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SoxProspects News

June 28, 2012 at 8:46 AM

First Take: Bradley heads north, Gators bring draft class to (near-) close

Sorry this one is a bit late this week folks, but I was motivated at least in part to wait until the Sox’ three Florida draftees’ signings to become official. As a bonus, we get a big ol’ international bonus baby to talk about.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.
(Kelly O'Connor)
The Move: Jackie Bradley, Jr. assigned to Portland from Salem, Lucas LeBlanc assigned to Salem from Greenville (6/20); Juan Carlos Linares assigned to Pawtucket from Portland (6/21)

Bradley’s breakout season finally earned him the bump to Double-A, with the long-stranded Linares returning to Pawtucket, where he probably could have been all along. Bradley has not only moved himself up 16 spots in the SoxProspects.com rankings since the start of the year, but he has also put himself into a discussion for top 100 prospect lists. Our Director of Scouting Chris Mellen gave us The Book on Bradley this week.

Linares’ season has been curious. He absolutely dominated Double-A, but a player who impressed in major league camp last spring and started that year in Pawtucket before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in May should have done that. He has been slowed by injury a bit this year as well, which may have delayed his return to Pawtucket.

LeBlanc, well, he’s just happy to be here. After struggling in Greenville last year to a .223/.257/.294 line, he was a bit better at .264/.336/.388 this year. He will see plenty of time in the Salem outfield rotating with Shannon Wilkerson and Matty Johnson.

Looking at the fallout, in Pawtucket, the outfield is suddenly very crowded. Linares will take over as the regular right fielder, with Alex Hassan in left, Che-Hsuan Lin in center, and Jason Repko and Josh Kroeger mixing in when possible, with one of the five getting an occasional start at DH when Lars Anderson or Mauro Gomez gets a night off. Scott Podsednik will begin a rehab assignment soon, crowding things even more.

Meanwhile, in Salem, Brandon Jacobs got to play a couple games in center following Bradley’s promotion, but don’t read into that too much. When that occurred once earlier this year, Chris speculated that it was to get Jacobs a bit of a different perspective in the outfield. You can be sure that Jacobs will not be playing center regularly anytime soon.
The Move: Red Sox trade Kevin Youkilis to Chicago (AL) for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge, Oscar Tejeda designated for assignment (6/24); Tejeda claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh (6/27)

Per usual, I will refrain from getting into the major league ramifications of this one. Stewart, a former top 50 prospect, reported to Pawtucket, where he moves into the rotation after spending all of this year in the White Sox’ bullpen. The once-promising prospect has lost some velocity off his fastball, as his sinker is down around 90-91 at this point. He featured that and a slider out of the bullpen, but the Sox think he can be a starter with three good pitches. We shall see where this experiment goes—for this deal to be anything beyond giving Youkilis away, Stewart needs to get a couple ticks back on that sinker. Both Chris and our Notheast Scout Ian Cundall saw Stewart’s debut on Wednesday night, in which he went 5.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits, striking out four with no walks. Look for reaction here and in our next podcast.

As for Tejeda, it was clear he was destined to come off the 40-man roster, and soon. In his second year in Portland, he was hitting .262/.294/.396 as a 22-year-old. The fact is he has had one good season at the plate above Lowell, and now that he is a left fielder, that just is not going to cut it. Pittsburgh is a popular landing spot for former Sox minor leaguers, as Tejeda joins Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Yamaico Navarro, Argenis Diaz, Dusty Brown, Hunter Strickland, Jeff Corsaletti, Freddy Sanchez and others as former Sox minor leaguers to join the Pirates, whether by trade, free agency, or otherwise.
The Move: Red Sox sign draft picks Iseha Conklin (19) (6/20); Greg Larson (20) and Keaton Briscoe (24) (6/25); Brian Johnson (1) and Austin Maddox (3) (6/26)

With Florida knocked out of the College World Series relatively early, the Sox were able to complete the signings of their picks from the first ten rounds. Johnson received $1.575 million, exactly slot for the 31st pick, which was unexpected—our Editor-in Chief Mike Andrews had him pegged to go below slot by as much as $500k. Meanwhile, Maddox signed for $350,000, or $50,500 below slot for his pick. The three Gators, Johnson, Maddox, and Larson, are in Lowell, while Conklin and Briscoe reported to the Gulf Coast League.

The Sox have now spent $7,042,000 on bonuses for the first 10 rounds, going over their bonus pool allotment of $6,884,800, which was expected. The club can spend up to $7,229,040 without giving up a draft pick next year, so the club does have about $187,040 left to spend on bonuses above $100,000 for players selected outside the first round. That will not be enough to sign the likes of Carson Fulmer (15th round) or Alex Bregman (29th round), but could be enough to bring, say, 11th-round pick Jamal Martin into the fold. The club has signed 20 of its draft picks so far. Typically, the club signs between 23-29 players, although that was back when the draft went 50 rounds instead of its current 40.
The Move: Red Sox sign international free agent Tzu-Wei Lin of Taiwan (6/27)

Lin received a $2.05 million signing bonus, a figure surely affected in part by the changing rules for international free agents that go into effect on July 2—in short, just like the draft, teams will have a cap on their international amateur spending. With clubs not wanting to count Lin’s bonus toward their 2012-13 cap, he likely had a bit of leverage, and thus earned the highest bonus ever for a position player from Taiwan. Lin is a strong defensive shortstop who needs some work at the plate. He has been assigned to the GCL Sox, and my bet is he reports to Lowell next season. Here's some more on Lin's signing.

