SoxProspects News

July 1, 2009 at 1:01 PM

The Ladder- 7.1.09



Derrik Gibson

The Line: Off to a scorching start 2 weeks into short-season play, Gibson is 16 for 34 with 5 doubles and 2 triples to go along with 4 stolen bases so far for Lowell. Currently riding a 7-game hitting streak, he’s cracked 2 or more hits in 4 of the 7 games, including a 3-for-3 performance on June 29 against Oneonta and a 3-for-4 showing in Tri-Valley on June 25. Flashing his gap power, Gibson has knocked 6 of his 7 extra-base hits in his last 5 games while effectively getting the fat part of the bat on the ball the majority of the time he makes contact. Overmatched last season in his brief call up to Lowell, he’s started off well in 2009. He has especially improved his control of the strike zone, drawing 10 walks and striking out only 6 times thus far. Gibson’s been the hottest member of the Lowell Spinners and the driving force behind their offense hitting out of the second slot in the batting order.

The View: While he did not break camp with a full-season team back in April, the time spent in Florida seems to have done Gibson a lot of good as the short-season ramps up. Still very lean, he’s got a lot of physical maturing to do, but the maturation in the batter’s box has been noticeable in the first two weeks of the season. Looking comfortable at the plate, Gibson has been able to track off-speed pitches a lot better than he did last season and drive fastballs with his quick, compact stroke highlighted by his strong hands and quick wrists. He’s able to stay back off his front foot while keeping his hands back during the early going and drive through the ball. The ball has been jumping off his bat when he squares pitches up. Given his elite speed and projection of around average power down the line, Gibson profiles as a top-of-the-order table-setter, but he will rack up his fair share of extra-base hits given his speed, ability to plug gaps with line drives, and his quick hands to the point of contact. Hitting with a level swing, he produces a lot of backspin and is quick enough to get around on a lot of fastballs while covering enough of the plate to spoil pitches on the outer third. Gibson fights off off-speed pitches more than he drives them at this point, but with continued exposure his recognition will improve. Gibson is also a bit raw on the base paths, but with continued instruction he should evolve into a dangerous threat in regards to the running game. He gets good jumps, but needs to work on reading pitchers a bit better. Coming into the system as a shortstop, Gibson has slid over to second base and is a bit rough right now in the field, still working on his reads on balls hit in his direction. However, due to his athleticism he’s been able to make up for the inexperience and use his range to his advantage. Two weeks into a season is only a glimpse, but if he continues to stay back on the ball Gibson should put together a nice summer with the Spinners and get solid experience under his belt. One thing to look for is how well he’ll adjust to getting pounded inside with fastballs the second time through the NYPL.

Dustin Richardson

The Line: After converting to the bullpen in the winter of 2008, Richardson has transitioned into his new role without much of a hitch. Overall, the lefty has thrown 42 1/3 innings covering 24 appearances out of the ‘pen for the Portland Sea Dogs and limited EL batters to a .187 average against, including a .175 average against left-handed batters. He’s also registered 32 of his 59 strikeouts on the season against lefties. Plagued by home runs as a starter last season with the Sea Dogs, (17 in 106 2/3 innings) Richardson has only given up 1 home run this season, and hitters generally haven’t been making solid contact against him. In his last 16 innings pitched, he’s fanned 26 batters, including 5 over 2 1/3 innings against Akron on June 12 and 4 in 2 innings on June 27 against New Hampshire. Richardson ranks second amongst EL relievers in strikeouts on the season and just outside the top 15 in the EL for all pitchers.

The View: Richardson had success as a starter in the lower levels of the Red Sox system, but struggled once he hit Double-A, but most long-term projections had him as a reliever down the line anyway due to his unrefined secondary pitches. As expected, the move to the bullpen has fit well with Richardson. An over-the-top lefty, he throws extremely downhill with the leverage generated from his 6’6’’ frame, and his 90-92 MPH fastball deceptively comes out of his delivery, which is where he picks up a lot of his strikeouts. The pitch has some late tailing action to it as well and he can turn it over from time to time. Batters are usually late on his fastball due to picking it up late out of his hand, and he’s able to spot it well and has the ability to elevate it out of the zone when he wants to. Richardson also features a curveball and a change-up, but he’s mostly used his curveball out of the ‘pen. Once more of a slurvy, loopy offering, he’s tightened up his curve to the point where it is about average, and he has been able to drop it in for strikes on hitters. Richardson has benefited from only going through opposing lineups once and his stuff has played up very well in this role. After putting up a solid first half of the season, he’s shown the promise of being a potential bullpen candidate at the major league level down the line. With the difficulties lefties have with his stuff, Richardson could find himself sliding into a lefty specialist role and should get a chance to prove himself at Triple-A sometime this summer.

Trending Up

After moving from the South Atlantic League to the Carolina League, Tim Federowicz has continued his offensive onslaught this season, starting off 10 for 24 with Salem while cracking 4 doubles and only going down on strikes 2 times. Known for his defense coming into the organization, Federowicz has begun to solidify himself offensively in the lower levels of the Red Sox system and has shown good power thus far, driving pitches with his short, quick stroke. Advanced defensively, it was always just a question of how fast his offensive game would round into form, and the results thus far have put him on the developmental fast track…Sticking with Salem catchers, Luis Exposito has hit in 9 of his last 10 games, going 15 for 41 in that stretch with 5 extra-base hits. Since starting off slow in April with a .719 OPS, Exposito has pushed his overall OPS to .794 with 2 months of solid baseball at the plate. The homerun totals are down from the 21 home runs he hit last season, but he’s walked 18 times in 217 at-bats after walking only 21 times in 417 at-bats last season…Chris Province has been steadily getting on track since a tough April and has enjoyed a strong June, limiting batters to a .220 average against while only giving up 4 earned runs in 16 innings of work. The right-handed sinker ball pitcher carries a 64.5% ground-ball rate on the season and ranks near the top of the organization in inducing groundballs. His low 90’s sinker dives through the strike zone and is especially tough to elevate when he keeps it in the lower third of the zone…Mark Wagner was recently promoted to Pawtucket after posting a .887 OPS with Portland through the first half of the season. Wagner’s overall game has been much improved this season, including his defense being more refined and his ability to handle off-speed pitches while in the batter’s box greatly improved as well.

Trending Down

Jon Still had a very rough June, going 12 for 99 while striking out 28 times and only walking 5 times in the month. Still has seen his season batting average dip to .219. He’s struggled with off-speed pitches and has been chasing them frequently out of the strike zone…Richie Lentz has had an injury-filled 2009 and has once again found himself on the DL with the Portland Sea Dogs. After pitching well in 2008 after his call up to the EL, Lentz has struggled with his control, walking 24 batters in 23 innings and giving up 22 earned runs on the season. Lentz has not been able to get into a groove all season due to his injuries and his velocity has been in the low-90’s after working in the mid-90’s much of last season…Chih-Hsien Chiang went 8 for 47 in June with only 1 extra-base hit. Chiang has had a tough time squaring pitches up and has looked overmatched during his tough month of June.

 
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