Boston Red Sox: Red Sox prospects

SoxProspects.com: Top 10 Sox prospects

October, 3, 2014
Oct 3
3:26
PM ET
Here’s a look at the top 10 Red Sox prospects at the close of the 2014 season, as rated by SoxProspects.com.

Several Boston prospects have graduated over the last year or so, including Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rubby De La Rosa, Brock Holt, Tommy Layne, Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster, and Brandon Workman -- so this list has a much different feel than it did at the start of the season. FYI - it's worth noting that we opted not to rank Rusney Castillo due to his prior professional experience in Cuba.

Age is in parenthesis.

1. Blake Swihart (22); C, Pawtucket

How acquired: Drafted in the 1st round, 2011. $2,500,000 bonus.

2014 stats: .293/.341/.469 with 13 home runs and 8 stolen bases between stops in Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

[+] EnlargeBlake Swihart
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesSwitch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart projects to hit for a high average at the major league level.
Scouting report: An athletic, switch-hitting catcher, Swihart possesses fluid swings from both sides of the plate and plus bat speed thanks to his quick, explosive hands. His swing is more compact from the left side. Overall, he has the bat to profile as a plus hitter for average at the big league level, but he needs improvement getting his hands above the ball against offerings above the thighs.

The 22-year-old has made significant strides towards developing a professional plate approach since he entered the professional ranks, and has solid overall pitch recognition skills. Swihart has also filled out since he entered the system, especially in his lower half.

With respect to his power, he has developed the ability to hit home runs as his swing has gained more leverage and lower body torque.

Overall, he has solid-average power potential, with more power from the right side of the plate. In terms of speed, he’s an average runner on the base paths.

Swihart’s defensive tools have made significant progress and now project as solid-average-to-plus. He has excellent reflexes, fluid actions, and moves well laterally with quick feet. He pops out of his crouch easily, and pairs that with a plus-to-better arm and smooth release. He has clocked sub-1.9 pop times in game action.

He also has elite makeup and a strong work ethic.

Projection: First-division regular and occasional All-Star.

Ceiling: All-Star catcher and team captain.

Floor: Platoon mate.

2. Henry Owens (22); LHP, Pawtucket

How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round, 2011. $1,550,000 bonus.

2014 stats: 17-5, 2.94 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 170 strikeouts, 59 walks in 159.0 innings with Portland and Pawtucket.

Scouting report: The left-hander has a big frame, but needs to add strength. He has a low-energy delivery and throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Owens possesses an 88-92 mph fastball with late tail. He has shown higher velocity, but not with any consistency from outing to outing. He should eventually settle into the 90-92 mph range, but at this point, he usually works in the 88-91 mph range.

Control has been an issue for Owens in the past, although he has improved in that respect as he has progressed through the system. His command, however, is still fringe-average. He succeeds in part due to a deceptive delivery, in that he hides the ball well, causing his fastball to jump on opposing hitters.

His best secondary offering is his 76-79 mph changeup, which grades as plus-plus. He feels the pitch well and has tons of confidence in it, but can leave it up in the zone where it tends to float, so he could work on finishing more consistently.

He throws a 74-76 mph curveball with deep break and hard bite, but he has been hesitant to throw it because of the success he has had with his slower, 68-72 mph curve. Owens finishes the pitch well to create consistent snap with good command and control; overall it has plus-to-better potential. The slower curve is loose and on the loopy side.

A competitor, Owens has a mature demeanor on mound. He needs to put on weight to handle the rigors of starting as a professional and build stamina to hold his stuff deep into games.

Projection: No. 3 starter.

Ceiling: High-end No. 3 starter.

Floor: Passable #5 starter.

3. Manuel Margot (20); CF, Salem

How acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 2011. $800,000 bonus.

2014 stats: .293/.356/.462 with 12 home runs and 42 stolen bases between stops in Double-A Portland and High-A Salem.

Scouting report: Margot, who turned 20 last week, possesses a medium frame with fast-twitch muscles and above-average athleticism. There is some moderate projection for physical growth, but that is not likely to overly impact his athleticism. His body could actually use the added strength to enhance his offensive tools.

His strengths are his plus-plus speed and plus range in the field. He accelerates well out of the box and shows another gear when going from first-to-third. He reads the ball off the bat well in center field. He is graceful when tracking fly balls and shows understanding of how to take precise routes. Combined with his range, it gives him the ability to cover a lot of ground, with the potential to round into an above-average defender. However, he has just a fringe-average arm.

At the plate, Margot has a fluid swing with developing leverage to the point of contact, quick hands, and a smooth load with little wasted movement. He shows above-average bat speed, and although he is mainly a line-drive hitter at this stage, he has potential to develop average power as he matures. Margot is in the early stages of developing a plate approach. He likes to attack the ball early in the count, but shows willingness to see pitches. Currently, his pitch recognition is a tick below-average and his swing can get long. He needs to work on going to all fields. As young as he is, Margot is just beginning to learn the professional game, and he will take some time to develop. His development path likely won’t be a straight line.

Projection: Slightly above-average center fielder.

Ceiling: Leadoff hitter and starting center fielder for a first-division team.

Floor: Minor leaguer who fails to develop a major league plate approach.

4. Rafael Devers (17); 3B, GCL Red Sox

How acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 2013. $1,500,000 bonus.

2014 stats: .322/.404/.506 with 7 home runs and 5 stolen bases with the Rookie-Level GCL Red Sox and DSL Red Sox

Scouting report: The young Dominican was one of the top prospects available in the 2013 international amateur free-agent class, and he busted out in a big way in 2014. Devers has a very solid build with a large lower half, reminiscent of Adrian Beltre.

On offense, he has outstanding bat speed and an advanced approach for his age, along with solid swing mechanics. He currently has above-average power, with plus-to-better power potential. The ball really explodes off his bat. Devers makes decent contact, but has yet to be really tested against high velocities or advanced off-speed stuff. He has below-average speed and could be something of a base clogger. Confident at the plate, Devers carries himself with a lot of swagger.

His defense at third base is adequate for his age, and he’s shown a decent arm and the ability to make the routine plays, so he might be able to stick at the position. However, additional growth may diminish his lateral quickness, making him a candidate for first base or left field down the line.

Projection: Very wide gap -- he could become an All-Star or fizzle out at Double-A. Let’s say a regular corner infielder with plus power and a subpar batting average.

Ceiling: Cleanup hitter with 30-plus home run power.

Floor: Minor leaguer who struggles with high velocity fastballs and advanced off-speed offerings.

5. Eduardo Rodriguez (21); LHP, Pawtucket

How acquired: Acquired from Baltimore for Andrew Miller (July 2014).

2014 stats: 6-8, 3.60 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 108 strikeouts, 37 walks in 120 innings with Double-A Bowie (Baltimore) and Portland. He was promoted to Pawtucket for the Triple-A postseason.

[+] EnlargeEduardo Rodriguez
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsThe Red Sox acquired Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles in a midseason trade for Andrew Miller.
Scouting report: The recently acquired lefty has a filled-out frame, given his relatively young age for his level. Rodriguez had an excellent 2013 season but took a step back numbers-wise early in 2014, perhaps in part due to a knee injury he suffered early in the season. He appeared to return to full form during his five weeks in the Red Sox system at the tail end of the season.

The left-hander’s delivery is smooth and repeatable. His fastball sits in the low-90s and has touched 97 mph, and has almost returned to that level since joining the organization. However, his command needs refinement. Rodriguez’s slider and changeup are both average with potential to improve. He has the confidence to throw both in any count. The slider works 82-85 mph and shows two-plane movement, and he can throw the pitch for strikes. The change sits 83-85 mph, showing arm-side fade and sink on occasion. It can be inconsistent, but looked much better after he joined the Red Sox.

Projection: No. 3/4 starter.

Ceiling: No. 2 starter.

Floor: No. 5 starter or setup man.

6. Brian Johnson (23); LHP, Pawtucket

How acquired: Drafted in the first round, 2012. $1,575,000 bonus.

2014 stats: 13-3, 2.13 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 132 strikeouts, 39 walks in 143.2 innings between Portland and Salem. Like Rodriguez, he was promoted to Pawtucket for the Triple-A postseason.

Scouting report: Johnson is a well-filled-out left-handed starter with the body to withstand the rigors of starting as a professional. He boasts an easy delivery with smooth, repeatable mechanics. He likes to work quickly and get into a rhythm. His fastball typically starts out at 89-91 mph early on, but settles into the low-90s as he gets loose, and he has shown the ability to reach back to top out at 95 mph when he needs to. The pitch shows downward movement and tail, and he commands it well to both sides of the plate.

