7/31 Cup of Coffee: Craig Kimbrel started for the PawSox in his first rehab appearance after his surgery. Rafael Devers (pictured) was at it again with another home run, and Lowell won in spectacular fashion in the bottom of the ninth.
The PawSox came away victorious in a back-and-forth affair. After an early 4-0 advantage, they lost the lead in the seventh before taking it right back in the eighth. Brennan Boesch went 2 for 4 with a two-run blast, his third of the year. Rusney Castillo, Marco Hernandez, and Jose Vinicio each had two hits as well, with Hernandez and Castillo roping doubles. Chris Marrero also added his 20th big fly of the year.
7/30 Cup of Coffee: Four scoreless starting pitching performances highlighted a strong night across the affiliates. Brian Johnson (pictured) was excellent in his second start with Pawtucket, while Matt Kent, Jhonathan Diaz, and Rayniel Moreno pitched their clubs to victory. Offensively, Portland was the toast of the organization with an 18-hit, 11-run outburst led by Aneury Tavarez and Ryan Court.
Though Scranton/Wilkes-Barre boasts the highest scoring offense in the International League, they could not muster a single run against dominant Pawtucket pitching Friday. Brian Johnson took the ball for the PawSox and twirled six innings of four-hit ball, striking out five and walking none. Chandler Shepherd tossed the next two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two. Finally, Heath Hembree continued to be unhittable at Triple-A this year, picking up the save with a two-strikeout, 1-2-3 ninth. Pawtucket’s lone run came on a third-inning groundout by Rusney Castillo, which pushed home Chris Dominguez after his double started the inning. Henry Ramos led the team with a 2-for-3 night including a double.
7/29 Cup of Coffee: After a very rough start to his professional career, C.J. Chatham finally collected his first two hits and did it in a big way for the GCL Sox. Rafael Devers continued his red-hot July with another home run in a Salem win. Nate Freiman and Andrew Benintendi paced the Sea Dogs to a win. Jerry Downs (pictured) sent Lowell fans home happy with a walk-off homer. Both Greenville and the GCL Sox walked tightropes to escape ninth inning jams. In the DSL, Everlouis Lozada made his on-base percentage skyrocket with a staggering night at the plate.
A six-run second inning quickly put the game out of reach, as Pawtucket pitching surrendered five home runs to Rochester on Thursday. Sean O'Sullivan was roughed up over three innings of work, giving up six runs on six hits. The six runs all came with two outs in the second as O'Sullivan was singled to death and then surrendered a three-run homer. William Cuevas surrendered six runs and three home runs in mop-up duty in 5 1/3 innings of relief. Ryan LaMarre went 2 for 5 with two RBI
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Though not technically a prospect anymore by conventional standards, left-handed pitcher Henry Owens has spent most of the season with Pawtucket working through some struggles, especially with his control. In total this season, Owens has thrown 101 1/3 innings in Pawtucket, walking 65 and striking out 96 with a 4.17 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Given the struggles the Red Sox have had with their rotation, Owens returning to peak form could be an important boost to the depth heading down the stretch run.
Over his last six starts Owens has had his issues, with a 5.97 ERA in that period, but appears to be taking steps towards getting back on track over the last few outings. The recent start scouted on July 16 was his best in that stretch when he allowed only one hit in 7 2/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. In this start, Owens looked like a different pitcher compared to the pitcher I’ve seen in the past, pitching to contact and most notably utilizing his slider far more than his curveball.
7/28 Cup of Coffee: It was a positive Wednesday for the affiliates, as Pawtucket, the GCL squad, and both DSL teams were victorious. The Sea Dogs were defeated by the Thunder, and the Salem Sox lost a close contest.
