FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Mauricio Dubon was selected in the 26th round of the 2013 draft, few knew his name. But as one of the biggest risers on the SoxProspects.com rankings over the past year, he is taking positive strides toward remedying that situation.
But with Dubon, it is about more than putting just his name on the map. After all, if he were to make it to the big leagues, he would be the first native of Honduras to do so, and only the second ever player to do so who was born in the Central American country.
Around the time of the draft, there were reports about Dubon’s solid glovework, and the shortstop’s work in short-season Lowell last season bore those out. But it was his hitting .320/.337/395 that made people start to take notice. It was Dubon’s first time playing in Massachusetts, and his first taste of Red Sox Nation exceeded expectations.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On
the final day of the SoxProspects.com staff’s trip to spring training and with
the big league club facing its opening day opponent, the Phillies, Clay Buchholz made an appearance on the back fields. Chaz Fiorino wrote up the Red
Sox opening day starter’s five-inning appearance against the minor league
rookie ball contingent.
With any spring outing of this nature, and any spring outing
in general, the very last thing I focus on is the stat line. That said, if
you’re into that, Buchholz’s results were exactly as you would hope facing
low-minors hitters. Buchholz threw a reported seventy-nine pitches over five
innings, facing eighteen batters. He allowed no hits, struck out ten and walked
Results aside, I was focused on seeing a few different
things from Buchholz that lend themselves to future success against big league
hitters: (1) Staying in sync, on-line towards the plate and balanced with his
delivery; and (2) the ability to throw strikes to both sides of the plate,
change speeds, and command and control his secondary offerings with sharpness. Buchholz
did not disappoint, and mixed in his entire arsenal: a four-seam fastball, two-seam
fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.
Here are this week's minor league notes from Fort Myers:
Perhaps the most anticipated information from the SoxProspects.com crew's time in the Fort was their impression of Yoan Moncada. Director of scouting, Ian Cundall, gives the scouting scratch on Moncada which includes some video.
In that same write up, Cundall also discusses the decision to rank Moncada behind catcher Blake Swihart to start the year, but says both are part of the same elite tier in the very strong system.
SoxProspects.com senior staff writer James Dunne had the first installment of the System Restart series today, focusing on previewing the Red Sox minor league catchers to follow in 2015.
Over the course of the week, many of the minor league players in big league camp were unsurprisingly reassigned to the minor league camp. The latest cuts included SoxProspects.com's third ranked prospect, left-hander Henry Owens, along with Heath Hembree, Zeke Spruill, Bryce Brentz, and Garin Cecchini.
Included in that piece was the news that right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs was released. He was signed to a minor league deal earlier this off-season, but was never able to regain the form he exhibited earlier in his career.
Boggs was not the only player released this past week. The Boston Globe's Alex Speier tweeted that that 2010 6th rounder Kendrick Perkins as well as Nestor Molina, Simon Gravel, KJ Trader, Deryk Hooker, Matty Johnson, Willie Ethington were all released.
With the season approaching, it’s time for the return of the System Restart, our position-by-position preview of who to follow in 2015. First up, the catchers.
Position in a Nutshell: Last year in this space, we used the term “top-heavy,” and the term applies even more now than it did then. The Red Sox have Blake Swihart (pictured, left), the consensus top catching prospect in baseball, targeted for Triple-A, and defensive prodigy Christian Vazquez heads into the regular season as the major league starter at age 24, albeit with a potentially serious injury concern in his throwing arm that has cropped up this spring. But after that, the drop-off is precipitous. While there are a few intriguing players to keep an eye on for the long term, there is little in the way of help that looks to be ready this season.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In his first full season in the Red Sox system, right-hander Justin Haley flashed his potential on the mound while also demonstrating a major wart. But it was last year in his second full season that Haley broke through to plant himself firmly on the map as a potential future big leaguer, posting a 2.35 ERA between Salem and Portland.
“The key to my success was a lot of things,” Haley said, looking back at his breakout season. “Just being aggressive and being confident in my stuff, trusting the catcher, and trusting the plan we had in place before the game started and just staying with it.”
More significant than the decrease in runs allowed was his vast improvement upon a significant flaw in his game in 2013. Though he managed to put up solid numbers otherwise, Haley had sported an ugly walk rate of 5.3 per nine over 124 2/3 innings with Greenville. Last season, he looked like a different pitcher, lowering that rate to 2.7 per nine across two levels, including a 2.2 mark in 92 2/3 innings in Salem.