His 76-79 mph curveball shows solid-average potential, with depth and tight break in the upper reaches of that velocity range. He has average-to-solid-average command of the pitch and throws it for strikes. He has also shown feel for his 83-85 mph changeup, which improved greatly in 2014. It projects as a pitch that will induce weak contact. He also will mix in an 80-83 mph slider into sequences that has slurvy break.

Johnson really knows how to pitch, varying his pitch sequences and attacking hitters. He projects as an innings-eating, back of the rotation starter.

Projection: #4/#5 starter with consistency.

Ceiling: #4 starter with peak seasons as a #3 starter.

Floor: Middle reliever.

7. Matt Barnes (24); RHP, Boston

How acquired: Drafted in the 1st round, 2011. $1,500,000 bonus.

2014 stats: 8-9, 3.95 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 103 strikeouts, 46 walks in 127.2 innings with Pawtucket. 0-0, 4.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8 strikeouts, 2 walks in 9.0 innings with Boston.

Scouting report: Barnes is a tall right-hander with a projectable body and an easy, repeatable delivery. His best pitch is a heavy fastball that sits at 91-95 mph. He can reach back to get up to 98 mph in tight situations, and the pitch has played up in shorter stints, sitting 93-96 mph out of the bullpen this September. The pitch has excellent downward finish in the lower tier of the strike zone, but tends to flatten out when it’s elevated. He uses his solid-average command to work the heater to both sides of the plate.

His best secondary pitch is a 74-77 mph curveball with tight rotation and deep break. He typically has good feel for the pitch, but sometimes can hold onto the ball too long and also wrap his wrist, losing the ability to stay on top of it. It currently grades as an average offering with average command, but it could become a swing-and-miss out pitch at the major league level with more polish and consistency.

His 83-85 mph changeup presently grades as fringe-average-to-average. It shows arm-side fade, but Barnes needs to create more deception and consistency when throwing it. His arm speed varies at times from his fastball. Like the curve, he can hold on to the pitch for too long. The change could become a solid-average-to-better offering and induce weak contact.

Barnes can get off-balance during his delivery, which affects his release point and command. He could stand to re-incorporate a slider into his repertoire or develop a cutter now that he is close to the big leagues to give hitters another pitch to think about.

He projects as a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter, but he also has the stuff to become an elite reliever.

Projection: No. 4/5 starter with peaks and valleys, possibly peak seasons as a No. 3 starter.

Ceiling: High-end No. 3 starter.

Floor: Above-average reliever.

8. Michael Chavis (19); SS/3B, GCL Red Sox

How acquired: Drafted in the 1st round, 2014. $1,870,500 bonus.

2014 stats: .269/.347/.425 with 1 home run and 5 stolen bases for the GCL Red Sox. .580/.663/1.197 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases for Sprayberry Senior High School (GA).

Scouting report: Boston’s first pick in the 2014 draft, Chavis is a polished high school shortstop who also played some third base in his first pro season. He hits from an open stance that closes upon approach, and utilizes a toe-tap timing device. He has a short, compact swing with quick hands.

Some scouts have said he had the best hit tool in the entire 2014 draft class; he possesses plus bat speed and plus power potential. He may have fallen to the Red Sox at No. 26 overall because he does not have a frame that stands out at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but Chavis is a good athlete for his size. He is also a slightly above-average runner.

Defensively, he has a plus arm, a quick first step, and fluid actions in the field. He might end up at third base as he moves up the ladder, but that’s far from definite.

Reportedly a great clubhouse guy as well, which has borne out in his few public appearances so far as a pro.

Projection: Like Devers, a wide gap, but let’s say an average third baseman.

Ceiling: All-Star.

Floor: Minor leaguer.

9. Anthony Ranaudo (25); RHP, Boston

How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental 1st round, 2010. $2,550,000 bonus.

2014 stats: 14-4, 2.61 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 111 strikeouts, 54 walks in 138.0 innings with Pawtucket. 4-3, 4.81 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 15 strikeouts, 16 walks in 39.1 innings with Boston.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Ranaudo
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAnthony Ranaudo projects to be as good as a No. 3 starter at the major league level.
Scouting report: The big 6-7, 230-pounder has the frame to withstand the rigors of starting at the professional level. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, but is still learning to incorporate his lower half into his motion. Historically, he has had some rigidness in his delivery, which has tended to wear him out quicker, and he can sometimes open his front shoulder early, leading to reduced command in spells.

Ranaudo’s fastball sits in the low-90s and tops out at 95 mph, although he has been able to get up to 98 mph. He has fringe-average-to-average command of the pitch and is inconsistent getting downward leverage on it despite his size. The pitch is on the straight side and very hittable when he leaves it up in the zone. Some arm drag in his motion reduces his velocity and ability to stay on top of the ball.

His 78-82 mph hammer curveball grades as plus. It shows tight rotation and excellent depth, and he can either bury it out of the strike zone or drop it in for a strike with outstanding feel. It can be a future swing-and-miss pitch at the major league level.

Ranaudo also throws a fringe-average 81-83 mph changeup that is improving, but is still inconsistent from outing to outing. It has average potential, and has not developed much, which is likely partially why he started throwing a mid-80s slider during the 2014 season.

The slider is definitely a work in progress as he seeks to develop a feel for the offering. He generally needs to learn to live lower in the strike zone with all of his pitches. Sometimes, he appears to overthink things, and needs to be looser on the mound.

Projection: No. 4/5 starter.

Ceiling: High-end No. 4 starter possibly with a couple peak seasons as a No. 3 starter.

Floor: Middle reliever.

10. Garin Cecchini (23); 3B/LF, Boston

How acquired: Drafted in the 4th round, 2010. $1,310,000 bonus.

2014 stats: .263/.341/.371 with 7 home runs and 11 stolen bases for Pawtucket. .258/.361/.452 with 1 home run and 0 stolen bases for Boston.

Scouting report: Cecchini has a strong lower half and room to fill out in his upper body. He possesses a sweet swing from the left side with plus bat speed. He has an upward swing path through the hitting zone and creates solid extension to produce backspin when squaring offerings up, and shows the ability to drive the ball to all fields with lift. He potentially could have a plus hit tool with fringe-average-to-average power.

The 23-year-old has excellent strike zone judgment and discipline, but still can struggle with breaking balls and against left-handed pitching. He went through a prolonged slump this year in which he got away from his approach, getting pull-happy, but he righted the ship at the end of the year.

He has solid-average speed, and has shown the ability to steal bases with his solid instincts in the lower minors, but that is not likely to be a significant part of his game in the future. He played shortstop and second base in high school, but transitioned to third base as a professional.

He has soft hands, but needs improvement with reads off of bat and can be stiff and slow with his reactions. Cecchini has a solid-average arm from third, but can get sloppy with his footwork leading to poor accuracy. He still needs work at the position, but has the tools that could allow him to become an average defender at the hot corner. He started playing some outfield during the 2014 season, and he could move to left if he is unable to make the necessary developments at third base, but that transition is still very much a work in progress.

He has a high baseball IQ and comes from a baseball family -- both of his parents are coaches, and his brother is a former first-round pick in the Mets organization.

Projection: Starting third baseman for a second-division squad who also sees time at left field, able to extend his career as a solid bat off the bench.

Ceiling: Starting third baseman.

Floor: Up-and-down player.

Mike Andrews is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeAndrewsSP. SoxProspects Executive Editor @SPChrisHatfield and Scouting Director @IanCundall contributed to this column.

SoxProspects.com: Minor league leaders

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
3:45
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Now that the 2014 minor league regular season is over, here’s a look at the statistical leaders from the Red Sox system. Stats are cumulative for all minor league levels within the organization, but do not include major league stats. Minimums for rate stats are 250 plate appearances or 80 innings pitched.

SoxProspects.com: Farm clubs faring well

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
11:21
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The minor league season wraps up for most leagues on Labor Day, but five of the seven Red Sox affiliates will be participating in the postseasons of their respective leagues.

Triple-A Pawtucket clinched a wild-card spot Sunday with a 10-4 win over Rochester. The International League playoffs are expected to get underway Sept. 3, with the PawSox likely hosting the club's opening game that day.

Meanwhile, Double-A Portland recorded its best winning percentage in franchise history: 88-53 heading into Monday's final game. The Sea Dogs will start the best-of-five Eastern League division finals at Binghamton on Sept. 3. That same day, high-Class A Salem is scheduled to begin the best-of-three Carolina League division finals at Myrtle Beach. Low-Class A Greenville and short-Class A Lowell, the only Boston affiliates not headed to the postseason, both close out their seasons Monday.

