SoxProspects News

July 8, 2010 at 8:01 AM

The Ladder: 7.8.10



1B Chris McGuiness

The Line: After hitting a rough patch in June and missing some time with a minor injury, McGuiness has caught fire of late and pushed his season line to .310/.411/.513. Covering his last 10 games, he’s a scorching 17 for his last 40 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles, and only 5 strikeouts in the stretch. McGuiness put together a streak of five straight multi-hit games, which included a two-hit performance, including a home run, against Kannapolis on July 5, and a four-hit effort the next night to drive in 2 runs and score 2 more.

The View: An effortless worker and player who lives baseball, McGuiness puts a lot of time into his craft to hone his skills. Hitting with an open stance from the left side of the plate, he uncoils with more an upper cut swing, but has shown the ability to square the ball up consistently at the lower levels of the Red Sox organization. His main strength offensively is an extremely patient approach with a keen understanding of the strike zone. Starting last season with Lowell, McGuiness demonstrated that he was committed to selecting his pitch to drive during at-bats, and that has continued into his 2010 season with Greenville, as he often grinds out at-bats until he finds an offering that he can work on. Projecting for average-power, he could stand to create more lift with his swing and drive through balls better to create back spin. This would be an improvement over the top spin that he generates at times with his line drives, and would enhance his power potential as a corner infielder. Another area of need stems from his handling of off-speed pitches. A polished hitter coming out of college, McGuiness most likely won’t be challenged with secondary offerings until he reaches Double-A. While showing a knack for being able to lay off balls that break sharply into the dirt, he struggles some with squaring up balls of the bigger breaking variety. McGuiness keeps his hands and weight back very well, which bodes well for him making a quicker adjustment as he experiences better off-speed pitches. Solid around the bag at first base, he’s especially adept at picking throws out of the dirt, and shows good reactions to both sides. He has the makings of a more-than-adequate defender and works hard at getting better. It’s not surprising to see McGuiness hit well in A-ball, as his bat was more advanced coming into the system and he has a little more experience coming out of college last year, but he’s proven he can handle the competition and is getting close to being ready to move up the chain by finishing off another consistent stretch.

RHP Jason Rice

The Line: Coming out of the end of the Portland bullpen to close games, Rice has worked 35.1 innings while fanning 43 batters and earning 9 saves on the season. Especially tough in June, he only allowed 1 earned run in 10 appearances and racked up 15 strikeouts in the stretch. He picked up his ninth save of the season on June 30 against Harrisburg to close out the month on a high note. Rice got touched up for a two-run home run on July 2 against Binghamton, but also picked up 4 strikeouts in the outing and then bounced back to go 2.2 innings with 3 strikeouts in his last two appearances against New Hampshire.

The View: The Red Sox selected Rice in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft prior to last season and after dominating High-A out of the Salem bullpen, he found himself with a chance to prove himself with the Sea Dogs. Mainly working with a fastball that ranges from 90-95 MPH and sits 92-93 MPH, he challenges hitters with the offering consistently. Rice’s fastball shows about average movement, but it appears that if he could get a little more consistent with his release point, he could enhance that movement. His fastball shows explosiveness with run in the upper reaches of his velocity, and he can maintain two or three-pitch spurts at a time of working mid-90’s to overpower a batter if he needs to. When he looks to add a wrinkle, Rice can snap off a high-70s curveball that shows power break across the strike zone, but he doesn’t rely on the pitch all that much and uses it more to change speeds before going right back to his fastball. If he could develop the pitch enough to trust it more, to throw for a strike or bury on a hitter later in a count, his curveball would become more of a weapon for him. Rice gets himself into trouble when he loses command of his fastball, which occurs as a result of his delivery speeding up and flying open early. This forces him to bring his heater into the zone when he is behind in the count, resulting in more contact. Some improvement spotting up earlier in at-bats will help combat these spells of wildness. Rice has a live arm and a fastball that can be effective as he moves up the chain in the organization. With some improvement on his command and feel for his curveball, he has the potential to become a two-pitch bullpen arm that can be nasty on hitters with a power arsenal. He has handled himself well in Double-A, and with those enhancements should have a good chance at being successful in Triple-A, while getting one step closer to working himself into the potential major league mix in 2011.

Trending Up

A mainstay in Salem’s bullpen last season, but still an unknown heading into Double-A to start 2010, right-hander Robert Coello has rapidly risen up the depth chart of the Red Sox system, flashing impressive stuff in a starter’s role since his promotion to Pawtucket. Featuring a low-90’s fastball with late movement and finish, Coello has logged 22.1 innings in Triple-A while fanning 30 batters and only allowing 13 hits. For the season, his 81 strikeouts in 65.2 innings lead the Red Sox system despite spending some time coming out of the Portland bullpen. A former member of the Golden Baseball Independent League, Coello’s improving arsenal that consists of a forkball and changeup along with his aforementioned fastball provide an intriguing option for the Red Sox this season should he continue to push with his strong performance…Ryan Lavarnway continues to put together a strong 2010 campaign, finishing June with an OPS of .960 and continuing a trend of improved pitch selection. A good fastball hitter, Lavarnway shows impressive power and strength, especially when he gets his arms extended on offerings out and over the plate. Proving that he has just about mastered High-A, a promotion to Portland may not be too far down the line to challenge his bat against more advanced competition, most notably better off-speed pitches. It remains to be seen how far his catching skills can progress, however, as they are just about average right now, and a possible move to another position in the upper levels of the organization may be in his future depending on how his bat can play up…Fresh off a stint on the disabled list for a minor hip injury, PawSox outfielder Ryan Kalish has quickly found his grove and is 14 for his last 37, including 3 doubles and 5 stolen bases…Getting a taste of baseball in the United States for the first time this season, Gulf Coast Red Sox centerfielder Keury De La Cruz has a .304/.365/.607 line through 14 games.

Trending Down

June was a tough month for right-handed starter Stolmy Pimentel in High-A, and so far that has followed him into July. The 20-year-old has given up 46 hits in his last 34.0 innings of work, and in recent starts has been struggling with his control. Possessing an excellent changeup with very late fade and a curveball with good rotation and tilt, Pimentel’s needs center on improving his fastball command to locate it on both sides of the plate while keeping it lower in the zone. Sitting 92-93 MPH, Pimentel’s fastball doesn’t have consistent horizontal movement to it, and he gets in trouble when it straightens out due to flying open out of his delivery too soon. Challenged for his age and level placement, his arsenal is being pushed, and the current bump highlights the needs he is currently working on…Lowell’s David Renfroe has found his first go around in professional baseball to be an adjustment, starting the season 10 for 53 with the Spinners. A strong, well-filled out third baseman, Renfroe has above-average power potential and fluid swing, but has shown the early need for improvement with his pitch recognition and developing a patient approach. He’s chased a lot of breaking pitches in the dirt to pile up his strikeouts, and generally has looked uncomfortable in the box. Once Renfroe can slow things down, get more of a feel for the type of pitches he can see, and look more towards the right-center field gap, he should show some flashes of power and put together more of a consistent run at the plate…Unable to find much consistency this season with Salem, Ryan Dent has had trouble making a lot of solid contact, while seeing a rise in his strikeouts and leveling off of the patience he exhibited last year with Greenville. Dent has worked to improve his approach for much of his time in the Red Sox system, while seeing drastic improvements, but he hasn’t consistently squared the ball up as of yet.

 
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