Before heading down to Fort Myers for spring training, the
scouting staff identifies a list of players we need to see, ideally in both
workouts and game action. Yoan Moncada was atop that list this year, but
unfortunately because his signing was not official until March 12, he did not
play in games while we were down there. However, he did take part in workouts,
which included fielding drills, batting practice, and baserunning. As a result,
this breakdown should not be seen as a complete scouting report. Rather, it is a
baseline of what to expect from Moncada based upon watching these workouts for
five days. Even though Moncada didn’t face live pitching, he showed off some of
the tools in drills that led him to be such a sought after player that
warranted a $31.5-million bonus.
The first thing you notice when you see Moncada up close is that
he is not built like a typical 19-year-old. Moncada stood out physically on the
field when working out with the Salem team, including 2014 college draftees
like Sam Travis and Jordan Betts. The contrast was even starker when compared
to other teenagers likely headed to extended spring training and then Lowell or
the GCL. Moncada’s height doesn’t jump off the page, listed at only 6-foot-0,
but he is just well built, with a physically developed, mature body. He has a
very muscular upper body, and strong lower half that really fills out his
uniform. Moncada doesn’t have much physical projection, and even with his
current build, he is still very athletic.
The Red Sox announced their latest round of spring training cuts on Thursday morning. Left-handed pitchers Henry Owens (pictured) was reassigned to minor league camp, while right-handers Heath Hembreeand Zeke Spruill, outfielder Bryce Brentz, and third baseman/outfielder Garin Cecchiniwere optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox also released right-handed pitcher Mitchell Boggs.
Owens, the third-highest ranked prospect in the Boston system, struggled in his second major league camp. The 6-foot-7 lefty allowed 13 runs (11 earned) in 11 1/3 innings across five appearances, walking six and striking out eight. Barring a major surprise, Owens will begin the 2015 campaign with Triple-A Pawtucket where he finished the 2014 following an outstanding season with the Portland Sea Dogs.
FORT MYERS, Fla.
– This latest batch of scouting reports from Spring Training by Chaz Fiorino reaches all levels
of the system, from one pitcher who started spring in major league camp to another
who will make his stateside debut this summer.
Rijo is a
19-year-old, right-handed second baseman. He has a young, under-sized frame at
5-foot-11, 170 pounds, with room for added strength as he physically matures.
Defensively, Rijo is an athletic, high-energy guy with lower half quickness in
his lateral movements. Rijo’s athleticism immediately stood out in the field
taking groundballs during morning workouts. However, there were a number of
times when he struggled with his glove transfer to his throwing arm or booted a
few groundballs. The athleticism and raw tools were easy to see defensively to
project future average potential defense at second. The arm profiles best at second
base as well. Offensively, I only got a glimpse of Rijo in two at-bats and a
few batting practice swings. Rijo has a high hands setup and displayed
surprisingly sneaky raw power in his morning batting practice. In the two
at-bats I caught, Rijo was late getting his front foot down in time and was
drifting forward with his body at the plate. This resulted in a couple late
swings and getting off-balance on off-speed pitches. Rijo looked aggressive at
the plate and ready to hit. Very young at age 19 and slated for High A Salem, Rijo
is still a ways away, but has impressive raw tools for a 19-year-old, projected
middle infielder with plenty time to develop.
During much of his college career, injuries ensured that Karsten Whitson wasn’t the pitcher he was when he bet on himself and turned down millions from the San Diego Padres as the ninth overall pick to attend the University of Florida in 2010.
But the confidence that allowed him to do so never wavered, even through shoulder issues that robbed him of a collegiate season and dropped him to Boston in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Now, with the benefit of the Red Sox’ shoulder strengthening program and a clean bill of health, Whitson is getting back to physically being that pitcher on the mound, too, having regained the fastball and arsenal befitting of someone with his pedigree last year at the Fall Instructional League.
“I tell people, ‘Instructs, that’s me. That’s kind of who I am,’ ” he said. And it’s probably been a little while—I know it’s been a little while, maybe a year or two since I’ve been that guy.”
