The Boston Brawlers tasted the playoffs for the last two seasons in a row – the first time ever the team has had back-to-back postseason appearances. And a glance at their 3rd ranked prospect pool suggests many more postseasons are coming their way.
Their #6 ranked center-fielder Orlando Rios is joined by a succession of up and coming pitching arms that will surely bolster their rotation and solidify their bullpen over the next few seasons. The solid-hitting, speedy CF is already developing great contact and should find enough power to earn a regular spot in the top level in 1-2 seasons.
One, Al Wooldridge, is already expected to make an impact at the top level this season. Wooldridge is a pinpoint finesse arm who matured nicely last season at AAA-level Laval, where he crafted a respectable 3.71 ERA against some of the toughest hitters at that level, allowing just two home runs in 99.1 innings. The 23-year-old groundballer has moved up rapidly since being drafted 15th overall by Boston in 2016.
Wooldridge has an excellent chance of breaking into the rotation in 2018, perhaps after a stint in long relief to test him out and find where he fits into a already decent 5-man rota.
But the real impact pitcher could be Ron Bayer, a plus-stuff left-hander who is so far developing at a more realistic pace than Wooldridge, but could have a bigger impact when he makes it to the top in 2-3 seasons.
Bayer spent time as both a reliever and starter last year, at different levels, but ended the year at A-level Lexington with a 2-0 record, 3 saves, and a 1.28 WHIP. He already shows plenty of maturity and command, but is projected to be a hard-throwing cut fastballer with a deceiving changeup.
Another first-round pick pitcher, Branden Cassidy, also awaits in the wings, and should provide a clearer picture of his direction after a full season in the minors. Drafted out of Utah State U in June as the only college player to throw a no-hitter last season, Cassidy is another power pitcher who commands respect, not only for his 95 mph fastball, but for his well-developed slider.
Some may argue this pitcher-heavy prospect list may hamper the Boston offense in the near-term. But other than catcher Bill Ross, who will enter 2018 at age 37, the starting position players are all young bucks, most with big swings.
At any rate, a surplus of good pitching prospects gives some flexibility to deal for decent hitting, ensuring that the club should see many more postseasons to come.