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October 10, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Sergio Gomez and Simon Mercedes

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.

#34: Sergio Gomez, RHP
2013 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
Final Stats: 78 IP, 4-4, 2.08 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 80 K, 24 BB

Season in Review: Gomez, who turned 20 in August, had a successful season, albeit his fourth as a professional and the first in which he completely avoided the GCL. After a spot-start for Greenville in June, the 6-foot-3, 155-pound Gomez reported to Lowell, where he was the Spinners’ opening day starter and he dominated the New York-Penn League to the tune of a 3.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio while fanning more than a batter per inning. Those numbers decreased when he moved back up to Greenville—he posted a 1.17 ERA over six games (30 2/3 innings) to earn the promotion—but he still impressed. Gomez’ season ended on a two-start, 12-inning scoreless streak in which he struck out nine and allowed five hits.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Though this season was Gomez’s fourth with the Red Sox, he still lacks physical maturity. Gomez has good height, but his listed 155 pounds may even be generous. His frame does not look like it could handle significant weight gain either. With that said, Gomez still is effective on the mound, showing the ability to mix three pitches as well as advanced feel of his secondary pitches, particularly for someone of his age. His fastball won’t overpower hitters, working in the 87-89 mph range and topping out at 91 on occasion. He has good control of the pitch and it plays up due to his secondaries. Gomez primarily used his high-70s changeup to keep hitters off balance. He throws it with excellent arm speed and showed a willingness to throw it in any count. He tended to use his 70-74 mph curveball more as a put-away pitch when ahead in the count. It’s a true 12-to-6 curveball that, when snapped off, showed long break and depth through the zone. Gomez has a mature arsenal for his age, and after logging almost 30 innings with Greenville this year, he probably will be pushed to Salem to start next year, opening up a spot in Greenville for a younger arm. – Ian Cundall


#33: Simon Mercedes, RHP
2013 Team: Lowell Spinners
Final Stats: 63 1/3 IP, 2-2, 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 57 K, 17 BB

Season in Review: This season served as the first real look at Mercedes, who pitched in one game for the DSL Red Sox in 2012, and it is fair to say the 6-foot-4, 200-pound 21-year-old made a decent impression. He was strong as a starter at the beginning of Lowell’s season—he allowed two earned runs in 15 1/3 innings over three starts—but was pushed to the bullpen for the remainder, serving as a piggyback starter while averaging nearly five innings per relief appearance. While in the ‘pen, Mercedes exhibited improved command. He struck out more than a better per inning and totaled almost five punch-outs for every free pass. Mercedes appeared to hit a wall toward the end of August, allowing eight runs in three games (14 1/3 innings), but finished his season on a high note: three innings of one-hit, four-strikeout ball to register his first professional save on August 31.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Mercedes showed off one of the bigger fastballs I saw in the New York-Penn League. Mercedes is heavier than his listed 200 pounds, but has the size to be able to handle starter’s innings. His fastball is his best present pitch, working anywhere from 90-95 but mostly in the 92-94 mph range. In multiple games scouted he had trouble holding velocity after his fourth inning, but part of that could be attributed to his lack of professional experience. Mercedes controls the offering, but struggles to throw quality strikes and will need to improve his command as he progresses through the system. His secondary offerings lag behind his fastball, with both pitches works in progress. His curveball works best in the 79-82 range with 11-to-5 break. The pitch lacks crispness and he struggles to repeat his release point. Mercedes’s changeup has improved since I first saw him in the 2012 Fall Instructional League, but it still needs refinement. At its best, the pitch shows sink and fade, especially in the 82-84 mph range, and flashes average to slightly better potential. He lacks feel for the pitch—sometimes it looks like a fastball he took something off by slowing down his delivery. Mercedes’s power arsenal could play well out of the pen down the line, but for now he will be given the chance to start, even if only for developmental purposes. He will likely break camp with the Greenville Drive, though if he takes significant strides this off-season, and given his age, an aggressive assignment to Salem isn’t out of the question. – Ian Cundall

Photo credit: Sergio Gomez by Kelly O'Connor; Simon Mercedes by SoxProspects, LLC.