SoxProspects News

September 18, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Minor Notes: Greenville wins SAL championship


Here are Monday's minor league notes:
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September 15, 2017 at 11:57 PM

Cup of Coffee: Drive capture South Atlantic League title


9/16 Cup of Coffee: Brett Netzer and a lights-out effort from the bullpen guided Greenville to a South Atlantic League Championship. They took the series from Kannapolis three games to one to win their first SAL title.

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The Drive capitalized on a key error in the first inning to put up a crooked number right away. After consecutive singles from Brett Netzer and Roldani Baldwin, Bobby Dalbec roped an RBI double to right. With two down, Tyler Hill reached on an error that cost Kannapolis two more runs. The Intimidators chipped away at Greenville starter Hildemaro Requena, who allowed three runs on nine hits, including two solo shots, in 4 2/3 innings. In the sixth, Greenville pulled away and never looked back. Netzer delivered the nail in the coffin with a two-out, three-run double to make the score 8-3. Jagger Rusconi also had an RBI knock in the frame.
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata starts strong before dropping game three


9/15 Cup of Coffee: Things were looking up early in Greenville's attempt to sweep its way to its first ever South Atlantic League Title. Unfortunately, a tough fifth inning helped knock off the Drive, whose series lead was cut to two games to one.

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It was a disappointing result for the Drive, who had the sweep and the South Atlantic League title clearly in their sights after right fielder Ryan Scott blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, giving them a 2-1 lead. Bryan Mata, the 18-year-old phenom had been very strong up to that point, allowing only one run in four innings, striking out four against one walk. However, things turned on Mata and the Drive in the fifth. After the first batter was retired, three hits and an ill-advised throw on a fielder's choice gave the Intimidators a lead they would not relinquish, knocking Mata out of the game.
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September 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Minor Notes: Playoffs, Otani, and winter leagues


Here are Thursday's minor league notes:
  • The minor league seasons are winding down, but SoxProspects.com's coverage is not. Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was busy with two new editions of Scouting Scratch. The first covered some quick hitters from Lowell. His write-up featured four 2017 draft picks including two hitters in third baseman Michael Osinski and outfielder Marino Campana and two pitchers with lefty Dominic LoBrutto and righty Taylor Ahearn.
  • Continuing the trend of 2017 picks, Ian's second Scouting Scratch covered the Red Sox's first round pick, Lowell right hander Tanner Houck (pictured, right). Ian has now had the chance to see Houck three times, and his update after his penultimate start of the season was promising.
  • The podcast team took to the air earlier this week to discuss the minor league playoff teams, September rankings, and major and minor league call-ups. Within the episode, Chris gets fired up about outfielder Bryce Brentz. Listen to find out why.
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at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Tanner Houck



First-round pick Tanner Houck had an up and down first pro season with Lowell. He threw 22 1/3 innings, allowing 21 hits and walking eight while striking out 25, good for a 3.63 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. I had the chance to see Houck three times earlier in the season and wrote about it in an earlier Scouting Scratch. Recently, I caught his penultimate start. In that two-inning outing, in the first inning he showed the potential premium stuff that led the Red Sox to take him 24th overall before running into trouble in his second inning, albeit as a result of some poor defense. 

Houck hasn’t altered his delivery since he entered the organization, starting on the first base side before stepping towards the third base dugout and coming across his body. While the delivery isn’t what you look for in a starter, he repeats it well and more importantly is comfortable with it. It is off-putting, especially for right-handed hitters. When he’s keeping the ball down, he will generate a lot of weak contact on the ground. 

In the first inning of this start, he showed all three of his pitches and showed a much-improved changeup compared to earlier in the season to compliment his fastball and slider. His low arm slot does give left-handers a good look at the ball, making development of his changeup a key for him to stick as a starter long term.

In the first inning, Houck sat 93-94 mph with his fastball. The pitch showed life and sink and elicited two swinging strikes, one against a righty and one against a lefty. He threw seven of his eight fastballs for strikes and commanded the offering down in the zone, overwhelming the Staten Island hitters. 

Houck mixed in both his secondary pitches as well, both to great effect. His threw his slider 80-82 mph, slower than earlier in the year, but it had more depth and tilt. The pitch was still sweepy and at times later in the outing he got on the side of it, but it flashed above-average potential. 