The rookie-level affiliates’ regular seasons are already over, and both Boston affiliates are deep into playoff runs. The GCL Red Sox are scheduled to play the GCL Yankees in the decisive Game 3 of the Gulf Coast League finals Monday, and outfielder Rusney Castillo is slated to play three to five innings in center field. The DSL Red Sox beat the DSL Rangers 4-1 in Game 1 of the best-of-five Dominican Summer League championship series Sunday, with Game 2 slated for Monday morning.

Here's a look at how the Red Sox system's top prospects fared in August (SoxProspects ranking as of Sept. 1 in parentheses):

Notes: Betts has played only center field since Boston's acquisition of center fielder Castillo, calling into question whether the club sees the top prospect's future at another position or whether he might be dangled as trade bait this offseason. ... Swihart, arguably the top catching prospect in the minor leagues, has struggled offensively since his promotion to Pawtucket on Aug. 4, but he has seen most of the time behind the dish despite splitting time with backstops Dan Butler and Ryan Lavarnway. ... Devers, 17, appears to have hit a wall offensively, which is not surprising given that this is his first pro season, but he has impressed in three games in the GCL postseason, with an OPS of 1.024. ... Vazquez has dazzled defensively since his promotion to the majors, making it easy to overlook (or even excuse) his lackluster offensive performance in August. ... Margot posted the best numbers in the entire system in August, showing no signs of an adjustment period after a midmonth promotion to Salem. ... Chavis showed he was past his adjustment period to pro ball in August, bringing his overall numbers back in line with what was expected from Boston's 2014 first-round pick. ... Cecchini returned to form this month after two consecutive poor months, showing increased power and more comfort defensively at third base. ... Marrero, an Arizona State alum, will play in the Arizona Fall League, which gets underway Oct. 7. ... Longhi was hitting .330/.388/.440 before landing on the disabled list with a torn UCL in his thumb July 24.

Notes: After pitching 135 innings in 2013, Owens is up to 159 innings for the season and likely will get at least one postseason start with Pawtucket. ... He was recently named the 2014 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. ... Rodriguez has been spectacular for Portland since being acquired from Baltimore for Andrew Miller on July 31, but not better than Brian Johnson, who seems in line to win the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award this season after going 13-3 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. ... Ranaudo has earned consideration for a spot at the back end of Boston's starting rotation in 2015, but there could be a lot of competition for rotation spots if the club brings in a couple of starters from outside the organization this offseason, as expected. ... Barnes must have taken exception to not being mentioned as a possible starting option in 2014, possibly using that fire to take his game to another level in August. ... Ball, the No. 7 overall draft pick in 2013, started to show flashes of brilliance in July and August after a dreadful first three months of the season. ... Escobar, acquired from St. Louis as part of the July 26 Jake Peavy deal, made his major league debut Aug. 27.

Other top performers: Portland outfielder Keury De La Cruz, who spent much of the season on the disabled list, hit .337/.402/.547 with four home runs in August. The former Red Sox Latin Program Player of the Year, NY-Penn League all-star and South Atlantic League all-star is Rule 5 eligible this offseason and likely won't be protected by the club. A small-market team might be willing to take a chance on him in December's Rule 5 draft.

Two other top offensive performers were Salem utility man Carlos Asuaje, who hit .342/.417/.541 for the month, and GCL Red Sox second baseman Victor Acosta, who hit .390/.446/.525.

On the pitching front, one of the top performers was Greenville right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, who went 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 29 strikeouts and four walks in 38 innings for the Drive. The 20-year-old was Boston's second-round pick in 2013, signing for a $915,000 bonus. He throws an 89-93 mph fastball with fringe-average command, a plus-potential 11-to-5 curveball and a developing low-80s changeup. Stankiewicz is likely to be promoted to Salem to start the 2015 season.

Other strong performers on the mound were Portland right-hander Justin Haley and Lowell righty Aaron Wilkerson. Haley, 23, went 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP for the Sea Dogs. The 2012 sixth-round pick is a ground ball specialist with decent control and a two-pitch mix, making him profile more as a reliever over the long term. Wilkerson went 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 0.84 WHIP for the Spinners. The 25-year-old former indy leaguer is not considered a prospect at this point, but he is a name to keep an eye on in 2015, especially if he's given a shot at higher levels.

Promotions: Eleven players got the call to Boston from the minor leagues in August: pitchers Heath Hembree, Steven Wright, Alex Wilson, Tommy Layne, Ranaudo and Escobar, catcher Dan Butler, infielder Carlos Rivero and outfielders Corey Brown, Alex Hassan and Betts.

Minor leaguers who received level promotions during the same time frame included Swihart from Portland to Pawtucket; catcher Carson Blair and infielder Mike Miller from Salem to Portland; pitcher Taylor Grover, catcher Jake Romanski and outfielder Margot from Greenville to Salem; pitchers Oscar Perez and Ellis Jimenez, catcher Jordan Procyshen, first baseman Travis and outfielder Danny Mars from Lowell to Greenville; and pitcher Williams Jerez and catcher Alex McKeon from the Gulf Coast League to Lowell.

Mike Andrews is the founder and editor-in-chief of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

Law's midseason top 50 prospects

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
12:09
PM ET
Keith Law unveiled his midseason Top 50 prospects (Insider access required), with pitcher Henry Owens (No. 23) and catcher Blake Swihart (No. 27), both making this list.

Note that "players who have already passed the cutoff for Rookie of the Year eligibility are ineligible, as is anyone currently on a major league roster."

Here’s part of what Law writes about Owens:

Owens doesn't throw hard, mostly 90-92 but up to 94 whenever he needs it, succeeding with tremendous deception in his delivery and one of the minors' best changeups, which has made him more effective against right-handed hitters than lefties throughout his pro career.


To read the rest of Law's write-ups of Owens and Swihart, and to see full reports of all of the Top 50, click here.

Ranaudo making a case to be called up

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4
7:15
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PAWTUCKET, Rhode Island -- Among the pitchers in Pawtucket's loaded, all-prospect rotation earlier this season, Brandon Workman now appears to have solidified a spot in Boston's rotation, Rubby De La Rosa impressed in his time in the majors, and Allen Webster has pitched well enough to earn another shot at the big leagues. But it is another member of the PawSox rotation who is having perhaps the best season of them all to this point: Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo continues to quietly shut down opposing offenses, and he showed why with seven scoreless innings on Monday night in Pawtucket.

"The fastball was explosive out of his hand, and he was able to utilize a mix," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said after the outing. "He left some pitches up, but then he was able to execute. When he was behind in the count, he showed some good execution and was able to get back into the count. He threw some decent breaking balls. I thought the hand speed with the changeup was good. [He was] aggressive. He's really come a long way."

[+] EnlargeAnthony Ranaudo
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesAnthony Ranaudo has been named an International League All-Star after amassing a 2.35 ERA in 17 starts for Pawtucket.
The 24-year-old Ranaudo was recently named to the International League All-Star Team and now owns a 2.35 ERA in 17 starts this season, good for sixth among qualifying Triple-A starters. He has also held batters to a .202 average and struck out 81 over 95 2/3 innings of work. The tall righty began the season at seventh on the SoxProspects.com rankings and now resides at fifth.

In Monday's outing, Ranaudo had success pounding fastballs early and didn't give up his first hit until there were two outs in the fourth. In all, he allowed three hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and two walks.

Ranaudo's fastball sat between 92 and 94 mph and topped out at 95 mph. He was effective when he kept the pitch down in the zone, minimized hard contact and showed finish on the pitch in that area. He recorded three strikeouts with it -- two swinging and one looking. When up in the zone, the pitch was straight and hittable, but he got away with it in this outing. He threw the pitch consistently for strikes and showed solid command, something that has eluded him in other outings.

It helped that the Pawtucket offense scored 10 runs in the first five innings. Ranaudo said the score dictated his ability to pound the zone.

"I had pretty good command of [my fastball], and I thought my command [of it] got better as the game went on," Ranaudo said. "It was easy for me to go and be aggressive with the fastball and just attack guys when we had the big lead. I was just trying to get out there and throw strikes and get back in the dugout because they were swinging the bats so well."

The curveball has been Ranaudo's best secondary offering throughout his minor league career, and he has shown plus potential with tight rotation, excellent depth through the zone and the ability to miss bats at the major league level when it is on. In this outing, the pitch was effective and accounted for two strikeouts, both looking. Ranaudo showed confidence to throw the curve in any count, but unlike previous looks, it did not generate any swings and misses.

Ranaudo didn't use the curve as often as in other outings, with the score dictating his fastball-heavy approach to some extent. The pitch did show its typical tight rotation and depth and was effective in keeping hitters off-balance and off his fastball.

