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SoxProspects News

February 11, 2011 at 7:28 PM

2011 Prospect Previews: Sean Coyle and Kyle Weiland

The third installment of the series features one of the Red Sox' newest members of the organization getting ready to start his career and another aiming to put the finishing touches on his game to take the final step.

Sean Coyle
Position: Second Base
2010 Team: Gulf Coast Red Sox
2011 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 19

Strengths: Possessing a smooth and fluid stroke, Coyle generates plus batspeed through the hitting zone and shows the knack for being able to barrel-up the ball. The key aspect of his swing is the compact nature and lack of excessive moving parts with his load, which enables him to be quick to the point of contact. Despite having a smaller frame, Coyle packs a punch when he squares the ball up and displays a sweet spot for doubles power into the left-centerfield gap. Hitting from a spread out stance and utilizing a shorter stride, he keeps himself balanced and his head centered when he commits to attacking a pitch. Defensively, Coyle shows solid footwork at second base and flashes a strong arm that allows him to get good velocity on his throws, even when he is off-balance. Displaying quick reactions and good instincts, he gets good reads off the bat, and has above-average range on balls to his right. Coyle looks like a natural defensively at second base and like a player that can round into an excellent defender as he continues his development.

Development Needs: Coyle projects to have around average power as a ceiling and his offensive game is going to have to center on producing high rates of contact in order to follow the track of a future everyday infielder. Developing a solid, selective approach and improving his opposite field stroke are top needs for him during his early career. Further focus on keeping his hands inside the baseball will help him hit balls consistently into rightfield with authority and allow him to cover more of the plate with his swing. Right now, Coyle looks to have a hot zone on fastballs middle-in, but tries to hook balls on the outer corner and wraps around them too quickly. Fresh out of the high school ranks, he’ll be challenged by off-speed offerings from more experienced pitching in the early going and need to adjust overall to seeing top competition every game. A converted shortstop learning the ins and outs of playing second base as a professional, Coyle will need to clean up his play around the bag and learn how to protect himself from oncoming runners so that his throws on double plays are not disrupted.

2011 Outlook: Coyle proved to be more advanced at the plate during his time in the Red Sox Fall Instructional League and will challenge for a spot with the Greenville Drive during camp. An initial placement at this level to start his career is a good sign that he’s showing the makings of a strong approach at the plate. While he can be expected to experience an adjustment period as he settles in, positive markers to look for are rising contact rates as the season moves along and lower strikeout totals. Coyle has the ability to produce a lot of solid contact and though the home run totals will be lower, he has the potential to pile up doubles in 2011. New to professional baseball, this season is all about beginning his development and starting to round his raw tools into more polished skills. Coyle has the look of a player who can make a quick transition to the low minors, not without a speed bump or two, but by the end of the season be showing that he’s making good steps towards becoming a future high-contact table setter at the top of a lineup.

Kyle Weiland
Position: Starting Pitcher
2010 Team: Portland Sea Dogs
2011 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 24

A bulldog on the mound, Weiland’s best pitch since entering the Red Sox system has been his heavy 90-94 MPH fastball. With the ability to throw it in two variations, he switches it up well on batters and his ball comes in with excellent movement. When Weiland delivers his two-seam fastball, it sits around 91 MPH with good late life and run in on right-handed batters hands. He also mixes in his harder 92-94 MPH four-seam fastball, which he uses to paint the outside corner on righties or bust in on left-hand batters. This offering especially shows a lot of downward tilt when he finishes it lower in the zone and can either freeze batters or produce weak groundballs to infielders. Weiland’s attack of the strike zone starts with his plus fastball and he can pick up outs with it for extended stretches. After using his fastball almost exclusively in the beginning of his career with the organization, he’s sharpened his breaking ball over the last couple of seasons to more of a weapon he can use, pushing his arsenal closer to that of a major league pitcher. While acting mostly like a curveball and showing good arm-side break, Weiland will also throw a harder variation that breaks like a slider across the strike zone. The added crispness, improved command, and confidence in this pitch has allowed him to produce more swings and misses later in counts, while projecting him to continue to maintain his strikeout totals in the high minors.

Development Needs: While Weiland has solid-average command of his fastball, he could use more polish to this aspect of his game to consistently get major league hitters out down the line. At times, he leaves his two-seam fastball in the middle of the plate too much and it runs right into the sweet spot for right-handed hitters, allowing them to elevate the pitch. He also loses his control and this leaves him behind in the count, forcing Weiland to come right in on hitters with his four-seam fastball. This offering is much more effective moving downward at knee level and slicing through the strike zone rather than challenging batters up in the zone. Much of the hard contact against him comes in the outings his two-seam fastball is failing to jam righties or pick up strikes on the inside corner. Still a work in progress, Weiland’s changeup has not become a featured piece of his arsenal and does not appear like an offering that is going to become much more than an occasional different look to hitters. He has made improvements with it and the bottom can drop out late when thrown with the proper arm speed. Signs point towards Weiland moving into a bullpen role down the road and having the best future projection as a reliever. His stuff is much more consistent in shorter burst innings and loses its effectiveness after he is taxed. His velocity also tends to drop after 50-60 pitches, so it is important that he works on his stamina and adds some weight to keep himself from wearing down too much over the course of the long baseball season.

2011 Outlook: Making good strides towards becoming a finished product last season and now at the point of working on the finer areas of his development, Weiland is heading to Spring Training as a non-roster invite with the big league team. Although he is slated to begin the season with Pawtucket and most likely to experience a shorter stay with the big club before returning to minor league camp, the chance to throw against major league competition will be an early look as to where his stuff currently stands. After handling Double-A pretty well as a starter, especially with his improvement producing swings and misses, Weiland should continue in the starting rotation with Pawtucket to work on honing his fastball command and the further sharpening of his overall arsenal. Good indicators of improvement and success at this level lie with him keeping the ball down and limiting the bouts of wildness. Weiland has the type of stuff to continue to produce good strikeout totals and groundball rates, especially if he is spotting his fastball and working ahead in the count. An initial period of adjustment in Triple-A is not out of the question, as with each move up a level he’s needed some time early in the season to get the feel for the tighter margin of error. Weiland’s proven himself at every stop thus far in his career with the organization and by each season’s end has shown to be ready for the next step. Now approaching the highest level of the minors, he could very well find himself angling for a contributing spot in the big leagues should the opening present itself in the bullpen or make a cameo September appearance after settling in and making the necessary adjustments over the course of the season.