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April 13, 2006 at 6:50 PM

Greenville Season Preview: Position Players

The #1 catcher will be Mike Leonard. Mike was an undrafted free agent signed after the 2004 draft out of UCONN and will turn 26 in a May (obviously a little old for A- ball). Mike played in the GCL in 2004 and was not very impressive. He hit .237/.343/.258 in 108 PA. Moved up to Lowell in 2005 he hit .300/.375/.386 in 80 PA. In his career, Mike has a nice 21:21 BB:K ratio, though he’s not shown much power. Hopefully Mark Wagner or Mitch Stachwosky will take over soon. Mitch is recovering from mono (who’s he been kissin’ on?) and should be back soon.

First Base
Logan Sorenson will man first base for the first part of the year. He was drafted as a senior out of Wichita State in the 19th round. After signing he got 48 plate appearances at Lowell, hitting .273/.292/.432 with 2BB and 4K. In 2005 he played 93 games for the Bombers putting up a line of .225/319/.314, not exactly what you’re looking for out of your first baseman, especially considering that he was not only a college player, but he was also a senior. I’m not sure why he’s still in the organization, but he’ll get the majority of starts for at least the beginning of the season. He’ll play most of the year at 24 years old. Personally I’d like to see
Mike Jones or Jesus Garcia or even Jason Twomley get time at 1B. However, I think the Sox like to have a few “veterans” on each minor league team just to show the young guys how to act and go about their business. This may be his function. Purely based on talent and production, I’m surprised he’s starting. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong.

Second Base

Jeff Natale and Luis Segovia will split time manning the keystone position this season. Natale is probably somewhat disappointed at being reassigned to Greenville this year after tearing it up last year. Taken in the 32nd round in 2005 out of Trinity College, he was assigned to Lowell where he put up a 1.131OPS in 46 pa. He was quickly promoted to Greenville where he continued his hot streak with a .336/.463./544 line in 201 plate appearances. He only struck out 14 times while walking 28 times (and adding 11 HBP) and hitting for 25 extra base hits. Apparently his defense is a big question and this is supposedly the reason he was not promoted to Wilmington to begin the year. Interestingly, he started the most of the first games of the year at DH, which is strange if he’s supposed to be working on his defense. Anyway, I’m a little biased. Jeff will play most of the season at 23 years of age. I don’t think he’s long for South Carolina.

Luis Segovia will turn 20 in July and is one of the Sox Venezuelan prospects. In the VSL in 2004 (as a 17-18 year old) he hit .300/.416/.390 while playing shortstop. He showed good patience with 43 BB in 286 PAs, however he had some trouble making contact as he also struck out 47 times. He also showed good speed with 21 SBs, but he was somewhat raw, getting caught 13 times. The Sox thought enough of Luis to bring him over to the US last year. In the GCL he showed a similar skill set, walking in 10% of his PAs, while striking out 19% of the time. His stolen base percentage went up with a 12:2 ratio. Overall Luis hit .267/.348/.340 in 184 PA. Scouting and tools wise, I don’t know much about Luis, though I suspect he’s a plus defender at 2B given that he used to be a shortstop. If he can gain a little more power as he matures while keeping his fielding skills and patience, he could be an interesting prospect.

Third Base
Tony Granadillo is one of my favorite lesser-known Sox prospects. He was taken in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft (AAA phase) out of the St. Louis organization. He hits whenever he plays, however his problem is that he can’t seem to stay on the field because of injuries. Last season he got into 67 games at Greenville hitting for a .291/.384/.427 line in 271 plate appearances in his 20 year old year. I was a little disappointed that he was sent back to Greenville instead of being promoted to Wilmington, but that seems to be a recurring theme. It is somewhat more understandable than Natale or Turner (who we’ll get to soon), but I still don’t have to like it. Hopefully with a good start, he can move up in June or so.

