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Just because the major league baseball season doesn’t mean all baseball activities come to a close. Every fall, Arizona hosts a short baseball league where teams send some of their top prospects for additional work. This year, the Red Sox sent Darwinzon Hernandez, Mike Shawaryn, Josh Taylor, Bobby Dalbec, and Josh Ockimey down to the Arizona Fall League for some additional work.
The Red Sox have some truly fascinating pitching prospects and Darwinzon Hernandez might have the best shot of making it in the majors as a starter. Hernandez had probably the best fall of all the Sox prospects, pitching 11.1 innings to the tune of a 1.59 ERA. He struck out 24 batters while allowing six walks and eight hits. The high walk count isn’t great, but everything else was exactly what you’d hope for out of Hernandez.
Mike Shawaryn, meanwhile, had a pretty good fall of his own. Pitching 12.2 innings, Shawaryn recorded a 2.13 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks. Shawaryn isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, but he did finish the year with Pawtucket. He’ll probably start the season down there but could earn a call-up at some point in 2019, depending on injuries.
Interestingly, both Shawaryn and Hernandez pitched out of the bullpen for the majority of the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox are still hoping both players develop into starters, but they weren’t given the opportunity over the past month. It’s worth noting that the Red Sox organization doesn’t manage any part of this league, so the decision to use Shawaryn and Hernandez as relievers was not one made by the Red Sox.
While Hernandez and Shawaryn had strong falls, Josh Taylor did not. Taylor, the newest member of the 40-man roster, struggled in his limited relief appearances. Taylor tossed 13.1 innings to the tune of an ugly 6.08 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. On the positive side, Taylor still managed to strike out 17 and only walk two batters. Still, this was a fall to forget for Taylor. It’s obviously a small sample and nothing to get too worried about, but the organization had to hope for a better showing than this.
In addition to their three pitchers, the Red Sox also sent two of their better powers bats down to the Arizona Fall League. Bobby Dalbec and Josh Ockimey have similar profiles, even though Dalbec has a significantly higher ceiling. Both players can hit for power, strike out a little too often, and play questionable defense.
Dalbec had a pretty strong fall and continued to show why he’s one of the top prospects in the farm system. In 73 plate appearances, Dalbec posted a .219/.367/.425 slash line. The righty slugger hit a team-leading three home runs and 16 RBI’s while walking 15 times.
It wasn’t all good for Dalbec, though. The young righty struck out on 32 of his 73 plate appearances, good for a 43.8% strikeout rate. Additionally, Dalbec made a team-high four errors while manning third base. Basically, Dalbec lived up to his scouting report, both the good and the bad. He demonstrated the ability to the tear the cover off the ball but also struggled with contact and defense.
While Dalbec had his ups and downs, Josh Ockimey only had the downs. The first baseball posted an ugly .158/.283/.237 slash line over 64 plate appearances. Ockimey was never going to hit for average, but his .237 slugging percentage simply cannot happen. Ockimey showed no signs of power and struck out 40.6% of the time. Additionally, he also made an error at first base.
The Boston Red Sox sent five players down to the Arizona Fall League. Of those five, two impressed, two disappointed, and one did exactly what you’d expect. Darwinzon Hernandez and Mike Shawaryn are both top-10 prospects and they gave plenty of reason for optimism. Herandez and Shawaryn both demonstrated the ability to dominate this level of pitching, as evidenced by their low ERA’s. While Hernandez still showed erratic command, the positives for these two far outweigh the negatives.
Josh Ockimey and Josh Taylor, meanwhile, disappointed in their respective falls. Ockimey continued to struggle with strikeouts but didn’t show any of his impressive power. Taylor, meanwhile, got clobbered by the competition to the tune of a 6.08 ERA. The lone silver lining with Taylor is that he finished the fall campaign with an impressive 17:2 K/BB ratio.
Bobby Dalbec, meanwhile, did everything you’d expect from him. He showed off his immense power by leading the lead in home runs and posting a .791 OPS. However, he also struck out at an astronomical rate and continued to struggle on defense. If Dalbec can put it all together, he could be one of the best power hitters in all of baseball. However, he still has a few glaring holes in his game and will need a full season with the Portland Sea Dogs to iron out said holes.
Interested in learning more about the Red Sox prospects? Make sure to check out our Red Sox Prospects Master List