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SoxProspects News

July 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

The Ladder: 7.27.11

OF Bryce Brentz

The Line: Salem- 35 games .276/.329/.582

The View: Brentz proved his skills were ready to be tested further after tearing up the South Atlantic League and received a promotion to High-A on May 21. Feasting on inexperienced pitching and picking on a lot of mistake fastballs prior to joining Salem, the main adjustment for him in the Carolina League has been to continue his work reeling in his aggressive approach at the plate. Brentz has a tendency to chase elevated fastballs and hard breaking balls away in the dirt, especially expanding his strike zone too much in hitter’s counts. While he has assimilated well and continued his solid power production, there is going to come a point when he is going to have to become more disciplined at the plate or he will consistently get himself out. The signs point to that challenge coming when he reaches Double-A.

Through experience and maturation Brentz should develop his approach enough to allow his natural tools to do the rest. Generating excellent batspeed through the hitting zone, his raw power is plus-to-better and projects to produce 20-25 home runs at the major league level with continued honing of his offensive game. Brentz’s hit tool is good enough to project him as a solid-average hitter in the big leagues, but at times in High-A so far has shown stretches of picking up the ball late out of opposing pitches hands. When this happens, he is slow getting his swing started and loses the effectiveness of his plus batspeed. Brentz can also compound this by bringing his hands too far forward in his stride, which causes the bat head to drag behind him through the zone and not get good wood on the ball. With the aforementioned work on his approach and concentration on keeping his weight back, these needs can be corrected. Brentz has some rough edges to polish off as he reaches the upper levels, but the package is there for him to be an everyday right fielder in the big leagues with above-average offensive potential in peak seasons.

SS Xander Bogaerts

The Line: Greenville- 36 games .221/.302/.450

The View: Just 18 years of age, Bogaerts received an aggressive promotion to A-Ball on June 9 out of extended spring training after spending all of last season in the Dominican Summer League. Expect his production to fluctuate and for there to be bouts of inconsistency the rest of the season, but his ceiling is amongst the highest of any prospect within the Red Sox system. Bogaerts’ raw tools jump out when seeing him. Bringing the head of the bat quickly through the hitting zone via strong wrists, he produces excellent backspin when he squares balls up and is capable of driving the ball to all fields at an early age. His ability to keep his hands back before attacking the ball has impressed thus far during his time in Greenville. A lean body type, Bogaerts has a lot of room on his frame to fill out as he matures into his 20s and projects to have plus power as he continues to learn to tap into his natural strength.

Bogaerts is currently playing shortstop, but as he physically matures will slide over to third base or out into the outfield depending on how much he fills out. His defensive skills have been improving since his time in the 2010 Fall Instructional League and this past Spring Training. Bogaerts has a tendency to pull up early on groundballs and also doesn’t show the smoothest of reactions though. While expected for a raw player his age, it bears watching to see how that aspect of his game progresses over the next couple of seasons. Experience will be the key for Bogaerts to start making strides on both sides of the ball. He is still learning the strike zone and will be pushed to improve upon his pitch recognition as he rises up the ranks. Most of his strikeouts come as a result of chasing breaking balls and elevated fastballs. Given how much development Bogaerts has in front of him, he could just as easily never make it to Double-A as make it to the major leagues. However, after being able to see Bogaerts in Instructs and Spring Training, while also following up on him during this season, the view here has him as a talent very capable of rising up to the big leagues and being able to potentially produce at elite levels offensively.

Trending Up

20-year-old infielder Heiker Meneses has been an interesting player this season. Projected to spend 2011 with the Lowell Spinners, Meneses received an early promotion to Greenville out of extended spring training where he adjusted well over the course of 51 games. After the Red Sox system began to experience some thinning out in the middle infield due to injuries, he was promoted up to Double-A to man the shortstop position out of need. Posting a line of .304/.355/.357 over 16 games with the Sea Dogs, he hasn’t been too overmatched, but his approach is still coming up to speed shown by his 19 strikeouts versus 3 walks. Capable of also playing second base and the hot corner, Meneses is a versatile player defensively, who shows a quick first step and solid instincts. Second base has looked like his best position. Light with power and slightly built, much of his offensive value will lie in how much contact he will be able to produce and whether he can continue to hone his base stealing skills as he matures. Watching Meneses’ skill set this season has lent clues that he can project as a utility type infielder down the line…A very projectable arm, Portland lefty reliever Cesar Cabral has steadily recovered from some early bad outings after making the jump up from Salem in May. Cabral’s fastball has operated 89-92 MPH and at times has touched up to 93 MPH when reaching back. Also featuring a solid low-80s changeup, he shows good deception with this offering and can work sequences well with it after establishing his fastball. Cabral’s 76-78 MPH curveball is currently fringe-average, but shows the potential to tighten up if he can improve with how he gets his wrist on top of the pitch. Selected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft and again eligible this off-season, do not be surprised to see Cabral taken again this year should he be left unprotected, and this time with a better chance of not returning…Lowell third baseman Garin Cecchini’s season may have ended prematurely after suffering a broken bone in his wrist via a hit by pitch, but he showed some glimpses of what he can become at the plate. Finishing with a line of .298/.398/.500, Cecchini had been getting more and more comfortable at the plate. With a sweet swing and excellent hands, once he began to relax in the box things started to look very fluid and natural for the 20-year-old. Still filling out his frame and able to generate solid backspin, Cecchini projects as a hitter that can blend power with high contact ability when progressing through the ranks.

Trending Down

Portland outfielder Alex Hassan has been fighting it at the plate for much of July. After getting out of the gate strong and being named an Eastern League All-Star, the instances of solid contact have been declining during the stretch. An excellent fastball hitter, he has some work to do driving advanced secondary offerings. Polished with his approach and control of the strike zone, his main offensive development work centers on producing more backspin when he squares balls up and learning to lift pitches without sacrificing too much of his contact ability. Hassan is on the limited side defensively and projects as a left fielder at the big league level so his potential power production will be key to track as an everyday player…2011 has been shaping up as a very tough season for starting pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. Tagged for much of his time in Double-A, Pimentel was demoted to Salem to get himself back on track. Things have been much of the same for him in his three High-A starts. Most alarming has been the reduction in his ability to finish hitters off and prevent contact against. His fastball velocity has been consistently sitting 92-93 MPH and popping up to 95 MPH, but his overall command of his arsenal has been extremely lacking. Pimentel has been unable to get ahead of many hitters to feature his plus low-80s changeup, which is capable of producing a lot of swings and misses when his command is on. Still just 21 years of age, these types of bumps can be valuable learning experiences for young players...After posting a robust .772 slugging percentage in April, Salem catcher Dan Butler has been unable to consistently drive the ball since. Butler has not posted a slugging percentage above .400 in any subsequent month. Showing solid offensive improvement in 2010 and pushing himself up the depth chart, he’s been stuck in neutral for the majority of this season. He can have a tough time getting his hands above the baseball on fastballs above the thighs. Butler’s swing also drags through the hitting zone when he extends his arms early and has shown holes that have been exploited. He has the type of defensive skills to continue pushing himself up the ranks, but some cleanup work with his swing to become quicker to the ball is necessary to take the next step.