October 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM
For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2015. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.
#36: Drake Britton, RP
2014 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 58 1/3 IP, 2-3, 5 SV, 5.86 ERA, 77 H, 41 R, 38 ER, 38 BB, 37 K, 1.97 WHIP (minors)
6 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 1.05 WHIP (majors)
Season in Review: Britton started the year back in Pawtucket, with an eye towards getting the call to Boston if the opportunity arose. He allowed only two earned runs in 12 innings in April, but a deeper look at his numbers showed signs of issues that would dog him all year, a 12-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.71 WHIP showing that the control problems that have plagued him throughout his career were not completely exorcised. Things started to go downhill and over his next 35 innings, Britton pitched to a 9.26 ERA with 22 walks and only 16 strikeouts. Batters hit .372 against him while slugging .622. Britton admitted in interviews near the end of the season that he had lost focus and struggled with the fact that he was still in Pawtucket. He did manage to rebound and toss 9 2/3 scoreless innings over his last five appearances with Pawtucket, and he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings over seven appearances in the majors to give him some positive momentum as he enters a very important offseason. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: The 25-year-old left-hander frequently struggles to repeat his delivery and maintain his release point. As a result, he often struggles with his command and control. Britton's fastball sits between 90-94 and plays about average due to the lack of command. The slider is his best secondary pitch at 80-83 with loose, 2-to-8 break that can get long at times, making it hard to locate. The pitch grades about average, but can flash plus when he gets on top to generate tight break and locate. He is not afraid to throw the slider down and in on right-handed hitters. The changeup is 83-86 mph and grades fringe-average. He rarely uses the pitch and needs to refine it in order to remain effective, particularly against right-handed hitters. There are also questions about Britton's mental make-up, as he appears to lack confidence in his stuff and is easily rattled on the mound. He admitted to losing concentration and focus after being demoted back to Pawtucket following spring training as well. There will be an open spot in the major league bullpen for a left-handed arm in 2015, and Britton should have a chance to compete, especially given that he is now out of options. It is time to sink-or-swim for Britton—a poor performance in camp, and he could find himself losing his spot on the 40-man roster. - Chaz Fiorino
#35: Dalier Hinojosa, RP
2014 Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 61.2 IP, 3-5, 3 SV, 3.79 ERA, 39 H, 27 ER/26 R, 33 BB, 65 K, 1.17 WHIP
Season in Review: After he defected from Cuba in the summer of 2013, the Red Sox signed Hinojosa to a $4 million minor league contract in October. Little was known stateside about the 28-year-old before the season started, and after his first eight appearances, things did not look promising. He allowed nine earned runs over his first 11 1/3 innings, while walking 12. April in Pawtucket may have been a shock for the Cuban, but as the weather heated up, so did Hinojosa. After May 5, in 33 appearances, Hinojosa posted a 3.04 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, walking 21 in 50 1/3 innings, while striking out 54. In four appearances in the playoffs for Pawtucket, Hinojosa allowed one run on two hits and five walks in six innings. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: The Cuban right-hander will be entering his age 29 season in 2015. He features a three-pitch mix with an over-the-top delivery and a quick, live arm. When I saw Hinojosa early in the year, he sat 88-92 mph with the fastball, but later in the year, he was consistently 92-95 and hitting the high end of that range on numerous occasions. The pitch featured arm-side run when down and was challenging for hitters to square up. He has short arm action in the back and hides the ball pretty well. His best secondary pitch is his breaking ball, to which he had a couple variations. One was a 10-to-4 slider with depth at 83-84 mph, and the other was a more slurvy pitch at 78-80 mph when he got on top of it. The pitch flashed plus potential and has the ability to miss bats. He also features a serviceable changeup that is still a work in progress. Now a full year into his pro career in the states, Hinojosa should make his MLB debut sometime in 2015 and could compete for a job out of the Boston bullpen in spring training. - Chaz Fiorino
Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.
Photo Credit: Drake Britton and Dalier Hinojosa by Kelly O'Connor.