Now that the Super Bowl is over, baseball season is right around the corner. Pitchers and Catchers for the Red Sox report February 18th and the first workout is the next day. It is been reported that some 20 players are already in camp looking forward to the upcoming season. After a dismal 78-84 season in 2015, the Red Sox actually seem poised to contend this year. By adding David Price to the front of the rotation and hopefully continuing to see the growth of young players Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox have a lot to look forward to. But the current roster might not be the only bright spots to look forward to, with the MLB Top 100 prospects being revealed last week, and the Red Sox have four players in the Top 100. All four players actually rank within the Top 40 and the general consensus was that two Red Sox players are on the fringe of joining the top 100. Here's a breakdown of who made the list:
#7 Yoan Moncada
Moncada is the current jewel of the Red Sox farm system. He got off to a slow start last season after defecting from Cuban and signing for $31.5 million last year but finished the season in high A Greenville with a .278/.380/.438 batting line with 8 home runs, 38 runs batted in and 49 steals. Moncada is currently playing second base but many expect him to move off that position to either a corner infield or outfield position for the future. Yoan checked in on MLB's Top Prospect list at number 7 and could easily see himself as the number 1 prospect in all of baseball next season. Moncada should enter this season with Greenville but with little left to prove he can quickly rise through the farm system. The adjustments he makes along the way will be crucial to how fast he rises through the system. While he is still a few years away from playing for the Red Sox, at age 20, he has plenty of time to develop and become a perennial All-Star.
#17 Rafael Devers
Devers, like Moncada, spent the entire season with Greenville. In his age 19 season, he hit .288/.329/.443 with 11 home runs and 70 runs batted in. Devers checked in the rankings at number 17 and he is projected to hit for a lot of power as he develops. Devers is a decent defender at the hot corner but many expect him to eventually move to first base as he matures. Rafael should open this season with Double A Portland and will probably stay the entire year there to try and better learn the strike zone. Increasing his OBP and reducing his strikeouts will be key to Devers firmly planting his name among the best young prospects in all of baseball.
#25 Andrew Benintendi
Benintendi was drafted by the Red Sox with the number 7 draft pick in 2015 after he won the College World Series with Arkansas. Benintendi checked in as the number 25 prospect on the list and is my candidate to make his big league debut in the 2016 season. Benintendi has shown a patience approach at the plate, slashing .313/.416/.556 between Lowell and Greenville last season at age 21. Benintendi is a plus defender and has the potential to become a 20/20 regular. Benintendi should open the season with Double A Portland and it would be completely feasible to see him as a September call-up for the Sox. Unlike the selection of Trey Ball as number 7 from a few years ago, it looks as if the Red Sox hit on this selection.
#39 Anderson Espinoza
Not since Jon Lester have the Red Sox developed a front of the rotation starter. Now Eduardo Rodriguez has the potential to become an ace but his development largely came from the Orioles organization. Anderson Espinoza came in as the number 39 prospect and at only age 17, he posted a 1.23 ERA in 58.1 innings with 65 strikeouts. Espinoza's age and lack of professional innings will keep him from opening the season higher than Greenville, but slow and steady may be the correct approach this time. Espinoza boasts a plus change-up and has the look of someone who can blossom into an ace at the big league level.
Sam Travis and Michael Kopech
Both these prospects are fringe Top 100 prospects and could see themselves enter the rankings when others graduate to the big league level. Kopech took a giant leap forward last season posting a 2.63 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 65 innings last season in Greenville, but saw his season cut short due to a 50-game suspension. The Red Sox will probably have Kopech open his age 19 season back in Greenville and prove that last season was not a fluke. Having to take half the season off, this year will be another season of increasing Kopech's arm strength for a full workload.
Sam Travis earned himself an invite to big league camp after posting a .307/.381/.452 across two levels in 2015. Travis is 22 and comes with a few question marks, he does not hit for power and lacks the typical size for a first baseman, but his calling card is getting on base, which is something the Red Sox value. Travis will probably find himself opening the season in Portland before getting the call to Triple A to ride out the season with his eyes on the open spot at first the Red Sox will have after Hanley moves to DH following David Ortiz's last season.