With hyped young players like Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada being called up to the big club, the Red Sox faithful are obviously excited to see what these youngsters can do. Moreover, the best way to gauge the future is to look into the past, so I am starting a series of “Where Are They Now” about former top prospects over the years to see if they were worth the billing. Starting from most recently in the 2015 season, we will look into the rearview mirror to see where these players are, and where they could end up.
- Blake Swihart (National Ranking 17)
Switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart looked primed to make an impact for the Red Sox to bolster an already young and potent lineup featuring budding stars Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Swihart’s unique athleticism and hitting prowess from both sides of plate made the 2011 first round pick very enticing to teams on the trade market. Swihart has played in parts of the past two seasons, with the 2016 season being cut short due to injury, and has performed adequately while transitioning to leftfield.
- Rusney Castillo (National Ranking 21)
After striking out on Cuban star Jose Abreu in a silent bidding war, the Red Sox were determined to not miss out on the next Cuban star slip from their grasp. Flash forward to September of 2014 and the Red Sox invest $72 million on outfielder Rusney Castillo. At the age of 27, Castillo was already at a prime age to produce immediately just as other Cuban defectors like Yoenis Cespedes and Abreu did. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Castillo was the worst of the bunch of his Cuban brethren and has since been in baseball purgatory with a reunion with the big club becoming more and more of a long shot.
- Henry Owens (National Ranking 44)
Standing at 6’6 as a crafty left-hander, Henry Owens was viewed to be the best pitcher to emerge from the Red Sox system since Jon Lester. Before the 2015 season, many baseball reporters suggested Owens would be a centerpiece in a deal to acquire an ace like Cole Hamels who would be a replacement for the aforementioned Lester. However, Owens’ upside quickly faded as he was exposed for being a big lefty with a small arm. Owens has been up and down with the Red Sox between the big club and Pawtuckett, and Sox fans most recently saw him get shelled by the Tigers a few weeks back.
4. Eduardo Rodriguez (National Ranking 59)
Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at the 2014 Trade Deadline, Rodriguez dazzled after being called up in 2015 posting a 10-6 record with a 3.85 ERA. After his impressive rookie campaign, Rodriguez was pegged as the Sox number two starter entering the 2016 season, but a spring training knee injury delayed his start and impeded his performance. While his 2016 numbers as a whole appear dreadful, he has an ERA in the low 3s since the All-Star Break and looks to be a contributing member of the Red Sox rotation for years to come
- Manuel Margot (National Ranking 72)
Rounding out the top 5 Red Sox prospects according to BaseballAmerica.com from the 2015 season is speedy outfielder Manuel Margot. Margot was the odd man out of the Red Sox loaded young outfield featuring stalwarts like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi, and Margot was dealt to the San Diego Padres along with Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, and Logan Allen in exchange for closer Craig Kimbrel. In 2016 in AAA El Paso, Margot put up stellar numbers batting .304 along with 28 stolen bases in 120 games. Out of the three position players on the list, Margot has shown the most promise and could be a potential All-Star in the coming years.
Notable Mention Brian Johnson (National Ranking 82)
Going into the 2015 season, the Red Sox were in an enviable position of having three standout lefties in their system, Owens, Rodriguez, and Johnson. Johnson, different from Owens and Rodriguez, has not had the same opportunity to make a healthy number of starts with the Major League team. Moreover, Johnson seemed to be the more surefire bet of the three starters with a lower ceiling, but a higher floor. Anxiety issues have prevented Johnson from reaching his full potential, but I still have confidence that he can turn it around and become a big league starter.
By: Joe Spinosa