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Boston Red Sox 2015 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Boston Red Sox.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(Bundy)

Chicago
(Rodon)

Houston
(Correa)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(Today)

Cleveland
(Lindor)

Los Angeles
(Heaney)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(Hill)

Oakland
(Olson)

New York
(Syndergaard)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(Manaea)

Seattle
(Jackson)

Philadelphia
(Crawford)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(Buxton)

Texas
(Gallo)

Washington
(Giolito)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Brian Creagh

From worst, to first, to worst, to odds on favorite the past few seasons have been a roller coaster ride for the Boston Red Sox organization. In the past three seasons, the Red Sox have twice finished last in the AL East, and once ended the season with a World Series championship. Now, heading into 2015 the organization are the favorite to win the AL Pennant and return to the World Series for a second time in three years. Through thick and thin, Ben Cherington has managed maintain his reputation as one of the top General Managers in the game by quickly adding talent at the major league level while still investing considerable resources to keep the minor league system stocked.

This off-season the Boston Red Sox made arguably the biggest splash at both the major and minor league levels with their high-profile signings. Their off season acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and trade for Rick Porcello is rivaled in talent by only the Padres acquisitions of (Shields, Kemp, Upton, and Myers). The Sox also added the highest profile international signing with Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada. Moncada jumps to the top of an already deep Boston farm system and could develop into a franchise star. These fresh faces, plus the first full season from Rusney Castillo, the development of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, and the healthy return of Shane Victorino have the Red Sox poised to take back the AL East and make a postseason run.

On offense, Boston boasts one of the deepest and power-heavy attacks in the game. Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Sandoval, Napoli is about as tough of a run from both sides of the plate that you'll see in today's game. Through in the possible emergence of one of Rusney Castillo and Xander Bogaerts and this Boston lineup will be near impossible for pitchers to navigate. On the flip side, the team's starting pitching has a ton of question marks. Rick Porcello anchors the staff, and while only 25, has yet to have a truly breakout season or even string together back-to-back above-average efforts in 6 big league seasons. Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, and Joe Kelly round out the rotation. Each player has produce at the level of mid-rotation pieces or better at some point in their career, but none have managed to do so with any sort of consistency. If it all clicks, the rotation could actually be pretty darn good, but it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to see the Red Sox desperate for some SP depth come June and July.

The minor league system provides additional weapons, and many are not far away from making an impact in Boston. Outside of the aforementioned Yoan Moncada, Blake Swihart is another top prospect set to break into the MLB by season's end. Swihart, a catching prospect rating highly from both a defensive and offensive standpoint, offers help at Boston's weakest position. His emergence could allow Christian Vazquez, a glove-first backstop to nicely fill a backup role and give considerable depth at the position. The system is also ripe with high-upside players like Henry Owens, Manual Margot and Rafael Devers. All three come with a high-risk, high-reward profile but all have taken excellent steps forward in their development. There are also some intriguing deeper plays like pitchers Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes. These guys could someday soon hold down backend rotation spots.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Brock Holt (AB), Mookie Betts (AB), Xander Bogaerts (AB), Jackie Bradley (AB), Christian Vazquez (AB), Brandon Workman (IP), Allen Webster (IP/trade), Tom Layne (ST)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Brian Creagh

Dissimilar to most contending teams, the Red Sox actually have a few opportunities for some top prospects to make some noise this season. As I mentioned earlier, Swihart's path to playing time isn't too difficult to clear, and I would expect him to get an opportunity sometime this season. The question marks in the rotation also give a potential opportunity to upper level arms, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Barnes. Of the three, I would bet on Rodriguez having the best 2015 season, but Owens could end up providing the best career fantasy value. Rodriguez is a polished product and after spending all of 2014 in AA, he's ready for a shot at the highest level.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors.

1. Yoan Moncada

We spent most of the offseason captivated by the potential signing of top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, as it became clear during the 2014 season that he had left Cuba. We then saw a months long struggle where it wasn't clear why Moncada hadn't been cleared to sign, and questions about whether he would be made eligible before the end of this signing period surfaced. The really interesting part with Moncada is that it does not sound like he defected, but was rather allowed to leave by the Cuban government. The bidding wars really fired up once MLB finally cleared Moncada to sign with a team in early February, and a couple weeks later Moncada agreed to a $31.5 million bonus with the Red Sox. The Red Sox will also pay a fine of the same amount as a result of drastically overspending their international budget as assigned by MLB.

