The Arizona Fall League opened up 2019 play on Wednesday, September 18th, meaning we are now officially one full week into the new season.
Through seven games played, the Peoria Javelinas, the club that all six Red Sox prospects participating in the AFL were assigned to last month, are only 3-4, but have gotten plenty of contribution from those aforementioned Boston prospects.
For starters, outfielder Marcus Wilson leads Peoria in hitting with a .500 batting average (7-for-14) and OPS (1.3297) to go along with one home run and eight RBI through four games of action.
Ranked as the Sox’ 17th-best prospect on MLB.com, the 23-year-old was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back on April 19th and saw time with both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year.
Next up, outfielder Jarren Duran is barely trailing Wilson for the team lead in hitting, slashing .400/.438/.400 with one RBI and one stolen base in four games played as well.
Wilson’s teammate in Portland for the latter part of this season, Duran was Boston’s lone representative in the 2019 Futures Game back in July. The recently-turned 23-year-old is ranked as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect and fourth overall prospect on MLB.com. This is his first full season in professional baseball, as he was a seventh round pick out of Long Beach State in last year’s draft.
Coming in at third, infielder C.J. Chatham trails Duran by just .025 points in Peoria’s batting race, as he owns a slash line of .375/.474/.563 to go along with two doubles, two runs driven in, and two stolen bases over his first four games.
Selected in the second round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the 24-year-old will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20th of this year in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. He is ranked as Boson’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com
Transitioning from position players to pitchers now, Yoan Aybar and Bryan Mata are two of 10 Javelinas hurlers who have yet to surrender an earned run in AFL play.
Aybar, 22, has appeared in two games for Peoria, working a total of three innings of relief while walking three and striking out two in that span.
The Dominican Republic native put together a fascinating 2019 campaign, posting an ERA of 4.61 but a batting average against of .176 over 44 outings and 56 2/3 innings of work between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem.
Originally signed as an outfielder six years ago, Aybar was converted into a left-handed reliever in 2018 and has a pitch arsenal that consists of a 93-97 MPH fastball, an 86-87 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.com.
Like Chatham, Aybar, the Sox’ 29th-ranked prospect, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the club;s 40-man roster before then.
Mata, meanwhile, has also appeared in two games for the Javelinas, plunking two and walking another to go along with three punchouts over three total innings pitched.
Climbing up the ranks to become Boston’s top pitching prospect this season, the 20-year-old right-hander earned a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland back on July 1st and posted an ERA 5.03 over his final 11 starts of 2019.
And finally, right-hander Tanner Houck has struggled since returning to the starting pitching role, yielding six runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks, and two HBPs to go along with three strikeouts over two starts and 5 1/3 total innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 6.75 and WHIP of 1.88.
Houck made the transition from starter to reliever shortly after making the jump to Triple-A Pawtucket in July, and it seemed as though that plan revolved around the possibility of the 23-year-old being called up the majors at some point in September.
That is not how things turned out however, as Houck is still not a member of Boston’s 40-man roster. He still has another year left before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2020, so there’s no reason to rush on that decision either. Houck is listed as the Sox’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com.
The 2019 installment of the Arizona Fall League runs through October 25th, with the Fall Stars Game being played on the 12th and the championship game being played on the 26th, so stay tuned for updates regarding how these six Red Sox prospects are holding up in the desert.