The secondary offering Ranaudo featured most heavily in this outing was the changeup, and it's a pitch he says he has been getting more comfortable throwing.

"[The changeup] is something that I've gained a lot of confidence in," the 6-foot-7 LSU product said. "I shake to it a lot now. I throw it against righties and everything like that. It's definitely a true third pitch for me, and I feel really good about it."

Although the pitch has improved since Ranaudo joined the organization, he still needs to work on his consistency with the offering. He throws the pitch in the 81 to 84 mph range, and it shows late drop when it is down in the zone. At times, however, he seems to slow his arm on the pitch. Even with those improvements, the pitch still lags behind his curveball, but even if it grades as only an average pitch, it will be important to his ability to remain a starter because it will allow him to give hitters a different look the second and third time through a lineup.

Over his past few outings, Ranaudo has been incorporating a fourth pitch -- a slider -- into the mix for the first time. At this point, it's in the very early stages of development, but Ranaudo and coaches like the possibilities it presents for him.

"He's mixing [the slider] in every once in a while," Boles said. "It's good to see. He's going to have to make it move eventually. I think sometimes he gets around the ball a little bit, but there are other times we see some extension and finish."

Ranaudo said he threw it three or four times in Monday's outing. "It's coming, [but] it's not where I want it to be. It's just something that I need to get confidence with. It's a feel pitch for me. It seems like I've been throwing it really well on the four days between my starts, and then I get out on the mound and something changes, so I just have to find that release point and comfort with it, but I think that will come with time. I've seen improvements since I first started throwing it."

It was clear Ranaudo lacked feel for the slider, with the pitch showing short, vertical break sometimes and shorter, horizontal break other times. The pitch is a work in progress, but with continued repetition and refinement, even if it only turns into a fringe-average offering, it could provide another look to keep hitters off-balance and be a valuable part of his arsenal.

"For me, it's just the second breaking ball," the 2010 supplemental first-rounder said. "Sometimes when you climb up the ladder, the better hitters can see a curveball out of the hand, and it's a pitch that they can [lay off]. Especially with two strikes, they see it in a certain area, and if they see it in that area, they are going to take it. Hopefully, this just becomes another breaking ball I can have. If I don't have my best curveball, I can go to it as something I can throw early in counts to get some weak contact."

The slider and changeup still show room for improvement, but even while working on incorporating a new pitch, Ranaudo continues to post sparkling results. A few more starts like Monday, and he might elbow himself to the front of the line of Pawtucket starters looking to get the call-up.

Matt Huegel is managing editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP. Ian Cundall is director of scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

SoxProspects: Guys who might get call

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
1:24
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With Boston 7 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East as of July 2, questions will invariably arise whether the club should become sellers at the trade deadline and let the youngsters get playing time to close out the season.

Should the Red Sox decide to go that route over the next few weeks, there are a bevy of prospects who could join Mookie Betts on Boston’s 25-man major league roster (or the 40-man when the active roster limit expands on Sept. 1).

Either way, there are 11 minor leaguers already on the 40-man roster who should merit consideration for extended playing time later in the summer, including starting pitchers Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Steven Wright; relievers Alex Wilson and Drake Britton; catchers Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler; third baseman Garin Cecchini and outfielders Alex Hassan and Bryce Brentz. All seem like sure bets to be September call-ups with the possible exceptions of Butler, who has been inconsistent over the season, and Brentz, who has been on the disabled list since May 15 with a right hamstring strain.

Another consideration that comes into play when identifying late-summer call ups is whether a player needs to be added to the 40-man in the upcoming offseason. When that’s the case, it’s more likely that the club won’t balk at adding that player to the 40-man during the season. Players who fall into this category in 2014 include pitchers Matt Barnes, Noe Ramirez, Luis Diaz and Keith Couch; catcher Blake Swihart and infielders Travis Shaw and Sean Coyle. Swihart, Barnes, and Coyle seem like the only safe bets to be added in November, but there are good reasons not to rush any of the three to the majors in 2014. The same goes for Ramirez, Diaz, Couch and Shaw.

One other group to look at is players who are eligible for minor league free agency this winter. If a player might leave via free agency anyways, it doesn’t necessarily hurt to give that player a chance to compete at the major league level to measure whether that player is worthy of a spot on the 40-man roster. Three pitchers to watch here are Tommy Layne, Miguel Celestino and Michael Olmsted.

Last, four players who might be held back because they don’t need to be added to the 40-man roster yet are Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Deven Marrero and Dalier Hinojosa. That said, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if any of the four got a cup of coffee at the tail end of the season.

Top hitting prospects
Here’s how the top position prospects in the Red Sox system fared offensively in June (SoxProspects ranking as of July 2 in parentheses).


Continuing to allay concerns about his ability to withstand the rigors of being a regular catcher, Swihart started 20 games behind the plate in June, including six games in a row from June 22-28 ... Marrero and Vazquez, both typically known more for their defense, garnered some attention for their offensive skills in June, posting an .993 and .848 OPS for the month, respectively ... Devers has been promoted to the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League, but hasn’t actually made the transition stateside yet due to some paperwork issues ... Chavis, Boston’s 2014 first-round draft pick, signed for a $1,870,500 bonus on June 23 and was assigned to the GCL, but has yet to debut ... Coyle has been phenomenal when healthy in 2014, and on June 30 was named as a replacement to the U.S. team for the MLB Futures Game ... Rijo, 18, has slowed down after a great start, but it’s worth noting that he’s generally competing against players two-plus years older than he is in the South Atlantic League ... Shaw is still in an adjustment period after earning a promotion to Triple-A on May 26 ... Travis, Boston’s 2014 second round pick, signed for an $846,800 bonus on June 18.

Top pitching prospects
Here are the lines for the system’s top pitching prospects from June (SoxProspects ranking as of July 2 in parentheses).


Owens was also selected to represent Boston and the United States in the MLB Futures Game ... In many other organizations, Webster and Ranaudo would be part of the major league rotation right now, but in Boston, for now they’re behind four or five veterans, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa ... Johnson, for a while considered to profile best as a reliever, has worked himself into consideration as a future back-end starter for a first-division club ... Barnes, who has been inconsistent in his first full year in Triple-A, began June with three solid starts, but ended the month with two mediocre appearances ... The Red Sox selected Kopech No. 33 overall in the 2014 draft, a compensation pick for losing Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees ... Ball continues to struggle in his first pro season, allowing opposing batters to post a .370 batting average and .423 OBP against him ... Diaz was promoted to Portland on June 17, and began his Double-A career with three straight quality starts.

Other top performers
Another top hitting performer in June was High-A Salem catcher Carson Blair, who hit .471/.565/.725 with 3 home runs over 51 at-bats, but ended the month on the disabled list. The 24-year-old backstop was a 35th-round round pick in 2008, and is a candidate to start with Portland in 2015 if he re-signs this offseason. Other top hitters of note this past month included Double-A infielder Derrik Gibson, who hit .367/.465/.600 for the Sea Dogs, and Low-A Greenville outfielder Kendrick Perkins, who posted a line of .368/.421/.647 for the Drive.

On the pitching front, the top performer of the month outside of the top prospects was DSL Red Sox right-hander Gerson Bautista, who posted a 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and struck out 15 in 26 innings at the rookie level. Bautista, 18, was given a $250,000 signing bonus in April 2013, but was suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season after testing positive for metabolites of stanozolol. Other top pitchers over the last month included Portland relievers Aaron Kurcz (0.00 ERA, 0.66 WHIP in 10.2 innings) and Noe Ramirez (0.75 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 12 innings) and Pawtucket lefty Tommy Layne (0.84 WRA and 0.66 WHIP in 10.2 innings).

Organizational leaders
As of July 1 (cumulative stats, minor league only, min. 200 plate appearances or 50 innings pitched for non-counting stats).

Average
1. Sean Coyle, .361
2. Mookie Betts, .345
3. Reed Gragnani, .328

OPS
1. Sean Coyle, 1.052
2. Mookie Betts, .957
3. Jantzen Witte, .944

HRs
1. Travis Shaw, 15
2. Corey Brown,10
3(t). Sean Coyle, Blake Swihart, Jantzen Witte, Carlos Asuaje, 9

SBs
1. Mookie Betts, 29
2. Manuel Margot, 25
3. Matty Johnson, 24 Saves
1. Noe Ramirez, 8
2(t). Miguel Celestino, 6
2(t). Tommy Layne, 6

ERA
1. Henry Owens, 2.25
2. Joe Gunkel, 2.30
3. Brian Johnson, 2.33

Strikeouts/9 IP
1. Joe Gunkel, 9.91
2. Cody Kukuk, 9.50
3. Henry Owens, 9.29

Walks/9 IP
1. Mike Augliera, 1.50
2. Mike McCarthy, 1.63
3. Keith Couch, 1.82

Player movement
Four players got the call to Boston from the minor leagues in June: shortstop Stephen Drew (technically had been optioned to the minors after signing), third baseman Garin Cecchini, outfielder Daniel Nava, and Betts. Minor leaguers who received level promotions included Diaz, Jonathan Roof, and David Chester from Salem to Portland, and Gunkel, Witte, and Jordan Weems from Greenville to Salem.