Behind the strength of their pitching, the PawSox won their third in a row. Robby Scott improved to 4-3, allowing just three hits across five scoreless innings while striking out two. Roman Mendez added three innings of relief, allowing a hit and a walk while punching out three. Heath Hembree collected his third save, notching a scoreless ninth inning. The PawSox did all of their damage offensively in the fourth. Chris Marrero (pictured, above right with cousin Deven Marrero)laced a two-run double, and Jantzen Witte added an RBI double of his own. Rusney Castillo and Marco Hernandez each had two hits for Pawtucket.
7/27 Cup of Coffee: Tuesday saw some big offensive performances as Salem, Greenville, and the GCL Red Sox all recorded double-digit hits in victories. Pawtucket walked off in extra innings, while top prospect Yoan Moncada went deep in Portland's loss. Lowell split its doubleheader, and the DSL teams also split on the day.
The two teams that once engaged in the longest game in baseball history finished Tuesday's contest in a tidy three hours, 27 minutes. Brennan Boesch ripped a game-winning, walk-off homer over the right field fence with one out in the 11th. Boesch was 2 for 5 on the night with a double. Jantzen Witte also doubled as part of a two-hit effort, and Mike Miller added a pair of singles.
Pawtucket got fantastic pitching, led by starter Henry Owens. Owens matched a season-high with nine strikeouts, and allowed a pair of runs on five hits in five innings. Most importantly, there was little sign of the control issues that have plagued Owens for much of the season. The tall lefty walked only two batters. Kyle Martin followed with three hitless innings, striking out three and walking a pair. It continues a string of excellent work for Martin, who has allowed only one run in 18 1/3 innings over his last nine outings. Noe Ramirez picked up the win in relief, striking out five in three shutout innings.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. In early July, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. Today we take one last look at Greenville hitters with two pre-season top 10 prospects.
- The top position player on the Greenville roster coming into the year, Luis Alexander Basabe, got off to a slow start, but has really come on of late, putting up a .380/.458/.662 line thus far in July in 71 at bats through the 24th. Basabe is one of the toolsiest prospects in the system, flashing four plus tools. However, the one tool that lags behind is his hit tool and as a result it also makes him a very risky prospect with a large gap between his ceiling and floor.
Basabe has a projectable, athletic frame, listed at 6-foot-0, 170 pounds. He is still only 19 years old and relatively new to the game of baseball, having only picked it up a year or so prior to signing out of Venezuela. He has room in his frame to add some size as he physically matures, especially in his upper body, without losing much present athleticism.
A switch-hitter, Basabe has a vertical, slightly open stance. He holds his hands high and uses a small leg lift as his timing device. Basabe has solid bat speed and quick hands, and when he makes contact it tends to be loud. Basabe’s approach is still on the rough side as he struggles picking up spin on pitches, though he was tracking the ball better than he did last year in Lowell and looked to have a firmer grasp of the strike zone. He will always have swing-and-miss in his game, but he has the quick hands and bat speed to handle velocity. At times during the series it was noticeable that he was almost too quick with his trigger and was getting his bat out ahead of some mediocre fastballs in the 88-91 mph range from fringy right-handers. Basabe, however, has shown the propensity to use all fields already, especially from the left side of the plate where he looks more comfortable. Given he has only been playing baseball for about five years and the strides he has already made over the last year, Basabe could continue to improve at the plate and develop a fringe-average or, if you want to dream, an average hit tool. Given what else he brings to the table, however, even if he only develops a below-average hit tool, he still could be a valuable player.
7/26 Cup of Coffee: The rain was a big asset to the affiliates on Monday, as two rain-shortened games ended in victories. Christian Vazquez broke out of a mini slump to lead the PawSox, and Andrew Benintendi hit another triple for the Sea Dogs. Led by Jordan Procyshen (pictured), Salem came back to beat the Nationals, and Lorenzo Cedrola continued his hot streak in the GCL.
A 12-hit attack led the PawSox past the Red Wings. Justin Haley got the start and went the first six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out five. Chandler Shepherd tossed two scoreless innings before allowing one run on two hits in the ninth, and Pat Light came on to strikeout the final two batters to end the game.
