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Track Record: A two-way player at Arizona who dominated on the mound in the 2016 College World Series, Dalbec has had a pro career of extremes. He had a tremendous pro debut with short-season Lowell in 2016, then struggled severely in his first full season in 2017, which was interrupted by surgery to remove a broken hamate. But with health in 2018, Dalbec turned heads with top-of-the-charts power to all fields as well as plus defense at third base. He set a high Class A Salem record with 26 home runs before his promotion to Double-A Portland.
Scouting Report: Between his power, glove and arm, Dalbec has a combination of plus or better tools that few others in the system possess. Yet early in 2018, some scouts thought that it was a matter of time before he moved to the mound. Then Dalbec got on a roll in which he not only made more frequent contact but destroyed baseballs with eye-opening consistency. “My God, what power,” exclaimed one scout. To get to that elite power, he will need to control his strikeout rate, which ballooned to 37 percent at Double-A. It’s a challenge made greater by a hand hitch in his swing. But some believe that Dalbec’s hitting intellect will allow him to hit enough to make an impact, particularly given that (A) he handled good fastballs in the zone this year, (B) he may benefit from a more consistent strike zone as he moves up, and (C) he has the ability to stay back on pitches rather than selling out for power. He can hit line drives to right-center field that carry over the fence. Still, some evaluators view his profile as risky given the frequency with which he chases secondary pitches out of the strike zone. Though a 6-foot-4 frame sometimes works against third basemen, Dalbec shows surprising quickness and range, excellent hands and a cannon arm that delivered mid-90s fastballs from the mound. While he has the skills to play third, he also saw time at first base in the Arizona Fall League to open more potential pathways to the big leagues.
The Future: If Dalbec can’t control his strikeout rate, his future role would be limited to that of a platoon corner bat with good defensive skills. But his power is so significant that if he can hit .250 while maintaining a high walk rate, he could be an above-average or better third baseman who offers ample run production as a five- or six-hole type of hitter while also impacting the game on the defensive side.
Track Record: Chavis struggled early in his pro career before a breakout 2017 campaign in which he hit 31 homers to vault near the top of the system. However, an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test in 2018 raised significant questions. But once on the field, Chavis looked like a better prospect than he had in 2017, showing both better defense at third base and a more controlled effort level at the plate.
Scouting Report: Early in his career, Chavis would sell out to get to his significant pull power, but he has learned to stay back on pitches and drive the ball from right-center field to the left-field foul line. He generates considerable power from his compact frame even while continuing to live with swing-and-miss in order to get there. Chavis has improved his conditioning and athleticism since turning pro, allowing him to stay at third base, though evaluators express uncertainty about his future position. He could see time in left field, and some in the organization want him to try second base.
The Future: Profile remains the big question for Chavis. He appears capable of playing the corners and delivering platoon impact—if not more. He likely will open 2019 at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Track Record: An elbow injury just before the opening of the 2013 signing period scared some teams off Hernandez, but the Red Sox signed him for $7,500. His stuff has improved steadily and he has dominated at times. He struggled badly with his control at high Class A Salem early in 2018, prompting questions about whether he could remain in the rotation. A dominant second half resulted in a promotion to Double-A Portland.
Scouting Report: Hernandez works from a low three-quarters arm slot with a mid-to-upper-90s fastball, a slider that shows plus potential and a curveball that is solid when in the strike zone. He loses his delivery and release point at times, resulting in control struggles and pitch inefficiency that have convinced some that he will be a reliever, where he worked in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox want to see if Hernandez can mix in a few changeups for strikes, which could help him excel for a couple turns through a lineup.
The Future: If Hernandez clicks, he could be a potential Jake McGee-type reliever who can blow away opponents with his fastball. Others see a Robbie Ray-type starter—if he can cut down his walk rate. Hernandez will return to Double-A, this time as a starter.
Track Record: In the two years since the Red Sox jumped when Groome fell to them at No. 12 overall, the lefthander has shown glimpses of why he was viewed as perhaps the most talented high school pitcher in his draft. After a difficult first pro season in 2017, he appeared poised for a leap forward after an offseason spent in Fort Myers, Fla.,working out frequently with Chris Sale. Yet at the end of a dominant spring training he suffered an ulnar collateral ligament tear that necessitated Tommy John surgery in May.
Scouting Report: When healthy, Groome showed a strong mix of three average to plus pitches and a tremendous ability to manipulate the ball with an easy delivery that augurs well for the ability to command a complete mix. In spring training, his fastball sat regularly in the mid-90s, and his sharp, two-plane curveball got plenty of swings and misses. He also showed improvement with his changeup. Down the road, his feel for the ball suggests that a cutter can be added to the mix.
The Future: If all goes well, Groome will join an affiliate by the middle of the 2019 season. He still has No. 2 starter ceiling, but with concerns throughout the industry about how close he’ll come to reaching it.
Track Record: Area scout Willie Romay started following Casas as a high school freshman, mesmerized by his exceptional ability to drive the ball to all fields—a skill also evident in summer wood bat leagues, including his time with Team USA. Shortly after Casas signed as the 26th overall pick, he suffered a torn ligament in his thumb while making a diving play in the field; the subsequent surgery ended his pro debut, but he was back on the field by instructional league.
