Before heading down to Fort Myers for spring training, the
scouting staff identifies a list of players we need to see, ideally in both
workouts and game action. Yoan Moncada was atop that list this year, but
unfortunately because his signing was not official until March 12, he did not
play in games while we were down there. However, he did take part in workouts,
which included fielding drills, batting practice, and baserunning. As a result,
this breakdown should not be seen as a complete scouting report. Rather, it is a
baseline of what to expect from Moncada based upon watching these workouts for
five days. Even though Moncada didn’t face live pitching, he showed off some of
the tools in drills that led him to be such a sought after player that
warranted a $31.5-million bonus.
The first thing you notice when you see Moncada up close is that
he is not built like a typical 19-year-old. Moncada stood out physically on the
field when working out with the Salem team, including 2014 college draftees
like Sam Travis and Jordan Betts. The contrast was even starker when compared
to other teenagers likely headed to extended spring training and then Lowell or
the GCL. Moncada’s height doesn’t jump off the page, listed at only 6-foot-0,
but he is just well built, with a physically developed, mature body. He has a
very muscular upper body, and strong lower half that really fills out his
uniform. Moncada doesn’t have much physical projection, and even with his
current build, he is still very athletic.
The Red Sox announced their latest round of spring training cuts on Thursday morning. Left-handed pitchers Henry Owens (pictured) was reassigned to minor league camp, while right-handers Heath Hembreeand Zeke Spruill, outfielder Bryce Brentz, and third baseman/outfielder Garin Cecchiniwere optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox also released right-handed pitcher Mitchell Boggs.
Owens, the third-highest ranked prospect in the Boston system, struggled in his second major league camp. The 6-foot-7 lefty allowed 13 runs (11 earned) in 11 1/3 innings across five appearances, walking six and striking out eight. Barring a major surprise, Owens will begin the 2015 campaign with Triple-A Pawtucket where he finished the 2014 following an outstanding season with the Portland Sea Dogs.
FORT MYERS, Fla.
– This latest batch of scouting reports from Spring Training by Chaz Fiorino reaches all levels
of the system, from one pitcher who started spring in major league camp to another
who will make his stateside debut this summer.
Rijo is a
19-year-old, right-handed second baseman. He has a young, under-sized frame at
5-foot-11, 170 pounds, with room for added strength as he physically matures.
Defensively, Rijo is an athletic, high-energy guy with lower half quickness in
his lateral movements. Rijo’s athleticism immediately stood out in the field
taking groundballs during morning workouts. However, there were a number of
times when he struggled with his glove transfer to his throwing arm or booted a
few groundballs. The athleticism and raw tools were easy to see defensively to
project future average potential defense at second. The arm profiles best at second
base as well. Offensively, I only got a glimpse of Rijo in two at-bats and a
few batting practice swings. Rijo has a high hands setup and displayed
surprisingly sneaky raw power in his morning batting practice. In the two
at-bats I caught, Rijo was late getting his front foot down in time and was
drifting forward with his body at the plate. This resulted in a couple late
swings and getting off-balance on off-speed pitches. Rijo looked aggressive at
the plate and ready to hit. Very young at age 19 and slated for High A Salem, Rijo
is still a ways away, but has impressive raw tools for a 19-year-old, projected
middle infielder with plenty time to develop.
During much of his college career, injuries ensured that Karsten Whitson wasn’t the pitcher he was when he bet on himself and turned down millions from the San Diego Padres as the ninth overall pick to attend the University of Florida in 2010.
But the confidence that allowed him to do so never wavered, even through shoulder issues that robbed him of a collegiate season and dropped him to Boston in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Now, with the benefit of the Red Sox’ shoulder strengthening program and a clean bill of health, Whitson is getting back to physically being that pitcher on the mound, too, having regained the fastball and arsenal befitting of someone with his pedigree last year at the Fall Instructional League.
“I tell people, ‘Instructs, that’s me. That’s kind of who I am,’ ” he said. And it’s probably been a little while—I know it’s been a little while, maybe a year or two since I’ve been that guy.”
