The Boston Red Sox were a powerhouse team in 2018 at the Major League level but the minor league system is anything but… The system lacks both depth and impact players. With that said, there are definitely some players that project to contribute at the big league level and might even be able to handle every-day roles if the raw, toolsy players realize their full potentials.
1. Michael Chavis | 3B | AAA —> Injuries kept Chavis from following up on his breakout 2017 campaign and, in some regards, he took some steps back while battling through a difficult year. He continued to show impressive in-game power and stung the ball with line-drives all over the place. However, the strikeout rate increased after he made some strides in that area last year. He produced a good batting average but the BABIP he produced is likely unsustainable in the long run. Defensively, he’s blocked at third base and it may not be his best position anyway and he may end up on the right side of the diamond.
2. Tanner Houck | RHP | A+ —> Houck is a divisive prospect… some see frontline starter, others see high-leverage reliever. The talent, as well as a strong pitcher’s frame, is there but command issues keep him from missing as many bats as he should. He also has a strong one-two punch with his fastball and slider but the curveball is inconsistent and the changeup is still very much a work-in-progress. Without a strong change-of-pace, he might shift to the ‘pen but I’m on the side that sees improvements coming a future in the starting rotation — even if it’s more of a mid-rotation, innings-eater.
3. Jay Groome | LHP | LHP —> Groome is a tough pitcher to rank. He showed immense potential as an amateur but has thrown just 62 innings since turning pro in 2016 due to a variety of injuries, including 2018 Tommy John surgery. A best-case scenario probably puts him back in action around the summer of 2019. He showed the ability to miss bats and induce a high number of ground balls but he also struggled with command so the long layoff likely won’t help in that regard. At this point, Groome is a very big lottery ticket.
4. C.J. Chatham | SS | A+ —> Chatham’s main skills are on the defensive side of the ball but he’s been showing more and more with the bat since turning pro in 2016. He can probably play any infield position but being able to handle shortstop well is obviously the most important. Offensively, Chatham doesn’t have much pop in his swing and his approach isn’t geared for the long ball but he can occasionally step into one. He might struggle to hit for average at the big league level unless he becomes more selective and patient.
5. Triston Casas | 1B | R —> A big-bodied 18-year-old slugger, Casas’ best tool is (predictably) his raw power. But he moves well for his size and should be an above-average defender at first base — where his strong arm is mostly wasted. He’s shown promise as a hitter in the prep ranks so he has a chance to hit for both power and average but an injury knocked him out of his debut season after just two games. His ranking here is me being cautious so you could see him zoom up the list next year if he opens the year in full-season ball and is healthy.
6. Bryan Mata | RHP | A+ —> Mata, just 19 and in high-A ball in 2018, was on a meteoric rise through the Red Sox system before an injury knocked him out of a start on July 26. He didn’t return to the mound for the remainder of the year with what was described as a back injury. When healthy, Mata shows a strong fastball-changeup combination but his ultimate ceiling may be determined by his ability to consistently spin the ball and be more consistent with his curveball. He also needs to significantly sharpen his control. If all goes well, he has the ceiling of a No. 2/3 starter with the ability to miss bats and induce a lot of ground balls.
7. Darwinzon Hernandez | LHP | AA —> Hernandez had a strong 2018 season while reaching double-A as a 21-year-old hurler. He has a strong fastball and two promising breaking balls but the changeup needs polish. Even without that weapon he missed a lot of bats in high-A ball. He slows down his delivery when delivering his breaking ball in comparison to his fastball and big league hitters will pick that up easily. I’m also a little concerned with his fly-ball tendencies and how they’ll play in the AL East but I see mid-rotation potential with additional polish.
8. Bobby Dalbec | 3B | AA —> A two-way player in college, the lack of a singular focus on the offensive side of his game may be hindering Dalbec. He has massive power potential (as seen by the 35 doubles and 32 homers in 129 games this year) but he went down swinging an alarming 176 times in 2018 — including 46 times in 111 double-A at-bats after a late-season promotion. On the plus side, he’s more than willing to take a walk so the patience will help offset the low batting average that he’s likely to produce in The Show. Defensively, he’s blocked by Rafael Devers at the big league level and also has fellow prospect Michael Chavis ahead of him.
9. Mike Shawaryn | RHP | AAA —> Shawaryn produced solid numbers in 2018 while splitting the year between double-A and triple-A. Despite that I see a ceiling of No. 3/4 starter if he sticks in the rotation. He has a solid low-90s fastball/slider mix but the changeup needs work. He’s also maxed out physically so there isn’t really any projection left and I don’t love the arm action/slot, which screams reliever.
10. Alex Scherff | RHP | A —> Scherff has battled through injuries so I’m a little concerned about his long-term durability and he’s likely miscast as a starter but the potential is here for a high-leverage arm. I believe there will be consistent mid-90s heat with a move to the bullpen and it will also take the pressure off his modest breaking ball. He has an above-average changeup so the fastball-change combo will play nicely out of the pen.
Travis Lakins | RHP | AAA —> An athletic hurler, Lakins looks good as a reliever with high-leverage potential. He has a mid-90s heather that can hit 97-98 mph and backs it up with a promising cutter. He also induces a healthy number of ground-ball outs. He also has the ability to throw strikes.
Jhonathan Diaz | LHP | A —> Diaz, 22, looked good in full-season ball in 2018. He has the makings of a No. 4 starter with a decent fastball-changeup mix. The development of his breaking ball will go a long way to determining his future role/success. He has above-average control and induces a lot of ground-ball outs.
Danny Diaz | 3B | R —> The Sox spent big money on Diaz as an international free agent and he has a decent pro debut in 2018 while playing in the Dominican Summer League. He has above-average power potential but needs a lot of polish to become an average hitter.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.