In this week’s episode, we have new first-hand updates on Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and Michael Kopech! Plus, we hit a ton of listener emails: Why can’t the Red Sox develop starting pitching? Which Travis - Sam or Shaw - is more likely to be the club’s first baseman in two years? How might the Red Sox break in Benintendi when he gets called up? All this and more await, so hit the download button!
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The Red Sox appear to have placed Andrew Benintendi (pictured) on the fast track as the 2015 first-rounder made his first start in left field on July 22nd. Benintendi had played exclusively center field in his minor league career but, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center field and Mookie Betts in right for the foreseeable future, left field looks to be Benintendi's eventual home in Boston. Ryan Hannable of WEEI wonders what could be the next step for SoxProspects.com's second-ranked prospect.
There was plenty of action on the 102nd episode of the SoxProspects.com podcast as Executive Editor Chris Hatfield, Managing Editor Matt Huegel, and Director of Scouting Ian Cundall broke down the Anderson Espinoza trade and the recent draft signings, including first-rounder Jason Groome.
7/25 Cup of Coffee: Offense was tough to come by throughout the system on Sunday, with the exception of the Greenville Drive. Trent Kemp (pictured) had a huge day with two home runs. Mauricio Dubon stayed hot with a 4-for-4 performance. Tate Matheny also recorded a four-hit day. Lowell won in 12 innings, with some clutch hits and a huge day from the bullpen.
Brian Johnson made his first start with Pawtucket since May 14, and it did not go as planned. The lefty lasted just three innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked four batters, which is as many walks as he had in his previous four starts combined. Keith Couch came on and allowed six base runners in 3 1/3 innings on five hits and a walk, but was able to limit the damage to one run. Casey Janssen finished the game for the PawSox with 1 2/3 perfect innings with one strikeout.
The offense didn't do much, as a two-run fifth was the only time they were able to score. Ryan LaMarre and Henry Ramos each went 2 for 4 and Dan Butler roped a two-run double.
Cup of Coffee 7/24: It was a night of lackluster performances throughout the Red Sox organization as Salem, the GCL Red Sox, and the DSL Red Sox2 were the only affiliates to emerge victorious. Rafael Devers powered Salem to the win column despite an unremarkable start by Michael Kopech. Chris Marrero and Luis Alexander Basabe turned in strong games for Pawtucket and Greenville, while Bobby Dalbec made an impression in his Spinners debut.
It was a rough night for PawSox starter William Cuevas in a blowout loss in Columbus. Cuevas allowed ten runs (eight earned) on 11 hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Noe Ramirez followed him with a dominant relief appearance, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless frames and fanning six while allowing only a hit and a walk. Pat Light allowed two hits in a shutout inning.
Chris Marrero got the PawSox off to a quick start, homering in the first inning as part of a 2-for-5 game which also featured a double. The PawSox actually took a 5-4 lead with a three-run fourth inning which included RBI singles by Ryan LaMarre and Marco Hernandez. However, the bats then fell silent until Mike Miller scored Jantzen Witte with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Witte was 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and three runs scored.
7/23 Cup of Coffee: It was a big night in Portland, where the Sea Dogs rolled to a 9-3 victory and Andrew Benintendi took another step toward the majors by making his first start in left field. Joe Kelly tossed another scoreless outing, and Daniel McGrath started a shutout for Salem. Luis Alexander Basabe (pictured) mashed a home run for the second straight night in Greenville’s narrow loss. GCL Red Sox played a wild one, tying the game with two outs in the ninth on a little league home run before rain suspended the contest.
Two Columbus runs in the bottom of the first accounted for all the scoring in another narrow loss for Pawtucket. After Roenis Elias was scratched from his start just before game time, Robby Scott received a spot start and made one big mistake, allowing a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. Scott finished 3 1/3 innings without any more damage and Roman Mendez tossed the next 3 2/3 innings without allowing a run, though he did walk a batter for the first time in an incredible 42 2/3 innings (17 appearances). Joe Kelly tossed his third scoreless outing in relief this week, working around a double and an infield single in one inning of work and touching 99 miles per hour. The offense was dormant, managing only three hits. Ryan LaMarre doubled, and Jantzen Witte reached twice with a single and a walk.
