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April 28, 2015 at 4:31 PM

Weekly Notes: Kopech, Johnson highlight strong week of pitching

This week's minor league notes:

  • This past week saw several strong performances from pitchers at various levels. Luckily SoxProspects.com scout Chaz Fiorino had a chance to see several of them and featured Matt Barnes, Brian Johnson, and Keith Couch in the latest edition of The Write Up.
  • The Pawtucket Red Sox announced that Brian Johnson had won International League Pitcher of the Week honors. Johnson has been on fire to start the season, posting a 0.86 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over his first four starts for Pawtucket. Johnson is not on the 40-man roster and thus unlikely to be the first in line should there be an opening in the major league rotation, but after a strong 2014 and impressive start to 2015, it seems his time will come.
  • Johnson has four pitches that trade out as average or better, but no true elite pitch. Part of his success is his ability to work quickly with command and control. However, in college Johnson was a two-way player, and it is only this year he truly feels more like a pitcher, he told the Providence Journal.
  • After taking a comeback line drive to the head at Fenway in 2012, Johnson has rebounded nicely to become one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. A handful of broken bones in his face ended his debut season, and likely affected his 2013, but after a successful 2014, and blazing start to 2015, Johnson chatted (at around the 20:35 mark) to Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs about a number of things, including rebounding from that injury.
  • Other starters in Pawtucket have also had early season success, most notable among them is left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (pictured, above). Alex Speier hits several topics in his weekend minor league notebook for the Boston Globe, including what Rodriguez' catcher thinks of him, and fellow left-hander Henry Owens early season control problems.
  • Rodriquez almost quit baseball as Christopher Smith wrote for MassLive.com. It all started after he left a tryout without an offer, and he told his mom he wanted to quit. She told him, "Go practice!" Looks like the practice has paid off, and as a result he went from throwing 83-85 to 88-90 and ended up with a deal.
  • Topping out the SoxProspects.com rankings, Blake Swihart is the top catching prospect in the game for most and a highly regarded prospect by all. He has started the year off by hitting .322/.355/.373 over his first 59 at-bats for Pawtucket, but even despite the Christian Vazquez injury, the Red Sox will take their time making sure their top prospect is fully developed. Mark Smith of Baseball Prospectus Boston takes a detailed look at the recent history of backstop prospects and how Swihart stacks up.
  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweeted out that Deven Marrero was going to get some work in at second base and third base to increase his versatility. MassLive.com's Jen McCaffrey adds Sean Coyle and Garin Cecchini to the list of players seeing time at multiple positions. In turn, Marc Normandin at Over the Monster wonders if increasing their versatility, particularly with Marrero, is setting up a future trade.
  • Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald confirmed that outfielder Henry Ramos had knee surgery and his season was done. Ramos has shown some promise including last year where he hit .326/.368/.431 for Portland, but ultimately injuries have continued to take their toll on the 23-year-old.
  • While Ramos was injured, Rusney Castillo continues to work his way back towards game action. The Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson writes that he is targeting a Wednesday return to the Pawtucket lineup, but will likely return initially as a DH.
  • Christian Vazquez is also working his way back to health, but that wont be until next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. MacPherson writes that he made an appearance when the Red Sox were in Tampa, and is now about 12-14 degrees from full extension of his arm.
  • The end of the 25-man roster has been a bit of a revolving door this week with long games, as MLB.com's Ian Brown discusses. The most recent move was sending reliever Heath Hembree back down for knuckleballer Steven Wright. Earlier in the week, Matt Barnes was recalled and McCaffrey looked at how Barnes could help the depleted bullpen.
  • Blake Tekotte may not the biggest name on the Red Sox minor league rosters, but he does have major league experience. Thomas details Tekotte's journey which has been filled with ups and downs.
  • Former Red Sox news: Reliever Alex Wilson was drafted by the Red Sox in the second round in 2009, and was sent to Detroit as part of the deal which netted the Sox Rick Porcello. The Tigers called up Wilson for the first time this year on Thursday. He has already pitched 3.2 innings, allowing only two hits and one run. Allen Webster, who was sent to Arizona in the deal for Wade Miley, has landed on the DL with shoulder fatigue after allowing 15 runs in his first two outings for their Triple-A affiliate.
  • As we have discussed in the notes before, the Pawtucket Red Sox have new ownership and moving the team to Providence is one thing they are considering. They have received quite a bit of criticism for their latest stadium proposal, including some from Providence's mayor, writes Kate Bramson
 for the Providence Journal.
Players of the Week 4/20/15 - 4/26/15: This season the SoxProspects.com staff will select the best hitter and pitcher of each week throughout the season and feature them in the Weekly Notes:

Michael Kopech, SP, Greenville Drive
2 G, 1-0, 10.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
It was an extremely competitive week for starting pitchers and strong starts from Ty Buttrey, Jacob Dalhstrand, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez all deserved mentions. However, it was Kopech (pictured, left), who went two starts without allowing a run, who took home the prize this week. In both Monday's and Saturday's starts, Kopech went five innings, allowing two hits without allowing a run. He left both games with the lead and Greenville ultimately won both. In addition to this award, Kopech also took home South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Season Stats: 3 G, 1-1, 13.2 IP, 1.98 ERA, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 0.59 WHIP

Joseph Monge, CF, Greenville Drive
6 G, 22 PA, 8 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 SB, .400/.455/.650
Greenville Drive take home the awards sweep this week after Joseph Monge filled up the box score. After struggling to start the year, his performance this week checked all the boxes: he hit for power with four of his eight hits going for extra bases, he walked as much as he struck out, and he also added three steals without being caught. His performance was among those that helped Greenville finish the week with a 7-1 record over their eight games played.

Season Stats: 13 G, 48 PA, 11 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K, 4 SB, .239/.271/.348

Photo Credit: Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Kopech by Kelly O'Connor.

Will Woodward is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.