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October 9, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Daniel McGrath and Pat Light

For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its season-end top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and previewing what's ahead for them in 2014. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#36: Daniel McGrath, LHP
2013 Teams: GCL Red Sox/Lowell Spinners
Final Stats: 53 1/3 IP, 3-4, 3.54 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 65 K, 19 BB


Season in Review: After signing in 2012 for $400,000, McGrath made his pro debut in 2013, and it did not take long for the young 6-foot-3 left-hander to prove he belonged. Named the GCL opening day starter, he needed just four starts to show he was ready to move on, allowing only three earned runs on eight hits and six walks over 20 innings, while striking out 30. Based on that strong start, the Red Sox promoted the 18 year-old to short-season Lowell on July 19, where he went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.26 WHIP and 35 strikeouts to 13 walks over 33 1/3 innings. Perhaps most impressive was the streak of 25 consecutive batters he retired over four appearances from July 26 to August 18. He tailed off a bit in his last few starts, but overall, it was a strong season for the 18-year-old Aussie. The numbers at Lowell were not quite as dominant, but the strikeout rate remained strong and the overall performance was enough to win McGrath the SoxProspects.com Rookie of the Year award.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Another member of the talented Lowell pitching staff, McGrath’s profile does not jump out at you; he is not physically imposing, listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with a soft body, and his raw stuff doesn’t light up a radar gun. What McGrath did well, however, was mix his pitches, and in game action he showed some feel for secondary offerings, which allowed him to consistently keep hitters guessing and off-balance. His fastball sat 86-88, topping out 89 mph. He complemented that with a changeup and a curveball. Currently his change is ahead of his curve, with the change showing late sink, especially when thrown 77-79 mph. McGrath threw his curveball in the low-70s with long 12-6 break, but too often it was loose and lacked the tight rotation you want to see. He was inconsistent in game action, struggling to find a consistent release point and often missing down and out of the zone. On occasion, his curve showed nice shape and, with more development, could prove to be a decent third pitch. McGrath will likely be on the fence between starting off with Greenville or in extended spring training next year, but with the surplus of arms in the low minors he could be caught in the numbers game and be back at Lowell next year. – Ian Cundall


#35: Pat Light, RHP
2013 Teams: GCL Red Sox, Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 34 1/3 IP, 1-4, 7.34 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 31 strikeouts, 16 walks


Season in Review: It was a tough season for Light, one of three 2012 first-round picks for the Red Sox. Starting his first full pro season in the Greenville rotation, he went 25 2/3 innings and compiled an 8.06 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 13 walks, giving up 37 hits. He left his next start, on May 22, after one batter, and after a DL stint and nine days off, had the same thing happen in his next start on June 1. A torn hamstring then kept him out of action for two-and-a-half months. After rehabbing the injury in Fort Myers, Light made three August rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League, slowly building up over three appearances without allowing a run. He returned to Greenville for one final start on August 31, going 2 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four, before joining McGrath and others in the Fall Instructional League.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: With 2013 being a lost season for Light, he return to the mound strong next year and show off the raw stuff he displayed with Lowell that made him one of the more intriguing arms in the system. Light has dialed his fastball up to 97 in past looks, but he was inconsistent in holding that velocity and often fluctuated anywhere from 90-95 mph in 2013, depending on the outing. His command of the pitch was also inconsistent and it was hittable, as he too often missed location in the zone. Light’s secondaries are behind his fastball, with his slider showing more potential than his changeup. His slider has flashed solid-average to plus on occasion, but he does not consistently hold his arm slot. He too often came around the pitch, resulting in it rolling to the plate, and thus it presently grades as fringe-average. Light’s changeup is more of a show-me offering and will need improvement to be considered a solid third pitch. Though he has the size of a starting pitcher, Light’s delivery is rough, and his command profile and lack of a third pitch point to someone who is likely headed to the bullpen. I doubt that would be the case next year, but we will keep an eye on how he is used in Spring Training to get a feel for where he will be placed next year. In an ideal world, he would break camp with Salem, but because of his struggles with Greenville he might be well served to start there with an eye towards a quick promotion after some success at the lower level and when he proves he is healthy. – Ian Cundall

Photo Credit: Daniel McGrath by SoxProspects, LLC; Pat Light by Kelly O'Connor