March 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM
This week's minor league notes:
- This is one of the biggest weeks of the year for SoxProspects, as several members of our staff traveled to Fort Myers to provide first-hand coverage of minor league spring training. The contingent included Mike Andrews (@MikeAndrewsSP), Chris Mellen (@ChrisMellen), Jonathan Singer (@Jonathan_Singer), Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli), and Ian Cundall (@IanCundall). Be sure to check their Twitter accounts as they have been providing tremendous updates on minor league spring training all week.
|Ryan Westmoreland (Kelly O'Connor)|
- SoxProspects Editor-in-Chief Mike Andrews tweeted that Ryan Westmoreland will be back facing live pitching this week. Westmoreland is expected to start the 2012 season in Extended Spring Training, and if all goes well, he could be called up to Low A Greenville Drive. Though Andrews went on to caution that that would probably be a best-case scenario. It was just two years ago that Westmoreland had surgery to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem. SoxProspects Director of Scouting Chris Mellen saw Westmoreland take batting practice and tweeted that Westmoreland “took healthy cuts during his session and stung some line drives.”
- Andrews also tweeted the names of players who were in camp with Greenville and Salem respectively. Some of the players in camp with Greenville are Blake Swihart, Garin Cecchini, Jose Vinicio, and Keury De La Cruz. The players in Salem camp include Sean Coyle, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Henry Ramos. Though sometimes player play at different levels in spring than where they are ultimately assigned, it gives you an idea of where players may end up when the season starts.
- Mellen and Northeast Scout Ian Cundall have been very active on Twitter throughout the week, offering up mini scouting reports on many minor leaguers. Mellen also posted more detailed scouting notes on our News Page, with contributions from Cundall. You can check out these notes from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The notes include the first extended looks at Adalberto Ibarra and Aaron Kurcz as well as updates on several top prospects including Bryce Brentz, Brandon Jacobs, Bogaerts, Cecchini, Swihart, and Coyle.
- The first round of cuts took place this week as players began to be sent down from major league camp to minor league camp. The players sent down so far were Will Middlebrooks, Che-Hsuan Lin, Oscar Tejeda, Drake Britton, Alex Wilson, Chorye Spoon, Tony Pena Jr., Juan Carlos Linares, Stolmy Pimentel, and Will Inman. There are now 53 players remaining in major league camp.
- Ben Badler of Baseball America is reporting that the Red Sox signed Dominican right-hander Simon Mercedes for an $800,000 bonus, pending MLB approval. Mercedes signed with the San Francisco Giants in February of 2011 for $400,000, but the deal was voided by MLB and Mercedes was banned from signing with another team for a year, effective March 2011. That ban ended this week and Mercedes immediately signed with the Red Sox. For more background on this story, read the write-up from SoxProspects Senior Editor Matt Huegel (@MattHuegelSP).
- SoxProspects Digital Correspondent Jonathan Singer reported via Twitter that SS Raymel Flores and RHP Dioscar Romero, two of the Red Sox top international signings in 2011, are officially signed after clearing their MLB investigations. Both Flores and Romero were signed on July 8th of 2011, at the age of 16, for bonuses of $900,000 and $600,000 respectively. According to Alex Speier, Flores is a switch-hitter with strong defensive skills and an advanced offensive approach. Romero is a big, projectable right-hander with a low 90’s fastball and an advanced curveball. Both players were signed by former International Scouting Director Craig Shipley.
- Singer also reported on Twitter that RHP Kyle Stroup suffered a left knee injury, the severity of which is unknown. Stroup, who was the last overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, suffered a torn ACL back in 2010. He recovered to have a solid season in Greenville last year, throwing 95.2 innings with a 3.67 ERA, rising to 19th on Baseball America's Red Sox top prospects list this off-season.
- The battle for the major league rotation has started to take shape as some players have been taken out of contention. Bobby Valentine said that Andrew Miller is no longer an option to make the rotation after injuring his left hamstring on Tuesday night. The hamstring is Miller’s third setback in the past month. He also dealt with a sprained ankle before camp and elbow tightness in the beginning of camp. Miller talked with Alex Speier about the frustrations of getting injured while battling for a rotation spot. Miller was pitching well in his limited appearances, throwing 3.0 hitless innings while striking out 5 and walking 2.
- Miller is not the only rotation candidate dealing with a hamstring issue. Vicente Padilla hurt his hamstring in the weight room, and Alex Speier is reporting that he will have his next start pushed back. Padilla has yet to throw more than 3.0 innings in a game this spring, and it seems unlikely that he will be ready when the regular season starts. He looks to be more in the mix for a bullpen spot at this point.
- The Red Sox announced they released Carlos Silva on Saturday. The 32-year-old was brought in to compete for a rotation spot, but he was slowed by right shoulder inflammation and was not able to take the mound this spring.
- With some players being taken out of contention for the starting rotation, Aaron Cook is doing all he can to earn a spot. Cook has thrown 9.1 innings this spring and has a 1.93 ERA. He has done a terrific job of inducing weak contact and keeping the ball on the ground. Cook talked in-depth with Alex Speier about his chances to make the rotation and what he is doing to accomplish it.
- With Miller and Padilla unlikely to be on the opening day roster, and Franklin Morales still working his way back from an injury, Junichi Tazawa has a chance to start the season in the Red Sox bullpen. He pitched 3.0 shutout innings on Wednesday, and Valentine commented that Tazawa looked much better, particularly his breaking ball.
- One of the hottest players in major league camp this spring has been Lars Anderson. Anderson is currently batting .400 with a .483 on-base percentage and a .640 slugging percentage. It was reported last week that he would begin seeing time in right field, and while he has not played there yet, he has appeared in left field in parts of 2 games this week. After almost being traded to the Oakland A's last July for Rich Harden, Anderson has improved his stock with a strong end to the 2011 season and a hot start this spring.
|Ryan Kalish (Kelly O'Connor)|
- A welcome addition to the Red Sox prospect scene is new Pawtucket radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith (@aaronmgoldsmith). He has been keeping a blog with recaps of the Triple-A games and much more. It is a fantastic blog and it will be fun to follow throughout the year. One of the players he has been impressed with is Mauro Gomez. He hit a no doubt home run in the first game and has also made some good defensive plays at first base.
- According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Ryan Kalish hit off a tee on Monday, his first swings since undergoing shoulder surgery in November.
- According to an interview conducted by Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald, Blake Maxwell has retired from baseball after seven seasons in the Red Sox organization. He is also listed as retired in this Fayetteville (NC) Observer article. Maxwell, who put up very good numbers with Portland and Pawtucket last year, is a side-arming righty with a high 80’s fastball. He may be best known for sprinting from the bullpen to the mound every time he came on in relief, which always drew a good reaction from the crowd. A fan favorite, Maxwell says there are simply no teams interested in his services without the benefit of being neither young, having a big fastball, nor any major league experience.
Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @CrowellJim.