A Minor Review of 2014: Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays

Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor Review of 20__.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the 2014 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2015 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.

Previous Pieces: A Minor Review of 2014: Yankees and Orioles

A Minor Review of 2014: Red Sox

The Graduate: Mookie Betts, IF/OF: Fellow rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. — who won the opening day center-field gig — stumbled at the worst possible time. That misstep allowed Betts to weasel his way into the role and — if his 2014 results are indicative of his future potential — he’s not going to be giving it up any time soon. His pop has been a pleasant surprise.

The Riser: Manuel Margot, OF: Margot has been on sleeper lists for a couple of years now — and I ranked him as the 12th best prospect in the Sox system prior to the 2014 season — but he’ll find himself on a plethora of Top 10 lists during this off season. At the plate, the 19-year-old Margot has speed, power and a solid eye for his experience level. He could be a beast in a few years.

The Tumbler: Deven Marrero, SS: A top college player and first round pick from 2012, Marrero’s professional career has been underwhelming (but, to be fair, not terrible). He plays a solid shortstop but a career triple-slash line of .258/.338/.352 is not going to help him push Xander Bogaerts off the shortstop position in Boston. Don’t be shocked if Boston shops him around during the off-season.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Michael Kopech, RHP: A highly-projectable prep arm, Kopech is raw but he has the potential to pitch at the front of a big league rotation. The right-hander will be a long-term project and likely won’t see the Majors until late 2017 or ’18.

The Lottery Ticket: Rafael Devers, 3B: The young prospect opened the 2014 season in the Dominican Summer League but it was quite apparent that — even at the age of 17 — he was a man among boys. Devers came stateside and produced an .858 OPS in 42 games in the Gulf Coast League. His biggest needs at this point include defensive polish and improved success versus southpaws.

A Minor Review of 2014: Rays

The Graduate: Jake Odorizzi, RHP: Prior to the 2014 season, I predicted Odorizzi’s ceiling to be that of a No. 3/4 starter. Clearly, he’s already exceeded my expectations — pitching as more of a No. 2/3. His good command/control of a four-pitch mix helps his average stuff play up and, to date, he’s struck out 166 batters in 154.2 innings.

The Riser: Willy Adames, SS: Acquired from the Tigers not long ago in the three-team deal for David Price. He shows some aptitude for hitting and has the swing, bat speed and body projection to hit for more power as he matures. There are a lot of swings and misses but he simply needs game experience to polish his approach and improve his pitch recognition.

The Tumbler: Hak-Ju Lee, SS: An excellent athlete, Lee was on a collision course with the Major Leagues before a serious knee injury ruined his 2013 season. The South Korea native was a shadow of his former self in ’14 with a .563 OPS, diminished speed on the base paths and decreased range. The 23-year-old shortstop will be given a mulligan but 2015 will be a key season for Lee if he hopes to avoid the dreaded “utility player” tag.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Casey Gillaspie, 1B: The Rays’ first round pick from ’14, Gillaspie had a solid debut in the New-York-Penn League and I recently ranked him as the fourth best first base prospect in the game (albeit in a relatively weak group). He is a solid all-around player in terms of his ability to hit for average, hit for power, and play defense.

The Lottery Ticket: David Rodriguez, C: Rodriguez, 18, enjoyed a respectable first season in North America after impressing in the Venezuela Summer League in 2013. He projects to hit for above-average pop for a catcher and should be a decent hitter. The former big-ticket international signee also has a chance to be better-than-average behind the dish, although he needs a fair bit of polish.

A Minor Review of 2014: Blue Jays

The Graduate: Marcus Stroman, RHP: I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t expect Stroman to have this kind of success so quickly at the big league level. He was basically the Jays’ best pitcher in the second half of the year. Long-term projecting remains dicey for Stroman due to his lack of size. The best comp for the hurler is former Royals star Tom Gordon, who was a similar size on the mound but broke down as a starter a few years into his career, had Tommy John surgery, and ended up being a shutdown closer.

The Riser: Dalton Pompey, OF: The Jays had a number of breakout prospects with the likes of Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman, Franklin Barreto, and Pompey but the speedy outfielder deserves attention because he could be the starting center-fielder for Toronto as soon as mid-2015. Born in the Toronto area, he has a chance to be a homegrown star with five average or better tools. He appeared as the “sleeper” back in 2012 for my Jays Top 10 prospects list at FanGraphs.

The Tumbler: D.J. Davis, OF: Davis has been the polar opposite to Pompey. A highly-regarded prep athletic, this speedy outfielder was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft but has been lost both in the plate and on the base paths. In 2014 at Low-A ball, Davis produced a .583 OPS with 167 strikeouts in 121 games. He attempted 39 steals and was nabbed 20 times. This high-risk, high-reward player isn’t looking good.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Lane Thomas, 3B/OF: The Jays drafted a number of interesting players in 2014 but a number of the top picks dealt with injuries, including pitcher Jeff Hoffman (Tommy John surgery) and catcher Max Pentecost (wrist). Thomas, 19, is looking like a steal as a fifth round pick. He hit well in both Rookie and Advanced-Rookie ball while splitting his time between both centre field and third base. He does a little bit of everything.

The Lottery Ticket: Matt Smoral, LHP: The Jays knew they were getting a long-term project when they took the hard-throwing, 6-8 left-hander in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft and gave him a hefty contact. Smoral rebounded in 2014 after a dismal ’13 campaign and struck out 70 batters with a strong ground-ball rate in 53.2 innings of work. However, he also walked 33 hitters. He should receive his first taste of full-season ball to open the 2015 season.





Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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everdiso
Member
everdiso

So no room for norris, barreto, or graveman on your jays list…and that doesn’t even include other impressive risers like tellez, castro, and urena. Man what a nice year tye jays’ system had.

LukeNalooshe
Member
LukeNalooshe

What about Rowdy Tellez’ line impressed you? The only things rising with him are the crusts of the pizzas he’s constantly eating.

everdiso
Member
everdiso

combined line for this 19yr old at RK and A this year: 9.7bb%, 13.7k%, .305avg, .375obp, .812ops, 135wrc+.

that was solid in itself, especially since that was done mainly with contact and strikezone control, and without much power output, which is very likely to come.

but even more encouraging is that he accomplished that after a horrific start, with a .416ops in june and then bottoming out at .312ops in mid july…..then suddenly started mashing from mid july on and then carried that hot stick up two levels to the FSL in mid august.

JUN (Rk): .416ops (44pa)
JUL (Rk): .742ops (115pa)
AUG (Rk): 1.138ops (59pa)
AUG (A): .949ops (49pa)

but even ignoring the monthly splits….that overall line for the year, with the low Ks and good contact rates, is very solid for a kid with as much power potential as Rowdy.