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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Lining Up The Minors

Having just spent 45 minutes trying to write something insightful about the big club and basically coming up with the Chris Farley show (“13-2 start, isn’t that awesome?”) I decided it might be worth looking at the minors instead.  The system is at its lowest ebb in several years but it remains important and there are some key areas to focus on.

1B - Sam Travis - Pawtucket (AAA) - Travis has not carried his Fort Myers power surge into the regular season though he is hitting .286 but it’s pretty empty. With the Sox not really possessing a lot of outfield depth the fact that he is getting a look in left field is fairly relevant.  Long term a world where he can be a RHB option in left could give the Sox a bit of versatility if he can find that power stroke.

2B - Esteban Quiroz - Portland (AA) - It looks like the Sox might have scored another Mexican League hit here.  Quiroz is raking in the early going hitting .370/.500/.741 with three dingers.  He gives the Sox some nice depth options and it won’t be a shock if the Sox shoot him to Pawtucket in short order to see what he has, particularly with Tzu-Wei Lin in Boston.

3B - Michael Chavis - Suspended (PED) - Regardless of where you come down on the PED issue the loss of half a season of development for a kid who made a breakthrough in 2017 is disappointing.  As a practical matter Chavis was looking like one of the Sox’ most valuable trade chips in 2018 and he is probably off that list now.  Him coming off the list of many suitors (or at least losing much of his value) is going to give Dave Dombrowski and his team some challenges in supplementing the roster in July.

SS - Tzu-Wei Lin - Boston (MLB) - At the moment he’s not technically a minor leaguer but my blog, my rules (well, I guess this is Jim’s house so blame him).  He’s gotten off to a hot start stepping in for Xander and his glove is very good.  I don’t think he’s necessarily a guy with a future as an every day player but he looks more and more like a guy who can be a very useful 300-350 PA utility player and help the club not miss a beat while covering for injuries.

OF - Do I Have To? - Every Team (AAA, AA, A) - Saying the Sox outfield depth is thin is an undersell.  Rusney Castillo is the guy to pay attention to and like Travis he is off to a good average/low power start.  Given the challenges that come with his contract it is hard to envision a scenario where a “good” performance makes him a viable option.  Beyond him the Sox really are only looking at “hey this guy is hot let’s see what happens” if they have an injury to one of the MLB outfielders.

One name to consider is a personal favorite of mine Brett Netzer.  Netzer has shown a good bat since being drafted last year and there is minimal expectation that his long term future is at second base due to defensive concerns.  He has something of a Garin Cecchini profile (that’s meant as a good thing) and it won’t be a surprise if his future is in the outfield.  The Sox have had some success with converting a second baseman to the outfield.

C - Austin Rei - Portland (AA) - Really catcher is a “see above” situation.  Rei is off to a nightmare start (1 for 19, 12 K).  The Sox are probably in about as good a place as any team with catchers as Vazquez, Leon and in a pinch Swihart give them three passable backstops.  This underscores a big reason the system is so fallow with so many young players having graduated in recent years but the Sox need to start building this up.  It feels trite to mention it in these circumstance but thetragic death of Daniel Flores was a big loss to the system (though obviously not the biggest issue regarding that).

SP - Jalen Beeks - Pawtucket (AAA) - Unlike other parts of the system the Sox seem to have some potential help throughout the system and Beeks who has had a couple of solid springs for the club is cooking right now.  In 8 innings he has fanned 16 and while the rotation depth with guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez has looked good early there is always a place for more and Beeks looks like a guy who is pitching himself into that mix.

Tl;dr - The Sox system is not strong right now.  Making it worse is that Chavis, Josh Ockimey (hamstring) and Jay Groome (hip) have yet to take the field.  The injuries to Ockimey and Groome are not seen as long term issues but this is an important year for both guys to take that next step forward.  The Sox obviously don’t have a good draft position this year but they are going to need to make some inroads there and in their Latin American scouting soon.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 15, 2018 at 05:26 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: April 17, 2018 at 09:10 AM (#5655108)
As I'd mentioned in an offseason thread the major-league team is about to get very expensive to maintain. The Sox don't really have much low-cost talent in the minors with which to replace their low-cost-but-rising-rapidly-soon MLB talent, either directly or by trade.

