Unquestionably, third baseman Bobby Dalbec showed loud tools throughout his season at High A Salem. But as a 23-year-old in the Carolina League who’d struggled in his first pro season in 2017 while dealing with the aftermath of surgery to remove a broken hamate, his combination of tremendous raw power and strong third base defense was viewed with some skepticism.
Now, the skepticism is becoming harder to maintain.
Dalbec blasted a pair of homers for the Double A Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday against well-regarded Tigers pitching prospect Alex Faedo. In six games with Portland, Dalbec now has four homers and a .364/.440/.909 line. On top of the 26 homers he hit in 100 games for Salem (where he posted a .256/.373/.573 line), Dalbec now has 30 homers for the season, and he continues to exhibit absolutely immense power that suggests that, if he can control his strikeout rate, he has a chance to be a force.
“When he’s right, when he’s putting himself in a good position to recognize pitches and his timing is there, I don’t think there’s anybody I’ve ever come across in the organization that has his power,” said Portland manager Darren Fenster, who managed Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Michael Chavis in recent years.
Dalbec joins Chavis (31 homers last year), Bryce Brentz (31 in 2017, 30 in 2011), and Ryan Lavarnway (32 minor league homers in 2011) as the only Red Sox to surpass the 30-homer threshold this decade. As that company suggests, such tremendous power is no guarantee of future big league stardom or even a role as a big league regular. Indeed, the fact that Dalbec is striking out in 31 percent of his plate appearances this year underscores the uncertainty that still exists about his prospect status.
But increasingly, the fact that he complements his immense power with above-average defense at a position whose importance is growing due to how third basemen are utilized in shifts suggests that Dalbec is a potentially significant prospect for the Red Sox.