Boston Red Sox 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
The Red Sox have a farm system that ranks in the bottom half of the league. After the Mookie Betts trade that netted Jeter Downs, the Red Sox do have three Top 100 prospects in the 70-100 range, with some breakout candidates at the lower levels, but the upper levels in particular are lighter on players who project as above-average regulars.
1. Triston Casas, 1B
Casas has the upside of a middle-of-the-order bat with plus raw power from the left side. He projects as an above-average defender at first base as well, but his value will be tied to what he does at the plate and how much contact he makes against upper-level pitching.
2. Bobby Dalbec, 3B
Dalbec has the best raw power in the organization, though he also struck out at just under a 25% clip last year, with most of those plate appearances coming at Double-A. Already 25, now is the time for Dalbec to show he can break through in the big leagues.
3. Jeter Downs, SS/2B
Part of the trade return for Mookie Betts and David Price, Downs is an offensive-oriented middle infielder who has moved through the minors quickly, with a fast, compact swing, a knack for being on time and solid-average power. His defense is stretched thin as an everyday shortstop, but he could fit as a regular at second base or move around the infield with his bat as a carrying tool.
4. Bryan Mata, RHP
Mata rebounded from a rough 2018 with a much brighter 2019. He ran his fastball up to 98 mph as a starter last year while slicing his walk rate considerably, hit 100 mph on his fastball in the Arizona Fall League in a relief role, and paired the pitch with a hard slider as his best secondary offering.
5. Jarren Duran, OF
A seventh-round pick out of Long Beach State in 2018, Duran was outstanding at high Class A Salem last year before cooling off (.250/.309/.325 in 82 games) once he reached Double-A Portland. Duran is an athletic center fielder with excellent speed, though he will have to prove he can handle upper-level pitching.
6. Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP
Hernandez has big arm strength from the left side, running his fastball up to 98 mph and pairing it with a sharp-breaking slider that helps him miss bats. He has struggled with control, however, with 7.5 walks per nine innings last year in the minors. He will need to fix that to stick around in a major league bullpen.
7. Thad Ward, RHP
Ward sits at 92-94 mph and touches 97 mph, with a solid cutter/slider combo he relies on to change speeds. He has a chance to develop into a back-end starter.
8. Jay Groome, LHP
This season would have been big for Groome, a 2016 first-round pick who struggled in 2017 and then had Tommy John surgery, essentially wiping out his 2018 and 2019 seasons. In his return, Groome has run his fastball up to 96 mph, but he turns 22 in August with a lot still to prove.
9. Gilberto Jimenez, OF
Jimenez is an explosive, quick-twitch athlete with premium speed in the middle of the diamond. It's not the prettiest swing, but Jimenez won the batting title in the short-season New York-Penn League last year, with arrows continuing to point up on him from the rapid progress he has made since signing three years ago out of the Dominican Republic for $10,000.
10. Blaze Jordan, 3B
Jordan reclassified from 2021 to the 2020 high school class, then signed with the Red Sox for $1.75 million as a third-round pick this year. Still 17, Jordan has some of the best raw power in the class, though he will need to improve his defense to avoid a move to first base.
11. Nick Yorke, 2B
12. Noah Song, RHP
13. Tanner Houck, RHP
14. C.J. Chatham, SS/2B
15. Matthew Lugo, SS
16. Chris Murphy, LHP
17. Connor Wong, C
18. Brayan Bello, RHP
19. Marcus Wilson, OF
20. Brainer Bonaci, SS
21. Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP
22. Brandon Howlett, 3B
23. Nick Decker, OF
24. Cameron Cannon, 2B/SS
25. Andrew Politi, RHP
26. Ceddanne Rafaela, SS/2B
27. Yoan Aybar, LHP
28. Chih-Jung Liu, RHP
29. Aldo Ramirez, RHP
30. Chase Shugart, RHP
The Red Sox have power at the plate and on the mound. The top two prospects in the system—1B Triston Casas and 3B Bobby Dalbec—both have 30-home run power if they can make enough contact against major league pitching. They added another huge power bat in the draft with 3B Blaze Jordan, a 17-year-old with the best righthanded power in the 2020 high school class. The Red Sox have plenty of power arms throughout the organization as well, starting with top pitching prospect Bryan Mata, the player who might be the most talented arm in the organization (Noah Song) and 2019 international signing Chih-Jung Liu from Taiwan.
The Red Sox don't have a prospect who ranks among the top 50 in baseball. In a normal year, big 2020 seasons from 1B Triston Casas or SS/2B Jeter Downs might have changed that, but otherwise the Red Sox lack position players who project as above-average regulars or pitchers who project as No. 3 or better starters.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
The player pool at Boston's alternate site in Pawtucket leans heavily on veteran minor league depth types and prospects with upper-level experience. SS/2B Jeter Downs is there, as are 3B Bobby Dalbec and CF Jarren Duran. RHPs Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck are there, but the most interesting player to watch there is LHP Jay Groome. He has just 11 games of experience at low Class A Greenville, all of which came in 2017, with his 2018 and nearly all of 2019 erased due to Tommy John surgery. The system's No. 1 prospect, Triston Casas, is not there, however. Neither are RHP Thad Ward, CF Gilberto Jimenez or either of the team’s top 2020 draft picks, 2B Nick Yorke and 3B Blaze Jordan.
Dalbec and Hernandez both reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month but have since been cleared to return to action.