The primary message out of the minors for Boston is that you'd better be enjoying the hell out of the major-league team right now.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: April 17, 2018 at 09:30 AM (#5655121)

The primary message out of the minors for Boston is that you'd better be enjoying the hell out of the major-league team right now.
... because it's doom and gloom in 2020 after one or more of Xander, Sale, and Porcello leave?

Not that I disagree that a bad farm system is a problem.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 17, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5655142)
I'm torn here. I mean I generally agree with vi that people should enjoy this team but his comment feels a bit more doom and gloom about the long term than I think he meant. The Sox have not had a prolonged stretch of non-competitiveness in a long time. I think at this point the expectation should be that they will be competitive. With the payroll such that it is I fully expect the roaring 20s to be just as good as the 10s (especially as we will be coming off 2 straight World Series titles).

As Nate says that doesn't change that the farm system needs some pretty serious work.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: April 17, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5655252)
Although, with Dombrowski at the helm, it is fair to note the current state of doom and gloom that the Tigers inhabit.
   5. karlmagnus Posted: April 17, 2018 at 07:53 PM (#5655547)
The quicker they fire Dombrowski, the better. He has turned the multiple decades of success that we could have achieved with the previous farm system into a 2-year window that will shortly slam shut. Yes, our probability of a world championship is higher in '18 and '19 than it would be without Sale, but only by about 20% to 15%. And our probability in '20 and thereafter is effectively zero.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 17, 2018 at 08:28 PM (#5655568)
Good call Karl. Given the great condition of the organization he currently works for Duquette is likely to be available soon.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 19, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5656622)
Josh Ockimey is back and has hit a grand slam in his third game.

Also, check out his Twitter feed (@josh_ock).
   8. Darren Posted: April 20, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5657090)
Some bright spots, maybe:

--Sam Travis is at 350/409/475. It's a meaningless number of PA, but tacked onto his spring, it's encouraging. It's also easy to forget he's only 24. He could still be a good enough hitter to be average or better.

--Jalen Beeks is off to a good start at AAA. He's consistently put up good numbers in the minors. The big knock against him seems to be his height/health. Could be useful.

--23-year-old 2nd rounder CJ Chatham is off to a .381 .413 .476 start in Greenville. bit old for that level, but he's new to the pros. He could move up quickly. He's a 6'4 SS so he's probably the next Cal Ripken.

--OF? Um.... Um... Maybe Jeremy Barfield is something?
   9. Darren Posted: April 22, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5658064)
Travis up to .383/.453/.511. Of course, the main concern was always power, so he hasn't answered that.

Beeks with another strong outing now has 26 K, 5 BB, 10 H, 1 HR in 14 IP. 0.64 ERA, 1.10 FIP.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 22, 2018 at 09:45 PM (#5658242)
Players able to leave after 2018:
Price (can opt out after '18, else he's here until 2022)
Ramirez (or will be here in 2019 if he gets about 500 PAs in 2018)

Of the prospects involved for these players, Logan Allen has a chance of being a contributor, Margot can catch anything, but struggles to hit. Espinoza is struggling with his health.

After 2019:
JD Martinez (or he can opt out after 2020; contract ends otherwise in 2022)

Of the prospects involved for these players, Moncada isn't hitting yet, but is still only 23. Basabe is hitting in the minors right now, but it's early to say. Kopech looks awfully good.

After 2020:

After 2021:

So far, you'd have to say that Dombrowski hasn't traded away a lot of prospects that are already biting us in the back. However, Kopech and Moncada have a chance of being very, very good. Also, it is hard to argue that Dombrowski didn't go for the right elite players in the Sale and Kimbrel trades - they have been everything you could ask for and more. The Pomeranz trade has worked out generally well, also. The Thornburg trade has been stunningly bad - Dubon was a prospect with value, and Travis Shaw would look better than Moreland.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 23, 2018 at 08:58 AM (#5658332)
Hey hey now, according to "Thornburg" might throw live BP next week.

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