March 28, 2011 at 8:13 AM
Today's edition of the series focuses on a pitching prospect slated to continue to hone his craft in Double-A this coming season and a position player prospect ready to begin his first full season with the Red Sox organization.
Position: Third Base
2010 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
2011 Projected Team: Salem Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 22
Strengths: New to the organization after signing this past summer, Vitek brings an advanced offensive skill set to the diamond highlighted by high contact potential. Batting out of a closed and straight up stance, he’s adept at hitting inside the baseball to drive offerings from foul line to foul line with authority. With quick, explosive hands, Vitek drives them to the point of contact well and is capable of barreling up pitches both on the inside and outside portions of the plate, covering a good portion of the strike zone in the process. Generating excellent batspeed and good backspin, he’s able to produce about average present power with the potential to develop it further as he continues to physically mature and learns to hit with more loft as he settles in against professional baseball. Demonstrating above-average bat control and displaying a good understanding of the strike zone, Vitek has the ability to go deep into counts and hang tough in at-bats, spoiling offerings before getting one he can put into play hard. Transitioning back to third base after signing with the Red Sox organization, he’s shown a strong work ethic and willingness to put in extra work to push his defensive game towards developing in the right direction.
Development Needs: With a flat swing path through the hitting zone and not much extension after the point of contact presently, Vitek has some work ahead of him to round out his power and translate it into more home runs during game action. Lean at the moment, there is room on his frame to fill out a bit, especially in his lower body, and physical gains should help boost his strength levels and allow him to get more behind the ball when he drives it. Capable of generating some power now, Vitek’s near-term development in this area will focus on using his legs during his swing and finding a balance with muscling up on offerings in his hot zones to consistently produce solid-average power, which he shows in flashes at the moment. Still transitioning to professional baseball and adjusting to the advanced pitching he is seeing on a daily basis, Vitek will have his approach and pitch recognition tested by the adjustment to better secondary offerings. Not overly natural at third base, he shows just average reactions and instincts. He can be indecisive on how to play balls and allows himself to get eaten up on tougher balls put into play, along with showing rough footwork. Despite being a former pitcher his throws to first base tend to lose steam at the end, but he has been coming back up to speed in this area. As he reaches the upper levels of the Red Sox system, there seems to be a good possibility that he will move off of third base and into the outfield.
2011 Outlook: After settling into professional baseball and adjusting to wood bats during this past summer, Vitek looks set to break camp with Salem and begin an assignment at the High-A level to start the season. More advanced than many draftees entering the system, a placement here will be a good test for his skills and push him against competition more in line with his level of development. Once getting a feel for the pitching he is going to see in the Carolina League, Vitek should produce excellent contact rates and demonstrate strong patience at the plate. He has the potential to put up a high batting average, while also producing his fair share of extra-base hits. A good tell that he’s beginning to learn to hit with some more lift and drive the ball with his whole body will show in rising home run totals over the course of the season. However, it shouldn’t be expected for him to experience a huge spike in these totals at this point in his development, but high double totals aren’t out of the question. Now entering his first full season with the Red Sox organization, followers will get a better look at what Vitek is capable of doing, especially offensively. By season’s end, he has a strong chance to prove that he’s trending towards the upper minors and ready to enter the next wave of position player prospects on the major league horizon in the next two to three seasons.
Position: Starting Pitcher
2010 Team: Salem Red Sox
2011 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 21
Strengths: Maturing physically over the last couple of seasons, Pimentel has grown into his body and taken big physical steps. Possessing an arsenal that can be electric at times, he’s continuing to hone the command of his fastball, which sits 92-93 MPH and can touch 95 MPH when he reaches back for something extra. Pimentel has gotten better at spotting up with his heater and keeping the ball on the corners with more consistency. After establishing his fastball and working to get ahead of batters with it, he leans heavily on his above-average changeup later in the count to create swings and misses or weak contact due to how out in front hitters can be against it. Pimentel displays excellent arm speed when throwing the change and strong deception between it and his fastball. This offering should serve him well as he continues his progression in the upper minors and has the potential to be a devastating out-pitch at the big league level down the line. Pimentel rounds out his repertoire with an improving curveball that can be plus at times and show excellent depth as it breaks down through the strike zone. Further refinement of his curveball can push his arsenal to consist of three plus-to-better pitches and solidify him as a potential second or third starter at the major league level.
Development Needs: Pimentel still has some cleanup work to do with his delivery, which causes him to struggle with his fastball command and fight with bouts of inconsistency. At times, he can be stiff with the landing out of his delivery and lack fluidity finishing pitches. When this happens, his fastball tends to miss up in the zone while his curveball can hang in the fat part of the plate. Improvement with repeating his optimal delivery and landing more cleanly should help enhance the consistency of these offerings. Primarily throwing a four-seam fastball, Pimentel is still learning how to master his two-seamer and create more movement with the pitch since it is presently on the straight side. Development of a two-seam fastball will allow him pound the strike zone with the pitch to generate weak contact and spot up his four-seamer to create more swings and misses. Progress with this should mitigate upper level hitters from sitting on his fastball with frequency. A key need for Pimentel to continue to project as a starter is learning the same feel for his curveball that he currently shows for his changeup. With plus potential, he can lose his hook for stretches and further consistency with generating hard snap will give him another secondary offering to put hitter’s away with.
2011 Outlook: Despite some inconsistent results with Salem in 2010, Pimentel put together a good season of development and handled his age-advanced assignment in High-A pretty well. After getting some work in during the early portion of Spring Training in major league camp, he has been back in minor league camp preparing for a placement in Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs. Pimentel will enter the season once again as one of the younger players in the league and can expect to experience some adjustment time as he deals with the bump up in competition, especially having to be finer with his fastball command within the strike zone. If he can continue to reel in his delivery and keep the ball down, the results should start to trend upwards in the form of reduced solid contact against and more consistent outings. A bump up in his strike out totals will be a good sign that Pimentel is sharpening the consistency of his curveball and also beginning to get a better feel for throwing his two-seam fastball. A prospect that has grown up in the Red Sox organization after signing at the age of 16, he’s begun to see his overall package come together and may be poised to take the next step in the upper minors in 2011. With another season of development ahead of him, Pimentel has the type of stuff and potential to show he’s a player pushing to enter the contributing mix at the major league level in 2012.