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SoxProspects News

June 3, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The Ladder: 6.3.10

OF Ryan Kalish

The Line: After a deceiving .222 batting average in April, but still managing an OPS of .817, Kalish exploded in May and took the Eastern League by storm. Highlighted by his 12 extra-base hits, the outfielder generated line drives to all fields and saw a spike in his power numbers. Drawing an impressive 17 walks in April to post a healthy .373 on-base percentage, Kalish continued his patient trends during his hot stretch to work 11 walks despite a marked rise in the at-bats where he produced hits. His season slash line sat at .293/.404/.527 to close out May, good for an .931 OPS and within the Top 10 in the Eastern League. Kalish’s torrid stretch in Double-A culminated with his promotion to Pawtucket on May 31.

The View: From the start of the season, Kalish demonstrated his excellent control of the strike zone and it was just a matter of time before the 22 year old outfielder heated up. After initially struggling upon being promoted to Double-A in 2009, he came on very strong to finish up the season and found himself back with the Sea Dogs in 2010 to continue building on his offensive foundation at this level. Kalish gets the head of the bat through the strike zone very quickly and is able to keep his hands back long enough to make solid contact even when slightly fooled. His natural power spot runs from the right-centerfield gap to down the line and he’s very capable of driving balls deep out to right field. As he continues to mature as a hitter and attack pitches with some added lift, Kalish looks capable of producing slightly-above average power at the major league level, and possibly a little beyond. Able to play all three outfield positions, he looks best suited for a corner outfielder spot and with the ability to play centerfield as a short-term replacement. Kalish displays very good skills in leftfield in terms of tracking balls, movement, and how his arm plays up. Now progressing to Triple-A, he should continued to be served well by his advanced approach at the plate. Kalish has been driving more balls to left field with authority and a continuation of that trend will make him a very difficult out at the plate as his rises to the major league level. By working himself into good counts through trusting his approach, he can minimize his adjustment period to Triple-A. Since returning to full health in 2009 and having that assurance to unleash his swing, Kalish has been a player on the rise within the Red Sox system and one that is not too far away in the distance from getting a shot to show what he can do to help the big league roster.

RHP Yeiper Castillo

The Line: Back with Greenville for another stint after a rough 2009 and subsequent mid-season demotion to Lowell, Castillo’s been much more effective for the Drive in 2010. The 21 year old right-handed starter has piled up 55 strikeouts in 58.1 innings pitched and limited opposing hitters to 51 hits against. Left-handed hitters have found him to be tough at this level, hitting only .202. On May 25 against Charleston, Castillo fired 6 shutout innings, scattering 4 hits and fanning 6 while not issuing a walk. He followed that up against Hagerstown on May 30 with 7 strong innings, limiting the lineup to 3 hits and 1 earned run, with 5 strikeouts and once again no free passes.

The View: Castillo began to find himself in the New York-Penn League last season and the results have transferred for him thus far into 2010. Plagued by leaving his fastball up in the zone and inconsistent finish with his curveball in the past, he’s been much better out of his delivery in his second stint in A-ball and his offerings have more often been working in the lower portion of the strike zone. Castillo makes use of a low-90’s fastball that can top out at 94 MPH when he reaches back. Picking up early strikes with his fastball is the key as hitters can sit back on the pitch ahead in the count and it is straighter elevated in the zone. Command of this pitch has been an issue in the past and improvement with spotting up on the corners will push it towards being more than an average offering. After getting ahead in the count and showing batters his fastball, Castillo can lean on a low-80’s straight change that has shown good drop and action out of the zone. This is currently the right-handed starter’s best offering and shows enough separation from his fastball to develop into a solid out-pitch in his repertoire. Castillo also features a mid-70s curveball that can generate knee-bending break through the strike zone. However, due to inconsistent arm angles and releases of the pitch, he’s struggled with controlling his curveball for extended stretches, often missing high on his arm side with it. This season, Castillo has been more consistent snapping this offering off and his command has been improving. Being around the plate more often and using a mix of pitches to get hitters out, he can give up some hits, but tends to keep the ball in the park. Castillo finds himself getting into trouble when he is shaky with his control, which has been improving as he gets more consistent with his delivery. Finding a challenge presented to him heading into the season, thus far Castillo has been up to it in Greenville and with continued progress during the summer should make a push for High-A to show what he can do at the next level of the organization.

Trending Up

Greenville catcher Dan Butler has been red hot in his last 10 games, posting a 1.188 OPS during the stretch with 5 extra-base hits. Butler’s picked up a hit in all 10 games and has had two 4-hit performances to pace the Drive offensively in the May. Although a bit old for the South Atlantic League at 23 years of age, he’s come on strong this season to nail down the starting job, with an eye on a promotion to High-A in the coming months after struggling in limited at-bats with the Lowell Spinners last summer…Although the power numbers have been light to start his career in the Red Sox organization, Jose Iglesias has been flashing strong contact skills in Double-A and showing early signs that his excellent bat speed will translate into solid contact rates as he climbs the ranks of the system. Known for his slick fielding and advanced glove, Iglesias is currently hitting .306 for the Sea Dogs with 9 doubles and 3 triples in the first two months of the season. The next steps for the shortstop look to center on tightening up his approach and becoming more selective at the plate as pitching patterns change on him, but his smooth, compact stroke should serve him well to round into a gap hitter at the major league level down the line. A rise in his walk totals will be a good indication that Iglesias is cutting down on the amount of balls he is swinging at and improving on selecting out pitches to drive on a more consistent basis…PawSox left-handed starter Kris Johnson has found a grove in his last 4 starts, going 6 innings or more in each outing and allowing 2 earned runs or less. Johnson had an extremely difficult transition to Triple-A last season, which resulted in a late season demotion to Double-A to get his arsenal back together. After starting off 2010 with mixed results, Johnson has been much more aggressive going after hitters during his recent stretch and the strong outings have followed…Greenville left-hander Cesar Cabral has been un-scored upon in May and has only allowed 1 earned run in 30.1 innings in 2010, while also striking out 34 batters and issuing 7 walks. Cabral struggled at times with his control in 2009 with the Lowell Spinners and his stuff has played up much better in shorter stints this season in a relief role.

Trending Down

Seasons are full of peaks and valleys, and Salem’s Will Middlebrooks has hit his first skid in High-A after a torrid start to the season. Middlebrooks is 8 for his last 42 with 17 strikeouts and only 2 walks in that stretch. Showing many signs of improvement and generating a lot of solid contact in the early going, the latest stretch for the third baseman will be a good test of how quickly he can make adjustments at this level and maintain an even-keeled approach to the grind of the baseball season…Double-A batters have caught up a bit to Portland right-hander Eammon Portice in his last 2 outings and he’s allowed 9 hits in only 3.2 innings. Portice’s sinking fastball has been grabbing too much of the plate and his control has been off. Hitters have gotten good swings at his offerings and he has appeared to be rushing his delivery, which has resulted in his fastball losing sink and for Portice to miss spots within the strike zone…PawSox third baseman Jorge Jimenez got off to a hot start in May, but limped to the close of the month, hitting only .176 in his last 10 games. Jimenez has struggled to drive pitches during his first exposure to Triple-A pitching, but had been coming on with making more solid contact after a very difficult April. The latest stretch has seen Jimenez lunging at a lot of offerings and putting balls weakly into play.