“I don’t think that anything that’s happened up to this point has wavered my confidence at all,” he said. “There’s been some ups and downs—every player’s going to go through that in their career. Unfortunately for me, it was kind of at a younger stage in my career. But I think those experiences are going to help me get through future years.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Fresh off his debut campaign in the GCL, Nick Longhi had high hopes leading into the 2014 season. He looked to be living up to the expectations that came along with the over-slot bonus he received as a 2013 30th-round pick early on in the Lowell season, batting .330/.388/.440. That he was 18 years old and often facing pitchers three or four years older than him makes that line look even more impressive.
Unfortunately those numbers were over just 121 plate appearances as his season was cut short after little more than a month when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb sliding into third base on July 21. The injury required surgery, but because it happened earlier in the season, Longhi feels like his health is in a good place heading into this season.
“All our guys in the training room really helped me and got me back on the field ahead of schedule,” Longhi said. “I got to work out all offseason, get strong, and I’m 100 percent right now.”
The boys are back... from Fort Myers! Chris, Ian, and Matt had a ton of stuff to report back from the SoxProspects.com staff's annual trip to Spring Training. We got our first look at Yoan Moncada, as well as updated looks at Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, and others! Which sleepers looked poised to break out? What new guys impressed? All that and more in this action-packed episode!
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Trey Ball got off to a rough start during the 2014
season, but as the season progressed, he found his footing and started to put
things together. In his first spring start this year, he showed marked improvement
compared to what he looked like a year ago. Ball pitched three innings, allowing
two hits, both home runs, three walks and three strikeouts, but the stat line
does not tell the entire story, as he flashed two potential plus offerings.
Ball has started to fill out his 6-foot-6, 195-pound frame,
and still has a repeatable, low-effort delivery. Ball sat 91-93 mph with his
fastball, topping out at 94 mph. As he worked into his second and third innings,
some started coming in at 89 and 90 mph, but that is to be expected in his
first spring training start. His command and control are still inconsistent, however,
as he gave up some hard-hit balls, some of which turned into outs, while others
ended up deep over the left field fence. In the third inning, he seemed to lose
his release point and could not find the strike zone for a few batters, walking
three out of four guys at one point. Though his fastball command and control
have a ways to go, a left-hander with his frame who can sit in the low-90s and
touch the mid-90s is a very intriguing prospect.
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.
Assistant Scouting Director Chaz Fiorino checks in with more of his scouting observations from minor league games in Fort Myers.
- Listed at 6-foot-5, 230
pounds, Justin Haley (pictured, left) has a tall, strong, filled-out build. The 2012 sixth-round
pick out of Fresno State comes set with his hands at shoulder height, using a simple,
no-wind-up delivery and a high three-quarters arm slot with short arm action in
back and minimal extension to the plate. The fastball ranged from 88-91 mph and
was fairly straight. His secondary offerings included a hard, short slider that
looked like a cutter at 85-88 mph; a changeup at 80-82 mph with fade, flashing
average potential; and a loose, 12-to-6 curveball at 75-78 mph. Most worrisome
was that Haley struggled with command in his three innings of work, walking a
pair of batters, as vastly improved control was the key improvement in his
great 2014 campaign. The fastball velocity was a tick down from previous
reports, not a surprise in what was Haley’s first spring outing.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Teddy Stankiewicz traveled home after his first full season with high marks from the Red Sox, and deservedly so. He was at his best late in the season, and spent 2014 as one of the most durable pitchers in the organization, posting a 3.72 ERA in 25 starts to lead a young Greenville rotation.
But in an effort to improve on a season many would accept as quite good, Stankiewicz eliminated what was one of his signature traits on the mound — a subtle lean back on the rubber that set him into his motion — and tweaked his delivery this spring to get better results.
“You’ve got to work with some things and find out which is better for you, which is not,” Stankiewicz said Friday after his start against the Orioles’ High-A squad in Sarasota, Fla. “If you don’t try them, you don’t find out. Why not try it? If you don't succeed, you change a little. … But if you stick with it, you never know what might happen.”
The Pawtucket Red Sox and Salem Red Sox have both announced new hires in their radio booths for the coming season over the past 24 hours. The PawSox on Friday hired Will Flemming (pictured) to replace the departed Josh Levering, who became the latest in a long line of PawSox broadcasters to jump to the majors when he was hired by the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason. Meanwhile, Salem tapped Kevin Burke on Thursday to replace long-time Salem broadcaster Evan Lepler, who is leaving to become the lead broadcaster of the American Ultimate Disc League on ESPN3.
