July 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM
- There was a flurry of transactions last week, with the more notable ones being covered in this article. A complete list can always be found on our Transactions page.
- With Shane Victorino returning to right field, Mookie Betts was optioned to Pawtucket on Saturday. Betts hit .235 in 34 at-bats in Boston, and he will continue to play center field and right field in addition to second base for the PawSox.
- Carlos Asuaje (pictured) was finally promoted from Greenville to Salem, finishing with a .305/.391/.542 line in 90 games with the Drive. Asuaje, an 11th-round pick in the 2013 draft, has been a jack-of-all-trades this year, playing third base, shortstop, second base, and left field. For more background on Asuaje, check out this article his agent Joshua Kusnick wrote for Baseball Prospectus. It sheds some light on why Asuaje fell to the 11th round.
- ESPN's Keith Law released his list of the top 50 MLB prospects this week, and two Portland stars were high on the list. Henry Owens came in at 23rd, and Blake Swihart slotted in at number 27. As Law mentioned in the article, Swihart has more home runs this year (11) than he did in his entire minor league career before this year (nine). The buzz around Swihart is palpable, and many fans cannot wait to see him paired with Christian Vazquez in Boston.
- Owens has been no slouch himself, as he became the first pitcher in professional baseball to reach 13 wins after tossing 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball on Saturday. What may be even more impressive is that he has earned a win in each of his last nine starts. While the "win" stat is often criticized, Owens has held hitters to a .195 average and holds a 1.46 ERA in those nine starts, showing that the wins are no fluke.
- Before sweeping the Royals this weekend, Boston and Kansas City were involved in a trade that sent Ryan Verdugo to the Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations. The 27-year-old left-hander has struck out almost a batter per inning in Triple-A this season, while sporting a 4.24 ERA.
- After a brief stint in the majors, Alex Hassan has been on fire since being optioned to the minors. Since returning to Pawtucket on June 10, Hassan has hit .361/.445/.639, and he went on a streak last week where he hit a home run in four straight games. Overall, the 26-year-old is hitting .280/.374/.450 in the minors this year.
- While Hassan is a well-known name for many of our readers, a player at the opposite end of the development spectrum to keep an eye on is Javier Guerra. Baseball America listed Guerra in the "Helium Watch" section of last week's Prospect Hot Sheet, noting that the 18-year-old has added strength this year, which has helped him in all facets of the game. Known primarily for his defense at shortstop, Guerra has hit .305 in the Gulf Coast League this year, with nine extra-base hits in 84 at-bats.
- Will Middlebrooks began another rehab assignment this week, and it has already been eventful. Many fans remember when Esmil Rogers broke the wrist of Middlebrooks with a pitch back in 2012. The two squared off again on Saturday, and Rogers hit him again. Middlebrooks spiked his bat and the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. He is 4 for 10 with a home run in his three games since coming back.
Photo Credit: Carlos Asuaje by Kelly O'Connor