Scouting Report: Casas shows light-tower power, a trait made evident in workouts where he deposited balls into the center field bleachers and the distant bullpen in right-center. Yet his ability to stay inside the ball, cover holes and drive pitches to the opposite field suggests the potential for a strong hit tool. Given Casas’ size, there are likely to be holes in his swing as he adjusts to pro ball next year. He split time between first and third base in instructional league, but he most likely profiles at first, where his surprising athleticism and large wingspan could make him stand out.
The Future: Casas has upside on par with any other Red Sox prospect, and if he performs at low Class A Greenville in 2019, he could vault to the top of this list.
Track Record: In January 2016, the Red Sox rushed Mata to the mound at a workout organized by Alex Requena to get a one-inning look before the skies opened in a downpour. It was enough to convince the team to sign him for $25,000 that day. Since then he has consistently held his own as one of the youngest players at his levels.
Scouting Report: Mata struggled to throw strikes early in 2018 while moving from being chiefly a four-seam fastball pitcher to learning how to use a two-seamer in order to generate more ground balls. He has a starter’s mix, with above-average velocity—he averages roughly 94 mph and tops out at 97—and the ability both to spin a breaking ball and slow bats with a changeup that gets some swings and misses. The key for Mata will be reclaiming his control after struggling at times to maintain his delivery in 2018. His struggles were at least partly a result of his physical growth.
The Future: Though Mata’s 2018 season was cut short in July, shortly after the Futures Game, by growth-related back discomfort, he will compete for a spot in the Double-A rotation to remain on an aggressive development track. He has the upside of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
Track Record: The Red Sox were thrilled that a pitcher with Houck’s Southeastern Conference and Team USA pedigree remained on the board at No. 24 overall. Yet in his first spring training, Houck raised his arm slot and changed from a two-seam/slider mix to more of a four-seam/curveball combination that he struggled to command. He went back to a more familiar arm slot and mix in the second half of 2018, with strong results down the stretch.
Scouting Report: Houck’s flexibility permits him to have excellent extension from a low three-quarters arm slot, though he has a lot of moving parts and sometimes struggles to hold his release point. Moving forward, he has the potential to employ both a sinking two-seamer with armside run and a four-seamer that stays true to his glove side to spread the strike zone for swings and misses at the top of it and grounders at the bottom. He also throws a potential wipeout slider. His changeup needs to make progress for him to stay in the rotation, even if he only lands it for occasional strikes.
The Future: Houck is determined to prove he can start, though many feel his future is in the bullpen unless he improves effectiveness against lefthanded hitters. He has No. 4 starter potential if he starts.
Track Record: Shawaryn has moved steadily through the system, offering the sort of consistent performance that has permitted him to deliver solid performances as a starter across four levels in two years.
Scouting Report: Shawaryn is a physical strike-thrower who attacks the zone with a low-90s fastball that has natural cut and a swing-and-miss slider whose speed and break he varies, with some evaluators coming away describing it as a cutter. At Triple-A Pawtucket, he showed an increased willingness to employ a changeup that grades as below-average now but has the potential to improve. If it doesn’t, Shawaryn has the potential to be a solid medium-leverage reliever who can be trusted to throw strikes out of the bullpen. He has shown flyball tendencies that suggest home run vulnerability, a trait that would be a concern at Fenway Park. Still, Shawaryn receives high marks for his work ethic, makeup and aptitude, giving evaluators confidence that he has a good chance of emerging as a solid big league contributor.
The Future: Shawaryn will open 2019 back in Pawtucket as a depth option, either for the rotation or bullpen. In preparation for the possibility of a relief role, he worked in that role in the Arizona Fall League.
Track Record: The Red Sox signed Flores out of Venezuela for $1.4 million in 2017 based on the attraction of his all-around tools as well as his feel for the game. He stood out in the Dominican Summer League enough to convince the Red Sox to promote him to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after just 13 games, but a conservative course with lower-half injuries limited him to just two games in the GCL.
Scouting Report: Flores has shown the Red Sox a consistently strong feel for hitting with advanced plate discipline and a good feel for getting the barrel on the ball, with strength gains allowing him to post higher-than-expected exit velocities. He was wiry at the time he signed, somewhat akin to a young Alcides Escobar, but Flores has already filled out quite a bit. As he continues to do so, there’s a chance he will outgrow shortstop and move to third base. Still, his potential to develop into an above-average shortstop stood out in a system that is light up the middle. At least one rival evaluator viewed Flores as the best prospect in the entire system.
The Future: Flores seems like a candidate to join short-season Lowell in June, though he has a chance to push for low Class A Greenville at some point in 2019.
Track Record: After he missed almost all of his first full pro season in 2017 with a recurring hamstring injury, Chatham returned with a strong performance across two levels in 2018, competing for the Carolina League batting title until the final days of the season while showing solid defensive skills.
Scouting Report: Chatham showed a knack for getting the bat on the ball, sometimes demonstrating doubles power and sometimes by flipping singles to right field. His feel for hitting suggests a solid hit tool that should allow him—in concert with his defense—to reach the big leagues. Though Chatham hasn’t hit for power as a pro, he did in college. Now that he has a healthy season to his name, he is spending his offseason in a strengthening program to try to tap into more power. Defensively, Chatham lacks explosive actions but has good footwork and body control. Though he lacks standout tools, he showed a solid all-around game to project as a potential everyday up-the-middle player with the floor of a utility player.
The Future: Chatham seems likely to open 2019 at Double-A Portland, and he may not be far from offering the Red Sox a righthanded infield depth option.
- Alex Speier
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