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SoxProspects News

February 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Roman Mendez and Derrik Gibson

This installment of the series features two rising prospects from the Red Sox system who have started generating buzz around the baseball community this off-season and project to break camp with the Greenville Drive.

Roman Mendez

Position: Starting Pitcher
2009 Team: Gulf Coast Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Greenville Drive

Strengths: Pitching in the United States for the first time since joining the organization as an international free agent in July 2007, Mendez took his first steps towards solidifying himself in the next wave of pitching prospects looking to ascend through the Red Sox system. This 19-year-old righty with a very live arm features a high-octane fastball that tops out around 96 MPH and generally sits 92-93 MPH during outings. Scouts came away impressed with the late movement on his fastball, and one pro scout felt that Mendez is the type of pitcher that is really going to blossom as he physically matures over the next couple of seasons. Given his projectable frame with a lot of room to fill out, Mendez has the ability to add some velocity on his fastball down the line. He showed good command and control while pitching in the Gulf Coast League in 2009 and impressed with his mature approach, especially with his willingness to come after hitters and challenge them. Mendez compliments his fastball with an advanced slider that can generate swings and misses as it dives out of the strike zone with tight spin. He’s been tough to make solid contact against and has been able to limit mistakes within the strike zone thus far into his professional career.

Development Needs: Still very young and a little raw, Mendez could stand to clean his mechanics up a bit. He can short-arm the ball on occasion, and this can lead to him losing a little bit of life on his fastball. As he makes his way towards full-season baseball, he’s going to have to bulk up some to withstand the rigors of pitching a full season as a starting pitcher. Mendez will now face much more advanced hitters than he has thus far during his time in the Red Sox system. Improvement with his low-80’s change-up is going to be a key for him going forward, as it is presently a below-average offering, but has been showing improvement as he progresses. There is some good separation from his fastball in terms of velocity, but the deception isn’t there yet and he can show the pitch to hitters too much due to varying arm speeds. Mendez generally shows good command, but it remains to be seen how that will hold against more mature hitters and being able to consistently hitting spots becomes magnified.

2010 Outlook: Mendez has a chance to break camp with the Greenville Drive and take a turn in the team’s rotation every fifth day. If he needs a little more work coming out of camp, look for him to spend some time back in Florida and then head north with the Lowell Spinners in June. 2010 will be a good test of how advanced he is at this point in career, as the level of competition is going to jump up a couple of notches regardless of where he ultimately ends up. Look for Mendez to continue to rely on his fastball to get batters out with his good command of the pitch. His slider is a capable second weapon and could emerge as a plus out-pitch. The key in 2010 is how his change-up develops and how well he can hold his stuff going deeper into games. His change-up should take a step forward as he throws the pitch more and more this season, and gains trust to use it early or late in the count. Mendez is an exciting young prospect in the Red Sox system and one at the very early stages of his development. This season looks like one that will focus on polishing off some of his rough edges with an eye towards building a more complete arsenal of pitches.

Derrik Gibson

Position: Short Stop/Second Base
2009 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
2010 Projected Team: Greenville Drive

Strengths: After a tough time offensively in his initial stint with Lowell during the tail end of the 2008 season, Gibson came back in 2009 a much improved player offensively and put together a solid season with the Spinners. Athletic and possessing excellent speed, he’s a player that can make things happen with his wheels and brings a level of excitement to the field each time he is in the lineup. Utilizing a compact stroke, Gibson is short to the point of contact and has quick wrists through the hitting zone. He’s shown the ability to hit to all fields and can plug a gap or two when he squares a ball up. Gibson’s approach at the plate became his biggest strength offensively and was much improved from his first season in the system after being drafted in the second round in 2008. He looked a lot better against off-speed pitches, worked himself deep into counts, and was more selective with the pitches he chose to swing at. When he is going well at the plate, Gibson produces a lot of line drives and stays back on the ball well, keeping himself from jumping out at the ball. He projects to add a little more muscle to his frame as he matures. Gibson has good instincts in the field to go along with an average to slightly above-average arm and plus range. He split time between second base and short stop last season, showing improvement with his fluidity as the summer went along.

Development Needs: Gibson can be streaky at the plate and needs to be more consistent in keeping his swing together. He tends to chop and tap balls during rough stretches. An improved hitter against breaking balls, he needs some work on driving them more rather than fighting them off. This should come with continued exposure to professional pitching, and his relaxed approach at the plate helps him stay back on off-speed pitches to spoil them. His power is still a bit of a question mark with how it is going to project, and he needs improvement on pulling the ball with authority consistently. Gibson makes athletic plays in the field, but relies on his instincts right now. His reads off the bat need some polish, especially at second base. His footwork around the bag is a bit rough and he’ll sometimes get caught on in-between hops over at second base as well. Gibson most likely doesn’t project as a shortstop once he gets to higher levels, but he should prove to be an above-average second baseman with excellent range and a strong, accurate arm.

2010 Outlook: Gibson will break camp with the Greenville Drive and most likely split time between the middle-infield positions. He could see more time at second base, but should also play some shortstop at this level. This placement will challenge Gibson and he could struggle a bit as he adjusts to the level of competition the first time he goes through the league, but his developing approach and patience should help him limit the time of his adjustment period. Look for Gibson to spray the ball around the field and hit a gap every once in a while. He doesn’t have much present power right now and a big jump isn’t expected at this stage in his development. Gibson should continue to be an exciting player to watch, whether he is stealing a base, turning in a diving play in the field, or taking an extra base on a ball hit into the gap. A huge physical breakout isn’t expected and seems more like a year away, but he looks to be a more mature player after another season under his belt in the Red Sox organization, and one that has a lot of people within the baseball community excited about heading into 2010.