7/22 Cup of Coffee: Greenville grabbed a win in a pitcher's duel thanks to Logan Boyd's (pictured) best start of the season. The Spinners erupted for 13 runs and Tyler Hill paced the offense again. The GCL Sox rallied for six unanswered runs late to grab a win. Salem battle back from a three-run deficit only to see a near win slip away in the ninth.
Columbus Clippers (CLE) 5, Pawtucket Red Sox 4 (14 innings) The PawSox fell in a frustrating game, losing on a walk-off walk in the 14th inning. Jantzen Witte went 2 for 6 with a double and an RBI. Henry Owens lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out four. Rusney Castillo was removed from the game after fouling a ball off his foot. He was 0 for 3 when he was replaced.
7/21 Cup of Coffee: It was a rough Wednesday for the affiliates, as the DSL Sox1 were the only squad that came out on top. Pawtucket's late rally fell short, while Portland and Greenville squandered solid offensive performances in their losses.
Despite a late rally, the PawSox dropped the series finale. Starter Keith Couch dropped to 1-3 despite seven solid innings. He allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out seven. Joe Kelly added an inning of relief, and allowed a hit and a walk while striking out a pair. Down, 3-0, in the top of the ninth, the PawSox pulled to within a run on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Christian Vazquez and Brennan Boesch. Unfortunately, the rally was squashed with the tying run at third base.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. Over the July 4th weekend, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. After finishing our run through the pitchers, today we take a look at two Greenville outfielders making their full season debut after struggling in 2015 with Lowell.
- Kyri Washington has formed a formidable power duo in the middle of the Greenville lineup along with first baseman Josh Ockimey. A 2015 23rd-round pick, Washington got off to a slow start in the GCL and Lowell while showing little power with only one home run and 11 extra base hits in 135 plate appearances. This year, however, Washington has found his power stroke, hitting 13 home runs, 17 doubles, and 4 triples, putting together a .264/.324/.520 triple slash in 276 plate appearances through July 19 with 22 walks and 79 strikeouts. While the power is there, the other aspects of Washington’s game lag behind, and I am skeptical about how he will handle upper level pitching.
Washington does not have a prototypical power hitter’s frame, listed at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds. He has a very strong, muscular build without much projection remaining. He starts with a vertical, slightly open stance from the right side. He utilizes a slight leg lift with a short stride, generating most of his power with his upper body and strong wrists. He has a slight uppercut in his swing to generate lift and a pull approach. Noticeably, Washington did go to right-center a few times during the series, including hitting his second home run that way. He has bat speed and rarely gets cheated, getting everything into his swing when he decides it is a pitch he can hit. Washington has an aggressive approach, and as result has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. He also makes a fair amount of weak contact due to his aggressive approach. He struggles to recognize spin and his backside often collapses against breaking balls. His 29% strikeout rate is not a fluke, and as the pitching becomes more advanced and the book gets out on him, he will likely see a lot of a soft stuff away, forcing him to make an adjustment.
7/20 Cup of Coffee: Pitching was the story on Tuesday in the Red Sox system. While Rick Porcello and friends were shutting out the San Francisco Giants for the major league squad, Matt Kent (pictured, right) and Brian Johnson turned in scoreless outings for Salem and Lowell. The hurlers for Pawtucket and Portland also submitted quality starts.
Right-hander Justin Haley spent the night working his way out of trouble, surrendering only two runs in 6 2/3 innings despite allowing 12 baserunners. Haley gave up 10 hits and walked two while striking out four in picking up the win. Robby Scott had another strong outing in relief, throwing two scoreless frames, allowing a hit while striking out a pair. Roman Mendez recorded the final out to get credit for the save.
