SoxProspects News

October 22, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 in Review: Simon Mercedes and Carlos Asuaje


Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#26: Simon Mercedes, SP
2014 Teams: Salem Red Sox (Rehab: Lowell Spinners)
Final Stats: 96 IP, 5-10, 1 SV, 4.41 ERA, 98 H, 52 R/47 ER, 41 BB, 79 K, 1.45 WHIP

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Season in Review: It was a bit of a tale of two halves for Mercedes this season. Coming off of a very successful 2013 at Lowell, Mercedes began the season with the Salem Red Sox. It seemed as though his 2013 success would carry over into 2014, as the 22 year-old was able to put up a 3.76 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over his first 40 2/3 innings to start the year. However, he hit the DL after a 3 2/3-inning start on June 4, and missed about a month before starting a rehab assignment with Lowell on July 3. That assignment lasted three games, and upon his return to Salem he struggled mightily over his final eight games. Four times in those eight starts he gave up five earned runs, including three starts in a row between July 24 and August 5. Over the final 40 2/3 innings of the season, he had a 5.53 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and 31 strikeouts to 17 walks. - Will Woodward

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Reports coming out of Spring Training were very encouraging and had Mercedes hitting 100 mph with his fastball, but as the season progressed, Mercedes struggled with consistency and holding his velocity. Mercedes's fastball generally sits in the low-to-mid 90s with sink, but later in the season, he sat at the bottom of that range at 90-91. His secondary pitches looked much improved during a brief outing in the Fall Instructional League, but throughout his career those have also been inconsistent. His curveball has been his primary out pitch, although during Instructs he seemed to be using a slider at 84-87 mph with sharp two-plane movement and curveball depth. The pitch flashed plus and showed bat-missing potential. His changeup was also improved at Instructs, showing splitter-like dive and similar arm speed to his fastball at 84-87 mph. In general, this pitch has lagged behind his breaking ball, and was more of a work in progress. If Mercedes can continue to show these improved secondary offerings and a crisp fastball with his starter's build, he has a chance to start, but long-term I think he is best suited for the bullpen. Mercedes struggles to repeat his mechanics and has some rigidity in his delivery. He also is very inconsistent with his command and seemed to tire as the season went on, to the point where his fastball was dipping down into the 80s in some outings. Heading into next year, he will likely be kept in the rotation or in a piggyback role, probably repeating Salem to start the year. If he was moved to the bullpen full-time, he could move relatively quickly. - Ian Cundall

#25: Carlos Asuaje, Util
2014 Teams: Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox
Final Stats: 559 PA, .310/.393/.533, 38 2B, 12 3B, 15 HR, 59 BB, 90 SO, 8 SB

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Season in Review: Asuaje was drafted in the 11th round in 2013, and after signing was able to play 52 games for Lowell, showing his defensive versatility and putting up decent offensive numbers with a good approach. He started this year in Greenville and raked from the very start. By the end of April, he had put up a ridiculous .365/.489/.608 line with more walks than strikeouts, including five triples, a mark that on its own was topped by only seven Red Sox minor leaguers over the entire season. That opening month proved to not be an aberration, and from May through his promotion in mid-July he hit .287/.360/.522 with 11 home runs, trading a little average for power. He was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team, led the league in slugging and OPS, and finished in the top 10 in the league in average and on-base percentage. He did this while filling a true super-utility role for the Drive, splitting his time among third base, second base, left field, and peppering in a bit of time at shortstop and designated hitter. The 22 year-old continued his impressive season after he was promoted to Salem on July 18. Over 39 games, he hit .323/.398/.516, adding four home runs and 14 doubles. He continued to show his versatility in Salem, splitting his time about equally between left field and second base. At the end of the year, he was named a South Atlantic League Season-End All-Star, a SoxProspcets.com All-Star, and the Greenville Drive Player of the Year. - Will Woodward

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Asuaje was a bit of a rarity in 2014, at least in the Red Sox system—a legitimate "prospect" being used in a true utility role. That likely will be his best-case future in the major leagues, should his development go according to plan, so the club was likely smart to start his transition now, getting the Nova Southeastern product his first experience in the outfield. He acquitted himself well out there too, making a number of solid plays—one showing some range and making a diving catch, another showing a solid arm—in my short two-game stint catching Salem in August. He showed surprising pop this year, even after moving up to the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Asuaje does not really have any tools that stand out as above-average, but he has a great feel for the game that allows him to out-play his stature and physical tools. He could return to Salem to start 2015, but he will fight for a spot in Portland coming out of camp, and could potentially earn it. He will get there by the end of the season anyway, barring injury. - Chris Hatfield

Additional editorial support provided by Norm Cimon.