Mike Andrews is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

Betts and Owens named to Futures Game

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
4:47
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Top Red Sox prospects 2B/OF Mookie Betts and LHP Henry Owens were named to the MLB Futures Game (5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 13). Both players will represent the U.S. in the game.

Betts, who was promoted to Pawtucket earlier this month, is Soxprospects.com’s No. 1 ranked prospect in the Red Sox system. After hitting .355 with a .995 OPS in 54 games in Portland, Betts has hit .321/.859 in 20 games with the PawSox, reaching base safely in every game.

Owens, Soxprospects.com’s No. 2 ranked prospect, is in the middle of his best stretch of the season, giving up just one earned run in his last five starts (35 2/3 innings). On the season he has a 1.99 ERA and opponents are hitting just .178 against him.

Both players were in Keith Law's updated top 25 prospects (Insider access) in late May. Owens at No. 20 and Betts at No. 22.

Sox announce signing of top pick Chavis

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
4:16
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The Boston Red Sox announced the signing of first-round draft pick (no. 26 overall) Michael Chavis on Tuesday.

Chavis, a shortstop out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, GA, hit .580 this season with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 28 games. ESPN Insider Keith Law had him ranked no. 28 on his Top 100 draft prospects. The terms of Chavis’s bonus (slotted at $1,870,500) were not released.

The team also announced the signing of nine other draft picks, including third-round pitcher Jake Cosart (brother of Houston Astros pitcher Jarred Cosart) and fourth-round pitcher Kevin McAvoy out of Bryant University in Rhode Island.

Other signings include first baseman Josh Ockimey (5th round), outfielder Danny Mars (6th round), right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (11th round), left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks (12th round) and outfielder Tyler Hill (19th round).

The Red Sox have now signed their first seven picks in the draft as well as 18 of their 41 overall selections. This year’s signing deadline for draftees is July 18.

Double-A pitcher Pena suspended

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
5:21
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BOSTON -- Major League Baseball announced Monday that Boston Red Sox minor league pitcher Miguel Pena has been suspended 100 games without pay after a third positive test for a drug of abuse. The suspension is effective immediately.

MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program distinguishes between performance-enhancing drugs and drugs of abuse, which include marijuana, cocaine, LSD and opiates.

Pena, a 23-year-old left-hander currently pitching for Double-A Portland, was 2-2 with a 6.41 ERA in 13 starts this season. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB draft.

The suspension is Pena’s second in two years as he was suspended 50 games in April 2013 following a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

MLB draft Day 3 Sox recap: Rounds 11-40

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
9:50
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Day 3 marked the end of the MLB draft, and a full 30 picks were made by the Boston Red Sox. Among those picks are several high-upside prospects, many of whom won't end up signing, along with other serviceable prospects who may not get much hype but can play an important role in the system.

One theme we saw early for the Red Sox was picking guys who have fallen due to injury, likely as a way to get players with upside who won't require large over-slot bonuses to sign. In fact, their first three picks on the day fall into this category: RHP Karsten Whitson, LHP Jalen Beeks and RHP Chandler Shepherd.

Other exciting picks on the day consist of high schoolers who fell due to bonus demands. While it will be impossible to sign all of these types of picks, Boston hopes to lure a couple away from their college commitments. Picks that fall into this category are: CF Trenton Kemp, CF Tyler Hill, C Devon Fisher, SS J.J. Matijevic and CF Jaren Kendall. These guys represent high ceilings that you can dream on, but as we've seen with above-slot signees in the past, the talent they show against fellow high schoolers doesn't always translate to the pros so it can be hit or miss.

Overall, out of the 30 picks made, we saw Boston take 13 pitchers, five catchers, five outfielders and seven infielders.

Here's a look at today's draftees pick-by-pick:

11th round: RHP Karsten Whitson, SR, Florida

Whitson was the first-round pick of the Padres in 2010, but reportedly turned down $2.1 million to go to college. He followed that up with an inconsistent run at Florida that included shoulder problems in his sophomore year after which he was less effective. He can reach 96 mph with the fastball, but his secondary pitches are inconsistent, according to MLB.com. If he can regain his first-round form, he could be a steal. He was Baseball America's (BA) 290th-rated prospect.

12th round: LHP Jalen Beeks, JR, Arkansas

Beeks is an undersized left-hander with a three-pitch mix. He may have fallen due to an elbow injury at the end of this season, but came back last week with a strong outing. He does not have much projection left, according to MLB.com, but has the stuff to succeed at the next level potentially in a bullpen role. He was ranked 125th by BA.

13th round: RHP Chandler Shepherd, JR, Kentucky

Shepherd may have also fallen due to missed time with a right forearm laceration this season. He has three pitches with at least average potential, according to Clint Longnecker of BA. Al Skorupa of Baseball Prospectus said he liked what he saw from Shepherd and his curveball last year in the Cape League, where Shepherd was an All-Star. He is BA's 372nd-ranked prospect.

14th round: C Jordan Procyshen, JR, Northern Kentucky University

Procyshen was named first team All-American for Division I junior colleges in 2013 before transferring prior to last season. He put up good power numbers for a catcher.

15th round: CF Trenton Kemp, Buchanan (Calif.) HS

MLB.com calls Kemp "a quintessential high-risk, high-reward high school athlete, with some loud tools." He is a top-notch raw athlete with speed and power, who projects to stay in center field, but also with questions around his bat. It will likely take some extra money to lure him away from a Fresno State commitment. BA ranked him at 337.

16th round: LHP Michael Gunn, JR, Arkansas

Gunn was the second Arkansas lefty taken after Beeks.

17th round: SS Jeremy Rivera, JC, El Paso CC

18th round: 3B Jordan Betts, SR, Duke U

19th round: CF Tyler Hill, Delaware Military Academy

Hill is a raw five-tool athlete who will likely need above-slot bonus to forego college commitment.

20th round: C Devon Fisher, Western Branch (Va.) HS

Tough sign committed to University of Virginia, Fisher is a strong all-around defensive catcher who has an impressive arm and ability to throw out runners, according to MLB.com. He has power potential at the plate, but overall questions about his hitting ability. BA had him at 194.

21st round: C Ian Rice, JC, Chipola College

Rice is BA's 303rd-ranked prospect. Second pick out of Chipola College after sixth- rounder Danny Mars.

22nd round: SS J.J. Matijevic, Norwin (Pa.) HS

Matijevic has a very advanced bat for a high schooler with a solid approach and power potential, according to MLB.com. Defensively, he was listed as a shortstop, but looks more likely to be a third baseman in the pros where he'll have a strong arm. Committed to University of Arizona, he will likely require above-slot money to sign. BA's 180th-ranked prospect.

23rd round: CF Derek Miller, JR, University of Texas, Arlington

24th round: 1B Cisco Tellez, JR, University of California, Riverside

25th round: RHP Gabe Klobosits, JC, Galveston College

Klobosits is a righty listed at 6-foot-7, and height is a commodity often coveted by the Red Sox.

26th round: RHP Ryan Harris, JR, Florida

Harris is a reliever for Florida who should stay in the bullpen as a pro and has potential to move quickly. His fastball sits around 93 mph, and he also throws a solid slider that flashes and a changeup, according to MLB.com. Clint Longnecker of BA called him a big arm with power stuff. BA has him ranked at 226.

27th round: RHP Taylor Nunez, JR, Southern Mississippi

28th round: LHP David Peterson, Regis Jesuit HS (Colo.)

Peterson is a 6-foot-6 lefty with a lot of projection. His fastball can get up to 93 mph currently, while his changeup and slider are developing, according to MLB.com. A broken leg his senior year of high school may have affected his stock, and he will require an above-slot bonus to sign away from an Oregon commitment. He is BA's 95th-rated prospect.

29th round: RHP Josh Pennington, Lower Cape May Reg HS (N.J.)

Pennington tore his UCL recently and is scheduled for Tommy John surgery. Fastball is in the low-90s. He commented that he wants to start his career now and will sign regardless of where he is selected in the draft, despite the fact that he could gone in the first 10 rounds had he not sustained the injury. He's rated at 401 by BA.

30th round: CF Jeren Kendall, Holmen HS (Wis.)