Christian Vazquez had a hand in all of the scoring for the PawSox. The catcher hit a decisive three-run homer in the fourth, his first since rejoining Pawtucket. He later singled off old friend Drake Britton (DET) and scored an insurance run on a Jantzen Witte base hit. Overall, Vazquez was 3 for 4 on the night to break out of a 4-for-27 skid since he was optioned.
7/19 Cup of Coffee: Yoan Moncada (pictured) launched two home runs to raise his July OPS to 1.480 and Michael Kopech set a career-high with nine strikeouts as the top prospects put on dazzling performances. Joe Kelly continued to look good in relief, Kyri Washington slugged his 13th home run for Greenville, and Pedro Castellanos continued his domination of the Dominican Summer League
William Cuevas's return from Boston did not go as planned, as he was roughed up in Pawtucket's loss to Toledo. Cuevas went the first six innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits while striking out five without walking a batter. Joe Kelly had another promising relief appearance as he struck out the side in his lone inning of work, and he now has eight strikeouts and only two hits allowed over his last five innings.
So a few things have gone down over the past 10 days, eh? The guys had a ton to talk about - the trades of Luis Alejandro Basabe and Jose Almonte for Brad Ziegler and, more importantly, Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz showed why the Prez of Baseball Ops is becoming known to many as Dealin' Dave. Plus, the Red Sox were able to get Jason Groome signed before the July 15 deadline, along with fellow draftees Bobby Dalbec and Mike Shawaryn, so the guys ran down what they thought of the full draft haul and how the Groome signing may have played into the club's willingness to move Espinoza. And with the deadline past, the SoxProspects Rankings were updated - where did all of the new guys fall? And who moved based on what the guys have seen in Lowell, Greenville, Salem, Portland, and Pawtucket over the past few weeks? Listen for all this and more!
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The Red Sox made headlines this week trading away their top pitching prospect, according to the SoxProspects.com rankings. Boston acquired All-Star left hander Drew Pomeranz from the Padres for 18-year-old Anderson Espinoza. The one-for-one trade was analyzed by SoxProspects Director of Scouting Ian Cundall, who said the price for Pomeranz was "steep" and called it a "win-now trade."
Some are speculating that Espinoza became somewhat expendable because the same day he was traded, the Red Sox came to terms with their top pick in the 2016 draft, Jason Groome(pictured). The 17-year-old New Jersey native was predicted by some experts to be the top overall pick in the draft, but he was snatched up by Boston when he fell to the 12th spot. The Sox also came to terms with their fourth-round pick, infielder Bobby Dalbec, and their fifth-round pick, pitcher Mike Shawaryn.
7/18 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox needed just one big hit from Marco Hernandez to pull away for a win. Salem walked off with a dramatic win thanks to an unlikely hero. Portland fell late despite more production at the plate from Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. Josh Ockimey posted another multi-RBI game, but Greenville fell in a tight contest. Lowell fell despite a big night from its top three hitters, including Tyler Hill (pictured). Three Red Sox prospects participated in the Dominican Summer League All-Star Game.
Marco Hernandez provided all the offense the PawSox would need on Sunday, opening the scoring in the first with an RBI ground out and jacking a three-run home run in the third inning. Triple-A Home Run Derby champion, Chris Marrero, clubbed his 18th homer of the season to pad Pawtucket's lead. Roenis Elias was solid in 6 2/3 innings of work. He gave up just two hits, no runs and collected four strikeouts. He did walk four and was at 104 pitches when he was pulled in the seventh.
Cup of Coffee 7/17: It was a night of strong pitching performances for Red Sox affiliates on Saturday. Henry Owens began his evening with 7 2/3 hitless frames in a win for the PawSox and Josh Pennington was lights out in a shutout win for Lowell. Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon each reached base three times, setting the table in a win for Portland. Luis Alexander Basabe (pictured) and Michael Chavis turned in big games but Roniel Raudes struggled in a loss for Greenville.