So what is the story for fantasy? Moncada is a switch-hitting 19-year old who played second base while in Cuba. The scouting reports on Moncada all point to an extremely toolsy prospect that already has been able to translate some of them into game action, albeit in Cuba and in international competitions as opposed to the minor leagues. He has plus speed, the potential for plus power, and is expected to be an excellent hitter overall at the plate. It sounds like the Red Sox will have him play second base primarily to start out with, but could end up seeing time at other positions down the line. His bat is expected to play anywhere on the field, regardless of defensive position, and has the potential to be a top five second baseman in the future. He is not as ready for the majors as former Cuban defectors like Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig were considered, but Moncada isn't expected to be more than a couple seasons away, either. The upside here is immense, as he could be a high-level contributor in all five categories, and potentially a top 25 option overall. I'm not ready to throw out a potential statistical line just yet, but he would be my top target if you have not had your minor league draft yet. He is going to start the season at Low-A Greenville, but is expected to move up quickly from there.

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2. Blake Swihart (C)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.293 53 13 64 8
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
451 0.341 0.469 6.87% 17.74%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 S R AA-AAA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Taken with the 26th overall pick back in 2011, Swihart signed for a bonus of $2.5 million at the deadline but was only able to appear in two games that year. After playing at a level per year in 2012 and 2013, he spent most of 2014 at AA before an 18 game stint to finish the year at AAA.

Brian Creagh profiled Swihart as a part of our catcher rankings week, so I'll recommend you go read the whole thing, and check out this excerpt:

Swihart has continued to improve on his raw power and has improved his body every year since joining the Red Sox organization. As a result, his power projection has grown from fringe average to a potentially plus tool. There's more power in the right-handed swing but it's pull-heavy power. It isn't unreasonable to think Swihart could consistently hit 15 HRs a year to go with a .280+ AVG.

Swihart was our top fantasy prospect at the catcher position in part because of how high his floor is, and the proximity to the majors. He will likely head back to AAA to start the 2015 season, but after being added to the 40-man roster will likely be up at some point during the season. He's a better all-around catcher than current catchers Christian Vasquez and Ryan Hanigan, but having both of them will allow the Red Sox to ease Swihart into the starter's job. He will be a consistent top 10 performer at the position once he has that job.

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3. Henry Owens (LHP)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
17 0 2.94 1.13 170
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
159 0.60 1.03 9.09% 26.19%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 L L AA-AAA
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Another pick from the Red Sox' loaded 2011 draft class, the Red Sox grabbed Owens with the 36th overall pick and signed him to a bonus just over $1.5 million. He debuted the following year in Low-A, where he finished 4th in the Sally league with 130 strikeouts. A season split between High-A and AA led him to finish second in the minors with 169 strikeouts, and gave up just 84 hits in 135 innings pitched. He spent most of 2014 with the Sox' AA affiliate, but finished his year with AAA Pawtucket and 170 strikeouts between both levels.

Owens features a three-pitch repertoire with a fastball, curveball and changeup, with his changeup being his best offering. All three pitches are expected to be at least average to above-average, and gets a ton of deception with his easy, repeatable delivery. He also gets rave reviews about his advanced feel for pitching, and is expected to have a solid mid-rotation ceiling with the potential for a little more some years. The strikeout potential can make him an top 20 starting pitcher if he can control his walks like he did this past year, and he will likely be up at some point during the 2015 season.

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4. Rusney Castillo (OF)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.333 6 2 6 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
40 0.400 0.528 7.50% 15.00%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
26 R R MLB
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

The second of the Red Sox' big Cuban signees on our list, Castillo was not subject to the same limitations (and penalties) that Moncada was due to his age and experience within the Cuban Serie Nacional. The Red Sox signed him to a seven-year, $72 million deal as a result, and was able to get into 10 games at the major league level before the season ended.

