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July 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM

The Ladder- 7.23.09

Ryan Westmoreland

The Line: Through 27 games, Westmoreland has posted a .280/.393/.490 line with the Lowell Spinners, good for an OPS of .883. Since turning the calendar over into the month of July, he’s cracked 9 extra-base hits in 63 at-bats, including 4 home runs. Westmoreland has been disciplined at the plate as well, walking 19 times, and he is a perfect 8 for 8 in stolen base attempts. On July 15, he went 2 for 4 against Aberdeen, belting a long solo home run in the game. Westmoreland followed that up with a 2-for-4 effort against Williamsport July 18 and a 3-for-3 performance against State College July 20, including a triple and another solo home run. His .883 OPS ranks him sixth in the NYPL, and his 4 home runs currently have him tied for fourth in the league.

The View: Westmoreland’s skills have come as advertised and he has been proving to be a player on the move. His excellent bat speed and strong wrists generate easy power to all fields. Westmoreland is able to wait on the ball and allow it to get deep on him before he unleashes his swing. This enables him to stay back as long as possible and power the ball to the opposite field on a line. Westmoreland has also shown excellent power into the right-centerfield gap when he gets the head of the bat out in front of a pitch. The ball jumps off his bat when he squares it up, and he has shown an early knack for getting the fat part of the bat on the ball. His swing is quick to the point of contact by driving his hands down through the ball, and he’s able to keep his hands inside the ball on tough inside pitches. Westmoreland’s plate patience and discipline have proven to be advanced for his 19 years of age, and he has worked deep into counts during most of his at-bats. He has struck out a bit, but these generally come when he is deeper into the count and on off-speed pitches down in the dirt. As a developing hitter, this is something that should improve for Westmoreland as he builds his experience against professional pitching. Grading out around a 70 for speed, he’s got the makings of an above-average base stealer as he learns to read pitchers and improves his technique. After having off-season surgery on his shoulder, Westmoreland has yet to debut in the outfield, which should come later on this summer.

Yamaico Navarro

The Line: Spanning 94 at-bats, Navarro put up a line of .319/.373/.543 during his stay with Salem Red Sox, good for an OPS of .915. Since coming off the disabled list on June 19, he’s churned out 13 extra-base hits, including 9 doubles and 4 home runs, while only striking out 12 times during the stretch. Navarro drove in 5 runs via a home run and a double July 16 in a 2-for-5 performance against Winston-Salem, and went 2 for 4 with a run batted in against Frederick on July 21 in his final game with Salem. He was promoted to Portland on July 22.

The View: Navarro missed the first couple of months of the season after having surgery to remove the hook of his hand (better known as the hamate bone), but he’s rebounded nicely since returning. A natural and smooth shortstop, his range and throwing arm are above average, enabling him to make difficult plays look easy. After working on some of his glove work and footwork around the bag, Navarro has become a lot smoother turning double plays and projects as an above-average defensive player at the major league level. On the offensive side of the game, he brings some pop to the middle of the diamond and profiles as a hitter who will pile up extra-base hits. Navarro has excellent bat speed and can turn anyone’s fastball around. Especially adept at turning on inside fastballs, his bat whips through the strike zone to produce a lot of balls on a line, and he hits with good backspin that points toward him, adding a little home run power down the line. Navarro has struggled with off-speed pitches in the past, but he has been improving on his recognition and cutting down on the wild swings on balls in the dirt. He does, however, need some development in his patience and discipline at the plate. With his recent promotion to Portland in the Eastern League, Navarro is going to be challenged to keep his over-aggressiveness in check and not let pitchers force him into chasing bad balls off the plate. He’ll have to make some adjustments in Double-A, but it’s nothing outside of his skill set and should come along once he gets into a comfort zone against a new set of pitching. A period of struggle could mark the beginning of his Double-A tenure given the tough pitching reputation of the Eastern League. With the recent trade of fellow shortstop prospect, Argenis Diaz to Pittsburgh, Navarro has climbed to the top of the organization’s depth chart at the shortstop position, and he has been fast tracked with an eye on getting a glimpse of his time-table to making an impact at the major league level.

Trending Up

Felix Doubront continues to put together a solid season after surprising some with his Portland assignment to start the season. The 21-year-old left-hander has had a few rough patches, but as witnessed by his recent 7 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts against New Britian, the stuff is there with added consistency. Doubront has now struck out 77 batters in 79 innings on the season while allowing just 1 hit per inning and only giving up 5 home runs on the season. Doubront features a low 90’s fastball, a deceptive change-up that he turns over, and a mid 70’s curveball. His change-up has been an effective out pitch for him and complements his fastball nicely. Doubront’s poise and demeanor on the mound have drawn praise from scouts who have followed him during the season…After a tough start to the season, Salem righty Seth Garrison has put together a strong stretch of performances. Covering his last 52 2/3 innings, Garrison has only given up 15 earned runs and walked only 10 batters. After spending the 2008 season as the closer for the Lowell Spinners, he’s moved into a starting role with the Salem Red Sox this season and has begun to settle in after getting hit hard the first two months of 2009…Shannon Wilkerson, an eighth-round draft pick this year by the Red Sox, has settled in with Lowell and begun to show off his skills. The right-handed outfielder is now 26 for 91 on the season. Wilkerson has above-average tools across the board and has been coming up to speed with professional pitching after playing Division II baseball in college.

Trending Down

Bryan Price continues to struggle with his fastball location since being promoted to Salem. The right-handed pitcher has now given up 57 hits in 41 1/3 innings and been tagged with 36 earned runs in that stretch. Price has been hit hard by left-handed batters and has generally been leaving his fastball in the middle of the plate. Considered his best weapon, his slider has also not been as sharp in outings, sweeping more across the strike zone and lacking the downward bite that would make it a plus pitch. Despite his velocity, Price’s four-seam fastball is on the straight side, and he can loose command of his running two-seam fastball at times. He’s yet to put together a couple of consistent outings to get himself in a groove…Mark Wagner has yet to hit his stride since his promotion to Pawtucket and is currently 6 for 37 to start his career at Triple-A…Charlie Zink has been hit hard in July. In his 4 starts this month, the knuckleballer has given up 21 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings while only striking out 2 batters.