As pointed out by posters in our forum, the Sox have a crowded house at short now. Here’s one man’s projections for 2013:

Boston: Jose Iglesias
Pawtucket: Acquisition (or re-sign Pedro Ciriaco)
Portland: Xander Bogaerts to start, Deven Marrero at midseason (with Bogaerts moving positions)
Salem: Marrero to start, Jose Vinicio at midseason
Greenville: Vinicio to start, Mookie Betts or a 2012 draftee like Mike Miller or Mike Meyers at midseason
Lowell: Lin
GCL: Raymel Flores

A lot to like there.
Quick Hits

Mark Prior placed on Pawtucket DL, Will Latimer assigned to Pawtucket from Portland (6/23): Well, it was just a matter of time. Prior suffered a strained oblique, which likely contributed to a sudden downturn in his performance, as he gave up three runs in his last two appearances after baffling hitters over his first five. The Sox will take this slow, since there likely is no room for him in Boston until September anyway.
Jose Iglesias during his rehab
in Lowell. (Kelly O'Connor)

Jose Iglesias placed in Lowell on a rehab assignment (6/22); activated from DL (6/26): Iglesias played six innings on Friday night and the whole game on Sunday, and he looked like the Iglesias we know and love: fastest hands on defense in the game, still a bit fooled by breaking balls, but getting a couple good cuts on some fastballs in the box. I would be surprised if he goes up to Boston before September in the interests of getting him some regular at-bats. Quick side note: I have long had a hunch that he was the type of player that, without becoming an attitude problem or anything, was board with the minors and would flourish in the majors. Talking to him after the game in Pawtucket on Sunday, I felt like I could hear in his voice that he wants to be back in the bigs. Listen for yourself here.

Marco Duarte suspended for 50 games by MLB (6/22): It has been rare to see a Red Sox minor leaguer suspended for violating the league’s drug program. Duarte tested positive for an amphetamine. I would not be surprised if he is released this offseason; the Sox do not take these suspensions lightly.

Jason Repko (rehab) transferred to Pawtucket from Greenville (6/19); activated from MLB 60-day DL and outrighted to Pawtucket (6/22): Once one of the last players cut from the opening day roster, and a short-term injury replacement in center before succumbing to the hex plaguing the Sox outfield this year, Repko was passed by Daniel Nava and Podsednik on the depth chart while he was injured, and thus is in Triple-A for the foreseeable future.

Keury De La Cruz and Yeiper Castillo activated from Greenville DL (6/20): Yaaaaay health.

Jeremy Kehrt assigned to Portland from Pawtucket (6/26): Jeremy had to make his weekly appearance in the First Take.

Ronald Bermudez activated from Pawtucket DL (6/20); placed back on DL (6/22): This is the life of a Triple-A fifth/sixth outfielder.

Scott Swinson assigned to Salem from Greenville (6/21): Swinson is kind of stuck between Low and High A right now. He’s been stellar for the Drive (47.1 IP, 40 H, 10 R (9 ER), 9 BB, 31 K), but gotten lit up for Salem (11.1 IP, 16 H, 12 R (10 ER), 3 BB, 9 K).

Jose Vinicio and Leonel Escobar placed on Greenville DL, Dreily Guerrero assigned to Greenville from Lowell (6/22): Vinicio and Escobar went on the DL with a left shoulder contusion and thirdcatcheritis, respectively. That said, allow me to state that I have no clue why Jordan Weems and his .100/.250/.125 June line are still in Greenville, as Oscar Perez, Tim Roberson, and JT Watkins will not play ahead of him in Lowell. Guerrero is a utility player who may stick around the system for a bit because he can play so many positions.

Red Sox sign Jason Urquidez from Lancaster of the Atlantic League (6/24): You see another Indy signee. I see a former teammate of the legend himself, Beau Vaughan, and that makes Urquidez alright by me. (As far as an actual practical evaluation of this move, he’s got more than two-and-a-half seasons of Triple-A under his belt, and was signed to help shore up the staffs in Portland and Pawtucket, and maybe even Salem, where the need arises.)

Red Sox sign Matt Nevarez from Wichita of the American Association (6/21), assign him to Greenville (6/22), and then release him (6/23): Wait, what??? I will be honest, I have never seen anything like this. Chances are he was acquired to be an extra arm, but then when Justin Erasmus came off the DL, he was asked to go on the phantom DL and declined. Or at least that’s the most plausible thing I can come up with. Minor league baseball, folks!