Photo Credit: Simon Mercedes by Kelly O'Connor; Carlos Asuaje by Tom Priddy/GoUpstate.com


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October 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Anderson Espinoza and Alex Hassan


Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

Yet to debut

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Season in Review: Inked alongside Christopher Acosta at the opening of the international free agent signing period on July 2, the 16-year-old right-hander signed for $1.8 million plus $200,000 in scholarship money. Espinoza, who hails from Venezuela, was Baseball America’s fourth-ranked international amateur prospect and top-ranked pitcher, while grabbing the number 10 spot on MLB.com’s list. The Red Sox's decision to splurge beyond their allocated international bonus pool and face a 100-percent tax on the overages while making them unable to sign any international amateurs for above $300,000 the next two seasons, makes evident the high regard and expectations the team has for both Espinoza and Acosta. - Matt Picard
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October 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Rivero, Castillo make early impressions


This week's roundup covers play from the period of October 13-19. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall & Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through January. 

Arizona Fall League

Rusney Castillo continued to do well at the plate, going 5 for 19 with two doubles and an RBI. After seven games, Castillo is hitting .294/.351/.382 with three doubles and stellar defensive play in center field for Surprise.

Deven Marrero appeared in four games this week, going 2 for 13 with three walks. Marrero is currently hitting .217/.379/.217 through seven contests. Marrero's infield partner, Sean Coyle appeared in only three games, going 2 for 10 with a double. 
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at 7:30 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Noe Ramirez and Luis Diaz


Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#30: Noe Ramirez, RP
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox (playoffs only)
Final Stats: 67 1/3 IP, 2-1, 18 SV, 2.14 ERA, 56 H, 17 R/16 ER, 16 BB, 56 K, 1.07 WHIP

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Season in Review: Ramirez began the year back in Portland, where he had finished his breakout 2013 campaign, and picked up right where he had left off. He was a model of consistency for the loaded Sea Dogs, leading all Red Sox minor leaguers with 18 saves. He never really faced any particular bouts of ineffectiveness, but his most effective stretch came from the end of April through early August, when he allowed just six runs, five earned, on 30 hits and 10 walks over 44 2/3 innings in 26 appearances, good for a 1.01 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Ironically, Ramirez took the loss in his only appearance in the Eastern League playoffs for Portland, allowing two inherited runners to score in the eighth and allowing three unearned runs in the ninth as the Sea Dogs fell to Binghamton in game two of their series. He was promoted to Pawtucket on September 5, and made one appearance in the International League playoffs, allowing one run over three innings in a PawSox loss to Durham. - Chris Hatfield
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October 17, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Bryce Brentz and Christopher Acosta


For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#32: Bryce Brentz, OF
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox (Rehab: GCL Red Sox, Lowell Spinners)
Final Stats: 298 PA, .227/.326/.430, 12 HR, 12 2B, 3 3B, 65 K, 36 BB (minors)
26 PA, .308/.308/.385, 2 2B, 9K, 0 BB (majors)

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Season in Review: Brentz came out of the gate showing improved patience, walking 20 times over his first 35 games with the PawSox, matching the number of walks he had in 82 games with Pawtucket in 2013. While he still was not making consistent contact, he did hit for power, with 14 extra-base hits, including six home runs, over his first 135 at-bats. On May 15, Brentz strained his hamstring, an injury originally putting him in day-to-day status, but lingered for long enough that he did not start a rehab assignment until over two months later. For the second year in a row, Brentz likely missed out on a major league call-up due to injury, as the Red Sox outfield thinned significantly during that period. He returned to Pawtucket on August 2, and he ended the season on a roll, batting .263/.349/.516 over his last 95 regular season at-bats. He continued to hit in the postseason, batting .263 with three doubles in eight games as he helped lead the PawSox to the Governors' Cup. After the PawSox playoff run finished, Brentz was promoted to Boston, and he played well in his first major league call-up, recording at least one hit in six of the eight games he appeared in. - Jim Crowell
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October 16, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Justin Haley and Jake Cosart


For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#34: Justin Haley, SP
2014 Teams: Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs
Final Stats: 130 1/3 IP, 10-6, 1 SV, 2.35 ERA, 107 H, 39 R/34 ER, 39 BB, 107 K, 1.12 WHIP