Christian Lara returns to Greenville to man shortstop. He was somewhat disappointing last year after a great 2004 season after which BA ranked him the Sox #12 prospect (ahead of Hall, Murphy, Meredith, and others) and Sickles ranked him #8. That 2004 season started out at the GCL where he hit .433/.493/.633 in 67 PA with 10 XBH, 7:10 BB:K, and 8:0 SB:CS before being promoted to Lowell. In Lowell he got 146 PA and ended up with a .277/.404/.336 against mostly college trained players while he was just 19. As a 20 year old in the SAL last year he hit just .232/.304/.299 with a 37:90 BB:K rate and just 6 steals while getting caught twice. He did play a good defensive shortstop, however. His age 21 season this year will be very telling as to whether or not he’s actually a prospect. Christian is currently ranked as the #16 best prospect by BA and is not ranked in the top 20 by John Sickels.

Chris Turner (for some reason it keeps telling me that "the tag is broken" when i try to link his page) has a right to be among the most disappointed prospects in his placement to start the season. All he did last year at Greenville was hit .281/.361/.515 in 338 PAs. Granted, he did have a problem with contact, striking out in 25% of his plate appearances, but when he makes contact it’s usually solid. Chris was taken in the 15th round in the 2003 draft out of Texarkana JC and signed for $140K (approximately 5th round money). He did not impress in his first two seasons, though he showed a little promising power potential in the GCL in 2004. His problems the first two years were a lack of contact and a lack of patience. In 2004 his line in Lowell was .241/.265/.395 in 170 PAs. 2005 was his breakout season at Greenville in his 21 year old season, though he still had the contact problem. BA didn’t rank him going into this season (kind of surprising for a guy with his tools), but John Sickels ranked him #19. Hopefully he’s pissed off and takes it out on the pitching of the opposition. If he starts out as well as he ended last year, he could be part of a domino effect with Murphy going to Pawtucket, Corsaletti going to Portland, and Turner going to Wilmington. Chris will be 22 for the entire season. EDIT: Not a good start to the season for my boy. 3 errors and lots of K’s. Hopefully he’ll turn it around.

Yahmed Yema was drafted in 2005 in the 7th round out of Florida International University and signed for $90K. John Sickles loves this guy and pegged him as a sleeper before the draft. He ranks him #15 in the Sox system (he's not ranked by BA in the top 30). He had a great junior season with a line of .391/.467/.676, showing great patience and some power. Assigned to Lowell after signing he did OK, not great, but not terrible either. His final line was .301/.350/.411 in 237 PA which is actually pretty good in a league that favors pitchers as much as the NYP league does. He showed good strike zone judgement with a 17:21 BB:K ratio and flashed a little speed with an 8:1 SB:CS ratio. He impressed this spring and will play center field for the Greenville this year. Yahmed will be 21 for the entire season and if he makes the majors will be the first major league player ever with the initials YY.

Luis Soto begins his 2nd year playing outfield, after making the switch from shortstop. Last year was a little rough for Luis, both offensively while at Greenville, and defensively. After signing for $500K our of the Dominican Republic in December of 2003, and hitting .261/.289/.470 in the GCL in 2004, he was ranked #7 in the system by BA (#9 by Sickles). The Sox promoted him to Greenville at the beginning of 2005 and Luis struggled at the plate, in the field, and emotionally. Apparently the Sox didn’t like Soto’s work ethic and attitude and when those were combined with his pathetic .212/.247/.259 in 89 PA he was brought back to extended spring training to get things straight. When the Spinners began playing in June, Luis was firmly planted in right field. He impressed with the bat, though he has a long way to go with the glove. In 281 PA he hit .293/.377/.431 showing patience for the first time and displaying good power. Most agree that Soto has the best tools of any Sox position prospect, with perhaps the best power potential, good speed and a great arm. He currently ranks #11 by BA and by Sickels. If he continues to show that plate discpline and power, he could develop into the prototypical right fielder, though he’s several years away. Luis will anchor the lineup in Greenville, hitting 4th. I’m really looking forward to seeing him when Greenville comes through Charleston this summer. Luis will play the whole season at age 20. Unless he absolutely crushes the league, I think the Sox will keep Luis in Greenville to get at bats and work on his fielding for the majority of the year.