Boston Red Sox Minor League Prospects Who Should See Their Stock Rise in 2019

In case you haven’t heard, the Boston Red Sox farm system isn’t in the best shape right now. Thanks to trades, internal graduations, and a few bad drafts, the Red Sox farm system only has top one Top-100 prospect, per MLB Pipeline (Michael Chavis). However, despite the current low ranking, the Boston Red Sox have several talented players who could force their way into the Top-100 in 2019.

Boston Red Sox Minor Leaguers Who Could See Their Stock Rise in 2019

Antoni Flores

Antoni Flores is currently sixth on my Top-30 Red Sox prospect rankings and seventh on MLB’s list. However, the 18-year old international free agent should climb up those rankings throughout the 2019 season. Flores has a fantastic hit tool and plays great defense at shortstop, and at age 18, should only improve as he continues to develop.

The reason he’s not higher on these lists is because of injuries. Flores only played in 15 games last year after the shortstop suffered a shoulder injury mid-swing. Said injury cost him essentially his entire rookie season, but he put up fantastic results when on the field. In his 15 games played, Flores posted a .340/.435/.528 slash line with an accompanying 173 wRC+. Some of that production was artificially inflated by an unsustainably-high .386 BABIP, but Flores has considerable talent at the plate and with the glove. Unless injury strikes again, he should be on the Top-100 by the end of 2019.

Tanner Houck

The Boston Red Sox selected right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck with their first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. At the time, this looked like a great selection, as the Missouri product had a fantastic two-seamer and a series of strong complementary pitches. However, for some inexplicable reason, the Red Sox told him not to throw his two-seam fastball. Over the first year and a half of his career, Houck posted a 5.37 ERA and 5.03 FIP while working without his two-seamer.

Midway through the 2018 season, the Red Sox realized that taking away a pitchers’ best pitch isn’t a good way to develop talent. Houck went back to using his two-seamer in the second half of 2019, and the results were fantastic. Over his final 12 games, Houck posted a 2.86 ERA and a 2.98 FIP. Houck currently sits outside the Top-100, but he should rise up in the system after a full season of pitching with his two-seamer. He’ll still need to work on his command, but the former first-rounder should have a productive season with the Portland Sea Dogs.

Darwinzon Hernandez

Outside of Jay Groome, Darwinzon Hernandez has the best pitch tool in the Red Sox system. Boasting an elite fastball and a set of strong complementary pitches, Hernandez’ pitch tool is major league ready. Already on the 40-man roster, it’s only a matter of time before Hernandez makes his Red Sox debut.

The only question is if he’ll make the debut as a starter or a reliever. Hernandez has a fantastic pitch tool, but his erratic command could force him into the bullpen. As it is, Hernandez just missed making it onto the MLB Top-100 list. If he can find the strike zone with any regularity, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter and a Top-100 prospect

Kutter Crawford

Boston Red Sox pitcher Kutter Crawford has the most to gain in 2019. While the other players ahead of him are already top-10 prospects in the system, Crawford is currently the 20th-ranked prospect on the MLB list and the 25th-ranked prospect on mine. Despite his universally low rankings, Crawford has the chance to climb through the system if he can prove that 2018 wasn’t a one-year fluke.

The former 16th-round pick pitched just one inning in 2017, but came alive during the 2018 season. After adding a cutter to his pitch tool, Crawford’s cutter made Kutter Crawford one of the Red Sox best pitchers in the low minors. Pitching in 143.2 innings between Greenville and Salem, Crawford recorded a 3.26 ERA and a 2.99 ERA on the season. He walked more batters than you’d like (3.01 per nine innings), but he showed a lot of promise. Crawford doesn’t have the best set of complementary pitches, which ultimately limits his ceiling. Asking him to crack the Top-100 is asking a lot, but he could be in the Red Sox top-10 with another strong season against better competition.

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Dave Latham

Engineer by day, sportswriter by night. Follow me @DLPatsThoughts

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