2019 Salem Red Sox Players to Watch
The best way to ensure continued success throughout an organization is by building a strong, reliable farm system stacked with future starts. While the Red Sox Farm has seen better days, there are still a few interesting prospects to watch at each level in 2019. While nobody on the Salem Red Sox will make it to the majors in 2019, these players could develop into the next wave of Red Sox.
2019 Players to Watch: Salem Red Sox
Bryan Mata (Scouting Report)
Outside of Jay Groome, 19-year old Venezuela native Byran Mata might have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the system. The international free agent spent the entirety of 2018 with the High-A Salem Red Sox, an impressive feat for a player as young as Mata. Mata boasts a mid-90’s fastball to go along with an impressive changeup and a serviceable curveball. As he develops, he’s likely to improve his curveball and become a true three-pitch guy.
The biggest question with Mata is his accuracy. The lefty’s fastball used to sit in the low 90’s, but he found extra juice in 2018. However, this added punch came at the expense of accuracy. Mata walked an absurd 7.25 batters per nine innings last season, which he simply cannot do if he wants to make it to the majors. If he can keep his fastball velocity while finding his command, he should finish the year as a top-five prospect in the system.
Kutter Crawford (Scouting Report)
Kutter Crawford came out of absolutely nowhere in 2018 to post one of the better seasons by a Red Sox minor leaguer. Starting the season with the Low-A Greenville Drive, Crawford pitched to the tune of a 2.96 ERA and a 3.12 FIP while striking out 9.61 batters per nine innings and walking 2.72. His impressive play earned him a promotion to the Greenville Drive, where he posted a 4.31 ERA, 2.53 FIP, and a 10.63 K/9.
Fittingly, Crawford’s unexpected success came from the implementation of a cutter. The righty never threw the pitch before joining the Red Sox, and he could develop into one of the better arms in the system. He’s still low on my prospect rankings, as well as the MLB’s, but that’s primarily because he was a one-year wonder. Crawford’s stock should soar if he can prove 2018 wasn’t a fluke.
Zach Schellenger (Scouting Report)
When it comes to pure stuff alone, there aren’t many pitchers better than Zach Schellenger. The former sixth-round pick has a cannon of an arm, capable of hitting triple-digits with his fastball. He also boasts a deceptive slider with mid-70’s velocity, and this dynamic pitch tool makes him borderline unhittable when he’s on the mound.
The biggest problem with Schellenger is keeping him on the mound. Since being drafted in the 2017 Amateur Draft, Schellenger has pitched just 19.1 innings of minor league ball. Schellenger has major league stuff and has the potential to be one of the best arms in the bullpen, but he needs to get on the mound consistently before earning a spot in the Red Sox top prospects.