Flemming, 35, will join Josh Maurer in the PawSox booth. The team of Flemming and Maurer will broadcast all 144 Pawtucket games on 920 WHJJ and a dozen other affiliated stations. He has spent the last three seasons as a play-by-play voice of the Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Triple-A affiliate. Flemming has also called NCAA finals in baseball, hockey, basketball, track and field, soccer, and swimming. He has also been the voice of IUPUI men's basketball on television and radio during the baseball off-season.
The Red Sox announced their next round of cuts from major league camp on Friday morning, optioning catcher Blake Swihart (pictured) and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Swihart, currently the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system according to SoxProspects.com and the consensus top catching prospect in the game, did not disappoint this spring. Seeing action in nine games, Swihart slashed .389/.450/.556 and hit one home run in 20 plate appearances. He notably received starts in games filled with expected Red Sox regulars, although this was due in part Christian Vazquez's elbow injury. The 22-year-old will look to build upon his 18-game cup of coffee with the PawSox in 2014, during which he hit .261/.282/.377.
Assistant Scouting Director Chaz Fiorino checks in with his scouting observations from Thursday's minor league games in Fort Myers.
- Rafael Devers (pictured, left) carries a strong, filled-out, muscular build on his listed 6-feet, 215 pounds, featuring a thick lower half. Offensively, he rolled over on pitches in his first two at-bats for groundouts to the catcher and second baseman, but recovered to collect two hits in his next two at-bats on line drives to right field. The hits came on an impressive, easy line drive swing with plus bat speed. In the first of the two successful plate appearances, Devers swung and missed on an 0-1 changeup but battled back to a 2-2 count before driving an 89 mph fastball to right. In his last trip to the plate, he took a hanging 1-2 curveball to right field. The right fielder misplayed the ball and Devers made a great heads-up play to take second base. Defensively at third base, Devers had one opportunity, making the play on a routine ground ball before making a poor throw into the dirt at first. Given his thick frame and size, he does not move exceptionally well at third. However, he did show plenty of arm strength to make throws from across the diamond. A future move defensively to first-base would not be surprising.
- Through two days of game action, the standout performer at
the plate has been infielder Michael Chavis. Chavis has made hard contact in
almost every at-bat, including a home run, double, and triple on Wednesday along
with two singles and another hard-hit line drive for an out on Thursday. Chavis
doesn’t have a prototypical third baseman physical profile, listed at
5-foot-10, 180 pounds. He has a physically mature body for his age, with a
strong lower half, core, and upper body and limited physical projection
remaining. At the plate, Chavis hits from a slightly open stance with some
pre-pitch movement before eventually settling into a solid hitting position.
Chavis has a very advanced bat for a high school draftee with plus bat speed,
quick hands at the plate, and excellent bat control. The ball really jumps off
his bat and he has shown the ability to barrel it up with backspin. What has
stood out the most, however, is his ability to hit to all fields with power.
Out of his five hits, four of them went the other way to right field with the
home run the only hit he pulled. He doesn’t try to do too much, rather taking
what the pitcher gives him. The 19-year-old demonstrated this on Wednesday by
staying back and driving outside fastballs to right field on his double and
triple then kept his weight back to clear out a changeup down and in for a home
run to left field. Chavis’ advanced bat and demeanor at the plate are more than
ready to handle an initial assignment to full-season ball, where he should
serve as one of the key cogs in the Greenville lineup.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Rare are the moments when expectation and reality meet, but for all the excitement Michael Chavis brought to the opening game of minor league spring training, it is safe to say his debut performance lived up to what he hoped it would be.
Chavis reached base in all four appearances in a win for the Low A Greenville squad over the Orioles' Delmarva team on Wednesday, falling a single short of the cycle at the Buck O’Neil Complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota.
It was a welcome way for the 26th overall pick in the 2014 draft to kick off his first full season, given he had to make an adjustment to the professional game that often gets overlooked: after a lifetime of year-round baseball, he had to deal with an offseason.
Coyle, the 13th-ranked prospect at SoxProspects.com, appeared in eight games this spring, seeing time at both second and third base, and went 2 for 7 with a double and three walks. Coyle, 23, may have seen more playing time, but missed four days after getting hit in the lip with a ground ball during morning drills, requiring stitches. The 2010 third-round draft pick hit .295/.371/.512 with 16 long balls in 97 games for Portland last season before participating in the Arizona Fall League.