Castillo has the potential to be a five-category contributor, although the range of outcomes in each category can vary widely depending on which report you give more credence to. His best tool is his speed, which is considered plus to double-plus, and should translate into potentially 25-30+ stolen bases a year. His power potential isn't quite as high, but there is the potential for him to be a 15-20 home run hitter as well. The batting average can also be at least average, but could end up anywhere from .260 up toward the .290 range depending on how well he makes adjustments.

Castillo has yet to play this spring, and there are questions at this point whether he will be ready to start the season in the majors.  Even if Castillo isn't a starter on Opening Day, I would anticipate him getting enough playing time to be worth owning in nearly all formats this year.

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5. Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
6 0 3.6 1.308 108
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
120 0.40 1.03 7.27% 21.22%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 L L AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Left)
ETA to Majors:2016

The Red Sox were able to extract a prospect whose value had fallen slightly when the time came for them to trade lefty reliever Andrew Miller, and likely stole themselves a key piece for the future in Eduardo Rodriguez. Signed out of Venezuela by the Orioles back in 2010, Rodriguez spent the 2014 season at AA after making 11 starts there the previous year. His numbers with the Orioles' AA affiliate were a bit misleading, as he had a couple particularly bad starts where he allowed 6+ runs. That said, his performance once he was traded gave the Red Sox a glimpse into the long-term potential, as he struck out 39 batters in 37 innings while allowing just 38 baserunners over his final six starts.

Rodriguez features a well-developed three-pitch repertoire, with an above-average fastball to go along with a curveball and changeup. His delivery is very fluid and smooth, and at 6'2", 200 lbs, should be able to handle a full workload as a starting pitcher. He also has shown the ability to limit walks as he has moved up toward the majors, although there are concerns about his overall command at times.The profile itself isn't one that jumps off the page, but he should provide a decent amount of strikeouts to go along with good ratios. He has the potential to be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, and with a higher floor than most pitching prospects, is a relatively safe pick. He probably will head to AAA to start the season, and will likely get a shot at a rotation spot in 2016.

6. Manuel Margot (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.293 65 12 59 42
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
469 0.356 0.462 8.32% 11.51%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R A-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

A key international signee from the 2011 IFA class, Margot has set the world ablaze after his 2014 campaign. He made his full season debut in 2014, starting the year with Low-A Greenville before finishing the season at High-A Salem as a 19-year old, and went out and torched pitchers at both levels. The numbers out of him in just 115 games are eye-popping, as he hit for average, some power, and stole a ton of bases.

Brian Creagh also profiled Margot as a part of outfield week, and you should check out the whole thing rather than me giving another similar profile on his tools. Here's an excerpt:

This write-up ended up being a little more pessimistic than I was thinking it would be. Margot is still a valuable fantasy asset, and the ceiling could still be a .270 AVG, 12+ HR, and 30+SB hitter. If you're a believer in him, then ignore my warnings and go for it, because if it all click's he's an all-star caliber player.

Margot will likely head back to High-A Salem in 2015, but could continue to move quickly through the system if he continues to hit at such a torrid pace when the season starts. The potential is there for a top 25 outfielder if it all comes together as possible, but I agree with Brian that looking to sell high on Margot might be the best idea right now.

7. Rafael Devers (3B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.322 47 7 57 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
302 0.404 0.506 11.59% 16.56%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
17 R R Rk-FRk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

The Red Sox signed Devers out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013, giving him a bonus of $1.5 million. He did not debut until this past season, but made quite a statement as a 17-year old. He started the season with the Red Sox' Dominican Summer League team, and after hitting .337 with three home runs in just 28 games, the team took the aggressive step and moved him stateside to their GCL affiliate for the rest of the year. It didn't seem to faze him though, as he hit another four home runs with a .312/.374/.484 slash line.

Devers' calling card will be his ability to hit for both power and average, as he is expected to develop into a potential 25+ home run hitter per year. He will pair that with the potential to be at least a solid producer of batting average, with .270 to .280 being a very real possibility on a regular basis. He is considered advanced for his age at the plate, both in terms of approach and eye, but does still have things to work on as you would expect for someone his age. While it's not clear yet whether he will be able to stay at third base defensively, a move to first would not impact his fantasy potential all that much if the power does develop in that manner. He'll likely spend at least a part of the season at full-season Low-A, and could vault up this list even higher with a strong performance again in 2015.

