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August 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM

The Ladder- 8.26.09

Kyle Weiland

The Line: Covering his last 53 2/3 innings of work, Weiland has been shutting down opposing lineups with regularity, giving up 46 hits while striking out 54 batters and only allowing 12 earned runs. The right-handed starter has really turned it up in August, going 3-1 thus far while batters have hit just .218 against him, and he hasn’t allowed a home run since May. On August 18 against Lynchburg, he fired 5 1/3 innings scattering 6 hits and striking out 6 to pick up the win. Weiland followed that up with 6 scoreless innings on August 24 against Winston-Salem, fanning a season high 10 batters and allowing 2 hits in Salem’s 7-0 win. He’s currently riding a personal 3-game win streak and has now given up 112 hits in 118 2/3 innings on the season after a tough April.

The View: Weiland has made strong adjustments over the course of the season, mainly keeping his stuff down after living too high in the strike zone during the month of April. Featuring a 92-94 MPH sinking fastball with late life, he’s a much more effective pitcher when he is pounding the zone early with his fastball to get ahead of opposing batters, setting up his sharp 9/3 curveball and developing change-up. Weiland’s fastball has darting, downward action and is very tough on batters when he is spotting it on the corners and finishing the pitch down around the knees. The pitch is difficult to lift when he is consistently on top of it and throwing downhill. His secondary offerings are more of a work in progress, but each shows plus potential with added consistency. Weiland sometimes has trouble finishing his curve and keeping consistent arm speed on his change-up, but the pitches have been improving as the season has progressed and his confidence in them has grown. A groundball pitcher, he has the velocity on his fastball to challenge batters from time to time when he is ahead in the count, but cannot consistently live up in the zone. He can also struggle at times to stay ahead of batters, as seen in his rough April. A converted college closer, Weiland has taken well to his new role as a starting pitcher since joining the Red Sox organization in the summer of 2008 and has demonstrated the ability to go deep into games, while consistently holding his fastball velocity. A fierce competitor on the mound, he goes right after batters and has been able to effectively pitch inside early in his professional career, one of his main strengths given the movement on his fastball. Entering the season, there were questions about how he would project as a pitcher down the line. Thus far, he has proven that he can handle his current role as a starting pitcher, and looks to be a factor as a starter when he reaches the Double-A level next season (or potentially beyond with continued sharpening of his secondary repertoire).

Alex Wilson

The Line: Wilson is off to a strong start in his first 30 professional innings, giving up a miniscule 8 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 27 batters and only issuing 7 walks. Batters have hit .082 against the right-handed pitcher, and he has yet to give up a home run. Wilson dominated Batavia in 3 scoreless innings on August 9, surrendering only 1 hit and fanning 4 batters. Against Oneonta on August 22, he pitched 3 hitless innings while striking out 2. Wilson has been especially tough in August, allowing only 2 hits over 12 innings of work.

The View: After coming off a college season filled with mixed results, the second-round draft pick has been dominating the NYPL, which given his age and stuff shouldn’t be overly surprising. Wilson’s two best offerings are a low 90s fastball that has topped out at 94 thus far and an 81-83 MPH slider with plus potential. Moving his fastball in and out to batters, he’s able to command both sides of the plate and elevate it when he needs to push past hitters with a little something extra. He’s primarily been sitting 92-93 with his fastball and has been limited to 40 pitches per outing after a heavy workload at Texas A+M. Prior to having Tommy John surgery in 2008, Wilson’s heater worked more in the mid-90’s and topped out around 97 MPH. His command of the pitch has been above average upon entering the professional ranks, and there is a chance some more velocity will return as he continues to strengthen his arm. An uptick in velocity would greatly enhance the effectiveness of his fastball and move it more into an overpowering category. Wilson’s slider has been a good offering for him, but there is some room for sharpening the pitch, and at times it has looked more like a sweeping slider rather than one that darts hard out of the strike zone. As he advances to higher levels within the system, this will be a pitch that will need some more development to become a true out pitch for him. The Red Sox have Wilson working on a starter’s schedule right now, with the intention of stretching him out and beginning his progression in that role. He has currently been working a change-up into his repertoire and has been starting to get the feel for throwing the pitch. Wilson also features a curveball, but he has thrown it with less frequency in his time at Lowell. Considered a bit of a tweener right now, his ability to develop his change-up will determine his future role. Wilson has looked sharp in his 40-pitch stints, but it won’t be until next season -when he starts to go deeper into games - that a good picture of how he will project will come into focus.

Trending Up

After spending the first part of the season with the Salem Red Sox, Lowell’s Jose Alvarez has found his groove pitching regularly for the Spinners and was recently rewarded as an All-Star in the NYPL All-Star Game. The left-handed starter has gone 7-3 with a 1.54 ERA in 12 appearances and recently tied the record for most wins in a season by a Lowell pitcher. Alvarez features an 88-91 MPH fastball with slightly above-average command. His low 70’s straight change-up is his best offering and is extremely deceptive on batters due to his arm action. Alvarez also mixes in a mid 70’s curveball that can show sharp break at times, but can also be a little inconsistent. He’ll need to continue to be fine with his pitches as he moves back up to full-season baseball next season, but also shows some potential to fill out his frame some more and add some velocity in the process…Daniel Nava has been red hot since his promotion to Portland, clubbing 4 home runs in 63 at-bats along with posting an 1.214 OPS. Hampered with an injury that delayed the start to his season, Nava has ramped back into form and picked up where he left off after winning the California League batting title last season with the Lancaster Jethawks…Spinners outfielder Wilfred Pichardo has been locked in at the plate in August and is currently 15 for his last 40 with 12 runs scored, 8 stolen bases, and 10 runs batted in during the stretch. Pichardo has been staying back on the ball much better after jumping out and lunging at pitches in the beginning of the season. He’s shown some nice signs of improvement at the plate as the season has gone along. The fastest player in the Red Sox organization, he uses his wheels to his advantage by slashing at pitches, but has also been driving the ball a little bit more as he has settled in. Defensively, Pichardo gets good jumps on the ball in the outfield and has shown a good arm.

Trending Down

Josh Reddick has found the initial transition to Triple-A to be a tough one, as he has started 6 for 46 with only 1 extra-base hit. He’s been rolling over a lot of balls in the early going and hasn’t found his timing at the plate yet. Reddick is still working on his approach at the plate, which made strong strides in Double-A this season, but will need to focus more on driving the ball the other way on pitches running away from him…Lars Anderson’s difficult season has extended into August as he is just 6 for 39 in the month. Anderson has struggled for most of the season with his balance and has not been driving the ball with much consistency for much of the season. He only has 8 extra-base hits in July and August, and hasn’t homered since mid-June…Jeremy Hazelbaker has found the South Atlantic League to be a bit tough and is now hitting .192 in 125 at-bats. The 2009 fourth-round pick has been adjusting to professional pitching and has been challenged with top competition each night after playing his college baseball at Ball State.