Kendall's best tool is his plus-plus speed, according to MLB.com. He has decent hitting skills and some power for a guy his size, but his hitting should be aided by his speed on the basepath. He is BA's 88th-prospect, and the fact that he slipped this far says he likely has high bonus demands.

31st round: C Alex McKeon, JR, Texas A&M International University

McKeon played for Northeastern University as a freshman before transferring.

32nd round: RHP Case Rolen, Sherman HS (Texas)

Rolen is a young high school senior who topped out at 89 mph and also features a developing sharp curveball. He's athletic with projection.

33rd round: RF Luis Alvarado, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)

Alvarado is a two-way player with great size and athleticism, according to BA. A switch-hitter with a strong arm and big power potential, he was one of the youngest players in the draft. He's rated 493rd by BA.

34th round: RHP Kuehl McEachern, Flagler College

35th round: 3B Ross Puskarich, Liberty HS (Calif.)

36th round: RHP Bradley Wilpon, The Brunswick School (Conn.)

Wilpon is the grandson of New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and son Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.

37th round: SS Hector Lorenzana, SR, Oklahoma

38th round: RHP Brandon Show, JR, University of San Diego

39th round: SS Mike Gretler, Bonney Lake HS (Wash.)

40th round: C Joseph Winterburn, SR, University of La Verne

Scouting reports: Red Sox's Day 2 picks

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6
9:52
PM ET
Day 2 of the 2014 MLB draft saw the Red Sox pick up several interesting prospects, including raw flamethrower Jake Cosart. Cosart can hit the upper 90s, but he's still very raw. With his rawness comes great potential, though. Read more about Cosart and the seven other picks in the scouting reports below.

In terms of overall strategy, this being the third year under the current draft rules, Friday saw the Red Sox appear to move away somewhat from their draft strategy of the past two years. In 2012 and 2013, the club selected college seniors in the later rounds (7-10 or so), players who would sign for well under the slot values for those rounds, allowing the club to repurpose the saved cap space to sign players selected in earlier (and later) rounds to over-slot bonuses.

The Red Sox drafted just two college seniors on Day 2 this year, and one of them, seventh-rounder Reed Reilly, has college eligibility remaining, giving him more leverage than the typical senior. Last year, the money saved on drafting and signing three below-slot seniors went mostly toward signing catcher Jon Denney (third round) and first baseman/outfielder Nick Longhi (30th round). After the signing deadline, the Sox were left with extra money they could have spent, perhaps because many of the club's other potential above-slot signings, such as outfielder Ryan Boldt and pitcher Jordan Sheffield, were serious about going to college and the money offered was still insufficient to change their minds.

This could have played into a strategy change, as the club might have realized that, in the current system, it is difficult to offer life-changing money to picks not taken early. Add the fact that many other teams seem to be playing it more straight-up -- this year's draft went stunningly to form when compared to major draft rankings -- and the club might have decided to play it straight as well.

Although the Sox might have tried to "game the system" less, there are still candidates for under-slot bonuses. Some possibilities are fourth-rounder Kevin McAvoy, seventh-rounder Reed Reilly, eighth-rounder Ben Moore and 10th-rounder Cole Sturgeon. There will not likely be enough money saved from these, however, to go after another big fish Saturday, with the extra cash more likely to be spread around.

Overall on the day, the Sox drafted eight players. Two picks were high schoolers, four were drafted out of college, and the other two come out of the junior-college ranks.

Going pick-by-pick, here are today's draftees:

Round 3 (103rd overall): RHP Jake Cosart, JC, Seminole State (Florida)

Cosart looks like the best player drafted on the day, as one might expect. An athletic right-hander, Cosart is a flamethrower who can touch 98 mph, according to Baseball America (BA), and sat 92-95 with life on his fastball. Baseball Prospectus considers his curveball a second major league pitch, while his changeup lags behind. The 20-year-old started his college career at Duke University as an outfielder, but after redshirting a season, he transferred to Seminole State, where he took off as a pitcher. Control and command are issues, but since he hasn't been pitching very long, he is still raw with much upside. BA ranks Cosart as the 97th-best prospect in the draft, while Perfect Game USA has him ranked 102nd. He is the brother of Houston Astros pitcher Jarred Cosart.

Round 4 (134th overall): RHP Kevin McAvoy, JR, Bryant University (Rhode Island)

A local pick out of Rhode Island, McAvoy led Bryant University's pitching staff, going 9-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. Across 99 2/3 innings, he struck out 94, walked 28 and did not allow a home run. McAvoy's fastball has topped out around 93, but sat more often in the 89-91 mph range, according to Al Skorupa of Baseball Prospectus. He needs to improve his secondary pitches but commands his fastball and uses both sides of the plate well. Some have speculated that his stuff and velocity will play up in a relief role. He looks likely to begin his career with the Lowell Spinners this summer.

Round 5 (164th overall): 1B Josh Ockimey, SS Neumann Goretti HS (Pennsylvania)

Listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Ockimey is a raw athlete with big power potential. Jim Callis of MLB.com used Ryan Howard as a potential perfect-world comparison. He did not crack Baseball America's Top 500 prospects, but the Red Sox had him in for a pre-draft workout and were reportedly extremely impressed. He has quick bat speed and strong wrists but will need to work out some mechanical issues in the pros. An upside pick, expect him to move slowly through the system. He is committed to Indiana University.

Round 6 (194th overall): CF Danny Mars, JC, Chipola College (Florida)

Mars is a switch-hitter with plus speed and should be a threat on the bases. He ranked 338th by Baseball America and 200th by Perfect Game USA and has had a strong season this year at a small college, hitting .380/.460/.584 with four home runs and 25 steals. He projects to be a line-drive hitter with below-average power but should get some extra bases in the gaps due to his speed. Though not considered an elite fielder, he is expected to stick in center. He is committed to play for Florida State next year.

Round 7 (224th overall): RHP Reed Reilly, SR, Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo (California)

Polished reliever in college who could move through the system quickly if he is kept in the bullpen (though the Red Sox do have a track record of moving college relievers back to the rotation early in their career). His sinking fastball is reportedly around 91-92 mph, topping out at 95, according to MLB.com, and is proficient at producing ground balls. Reilly tied a Cal Poly record for saves as a redshirt sophomore in 2013 and was drafted by the Orioles in the 18th round last year. His secondary stuff is a work in progress and inconsistent, with his changeup flashing above average at times but with great fastball command, he looks like he could be a future major league reliever. He was ranked 181st overall by Baseball America and 229th by Perfect Game. He will likely begin his Red Sox career with the Lowell Spinners this summer.

Round 8 (254th overall): C Ben Moore, JR, University of Alabama Tuscaloosa (Alabama)

Moore played mostly in the outfield throughout his career but caught more often earlier in his career, and the Red Sox asked him to be listed at that position. He has advanced bat-to-balls skills, according to Baseball America, with a low strikeout rate, as well as a strong walk rate. In his three-year college career, Moore hit .307/.375/.443 with 15 home runs. He was ranked at 315 by Baseball America.

Round 9 (284th overall): RHP Kevin Steen, Oak Ridge HS (Tennessee)

Athletic righty with a strong pitcher's frame and a loose arm. Focused on basketball early in his high school career, so is still raw as a pitcher. Fastball sits in the low 90s and his curveball is inconsistent, according to Jim Callis on MLB.com. He is a work in progress with upside. Committed to Tennessee.

Round 10 (314th overall): OF Cole Sturgeon, SR, Louisville (Kentucky)

Two-way player with great speed. Solid contact hitter with limited power potential. Has a strong arm, as evidenced by his work out of the bullpen at Louisville. Sturgeon was a captain and batted .325/.410/.468 this year for the Cardinals with 16 doubles. He was also a decent left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen.

Scouting reports: Chavis, Kopech, Travis

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6
1:14
AM ET
As far as SoxProspects.com is concerned, the Red Sox cleaned up on Day 1 of the MLB draft, given the players available at the club's respective draft slots. The team drafted three well-regarded prospects on Thursday evening in prep infielder Michael Chavis, high school pitcher Michael Kopech and college first baseman Sam Travis.

With the 26th pick of the first round, Boston selected Chavis out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. Chavis was one of the top players available when the Red Sox came on the clock and is generally considered among the top high school hitters in the 2014 draft class.

He has hit for average throughout his high school career, and most scouts believe he will continue to make good contact against advanced pitching, having excelled in national tournaments against other top prospects. Chavis also shows above-average power potential that is largely generated from his quick wrists and smooth mechanics rather than frame strength.