While it's disputed where Moncada falls in the Red Sox top prospect rankings, here at
SoxProspects.com, Moncada won't be ranked until after he's taken the field at spring training, a decision Chris Hatfield explained this weekend. The SoxProspects.com crew will be down at spring training this week, so look for plenty of first-hand reports to come this week.
Now, if you've been paying attention, you knew that we were planning to debut the 19-year-old Cuban infielder as the system's number two prospect, behind Blake Swihart. This decision came after a quick but spirited debate among the SoxProspects brass when news broke of Moncada's agreement with the Sox way back on February 23, during which we agreed on the following:
Moncada was either first or second in the system, for sure. It was just a matter of which. Internal opinions differed on that, but we all knew it was basically a crapshoot based on what we'd read.
Naming a new top prospect in the system is just... different. It means something. You will never see a player described in a mainstream news article as "the system's consensus second-best prospect." This is also evidenced by the fact that players are aware of (or made aware of) this in a way they aren't necessarily as a "top five" prospect or something. Conversations with Lars Anderson proved that this was something he was aware of, and I've always surmised that the pressure of being the top prospect in the system was why he put so much pressure on himself (as described by his former manager, Gabe Kapler, in this great piece he wrote for WEEI.com a couple years back.)
We knew we would be adjusting our rankings after our trip to Fort Myers at the end of March, and the majority opinion was that it'd be better to move him up than move him down. Again, the number 1 spot is just different, and the idea was that we didn't want to put a guy there for four weeks and then think better of it.
As per our usual policy, we weren't going to add him to the site rankings until his signing became official.
The Red Sox announced on Thursday that they had signed Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to a minor league contract, making the acquisition official 19 days after it was first reported. The team will reportedly introduce Moncada at a press conference today at 11:30 a.m.
Because he is just 19 and has not played at least five seasons in a foreign professional league, Moncada was signed to a minor league deal. His $31.5 million signing bonus is the highest ever for a minor league contract, shattering the prior record of $8.27 million given to Cuban pitcher Yoan Lopez by the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this offseason.
The SoxProspects.com staff is looking forward to getting eyes on Moncada next week at Spring Training, so make sure to check back here at SoxProspects News for our first-hand scouting report on the Cuban phenom, as well as the SoxProspects Podcast, which covered the Moncada signing back in February.
SoxProspects.com released all-new scouting reports for prospects 21-40 after unveiling the new format for the top 20 prospects in February. The reports were completely overhauled to feature in-depth analysis in physical description, tools, career notes and more.
The Red Sox are still awaiting the results of a drug test before they can officially announce the signing of Yoan Moncada, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.
Right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes (pictured,right),
currently ranked seventh on the SoxProspects.com rankings, could turn out to be a weapon out of the bullpen, according to Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald. Red Sox manager John Farrell
told Silverman that with Barnes' stuff, which includes a fastball that touched 97 mph and a tight breaking ball, he could be in the running for one of the two bullpen spots up for grabs coming out of Spring Training.
Catcher Blake Swihart, SoxProspects.com's top-ranked prospect, showed off his power in Saturday's split-squad win over Baltimore in Sarasota. Jeff Pini of Boston.com talked about the 22-year-old's hitting prowess.
Continuing our offseason project to update our scouting reports, the SoxProspects.com staff is pleased to announce that the scouting reports for players ranked 21-40 have been updated. The easiest way to check out the reports, which were written by Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino, is to head over to the More Prospects page, which links to each player's profile.
Please note that you may need to refresh the player's page in your browser to see the updated scouting report.
We are now planning to proceed position-by-position, updating the shorter, one-paragraph scouting reports rather than using our expanded format. In the future, players' scouting reports will be expanded upon their entry into the SoxProspects.com Top 40.
Here are this week's minor league notes from Fort Myers where the first full squad workouts took place last Wednesday:
The huge news this past week was that the Red Sox reportedly reached an agreement to sign 19-year-old Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada (pictured, right) for a signing bonus of $31.5 million, the largest ever for a minor league contract.
Moncada was a very highly regarded potential five-tool player, and therefore it is no surprise that much of this week's news was focused on the Red Sox latest signing. The SoxProspects.com podcast team jumped on the news, and on Wednesday recorded a podcast with Baseball America's Ben Badler where they discussed all things Moncada and touched on some other topics.
Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington could not officially confirm the Moncada signing yet, but he was happy to give his scouting report on the player, and also talked about the team's approach to scouting Cuban players as the Providence Journal's Tim Britton writes.