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October 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Wendell Rijo and Jon Denney

SoxProspects.com is counting down its season-end top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and previewing what's ahead in 2014. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#20: Wendell Rijo, 2B 
2013 Teams: GCL Red Sox/Lowell Spinners 
Final Stats: .277/.367/.375, 16 2B, 0 HR, 22 BB, 32 K

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Season in Review: Just 17 until the very last day of his season, Rijo, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2012, jumped straight to the GCL and held his own. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound second baseman had team-highs in runs (28), hits (46), doubles (15), RBI (20), and steals (15). Rijo’s season was punctuated by a monster 16-game stretch in July, during which he hit .415/.508/.585 with nine doubles and nine walks, and he hit .299/.373/.416 in his final 43 games. Rijo’s GCL efforts were enough to merit a three-game stint with the Spinners in September. He went 5-for-14 with a double and triple, as well as at least one hit in each game.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Rijo’s season is all the more impressive when you consider that he was still recovering from ACL surgery after injuring his knee in 2012. He spent most of the year wearing a bulky knee brace, visible under his uniform, but by the Fall Instructional League it was gone, and he looked to be at full speed. Rijo hits from a wide open stance and has a big stride back to even. It generally works for him, although I caught him during the GCL season on a day when Orioles first-rounder Hunter Harvey had him off-balance, and he was way out in front after his stride. He does not have a ton of power at present, but that could develop as he gets bigger. In the field, Rijo shows the tools to eventually be a plus defender, but he tends to get lax and field the ball off to the side rather than getting in front of it – the kind of stuff your high school coach would get on you for. But again, since he’s 17, that’s to be expected. Entering his age 18 season, he could start the year with Greenville, but it would be reasonable for him to wait and begin with Lowell. – Chris Hatfield 


#19: Jon Denney, C 
2013 Team: GCL Red Sox 
Final Stats: .203/.379/.243, 3 2B, 0 HR, 18 BB, 29 K 

Red Sox reportedly agree to terms with Denny for $875k 
Ball, Denney adjusting to pro life in GCL 

Season in Review: After Denney destroyed Yukon High’s competition in Oklahoma to the tune of a .459/.600/.991 slash line, the Red Sox made him their third-round pick, swiping him from the Royals, who had agreed on a deal to select the 6-foot-2 , 210-pound catcher one pick later. That Denney even slipped to the 81st pick was a bit of a surprise, since he had been projected to be a first-rounder. After signing for an over-slot $875,000 bonus, Denney struggled to adjust at the plate, failing to tap into his advertised power as he hit just .203 with three doubles in 26 games. He also missed the season’s final two weeks after getting shut down due to shoulder fatigue. His 18 walks did drive up his on-base percentage, and he did finish the season with an eight-game on-base streak, providing some hope that he was starting to turn things around at the plate.

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Denney admitted that he was struggling a bit at the plate when I spoke to him in August, noting an approach that had gotten out of whack when teams were pitching around him in the spring. When I saw him in August, Denney was able to put in some good at-bats, including a single off of the O’s Harvey. At the Fall Instructional League, he appeared extremely passive at the plate, walking once and striking out looking twice. He also said he was pleased with his progress behind the dish, where he is projected to have above-average potential, but he did not catch in either of my trips to the Fort. Given his pedigree, it would be surprising if he does not break camp with Greenville in 2014. – Chris Hatfield 

Photo credit: Wendell Rijo by Kelly O'Connor; Jon Denney by SoxProspects, LLC.