A Minor Review of 2015: Boston Red Sox

Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 2015.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the ’15 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2016 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.

Previous Reviews:
Baltimore Orioles
Atlanta Braves

A Minor Review of 2015: Red Sox

The Graduate: Blake Swihart, C: A swath of injuries to the big league club’s catching depth led to the earlier-than-expected arrival of Swihart in The Show. He looked overwhelmed in the early going but, after missing some time due to injury, the young catcher found his footing and showed why scouts were so high on him. He’s been a stabilizing force behind the plate as he’s become more confident and improved his game calling. He’s also been much better at the plate with improved patience and more contact. The next thing the switch-hitting catcher needs to do is to get stronger from the right side of the plate. Look for Swihart, 23, to be behind the dish for Boston for years to come.

The Riser: Rafael Devers, 3B: Just 18, Devers did a remarkable job of holding his own in full-season ball. He hit for average, showed developing power and kept his strikeouts under control. There aren’t many teenagers that could hit 30+ doubles with double-digit homers; the raw ingredients for 20+ home runs are there. His biggest need is to be more patient and wait for better pitches to drive. He should be fine at third base if his conditioning holds up and he can maintain enough range. Kiley’s early season assessment of Devers questioned the prospect’s inner drive to put the work in to develop into a star.

The Tumbler: Garin Cecchini, 3B: Boston has more talented young infield prospects in its system than some leagues around Major League Baseball. As a result, Cecchini has been racing the clock to try and establish himself as a big leaguer before the subsequent waves of talent. He reached the Majors in 2014 but returned to Triple-A in ’15 and did not look like the same guy. He struggled to produce an OPS of move than .600 and was less patient at the plate. His strikeout rate also continued to increase, which is not a good sign for a player who has very limited pop. He spent much of 2015 in the outfield while also dabbling at first base and third base. His future role may now be coming off the bench to back-up multiple positions.

The ’15 Draft Pick: Andrew Benintendi, OF: Rumors persisted throughout the spring that Boston’s talent evaluators had their sights on University of Arkansas outfielder Benintendi and he was unsurprisingly snapped up with the seventh overall selection in the draft. The organization didn’t have an overly strong draft outside of the first round but he could make the class a winner all on his own. He played at two different levels during his pro debut and topped out in Low-A ball. Combined, he hit more than .300, walked more than he struck out, hit double-digit homers, and stolen nine bases. In other words, he shown five-tool talent when you include his work in the outfield. Look for him to open 2016 in High-A ball and he could be in the Majors in short order.

The Lottery Ticket: Anderson Espinoza, RHP: Throwing heaps of money at 16-year-old international free agents doesn’t always equate to all-star big leaguers given the volatility in player development but the Sox might have a gem in Espinoza, who signed for $2 million last year. He opened the year a million miles away from the big leagues in the Dominican Summer League but earned a plane ticket to North America after just four starts. In 10 rookie league starts, he produced an ERA below 1.00 and showed immense poise. He allowed just 24 hits and nine walks in 40 innings. He struck out 40 batters, didn’t allow a homer and induced four ground-ball outs for every fly-ball out. He has top-of-the-rotation potential at the age of 17.





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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hobbes020
Member
hobbes020

Surprised there’s no mention of Moncada?

Ben WMD
Guest
Ben WMD

I’m not sure I need any more Moncada coverage until he hits AA, honestly

middkid45
Member
middkid45

Yeah, really. That was THE move of 2015 IMO. Still, good article.