Starting pitcher Henry Owens turned in a dominant performance for the PawSox on Saturday evening. The lanky lefty cruised through 7 2/3 hitless innings before running into trouble in the eighth inning and loading the bases with two outs. He exited the game in favor of Chandler Shepherd, who promptly allowed a bases-clearing double. On the whole, it was an encouraging outing for Owens, who tossed 7 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on one hit and two walks, punching out four.
7/16 Cup of Coffee: Quality pitching performances up and down the organization led to a handful of wins. Portland’s Keith Couch (pictured) and GCL’s Junior Espinoza started shutout efforts for their teams. Joe Kelly looked strong out of the bullpen for Pawtucket, and CJ Chatham made his professional debut with Lowell.
Two PawSox pitchers stole the show Friday, as Keith Couch and Joe Kelly combined for a shutout of the Knights. Couch tossed a gem, striking out five batters across seven scoreless innings. After making the move to the bullpen with Lowell earlier this month, Kelly made his first relief appearance with Pawtucket. The results were encouraging for the hard-throwing righty. Kelly picked up the save with two scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing just one baserunner on a two-out single in the eighth. Offensively, the PawSox racked up only five hits (all singles) but a two-run fifth inning was all they needed. Christian Vazquez singled and scored on an error, and Rusney Castillo drove home the second run with a single. Vazquez and Castillo each finished 1 for 3, as did Brennan Boesch, Ryan LaMarre, and Marco Hernandez.
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7/15 Cup of Coffee: Despite the major league club being off, yesterday was one of the busiest days Boston has had all year. Eight minor league games were played, three high profile draftees were signed, and SoxProspects.com's former third-ranked prospect Anderson Espinoza was shipped to San Diego for left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. On the farm, Rafael Devers stayed hot, Josh Ockimey blasted a home run, and the Spinners received terrific pitching, including Brian Johnson's first start with Lowell, en route to a 1-0 win.
The PawSox were blanked by former SoxProspects.com fifth-ranked prospect (June 2014) Anthony Ranaudo, who tossed the first eight innings. Pawtucket mustered just three hits and a walk. Brennan Boesch hit a double and Rusney Castillo and Deven Marrero each collected base knocks.
PawSox starter Justin Haley took the loss despite pitching fairly well. He lasted six innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. He punched out six and walked one. Roman Mendez tossed two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts, and Pat Light surrendered a run in his lone inning of work.
The Red Sox are all in for 2016. That much was clear following the reported Drew Pomeranz for Anderson Espinoza trade that came down Thursday evening. In dealing for Pomeranz, the Red Sox filled their desperate need for a starting pitcher, acquiring a left-hander who has been well above-average for the first half of the season but has a limited track record, has never topped 147 1/3 innings, and has an injury history. Pomeranz is under team control through 2018, so this is not a rental, and the price for starting pitching--particularly for team-controlled starting pitching--was going to be steep given how thin this year's trade market looks to be. But even with that in mind, the Red Sox paid a steep price in giving up one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the organization in a number of years.
The only piece heading back to the Padres is a good one in 18-year-old right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza. The Venezuelan signed in July 2014 as the top pitching prospect on the international market for $1.8 million. We began to hear glowing reports about Espinoza during extended spring training 2015, and he excelled in four starts in the Dominican Summer League in his first taste of pro ball before moving up to the Gulf Coast League and continuing to dominate, posting a 0.68 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in ten four-inning starts, striking out 40 batters. He earned a one-game cup of coffee with the Greenville Drive to end the season, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings, but holding his own despite being more than a year younger than any other player in the league at the time of the start.
Having now signed their picks from the first 10 rounds (and signed 12th-round pick Matthew Gorst to a $115,000 deal, $15,000 of which counts towards the club's signing bonus cap), the club has spent $7,232,500 on draft bonuses. That leaves $114,770 of room beneath the club's signing bonus cap plus five percent, the point after which it would forfeit picks in next year's draft. That money could be used (in addition to $100,000 per player that would not count towards the cap) to sign any further draft picks, such as 11th-round pick Nick Quintana, a highly regarded Nevada high school shortstop.
