March 23, 2015 at 12:01 PM
Here are this week's minor league notes, following the SoxProspects.com staff's yearly trip to Fort Myers. Although the guys are back, you can expect plenty more content in the coming week or two as well!
- Michael Chavis opened his first professional spring training in style on Wednesday, finishing a single short of the cycle in a win over the Baltimore Orioles’ Delmarva affiliate. SoxProspects.com Senior Columnist Jon Meoli spoke with the 2014 first-round pick, who said baseball was never far from his mind during the offseason.
- Meoli also writes that 2014 second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz (pictured, right) made some changes to his mechanics this offseason, abandoning his old tennis serve-like delivery for a more traditional one. The 21-year-old Texan is coming off a strong 2014 season for Low A Greenville, where he finished with a 3.72 ERA in 25 starts. He is SoxProspects.com's 20th-ranked prospect.
- SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino wasted no time getting to work in Fort Myers. Cundall put a handful of players – most notably the 9th-ranked Chavis – under the microscope in his Scouting Scratch column, while Fiorino took a closer look at Rafael Devers, Jake Cosart and four other prospects in his Thursday edition of The Write Up. Fiorino followed that up with another edition of The Write-Up featuring Justin Haley, Sean Coyle, Travis Shaw, Henry Ramos, and a look at major leaguer Alexi Ogando.
- Devers showcased his power in a spring training game Friday, smashing a ringing double to right field. SoxProspects.com Managing Editor Matt Huegel was at the right place at the right time and caught the impressive swing (and resulting frozen rope) on video.
- The Pawtucket Red Sox and Salem Red Sox announced new radio play-by-play hires last week. Will Flemming will replace the departing Josh Levering in the PawSox booth, while Kevin Burke will replace longtime Salem broadcaster Evan Lepler, who is leaving the team to become the lead broadcaster of the American Ultimate Disc League on ESPN3. Lepler announced the decision in a post on his Salem Sox Talk blog. Aaron McFarling of The Roanoke Times caught up with Burke and Lepler about their new jobs.
- In transaction news, the Red Sox made two rounds of cuts from major league camp last week. Infielders Sean Coyle and Travis Shaw were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, while right-handers Miguel Celestino, Noe Ramirez and Keith Couch and first baseman Bryan LaHair were reassigned to minor league camp. The team then optioned top prospects Blake Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez to the PawSox on Friday. Rick Weber of ESPN.com writes that Swihart and Rodriguez made good use of the opportunity to impress the Boston brass.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com writes that left-hander Brian Johnson impressed Red Sox manager John Farrell in his outing Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Johnson threw 2 1/3 innings in relief, striking out four while giving up one run on three hits.
- Fellow left-hander Henry Owens, who drew the start against Toronto, didn’t fare as well, giving up five runs in just over three innings in the 6-3 loss. However, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com writes a shaky spring training performance won’t deter Boston from calling Owens up to the big leagues this summer.
- Tim Britton of The Providence Journal writes that Garin Cecchini, after incorporating a leg kick into his swing late last season to improve his timing at the plate, is finally back in sync. Cecchini, who is jockeying for position on Boston's third base depth chart, is 13-for-36 this spring.
- Following a rough start to a 2014 season marred by injury, Matt Barnes (pictured, below) made several changes to his offseason regimen and mental approach. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe caught up with Barnes, who said his experience as both a starter and reliever last season helped him see the game differently.
- Jen McCaffrey of MassLive writes Barnes’ future may actually be in the bullpen, as Farrell has shown interest in testing the 24-year-old right-hander in "shorter stints." Barnes is a dark horse candidate for the team’s final relief spot.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes it isn't too early for the Red Sox to consider locking down Mookie Betts with a contract extension. Betts, SoxProspects.com's reigning Offensive Player of the Year, is projected to be Boston's Opening Day center fielder at the tender age of 22.
- Lyle Spencer of MLB.com polled 18 major league executives and managers with a simple question: if you were starting a franchise with a focus on the future, which three players, excluding those on your own team, would you choose? Swihart was the only Red Sox player to receive a vote. Other players with one vote were Miguel Cabrera, Adam Jones, Corey Kluber, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa. Most Valuable Player Mike Trout led the way with 15 votes.
- According to MLB.com, the Red Sox have the No. 2 farm system in baseball, finishing runner-up to Theo Epstein's Chicago Cubs. Boston placed six prospects in the site's top 100: Yoan Moncada, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot.
- The following minor league players saw action with the big league club in spring training games last week: Blake Tekotte, Henry Ramos, Manuel Margot, Shannon Wilkerson, Mike Miller, Reed Gragnani, Mario Martinez, Marco Hernandez, Mike McCarthy, Jess Todd, Cole Sturgeon, Kevin Heller, Tzu-Wei Lin and Carlos Asuaje.
Photo credit: Teddy Stankiewicz and Matt Barnes by Kelly O'Connor