings by the scouts were more interested in impressing scouts with their ridiculous toolkits to put a toolbox around them.

    learning how to work hard and earn your way is more important than raw talent as long as a player has enough talent to work with. Coyle is a prospect worth keeping an eye on due to the fact that he's using a limited toolset to compete at a very high level as a middle infielder in the Boston system. That ability is a tool of its own I believe.
    Did you even bother to read the other post i made?
    We miss you Mike.

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