Another young 3B stud among Red Sox in AFL
The Red Sox's surplus of talent at third base continues to grow.
Rafael Devers was one of the top offensive prospects in baseball when he reached Boston at age 20 last year. While he had an up-and-down 2018, he mashed in the American League Championship Series. Former first-round pick Michael Chavis has established himself as one of the game's best power prospects and has reached Triple-A.
Coming up fast behind those two is Bobby Dalbec, who rebounded from an injury-marred 2017 season to bat .257/.361/.558 between Class A Advanced and Double-A while ranking second in the Minors with 70 extra-base hits and 109 RBIs and fourth with 32 homers. His power has stood out in in the Arizona Fall League as well, where he batted .259/.375/.481 with four extra-base hits (one homer) and nine RBIs in seven games during the first two weeks.
Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams
A 2016 fourth-round pick out of Arizona, Dalbec, who is No. 6 on the Red Sox's Top 30 Prospects list, has shown why he has earned Kristopher Bryant comparisons now that he's no longer battling a hamate injury that compromised him during his first full pro season. He also has worked to tone down his approach, cutting down his strikeout rate from 37 percent in 2017 to 32 in '18, though whiffs will likely always be part of his game. He topped Fall League hitters with 14 strikeouts in the season's first two weeks.
The combination of Dalbec's strength, aggressiveness and the bat speed and loft in his right-handed-swing gives him the most raw power in the Red Sox system. It also means he doesn't need to try to hit home runs, because they should come naturally. He said continuing to refine his plate discipline is one of his goals while he's with the Mesa Solar Sox.
"I think I matured a lot at the plate, just not trying to do too much, not trying to sell out," Dalbec said. "While I still do that sometimes, it's just the kind of hitter I am, but I'm working on being more consistent and sticking to the approach.
"Even the first couple games here, sometimes you forget that you don't need to swing that hard, especially for me. So it's fun just being able to get better at that, to kind of focus on that. It's a struggle sometimes, but when it's going, it feels really good."
Dalbec also improved defensively this season. His strong arm never has been a question -- he led all NCAA Division I pitchers with 41 strikeouts during the 2016 NCAA Tournament and yielded only two earned runs in three College World Series starts as the Wildcats finished second -- but his range had been ordinary and he lacked consistency. While he's known most for his prodigious power, he also takes pride in his glovework, another point of emphasis for him during his time in the AFL.
"Defense is super fun to me, just working on it and getting better and cleaner and smoother.," Dalbec said. "I get knocked a lot, people say I don't have any range or I'm an average glove and just an arm, but I'm trying to be one of the better third basemen."
Boston's logjam of hot-corner prospects doesn't stop with Dalbec. The Red Sox signed Danny Diaz for $1.6 million out of Venezuela in 2017 and added Nick Northcut (11th round) and Brandon Howlett (21st) via the Draft in June.
Red Sox hitters in the Fall League
Michael Chavis, 3B/1B -- The Red Sox hoped to get their top prospect some more at-bats after he was suspended for the first 80 games of 2018 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, but a sore wrist upended those plans, as Chavis never suited up for Mesa and was removed from the Solar Sox roster on Wednesday. The 2014 first-rounder from Georgia batted .298/.391/.538 with nine homers in 46 games (mostly in Double-A) this year but will not get a chance to win a second AFL championship after helping the Peoria Javelinas to the title last fall.
Josh Ockimey, 1B -- A 2014 fifth-rounder as a Philadelphia prepster, Ockimey offers one of the best combinations of power and patience in the system. He hit .245/.356/.455 with 20 homers and 70 walks between Double-A and Triple-A.
Esteban Quiroz, 2B -- The Red Sox purchased Quiroz, who started on Mexico's World Baseball Classic team in 2017, from the Mexican League's Yucatan Lions last November. An offensive-minded utility man, he batted .283/.406/.547 with seven homers in 32 games (mostly in Double-A), missing much of the season after getting a sports hernia repaired.
Red Sox pitchers in the Fall League
Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP -- Signed for a bargain $7,500 out of Venezuela in 2013, Hernandez can reach the upper 90s with late life on his fastball and overpower hitters with his hard slider. He had a 3.53 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 107 innings, mostly in Class A Advanced.
Mike Shawaryn, RHP -- Shawaryn has cruised through the Minors since signing as a fifth-rounder out of Maryland in 2016, relying on a nifty slider/cutter and complementing it with a low-90s fastball that runs and sinks. He logged a 3.44 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 149 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP -- A 2013 second-rounder from Seminole State (Okla.) Junior College, Stankiewicz sits in the low 90s with his fastball and employs a splitter as his best secondary pitch. He compiled a 4.97 ERA with a 115/42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 150 1/3 innings, mostly in Double-A. Stankiewicz pitched just one game in the Fall League, on Oct. 10, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings, and was removed from Mesa's roster on Wednesday.
Josh Taylor, LHP -- The Phillies signed Taylor as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia College and State in 2014 and traded him a year later to acquire international bonus pool money from the D-backs, who shipped him to Boston for Deven Marrero this May. He pitched in the AFL with Salt River in 2016 and works off a 93-97 mph fastball and a hard slider. He posted a 3.35 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 53 2/3 relief innings while progressing from Class A Advanced to Triple-A.