“I don’t think that anything that’s happened up to this point has wavered my confidence at all,” he said. “There’s been some ups and downs—every player’s going to go through that in their career. Unfortunately for me, it was kind of at a younger stage in my career. But I think those experiences are going to help me get through future years.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Fresh off his debut campaign in the GCL, Nick Longhi had high hopes leading into the 2014 season. He looked to be living up to the expectations that came along with the over-slot bonus he received as a 2013 30th-round pick early on in the Lowell season, batting .330/.388/.440. That he was 18 years old and often facing pitchers three or four years older than him makes that line look even more impressive.
Unfortunately those numbers were over just 121 plate appearances as his season was cut short after little more than a month when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb sliding into third base on July 21. The injury required surgery, but because it happened earlier in the season, Longhi feels like his health is in a good place heading into this season.
“All our guys in the training room really helped me and got me back on the field ahead of schedule,” Longhi said. “I got to work out all offseason, get strong, and I’m 100 percent right now.”
The boys are back... from Fort Myers! Chris, Ian, and Matt had a ton of stuff to report back from the SoxProspects.com staff's annual trip to Spring Training. We got our first look at Yoan Moncada, as well as updated looks at Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, and others! Which sleepers looked poised to break out? What new guys impressed? All that and more in this action-packed episode!
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Trey Ball got off to a rough start during the 2014
season, but as the season progressed, he found his footing and started to put
things together. In his first spring start this year, he showed marked improvement
compared to what he looked like a year ago. Ball pitched three innings, allowing
two hits, both home runs, three walks and three strikeouts, but the stat line
does not tell the entire story, as he flashed two potential plus offerings.
Ball has started to fill out his 6-foot-6, 195-pound frame,
and still has a repeatable, low-effort delivery. Ball sat 91-93 mph with his
fastball, topping out at 94 mph. As he worked into his second and third innings,
some started coming in at 89 and 90 mph, but that is to be expected in his
first spring training start. His command and control are still inconsistent, however,
as he gave up some hard-hit balls, some of which turned into outs, while others
ended up deep over the left field fence. In the third inning, he seemed to lose
his release point and could not find the strike zone for a few batters, walking
three out of four guys at one point. Though his fastball command and control
have a ways to go, a left-hander with his frame who can sit in the low-90s and
touch the mid-90s is a very intriguing prospect.
Here are this week's minor league notes, following the SoxProspects.com staff's yearly trip to Fort Myers. Although the guys are back, you can expect plenty more content in the coming week or two as well!
Michael Chavis opened his first professional spring training in style on Wednesday, finishing a single short of the cycle in a win over the Baltimore Orioles’ Delmarva affiliate. SoxProspects.com Senior Columnist Jon Meoli spoke with the 2014 first-round pick, who said baseball was never far from his mind during the offseason.
Meoli also writes that 2014 second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz (pictured, right) made some changes to his mechanics this offseason, abandoning his old tennis serve-like delivery for a more traditional one. The 21-year-old Texan is coming off a strong 2014 season for Low A Greenville, where he finished with a 3.72 ERA in 25 starts. He is SoxProspects.com's 20th-ranked prospect.
SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino wasted no time getting to work in Fort Myers. Cundall put a handful of players – most notably the 9th-ranked Chavis – under the microscope in his Scouting Scratch column, while Fiorino took a closer look at Rafael Devers, Jake Cosart and four other prospects in his Thursday edition of The Write Up. Fiorino followed that up with another edition of The Write-Up featuring Justin Haley, Sean Coyle, Travis Shaw, Henry Ramos, and a look at major leaguer Alexi Ogando.
Assistant Scouting Director Chaz Fiorino checks in with more of his scouting observations from minor league games in Fort Myers.
- Listed at 6-foot-5, 230
pounds, Justin Haley (pictured, left) has a tall, strong, filled-out build. The 2012 sixth-round
pick out of Fresno State comes set with his hands at shoulder height, using a simple,
no-wind-up delivery and a high three-quarters arm slot with short arm action in
back and minimal extension to the plate. The fastball ranged from 88-91 mph and
was fairly straight. His secondary offerings included a hard, short slider that
looked like a cutter at 85-88 mph; a changeup at 80-82 mph with fade, flashing
average potential; and a loose, 12-to-6 curveball at 75-78 mph. Most worrisome
was that Haley struggled with command in his three innings of work, walking a
pair of batters, as vastly improved control was the key improvement in his
great 2014 campaign. The fastball velocity was a tick down from previous
reports, not a surprise in what was Haley’s first spring outing.