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8. Garin Cecchini (3B)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.263 58 8 61 11
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
494 0.342 0.377 9.51% 22.27%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 L R AAA-MLB
Roster Status: On 40-Man Roster (2 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

Cecchini was drafted by the Red Sox in the 4th round back in 2010, and is essentially ready for a shot at a major league job. After spending 2011 in short-season ball and 2012 at Low-A, Cecchini split his 2013 campaign between High-A and AA almost evenly while putting up solid numbers at both levels. Despite only the half season at AA, the Red Sox moved him to AAA in 2014, and while the performance dropped off a little bit, the reports on his year were good and he even spent some time with the big club during the year.

Cecchini gets overlooked a bit sometimes because his bat doesn't profile in the usual way at third base. He's not your typical slugging third baseman that's going to provide a lot of power and may hurt a bit in batting average, but in fact the opposite. He has an excellent feel for the strike zone and will be an absolutely underrated player for OBP formats, but his power is likely to be limited to the 10-15 home run per season range. If that comes with the .280-.290 batting averages that are possible, that should be ownable in most formats.

Cecchini is about as blocked as one prospect can get in a system, with Pablo Sandoval added to play his position this offseason. It's possible that the team moves him to either the outfield or first base, but more likely it seems like a trade will boost Cecchini's value the most. He'll likely spend a decent amount of time in the majors this year, although it's not clear that would be as a starter.

9. Michael Chavis (SS/3B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.269 21 1 16 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
150 0.347 0.425 10.00% 25.33%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect After 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

The Red Sox drafted Chavis this past year with the #26 overall pick, and was viewed as one of the better hitters from the high school ranks in this draft. After signing for a bonus of nearly $2 million, he spent the rest of the season with the organization's GCL affiliate. While he was drafted as a shortstop, he split his time between short and third base during the year, and is expected to move elsewhere on the diamond long-term.

Chavis has the tools to be a potential impact hitter in the majors, but comes with the usual caveats about time and distance to the majors as a high school draftee. Reports on his best tool tend to be split between his power potential (average to above-average, potentially 20+ home runs a year) and his hit tool (above-average, capable of providing batting averages in the .270-.280 range), both of which bode well for his long-term value to us. His swing is extremely quick, and should allow him to generate power in the future as well. Overall, it's a very interesting profile that could be another player to jump with a solid year in full-season ball.

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10. Matt Barnes (RHP)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
8 0 3.96 1.31 111
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
136.2 0.59 1.12 8.32% 19.24%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
24 R R AAA,MLB
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

Taken out of the University of Connecticut with the 19th pick of the 2011 draft, Barnes has moved quickly, splitting each of his first two seasons between two levels and finishing his 2013 season at AAA Pawtucket. He spent the full year at AAA in 2014, and debuted for the Red Sox in early September.

Barnes has the potential to be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, but there are enough questions that it's not considered very likely he reaches that ceiling. He features a three-pitch repertoire consisting of an excellent fastball, a changeup that is considered an average offering, and is working on a curveball that could end up average as well. If that pitch doesn't develop into a consistent third offering, his future may be more likely in the bullpen, where he could be a high-strikeout, high-leverage reliever capable of providing saves if given the opportunity. He's likely going to get an extended look at some point in 2015, although it wouldn't surprise if it was in a bullpen role for the 2015 season.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Brian Johnson - Johnson would likely be a top 10 prospect in a lot of other systems, as he has a back-end of the rotation profile that should be good for high innings with decent numbers. The upside just isn't as high for him though, which leaves him just outside the list.

Michael Kopech - Kopech was another one of the Red Sox' top draft picks this year, and early reports on him are extremely glowing. That said, he's just 18 years old and remains at least four seasons away from the majors. The potential is there for a mid-rotation starting pitcher, and another prospect who would have made the top 10 in many other systems.


About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter