April 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM
This week's minor league notes:
- The minor league season kicked off last Thursday, and the results for the affiliates have been mixed. Pawtucket and Greenville are both 4-4 to start the season, and have received promising performances from some of their key players. Portland and Salem have followed in the footsteps of the parent club, as both of the affiliates have gotten off to rough starts. Portland is 1-7, while being outscored 48-23. Salem's record is currently 2-4 and they are tied for last place in the Carolina League. After winning their first game, they lost four in a row, but broke their losing streak last night with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
|Matt Barnes (Kelly O'Connor)|
- Every week, the SoxProspects.com Community votes on both Pitcher of the Week and Player of the Week. The 2012 season's inaugural winners for the short week were right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes and shortstop Jose Vinicio, both members of the Greenville Drive. In his professional debut, Barnes threw 5.0 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 9. Barnes is still getting used to the five man rotation, so it will be interesting to see if he has similar results in his scheduled start tonight. SoxProspects.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Andrews talked in-depth with Barnes before his first start. Vinicio was given a promotion to Greenville after spending two seasons with the GCL Red Sox. He has started off hot, batting .368 with a .455 on-base percentage and .737 slugging percentage in six games. He has accrued three stolen bases and four extra-base hits, including an inside-the-park home run.
- Other notable position players who have gotten off to hot starts this year are Sea Dogs outfielder Juan Carlos Linares (.406/.472/.688), Sea Dogs middle infielder Ryan Dent (.385/.471/.615), Drive utility man David Renfroe (.375/.423/.708), Drive catcher Blake Swihart (.286/.423/.429), and PawSox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (.346/.346/.538).
- Other than Barnes, Drive starter Yeiper Castillo turned in the best pitching performance of the week. Castillo tossed 8.0 innings in his 2 starts allowing 2 runs and 6 hits while walking only 1 and striking out 12. Sea Dogs starter Chris Balcolm-Miller also started off well, throwing 11.0 innings and only allowing 2 runs, good for a 1.64 ERA. Pawtucket received several great pitching performances so far, led by Aaron Cook's seven inning complete game shutout. The PawSox have six players on their roster with an ERA of 0, and four more with an ERA under 2.
- Baseball America recently published the top ten youngest players in each full season league. Despite being in his second season with the PawSox, Jose Iglesias is still the fifth-youngest player in the International League. Other players who made the list for their respective leagues were Heiker Meneses and Aaron Kurcz in the Eastern League, Xander Bogaerts and Sean Coyle in the Carolina League, and Vinicio in the South Atlantic League.
- With the start of the regular season comes injuries that the affiliates have to deal with. Outfielder Ryan Kalish continues to rehab from labrum surgery, while second baseman Tony Thomas (hamstring) and left-handed pitcher Jesse Carlson (shoulder) are both on the PawSox 7-day DL. Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel (lat strain) continues to rehab in Fort Myers before he rejoins the Portland rotation. He is joined on the Sea Dogs' 7-day DL by outfielder Ronald Bermudez (left hand contusion) and catcher Jayson Hernandez (hamstring strain). Anthony Ranaudo is rehabbing in Fort Myers due to a right groin injury, and is expected to remain there for another week or two to build up strength and innings. He is currently on Salem's 7-day DL, but he is likely heading to Portland once healthy. Outfielder Matty Johnson (hamstring strain) and infielder Zach Gentile (calf strain) round out Salem's 7-day DL. Greenville has no injuries the first week of the season.
- Left-handed pitchers Andrew Miller (left hamstring strain) and Rich Hill (Tommy John surgery) are both on rehab assignments. Both pitchers were in Greenville this week, with Miller making one appearance in Pawtucket as well. Miller has thrown 3.2 innings across the two levels, giving up 0 runs on 2 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5. Hill has thrown 2.0 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 5 without walking a batter, he is expected to make an appearance in Salem tonight.
- SoxProspects.com Senior Columnist Jon Meoli and Senior Editor Matt Huegel were both very active in the first week of the season, following Salem and Pawtucket respectively. Meoli covered Miguel Celestino's strong first start, and also talked with Jackie Bradley, Jr. as he was preparing for his first full season of professional baseball. Huegel talked with Middlebrooks about his successful Opening Day, and Nate Spears about starting the year in Pawtucket and his "nail biting" spring.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com has started a new feature called the "Minor League Roundup". It is a player-oriented recap of the previous day's minor league action, and is a must-read for prospect fans.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports that PawSox pitcher Ross Ohlendorf has added a cutter to his arsenal thanks to Josh Beckett.
- Sea Dogs outfielder Bryce Brentz took part in a great interview with Mike Ashmore, who is a beat writer for the Hunterdon County Democrat but also keeps a blog which provides daily coverage of the Double-A Trenton Thunder (NYY). In the interview, Brentz discusses his struggles in Lowell in 2010, his success in A-Ball in 2011, and his goals for this season.
Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @CrowellJim.
Jonathan Singer is the Digital Correspondent for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Singer.