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SoxProspects News

August 12, 2009 at 12:51 PM

The Ladder- 8.12.09

Adam Mills

The Line: On a roll since June, in his last 61 innings pitched Mills has given up 49 hits and 12 earned runs while recording 43 strikeouts against just 10 walks. Mills has gone 7-0 since July 1, covering 43 innings with 35 hits against and 9 earned runs allowed. On July 31 against Harrisburg, Mills went 7 innings while giving up 5 hits and 3 earned runs against. Mills struck out 3 in the outing and did not allow a walk. He had his best performance of the season on August 6 against Altoona, firing 8 shutout innings and striking out 8 batters, only allowing 5 hits. Mills’ 10 wins on the season ranked him second in the Eastern League prior to his promotion to Pawtucket on August 8.

The View: Mills relies on his control of his arsenal to get batters out while having them reach or get jammed on balls they put into play. To start the season, his 88-90 MPH fastball was grabbing far too much of the plate, and batters were making a lot of solid contact against the pitch. As the season has gone on, he’s been able to work the corners more and consistently change speeds when he is ahead of batters to limit the solid contact against him, relying on his fielders to make the plays behind him. Mills can also run and sink his fastball to change the look of the pitch, and he also features a change-up to keep hitters off-balance, a late breaking slider, and an average knuckle-curveball. Mills has his best results when he is mixing these pitches in to keep batters guessing and get them out on their front foot. A starter for all of his tenure within the Red Sox system, Mills will start out in the rotation for the Pawtucket Red Sox as well, but his long-term future looks to be as an arm out of the bullpen. However, as long as Mills continues to have success in the role, the organization will continue to use him in that capacity. A tough competitor, Mills goes right after hitters with excellent command and control of his entire repertoire. Now at the highest level of the minors, he must continue to live in the lower part of the strike zone and keep hitters guessing. Mills cannot afford to live off any of his pitches, but as a whole they have been an effective combination for most of the season at Double A. Drafted in 2007, Mills has climbed to Triple-A in his second full season in the system and lends the Red Sox more depth, either as a starter or as a potential arm out of the bullpen.

Ryan Kalish

The Line: After struggling to an 8-for-60 start in Portland after being promoted from Salem in June, Kalish has turned things around and is now 31 for his last 93 with 5 home runs, 10 doubles, and an OPS of 1.008 during that stretch. He’s also scored 26 runs for the Sea Dogs during that time, mostly hitting out of the second slot in the lineup. He’s been especially hot in his last 10 games, going 14 for 37 with 3 home runs. On August 8 against Altoona, he went 2 for 4 with a homer, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI. Kalish followed that up with a 4-for-4 performance against Bowie that included a solo homer and 4 runs scored. He’s currently fourth on the Sea Dogs in home runs and fourth in runs scored despite only playing 76 games with the team.

The View: Kalish has been hot since his tough month to start his Double-A career and has put the lingering doubts of the 2008 season (when he struggled with post-surgery pain in his hand) behind him. A strong player with a quick stroke, Kalish has been unleashing his swing in the last six weeks as he has squared up more balls. A line-drive hitter, he creates a lot of backspin on the ball and hits balls to all fields with authority. Kalish is able to wait long enough on the ball to serve tough pitches to the opposite field, while possessing the pitch recognition to jump out in front of balls and drive them into the right-centerfield gap. He initially saw a spike in his strikeouts upon being promoted to Portland, but as he has settled in these have normalized close to his rates in the low-minors. His control of the strike zone and approach have steadily improved as he has logged experience in the Red Sox system, and he has become an above-average hitter in terms of these traits. A key to his success has been his ability to stay back on his back leg while keeping his hands back, instead of jumping out at pitches and lunging on his front foot. His versatility in the field allows his name to be penciled into all three outfield spots, although he ultimately projects as a corner outfielder at the big league level. Kalish projects to have good range and an above-average arm at either the rightfield or leftfield positions in the future. The way a player adjusts is a good sign of the progress he is making, and Kalish has so far made the necessary adjustments to take the next steps in his development. The conclusion of his season will lend a good look at how close he is at making the next round of adjustments, when pitchers change their patterns against him in the Eastern League and beyond.

Trending Up

After a tough start with Salem, Kyle Weiland has been extremely strong for the Red Sox since June, going 2-4 with a 1.66 ERA in his last 10 starts. Weiland has limited batters to 43 hits in 54 1/3 innings and has fanned 42 hitters in that span. Using a heavy 2-seam fastball that sits 92-93 MPH, he is very effective when he keeps the ball down and stays on top of the pitch through his delivery, which creates some nice downward tilt. Weiland also features a high 70’s curveball with plus potential and a developing change-up. Much of his development centers on the sharpening of his secondary pitches as a starter and how well he’ll be able to mix them in to complement his plus fastball. A 2008 draft pick, Weiland started the season in High-A after spending last summer with the Lowell Spinners, where he posted a 1.50 ERA in 15 appearances and limited batters to a .168 batting average against…After a mid-season lull, Portland’s Jorge Jimenez has hit his stride once again and is 15 for his last 39 with 2 home runs and 8 runs driven in. Jimenez has struck out 6 times and walked 5 times in the stretch. The recently named SoxProspects.com Player of the Week has posted an OPS of .823 on the season and made strong strides with his approach at the plate in 2009…Derrik Gibson has once again been Lowell’s hottest hitter. After starting off the season on a tear and coming back down to Earth, Gibson is 17 for his last 47 with 8 runs scored, hitting mostly out of the second slot for the Spinners. The 19-year-old has been streaky on the season, but recently has been back to squaring the ball up to produce line drives and staying back on the ball much better than he did in July, when he hit .178 for the month.

Trending Down

Hunter Jones has had a rocky second half with the Paw Sox and has now allowed 12 earned runs in his last 15 innings to go along with 16 hits against. The left-handed reliever has been hit hard in his recent outings, including getting tagged with 5 earned runs in his last appearance against Charlotte. Jones has struggled with his fastball command and has been leaving the pitch over the middle of the plate during this rough patch…After a strong July that included 18 runs driven in and an OPS of .886, Lowell’s Chris McGuiness has hit a bit of a snag at the plate and is 8 for his last 43. The left-hand hitting first baseman has made his hits count, however, as he has driven in 15 runs during the span, which includes 6 mulitple-RBI games…Hunter Cervenka has struggled with his control in the GCL, issuing 20 free passes in 15 1/3 innings of work. The hard-throwing left-handed pitcher has had trouble finding his release point and controlling his fastball so far this season.