At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, the 18-year-old infielder profiles best at third base, but he's athletic and versatile enough to play second base or corner outfield. He has a solid arm, good footwork and fluid actions on defense. While he has played shortstop as a prep, he lacks the quickness to stick there over the long term but could play the position in a pinch as a professional.

Chavis also has good makeup, as he's generally known as a smart player who always gives maximum effort. He cited Dustin Pedroia as his favorite player on the Red Sox after being drafted, indicating that he emulates the second baseman's game for his drive and hustle.

For the 2014 season, the right-handed hitter batted .580/.663/1.197 with nine doubles and 13 home runs in 28 games. Chavis is committed to Clemson, but signability is not considered a significant concern. The assigned pick value for the No. 26 pick is estimated to be a shade less than $1.9 million. A slot signing would be beneficial for both the player and the club.

Overall, he's an advanced bat for a high school player but is still likely four seasons away from getting a look at the major leagues. This far out, he projects as a potential everyday regular with an All-Star ceiling. High school players almost always have bust potential by definition; while that concern is still there, it's less of a concern with Chavis than with most prep players.

If past is precedent, he'll most likely be assigned to the rookie level Gulf Coast League out of the gate, with a decent shot of seeing time with Class A Lowell starting in mid-August. The GCL Red Sox season begins on June 20.

Later in the first round, Boston picked right-handed pitcher Kopech at No. 33 overall -- the pick the Red Sox received for losing Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency. Kopech just turned 18 on April 30, so he's young for the draft class. Over his senior season, he went 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA and a .115 batting average against, striking out 129 batters and walking 18 in 64 innings.

Kopech has a live arm with a heavy fastball that already sits in the low- to mid-90s, topping out at 98 mph at a few points. His 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame is projectable, and he might be capable of adding even more velocity. His mechanics are maximum effort and his arm can fly open, so his delivery might need some cleaning up. If not, control and command are possible future issues. It wouldn't be surprising to see a dip in velocity early in his professional career as the front office has him focus on throwing strikes with a repeatable delivery.

He complements his fastball with two breaking pitches: an above-average slider and a workable but loopy curveball. Scouts are split on which of the two is better; he's likely to focus on just one of his breaking pitches as he starts his professional career. He also has a changeup that shows some deception and promise, but it's a work in progress at this stage.

Like Chavis, Kopech was generally considered a late-first round talent. He's committed to the University of Arizona but is also not expected to be a significant signability concern. The slot value for the No. 33 overall pick is about $1.65 million.

Overall, he has top-of-the-rotation potential if he can learn to repeat his delivery and harness his secondary stuff. He could spend all of 2014 in the Gulf Coast League. Given that he already threw 64 innings during his high school season, he might not get a lot of professional innings this year.

Among the top players who the Red Sox passed on in the first round were all high schoolers: outfielder Monte Harrison, right-handers Sean Reid-Foley and Spencer Adams and shortstop Jacob Gatewood. All four were selected later on Day 1.

In the second round, with the No. 67 overall pick, the Red Sox selected Travis out of Indiana University. He was generally considered an early to mid-second round talent, and Boston scooped him up toward the end of the round.

The 20-year-old college junior (he'll turn 21 in August) has an above-average hit tool, showing a solid ability to make contact and hit the ball to all fields in three years with the Hoosiers. He also has very good present power, hitting 31 home runs in 183 games over his college career. Travis has a disciplined approach for a power hitter, managing to limit swings and misses. At 6-foot, 210 pounds, he's slow on the basepaths but about what you'd expect from a first baseman.

On defense, Travis spent the early parts of his college career at third base but was moved off position to first base, at which he'll likely play as a professional. He has the potential to be an adequate defender -- he can scoop the ball well and has decent lateral movement -- but he's on the shorter side for the position. He might also have a chance to play left field, but his fringe arm strength might keep him out of the outfield and limit him to first base.

In 2014, Travis hit .347/.415/.576 with 16 doubles and 12 home runs in 59 games for Indiana. He's a semifinalist for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award, handed out to the nation's top baseball player. Indiana was just eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a loss to Stanford on June 2, so Travis is now free to sign a pro contract.

Overall, Travis projects as a second-division starter or an impactful bench bat at this stage, but he has the ceiling of an average first-division starter, which is a solid get in the late-second round.

Slot for the No. 67 overall pick is roughly $830,000, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Travis sign right away at, or slightly below, that number. Expect him to be with the Lowell Spinners when the club's season starts on June 13, and don't be surprised if he's with Class A Greenville before the end of the season.

Two of the best prospects whom the Red Sox passed on at No. 67 were California prep outfielder Marcus Wilson and San Diego State right-hander Michael Cederoth.

Expect Sox to take some chances in draft

June, 4, 2014
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Since 2005, the Red Sox have had some noticeable draft strategy trends, some of which have been tweaked since the new bonus pool restrictions were put in place in 2012.

If these trends keep up in this year’s draft -- set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- look for Boston to select a diversified mix of high-ceiling, higher risk talent and high-floor college prospects with its first four or five picks. After that, history tells us they will pick some low-bonus, high-makeup college players in the sixth through 10th rounds. The front office might then pick some high-ceiling prep players, some of whom might have signability concerns, in rounds 11-15. The remainder of the draft will likely comprise of players needed to fill out the minor league affiliate rosters and a few lottery ticket prospects.

A few other trends to watch for are veterans of the USA Baseball National teams (college and high school), players who excelled in the Cape Cod League, multi-sport athletes, college relievers with “low mileage” arms, local products in the later rounds, and former draftees who didn’t sign the first time around.

Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft is set to get underway Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET. The draft will take place over the course of three days again this year, with Thursday night’s phase covering the first, supplemental, second, and competitive balance rounds. Day 2 will start at 1 p.m. on Friday, covering rounds 3-10, and Day 3 will kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, covering rounds 11-40.

For the Red Sox, this will be the fifth draft led by director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye. Sawdaye’s 2011 and 2010 daft classes look quite impressive at this point, featuring multiple potential impact players in Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes, Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo, Henry Owens, Bryce Brentz, Blake Swihart, Brandon Workman, Sean Coyle and Mookie Betts.

On the other hand, the 2012 and 2013 draft classes -- the first draft classes capped by the signing bonus pool system under the new CBA -- have not produced as much prospect talent as prior drafts. Admittedly, it's way too early to draw any conclusions, but the early results for those drafts have been mixed at best.

This year, Boston’s signing bonus allotment will be capped at $6,373,300, which is a shade lower than last year's cap, given that last year's bonus pool was bolstered by the slot value for the No. 7 overall pick. Sawdaye will have options to add some more high-end talent this draft, as the Red Sox have four selections in the first 103 picks, including the 26th, 33rd, and 67th overall picks.

Check out SoxProspects.com's list possible draft targets HERE.

Farm notes: Betts soars up the charts

May, 1, 2014
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As of May 1, Double-A Portland second baseman Mookie Betts leads all of minor league baseball with a .430 batting average. His full slash line is .430/.481/.688 with 10 doubles, 4 homes runs, and 10 stolen bases, which follows up a breakout 2013 season in which he hit .314/.417/.506 with 36 doubles, 15 home runs, and 38 stolen bases between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem. Including last season, Betts has reached base in 52 consecutive games as of the close of April.

In addition to his offensive prowess, the 21-year-old also plays plus defense at second base, and may be capable of moving to shortstop, left field, or center field in the future if need be. Betts has skyrocketed up the prospect charts, and at anything even close to this pace will be ranked among the top prospects in all of baseball by season’s end.

TOP PROSPECTS

Center fielder Jackie Bradley graduated from prospect status on April 25, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts is slated to graduate from prospect status on May 2.

Here’s how the other top position prospects in the system fared offensively in April.

Notes: Garin Cecchini continues to put the bat on the ball, and has maintained an excellent plate approach despite being assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket at the age of 22 (he’s since turned 23), but the lack of added power in his fourth year in the system has some scouts concerned it may not come ... On the other hand, Christian Vazquez continues to impress scouts enough with his offense, where the defensive wizard might now be considered a potential future starting option for a first-division club ... At 18, Wendell Rijo is the seventh-youngest player in all of Low-A ball ... Rafael Devers turned some heads with his present power and makeup in spring training, but at 17 will likely open his season in the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League.

Here are the lines for the system’s top pitching prospects from April.

Notes: Henry Owens opened the Portland season with a rain-shortened no-hitter on April 3 and followed that up with 6.2 scoreless innings on April 9, but has struggled with command and control over his last three starts ... Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo have both been inconsistent to start their 2014 campaigns, issues that have plagued them for the past few years ... Matt Barnes missed the first three weeks of the season with right shoulder tenderness ... Trey Ball, Boston first-round pick in 2014, was promoted from extended spring training to Low-A Greenville on April 26 ... Drake Britton hasn’t let up many runs to start the season, but his velocity has been down a tick and he’s struggled with control.

