May 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Here are this week's minor league notes:
- The Yoan Moncada era began in earnest Monday night in Greenville, where the 19-year-old Cuban super prospect (pictured, right) made his first appearance for the Drive, the Red Sox' Low-A affiliate. SoxProspects.com Staff Writer James Dunne recapped the game and Moncada's performance in Tuesday morning's Cup of Coffee.
- Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes that Moncada's debut featured fanfare reserved only for the game's most highly touted prospects: t-shirt sales, a jersey authentification and a 15-minute pre-game press conference. Other players who have received similar treatment? Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant.
- Speier also looked at the arsenal of infield talent on Greenville's roster, which features five top-20 prospects in Moncada, Rafael Devers, Mauricio Dubon, Javier Guerra and Michael Chavis. He writes that Moncada, despite his $31.5 million signing bonus, is far from a sure thing to develop into the best major leaguer of that group.
- Eric Boynton of the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal caught up with Greenville General Manager Eric Jarinko, who dubbed Moncada the "biggest" prospect the Drive has ever had on its roster.
- A hot button topic all week long was when the Red Sox would call up outfielder Rusney Castillo to reinvigorate their ailing offense. That answer came Friday, when Boston promoted the 27-year-old Cuban and sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Triple-A Pawtucket, writes MassLive.com's Jen McCaffrey.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes the wheels of Castillo's promotion were "set in motion almost two weeks ago," and that Red Sox General Manger Ben Cherington knew the outfielder would be joining Boston's ailing roster at some point in the near future.
- ESPN baseball insider Jim Bowden included Bradley Jr. on his list of 20 players most likely to be dealt before the trade deadline. Bowden sees the Colorado Rockies as the best fit for the 25-year-old center fielder, who has yet to prove himself offensively at the major league level.
- Matthew Kory of Baseball Prospectus writes Matt Barnes' lack of a third pitch and the Red Sox' wayward bullpen might be a match made in heaven. The 2011 first-round pick, who boasts a mid-90s fastball and a strong curveball, could be a welcome addition to a relief group that has had meager success getting batters out this season.
- 2015 has been a year of change for former second-round pick Pat Light, who has transitioned from the starting rotation to the bullpen for the Portland Sea Dogs. Craig Forde of MiLB.com spoke with the 6-foot-5 right hander, who has been enjoying a stellar run of form in his new role.
- Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes Pawtucket left hander Henry Owens still has the full faith of the Red Sox brass in spite of his early season woes. Owens – who currently sits at No. 5 on SoxProspects.com's ranking – has been dealing with command and consistency issues coming off his breakout 2014 campaign, throwing 30 walks in 42 1/3 innings.
- It's no secret that this season has not been kind to the Red Sox' catching corps. But despite the lack of depth, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford writes Boston elected not to pursue Cubs catcher Welington Castillo – whom Chicago put on the block and then traded to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday – out of a desire to give top prospect Blake Swihart room to develop.
- Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com looked at Swihart's history as a utility player, and how he has combined that experience with his high baseball IQ in his four years behind the plate.
- MLB.com columnist Jim Callis has Boston selecting Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman in his latest mock draft. Jesse Burkhart of Fangraphs agrees, writing Bregman has cemented his place among the draft's top 10 prospects. Burkhart cites the Red Sox' relationship with the New Mexico native, who was selected by Boston in the 29th round in 2012 but didn't sign, as a strong indicator he may be the favorite. Bregman also has connections to Swihart, his former middle school and travel baseball teammate.
- On a sad note, the PawSox announced the death of team president James Skeffington on Monday. He was 73. Skeffington was part of the 10-member ownership group that purchased the franchise in February, and was key in the efforts to keep the team in Rhode Island.
Players of the Week 5/18 - 5/24
Aaron Wilkerson, SP, Salem Red Sox
1 G, 0-0, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Wilkerson started only one game last week, but it was a stellar one that kept Salem in the hunt until his departure in the top of the seventh. The 26-year-old right hander tossed six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and one walk while punching out seven. The appearance was Wilkerson's third start for Salem since being promoted from Greenville on May 4.
Jeff Bianchi, SS, Pawtucket Red Sox6 G, 21 PA, 10 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SB, 2 K, .476/.542/.524
It was a superb week at the plate for Bianchi (pictured, right), who topped it off with a major league call up on Sunday. The 28-year-old infielder was an on base machine, reaching safely in over half of his plate appearances. He was also a productive threat on the bases, swiping two bags and scoring twice. Although it was Bianchi's strong glove that earned him a trip to Boston, the utility man showed this week he can swing the bat as well.
Season Stats: 17 G, 53 PA, 16 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 R, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 6 K, 2 SB, .302/.373/.340
Photo Credit: Yoan Moncada and Jeff Bianchi by Kelly O'Connor