Best Player: In an ordinary year, outfielder Andrew Benintendi would have claimed this honor. The 2015 first-rounder sailed from high Class A Salem to Double-A Portland to Boston for his big league debut on Aug. 2. In the minors he batted .312/.378/.532 in 97 games, with 52 extra-base hits and an equal number of walks and strikeouts (39).
This, however, is not an ordinary year in the system. Second baseman Yoan Moncada put on a tools show like few others in the minors. The 21-year-old switch-hitter showed top-of-the-order patience (14.7 percent walk rate) and speed (45 steals in 106 games) with middle-of-the-order power (15 homers) while hitting .294/.407/.511 at Salem and Portland.
Moncada remained a work in progress defensively, but he showed above-average potential at second and then in a late-season shift to third base, where he debuted in the majors.
“He still swings and misses a lot, but at the same time, he’s taking good swings,” Portland manager Carlos Febles said. “When he makes contact, it’s impressive. He doesn’t need to hit for power. His game is speed. Once he realizes he needs to put the ball in play and run, he can be a .330 hitter with 20-25 homers.”
Best Pitcher: Michael Kopech’s season commenced in disappointing fashion, when the righthander broke his pitching hand in a spring training skirmish with a roommate.
But when he returned to the mound in June, Kopech rapidly established himself as one of the most electric arms in the minors. He regularly dominated opponents with a fastball that sat at 97-100 mph, a wipeout slider and a changeup that showed potential.
In 11 starts at Salem, the 2014 first-rounder went 4-1, 2.25 with 82 strikeouts in 52 innings. He allowed just 25 hits, though he walked 5.0 batters per nine innings.
Keep an Eye On: At a listed 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, Nicaraguan righthander Roniel Raudes strikes an unimposing figure. What’s more, his fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire grades as merely average.
Yet the 18-year-old combined deception and control with a standout feel for pitching along en route to a 3.63 ERA with 8.3 strikeouts and 1.8 walks per nine innings over 113.1 innings at low Class A Greenville.
If Raudes’ fastball ticks up, some see the potential for an Ervin Santana-like mid-rotation ceiling.