Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camps, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system.
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camps, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com is visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Boston Red Sox.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Teams build up farm systems for two reasons: to develop players to fill the big league roster with homegrown talent and to develop potential trade chips for the general manager to use in trade talks. In both cases, the goal is to help the big league team be successful.
• Red Sox's Top 30 Prospects list
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For years, the Red Sox worked to build up their system to one of the best in the Major Leagues. It was ranked No. 6 overall at this time last year by MLBPipeline.com. It certainly has fulfilled the first objective, developing players like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and now Andrew Benintendi, just to mention the outfield. This offseason, though, the rich system was used for the second reason, with two of the most exciting prospects in baseball -- infielder Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech -- as the cornerstones in the big Chris Sale trade.
"Ultimately, everyone is here for the same reason, which is to win a World Series every year," Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett said. "Obviously, we'd love to have a team that's full of homegrown players, and I think in a lot of ways, we have that. There are a lot of young, talented players that came up through the system who are in the big leagues right now, and I think there's more to come.
"Anytime you're trading away good players, those are hard decisions to make, but when you can help the big league team by getting a player of Chris' caliber, those are moves you have to make."
Crockett looks around his Minor League camp and still really likes what he sees, even without Moncada and Kopech in the fold. The trade may have thinned things out at the very top, and a little bit further down with Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz also in the Sale deal, but the Red Sox feel there is depth, with players Crockett sees as helping in the short- and long-term.
"I think we have a lot of talented players in camp right now, some are ready to help the Major League team in the near term and some have pretty bright futures ahead of them who maybe are a little further away," he said. "I think we're still in a good place."
Devers looks confident
Rafael Devers, the organization's No. 2 prospect, wasn't in his first big league camp for very long. And he wasn't particularly productive, going 3-for-22. But it was not time ill spent.
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"He's looked really good," Crockett said. "Being in big league camp was a great experience for him, both a chance to play at this level and in front of the Major League coaching staff, and work with the Major League coaching staff. He also got to know some of the guys he'll hopefully be teammates with not too far down the road.
"Back down in Minor League camp, he's brought his energy, passion and smile he has had every day in the past. His approach has remained the same. He's in a good place."
Devers probably already had confidence heading into this Spring Training after a huge second half in 2016 that saw him hit .326/.367/.539 in the Carolina League. The big league invite only added to that.
"You hope any young player who goes over to Major League camp takes away something from it, whether it's the routine of how those guys work or the atmosphere and intensity in the dugout and how guys are paying attention to the game," Crockett said. "In the few days we've had Rafael back on the Minor League side, he certainly has shown those things."
As the 2016 Draft approached, scouts didn't know what to make of Bobby Dalbec. The University of Arizona product had prodigious raw power, but he slumped so badly as a junior that some teams started thinking about him as a power-armed reliever (he closed for the Wildcats). Boston rolled the dice and took him as a third baseman in the fourth round, and if his .386/.427/.674 pro debut in the New York-Penn League is any indication, it's looking like the gamble might pay off.
Eager to show that he wasn't a one-hit wonder, Dalbec came into his first Spring Training and has continued to swing the bat very well, with impressive batting-practice displays. In addition, he showed the ability to drive the ball to all fields as Minor League games got underway.
"He did such a good job coming into pro ball and really focusing on being a position player, I think that helped him," Crockett said. "I think he's keeping his approach simple, using the middle of the field, driving the ball where it's pitched and focusing on hitting the ball hard. That's something he's carried over into camp here thus far."
The Red Sox have some strong arms impressing in big league camp, from Jamie Callahan, who is building off a strong Arizona Fall League performance, to No. 19 prospect Ben Taylor. Both have the chance to break out and impact the big league bullpen in the not-so-distant future.
A bit further down the ladder, it might be smart to keep an eye on lefty Darwinzon Hernandez. Just 20 for all of the 2017 season, Hernandez made his United States debut up in the New York-Penn League after two stints in the Dominican Summer League. There are command issues to work out for sure, and he might end up in a bullpen as a result, but he also struck out 10.8 per nine with Lowell. Southpaws with power stuff are always worth tracking.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.