The farm system was not highly rated before this season started. Alex Speier in the Glob discusses how things have gone from bad to worse: "There is no sugar-coating what has transpired with the Red Sox minor league system. It’s been an awful start to the 2018 season. News that top prospect Jay Groome would require Tommy John surgerythat will wipe out his second full pro season represented the latest in a succession of ugly early-season developments. A look at the team’s top 10 prospects entering the year tells a story of woe: No. 1 — LHP Jay Groome (Single A Greenville): Out for the season with Tommy John surgery. No. 2 — 3B/1B Michael Chavis (Double A Portland):Suspended 80 games for testing positive for a banned PED. No. 3 — RHP Tanner Houck (High A Salem): 1-5 record, 6.00 ERA, 29 strikeouts, 22 walks, 1.73 WHIP, 6 homers in 30 innings. No. 4 — RHP Bryan Mata (High A Salem): 1-2 record, 3.92 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 20 walks, 1.74 WHIP in 20⅔ innings. No. 5 — OF Cole Brannen (Single A Greenville): .158/.244/.211 with a 28 percent strikeout rate. No. 6 — LHP Darwinzon Hernandez (High A Salem): 2-1 record, 4.84 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 23 walks, 1.70 WHIP in 22⅓ innings. No. 7 — 1B/LF Sam Travis (Triple A Pawtucket): .292/.370/.384 with 1 homer in 17 games before going on the DL with an intercostal strain. No. 8 — RHP Mike Shawaryn (Double A Portland): 2-3 record, 2.88 ERA, 29 strikeouts, 8 walks, 1.02 WHIP in 34⅓ innings. No. 9 — RHP Alex Scherff (Single A Greenville): 0-3 record, 7.25 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 14 walks, 1.61 WHIP in 22⅓ innings. No. 10 — 2B Marco Hernandez (Triple A Pawtucket): Hasn’t played while recovering from shoulder surgery. Evaluators who have gotten looks at different Red Sox affiliates have come away with decidedly underwhelmed impressions. The Sox entered the year hoping that some players in a very young prospect pool would take steps forward; to date, that hasn’t really happened with any of the team’s most promising talent. If anything, those players appear further from an impact than they did entering the year." The article notes that pitchers Shawaryn, Lakins and Beeks have been silver linings so far. But the overall picture was grim before this season and it's gotten worse. IMO, this team needs to commit every possible resource to improving the farm system. That starts with having a good draft this year and good international signings, but also includes having the discipline to not go over the $237 million payroll limit, as the penalties from that would be damaging: a 10-spot penalty for their top pick in the 2019 draft, a reduction in draft signing money, and a loss of $500,000 in international bonus pool money. Also, fans need to understand that we don't have the pieces to make any big trades anytime soon. At this point, we have fewer chips than an empty can of Pringles. Any issues this team has will need to be filled internally, other than maybe a Ziegler/Nunez-level pickup at the deadline.