The improvement on his changeup was most encouraging, as he showed more feel than earlier in the season. He had rarely mixed the pitch in early in the year, but on this occasion he showed confidence in the pitch and threw it with deceptive arm speed. It was especially effective against left-handed hitters, eliciting a pair of swinging strikes on changeups that showed late fade, falling off the table down and out of the zone, away from the hitter’s swing path. 

While Houck dominated in the first inning, flashing three above-average pitches and the ability to control all of them and locate down in the zone, he ran into trouble in the second and his stuff wasn’t as crisp. The inning was lengthened by two defensive misplays, most notably an error by the third baseman on a potential double play ball that could have ended the inning, but Houck’s fastball velocity took a slight tick down to 91-93 mph, and it lacked the finish it had in the first inning. He struggled to locate the pitch and left a few up in the zone, where the pitch flattened out. 

Houck’s secondary pitches also came and went more in the second inning. He threw a few average-to-better ones, but also some below-average ones, including getting on the side of his slider. 

Even though the second inning wasn’t as good as the first, this was still the best Houck’s stuff had looked overall. In other outings, his velocity was higher, but on this day he showed the ability to locate his fastball at 93-94 mph with sink, and if he can comfortably pitch at that velocity it will give hitters a lot of trouble. Similarly, if he can continue to refine his changeup and improve his consistency with both his secondary offerings, it will go a long way to alleviating concerns that he is a potential bullpen arm long-term.

Photo credit: Tanner Houck by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Diaz and Smith combine on a three-hit shutout


9/14 Cup of Coffee: Another tremendous pitching performance, this time led by Jhonathan Diaz, moved the Drive to within one win of their first South Atlantic League title in team history. 

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Jhonathan Diaz pitched the Drive to a 2-0 series lead with 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits, both singles, and walked one while striking out seven. Hunter Smith came on in relief and allowed one hit over 2 2/3 shutout innings.

Greenville managed only six hits, with a solo home run from Roldani Baldwin (pictured) being the biggest. Brett Netzer went 2 for 4 with an RBI single, and Jerry Downs went 2 for 4 as the designated hitter. 
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September 13, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Dalbec, Espinal lift Greenville in wild Game 1 victory


9/13 Cup of Coffee: It took 13 innings, but a 17-hit attack and some clutch hitting from Bobby Dalbec (pictured) gave the Greenville Drive a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship Series.

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In a wild, back-and-forth affair, Bobby Dalbec twice provided go-head hits for the Drive in the eighth and 13th innings. An error by Kannapolis provided the crucial insurance run as a wild Joan Martinez was able to survive a pair of wild pitches in the bottom of the 13th to secure the save.
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September 12, 2017 at 10:38 PM

Podcast Ep. #130: Lots of stuff about error bars


September brings us minor league playoffs, September call-ups in both the majors and minors, and of course, a new set of rankings. Who's fueling the Greenville Drive's playoff run? Why is Chris so fired up about Bryce Brentz? Who did Ian try to rank much higher than the other brass members? Listen and find out!

Click through for show notes, links, and in-site player.
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Greenville rained out, pausing title chase


9/12 Cup of Coffee: Game one of the South Atlantic League Championship Series between Greenville and the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS) was postponed by rain. The two squads will try once again to kick off their best-of-three series in Kannapolis on Tuesday, with game two sliding into Wednesday's scheduled off day. Jhonathan Diaz remains scheduled to take the mound in the opener for the Drive. 
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September 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: Regular season ends, Greenville advances in postseason



Here are Monday's minor league notes:
  • In the most recent Scouting Scratch, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall analyzes a couple of Boston's depth pieces in first baseman Sam Travis and right-hander Justin Haley. Travis has suffered from a lack of power this season, hitting .270/.351/.375 in Pawtucket and .306/.393/.429 in 22 games in Boston. Since returning to the Red Sox organization, Haley has pitched to a 2.66 ERA in seven starts but doesn't profile as a major league starter.
  • The minor league regular season ended earlier in the week and the Greenville Drive is the only Red Sox affiliate still active. In their most recent game, the Drive shut out Charleston to win the best-of-three series. Greenville will begin a best-of-five series against Kannapolis on Monday as they compete in the South Atlantic League Finals. 
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