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS

Other top hitting performers have been Greenville infielder Carlos Asuaje, hitting .352/.477/.606, and Salem outfielder Kevin Heller, posting a line of .312/.450/.562. An 11th-round pick in 2013, Asuaje impressed with his bat, glove, and versatility in spring training, earning himself a spot as a regular on the Drive’s roster.

On the pitching front, the other top performers have included Pawtucket right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, Portland right-hander Keith Couch, Greenville left-hander Cody Kukuk, and Salem left-hander Corey Littrell.

De La Rosa has made five starts for the PawSox, going 1-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, and 7 walks in 27.2 innings. He’s been able to throw strikes with his fastball, changeup, and slider, and hasn’t given up a lot of hard contact.
Given the early returns, De La Rosa may be next in line if an opportunity presents itself in the major league rotation.

Couch has opened his second season in Portland in dominant fashion, going 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, and 5 walks in 29 innings over 5 starts. The 24-year-old relies on a solid low-90s sinker, an average curveball, and a decent low-80s changeup. An unheralded 13th-round pick in 2010, he has posted solid numbers throughout his time in the organization.

Kukuk, also repeating a level in 2014, is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 29 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 24.0 innings. If he continues to maintain improved control as he has early on this season, he should get a bump up to High-A Salem before the All-Star Break.

Littrell, 22, is in his first full professional season after being selected in the fifth round in 2013 and thereafter posting a 1.74 ERA in 12 games with Short-A Lowell. In 2014, he’s 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 29 strikeouts, and 10 walks in 27.2 innings with Salem. The polished lefty has a mix of four solid-average pitches. His fastball now sits in the 88-92 mph range, after topping out in the mid-90s in college. He could move quickly through the system, especially if his velocity returns to previous levels.

ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS

As of May 1 (cumulative stats, minor league only, min. 75 plate appearances or 20 innings pitched for non-counting stats)

AVG
1. Mookie Betts, .430
2. Brock Holt, .358
3. Carlos Asuaje, .352

OPS
1. Mookie Betts, 1.169
2. Carlos Asuaje, 1.083
3. Kevin Heller, 1.012

HR
1(t). Mookie Betts, 4
1(t). Bryce Brentz, 4
1(t). Travis Shaw, 4
1(t). Kevin Mager, 4

SB
1. Mookie Betts, 10
2. Manuel Margot, 7
3(t). Ryan Dent, 5
3(t). Shannon Wilkerson, 5
3(t), Matty Johnson, 5

ERA
1. Cody Kukuk, 1.88
2. Rubby De La Rosa, 2.28
3. Keith Couch, 2.48

Strikeouts/9 IP
1. Brian Johnson, 11.57
2. Cody Kukuk, 10.88
3. Mickey Pena, 10.32

Walks/9 IP
1. Keith Couch, 1.55
2. Mike McCarthy, 1.74
3. Mike Augliera, 1.88

Saves
1(t). Drake Britton, 2
1(t). Alex Wilson, 2
1(t). Jose Valdez, 2
1(t). Joe Gunkel, 2
1(t). Jonatahn Aro, 2

PLAYER MOVEMENT

Two players got the call to Boston from the minor leagues in April: IF Brock Holt and RHP Alex Wilson. Meanwhile, Holt, Wilson, Workman, IF Ryan Roberts, and OF Daniel Nava were all sent down to Pawtucket from Boston over the course of the month.

Three major-leaguers had rehab assignments in April: Craig Breslow, Shane Victorino, and Will Middlebrooks.

Minor-leaguers who received promotions included RHP Pat Light from Greenville to Salem and Ball from extended spring training to Greenville.

Mike Andrews is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

McMillon moves up to manage Sea Dogs

April, 16, 2014
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PORTLAND, Maine -- With the sun setting and the temperatures dropping last Thursday evening, a bundled up Billy McMillon hopped out of the dugout and jogged to home plate as the public address announcer called his name and the half-filled crowd at Hadlock Field stomped their collective feet. It was Opening Day for Double-A Portland, and for the first time in 19 years, McMillon suited up as a Sea Dog.

[+] EnlargeBilly McMillon
Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesBilly McMillon managed the Class High-A Salem Red Sox in 2012 and 2013 before jumping up to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs this season.
The first time McMillon donned the Portland jersey was way back in 1995 -- when Bill Clinton was in the middle of his first term, America Online was gearing up to offer World Wide Web access to the general public, and many of this year's high school draft picks to-be were born. McMillon was a 23-year-old outfielder making his way up the Florida Marlins farm system.

Two decades later, McMillon is now the first-year manager of the Sea Dogs. He spent the last two seasons with High A Salem, the two before that with Low A Greenville. After he guided Salem to the Carolina League championship to cap off 2013, the Red Sox bumped him up to Portland.

Just like his players, McMillon is trying to climb the ladder to the major leagues. It isn't quite the same the second time around.

"It's way different," said the 42-year-old McMillon, who played parts of six major league seasons with the Marlins, Phillies, Tigers, and Athletics and retired after the 2004 season. "There are 12 position players on the team. There's one manager. I think you have to be a little more lucky and fortunate on the side that I'm on now. I think it's a lot easier to get there as a player than as a coach or manager."

McMillon doesn't remember a ton from his first stay in Portland. It was one of his five minor league stops in five years, and although the difficulty of Eastern League travel is starting to come back to him -- an eight-hour bus trip from Trenton to Maine that got the Sea Dogs home at 7 a.m. last week helped with that -- McMillon can't readily recall too many specifics.

Part of that, McMillon acknowledged, is maturity. He was a kid by comparison at the time, and he didn't completely appreciate a life in baseball. That 1995 Sea Dogs squad had a number of future major leaguers on it, including catcher Mike Redmond and an 18-year-old Edgar Renteria, but it wasn't until the end of McMillon's playing days that he started to keep mementos -- some physical, some mental -- to remember the good ol' days.

"It didn't dawn on me that some of the friendships that I had, some of the games might've been special enough to put some special emphasis on," McMillon said.

That's different now. When Salem won the title last September, McMillon kept a bat signed by the team and a photo of the celebration. When top pitching prospect Henry Owens threw a six-inning no-hitter Opening Day -- McMillon's 300th managerial win, he was told -- he kept one of the balls Owens threw.

McMillon's mission is the same as it was two decades ago -- ascend to the majors -- but the measures by which one earns a promotion couldn't be more different. The standards are far more intangible for a managerial or coaching prospect.

Further complicating McMillon's goal is the increasingly less linear path to a major league bench. In his coaching career, Redmond, for example, jumped straight to the Marlins bench to manage from leading a High A team, while Robin Ventura (White Sox) and Mike Matheny (Cardinals) are two examples of former players getting major league managing gigs straight out of retirement.

[+] EnlargeBilly McMillon
Brad Mangin/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesBilly McMillon finished his big league playing career with the Oakland A's.
For McMillon and others who have followed a more deliberate path -- like Arnie Beyeler, Torey Lovullo, and Kevin Boles in the Sox organization -- it can be frustrating.

"I don't know what the formula is," McMillon said. "I just know that as I go about my job responsibilities here I just have to make sure I do the best I can. Hopefully somebody takes a liking to me, or notices me, or I prove to them that I can be an asset."

When an organization is considering moving a player prospect up a level, it looks for certain indications he is ready -- maybe a consistent plate approach, for example, or improved footwork defensively. When it comes to evaluating coaches, it's not as clear-cut.

"There's some nuance that goes into coaching and managing at different levels," said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. "Certainly in this case Billy proved his ability to handle the lower levels and did a good job in Salem last year with a nice mix of younger and older players."

Some of those players joined McMillon in making the jump from Salem to Portland. Owens, catcher Blake Swihart, and second baseman Mookie Betts were all, at times, part of Salem's success in 2013 and are now playing for McMillon again in Portland.

That mirrors the transition for Kevin Boles, who is with Triple-A Pawtucket this year after managing Portland in 2013. Third baseman Garin Cecchini, righty Anthony Ranaudo, and catcher Christian Vazquez are among those Boles is guiding for the second year in a row.

The organization sees some value in that from a player-development standpoint.

"It gives the ultimate consistency in terms of teaching from one year to the next, which is certainly a positive," Crockett said. "When that doesn't happen, you get a new, fresh perspective, build new relationships, things like that. But I think on the whole it's definitely a positive, and obviously Billy had a lot of success with a number of players on this roster."

Added Swihart: "We know what he wants, what he expects every day, so it's easier to go out and have fun and play."

Tim Healey is a feature writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.

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