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Season in Review: After a solid 2013 season with Greenville, Haley pitched well right out of the gate with High-A Salem, splitting his time between starting and relieving early in the year before forcing his way into the rotation for good in June. An area of immediate improvement for Haley was his ability to limit walks. After allowing more than five free passes per nine innings with the Drive last season, Haley cut that mark by more than half in his time with Salem. In 92 2/3 innings, Haley was 7-4 with a 2.82 ERA, allowing just 77 hits and posting a career-high 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 23-year-old right-hander continued his fantastic season after a promotion to Portland by going 3-2 with a 1.19 ERA in six starts to round out the season. While continued to limit hits, his walk rate did creep back up, as he allowed 16 in 17 2/3 innings. However, 10 of those free passes came in two starts, and Haley went at least six innings in each of his starts with Portland. - John Gray
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October 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Drake Britton and Dalier Hinojosa


For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#36: Drake Britton, RP
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 58 1/3 IP, 2-3, 5 SV, 5.86 ERA, 77 H, 41 R, 38 ER, 38 BB, 37 K, 1.97 WHIP (minors)
6 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 1.05 WHIP (majors)

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Season in Review: Britton started the year back in Pawtucket, with an eye towards getting the call to Boston if the opportunity arose. He allowed only two earned runs in 12 innings in April, but a deeper look at his numbers showed signs of issues that would dog him all year, a 12-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.71 WHIP showing that the control problems that have plagued him throughout his career were not completely exorcised. Things started to go downhill and over his next 35 innings, Britton pitched to a 9.26 ERA with 22 walks and only 16 strikeouts. Batters hit .372 against him while slugging .622. Britton admitted in interviews near the end of the season that he had lost focus and struggled with the fact that he was still in Pawtucket. He did manage to rebound and toss 9 2/3 scoreless innings over his last five appearances with Pawtucket, and he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings over seven appearances in the majors to give him some positive momentum as he enters a very important offseason. - Jim Crowell
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October 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Cody Kukuk and Jamie Callahan


For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. Note, of course, that we will be using the site's official end-of-season rankings, meaning that any changes after September 26 will not be reflected in the countdown. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#38: Cody Kukuk, SP
2014 Teams: Salem Red Sox, Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 102 2/3 IP, 7-7, 4.47 ERA, 89 H, 59 R/51 ER, 83 BB, 116 K, 1.68 WHIP

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Season in Review: After showing both the ability to miss bats and issues throwing strikes in 2013, Kukuk began 2014 back in Greenville after logging 107 innings with the Drive the previous season. The tall left-hander made five starts with the Drive, allowing only five runs over 24 innings pitched before getting the call-up to Salem at the beginning of May. The Carolina League proved a tougher test for Kukuk, whose control problems re-emerged and helped contribute to a tough stretch in his first six weeks with Salem, as he walked 37 batters and allowed 41 hits in 35 2/3 innings over 10 starts. The arrival of July saw improved performances from the 21-year-old, with Kukuk surrendering only six earned runs over six starts that month. He struck out 36 batters and walked 15 in 26 1/3 innings, earning SoxProspects.com’s Pitcher of the Month award. However, including his last start of July, Kukuk's control issues re-emerged in his last five starts, as he allowed 25 free passes in 20 innings. His final line in Salem saw him post 5.26 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 78 2/3 innings. Despite strong strikeout numbers, his biggest issue remains his propensity to give up the free pass, as he posted an 8.1 walks-per-nine rate during his time in the Carolina League. - Alex Skillin
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October 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Dan Butler and Mauricio Dubon


For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. Note, of course, that we will be using the site's official end-of-season rankings, meaning that any changes after September 26 will not be reflected in the countdown. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#40: Dan Butler, C
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 325 PA, .241/.317/.350, 19 2B, 4 HR, 71 K, 29 BB (minors)
20 PA, .211/.250/.368, 3 2B, 5 K, 1BB (majors)

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Season in Review: Butler's unassuming 2014 stat line belies what was at least one big success, as the former undrafted free agent became one of the more unlikely players to make the climb through the Red Sox system in recent years, making his major league debut on August 10. The 27-year-old ended up appearing in seven games during two stints on the major league roster, with a highlight coming in a 3-for-4, two-double performance against Baltimore on September 10. Butler spent most of the year with Pawtucket, where he spent much of the season deferring to Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. However, the organization showed that even with those two top prospects taking many of the reps behind the plate, it still wanted to keep his bat sharp, giving him 28 starts at designated hitter. - James Dunne
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at 9:00 AM

Fall/Winter League Roundup: Castillo, Coyle impress early


This is the first in our series of weekly roundups of the Fall/Winter Leagues, and look for coverage to continue every Monday into January. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in these leagues, check out our Fall & Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through January. This week's roundup covers the period of October 7-12.

Arizona Fall League

Games started on October 7, with seven prospects seeing action for the Surprise Saguaros. The biggest name this year is Rusney Castillo (pictured), who went 5 for 15 with six runs scored over three games. He also stole a base, and Keith Law of ESPN.com tweeted that he was very impressed with his defense in center field.
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