In a move first reported by Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have traded right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza(pictured) to the San Diego Padres in exchange for left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz. The trade is a one-for-one deal, as first reported by Jon Morosi. Espinoza is the third-ranked prospect on SoxProspects.com and ranked 14th in all of baseball on Keith Law's midseason top 50, released today, and 15th on Baseball America's midseason top 100 released earlier this week. In return for the club's top pitching prospect, the Red Sox add a first-time All-Star who is under team control through 2018, gambling that his breakout season is for real and that he can hold down a spot for the beleaguered Boston rotation.
Espinoza, whom the Red Sox signed to a $1,800,000 bonus in July 2014, is considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. The youngest player in the Low A South Atlantic League, he has a 4.38 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 27 walks in 76 innings with Greenville this season. The precocious young right-hander has the potential for three plus pitches and advanced pitchability for his age. Look for Ian Cundall's Trade Analysis feature to be posted to the News Page shortly for more scouting information on Espinoza, but for now, here is his Scouting Scratch posted just three days ago.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. Over the July 4th weekend, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. After finishing our run through the pitchers, today we’ll break down the most intriguing hitter on the Greenville roster.
- Coming into my trip the player I was most interested to see was first baseman Josh Ockimey. After an unremarkable season with Lowell in 2015, Ockimey has put together a very impressive .271/.402/.496 line through July 12 with 13 home runs, 18 doubles, and an 18.1% walk rate. While these numbers are impressive, I was skeptical for a number of reasons. First, the South Atlantic League is hitter friendly, especially the Asheville and Greenville parks. Second, Ockimey has a first base-only defensive profile, and it is hard to buy into first base prospects unless you believe they will hit both for average and power. Based on what I saw last year in Lowell, I was not convinced that Ockimey had that in him, but the player I saw in Greenville over the four games was completely different than the guy I saw last year in Lowell.
7/14 Cup of Coffee: The affiliates went 3-3 on Wednesday, as Greenville, Lowell, and the DSL Sox2 were victorious. Meanwhile, a number of Sox farmhands played major roles in the Triple-A and Double-A All Star contests.
In Charlotte, NC, PawSox outfielder Chris Marrero took home IL MVP honors in the Triple-A All Star game. He launched a solo home run in the eighth inning. Marrero, who was also the winner of the Triple-A home run derby, went 1 for 2 on the evening after entering the game in the bottom of the fifth. Former Sox farmhand Carlos Asuaje led off for the PCL squad, going 0 for 3 with a walk. Another former member of the Red Sox organization, Edward Mujica, earned the save for the International League. The other PawSox representative, Sean O'Sullivan, did not participate in the game due to his recent recall to Boston and subsequent injury.
LOWELL, Mass. -- Two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery, 20-year-old Josh Pennington is finally feeling like his right arm is back to full strength. Though he faced adversity during his start Sunday evening in Lowell, Pennington showed off impressive poise, wiggling out of multiple jams, along with the impressive arm that drew Boston’s interest despite knowing that he would require surgery going into the 2014 draft.
Although Pennington had success in a limited capacity in the GCL last season, he admitted that after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2014 he was still working his way back to full strength during the season. This year, Pennington feels like he can really let it fly without hesitation, and it represents the end of a long rehab process.
“The year I got drafted, I was fresh out of surgery pretty much,” the right-hander said. “So I rehabbed a lot with that, then last year was the year I really got back to pitching, but I was still kind of limited. Then this year, finally being able to throw in spring training and being able to compete, it felt really good, just because of the hard work I put in with the rehab.”
7/13 Cup of Coffee: Anderson Espinoza missed plenty of bats Tuesday, but was still roughed up by Greensboro. Kevin Steen and Jhonathan Diaz did not fare much better for Lowell and the GCL Sox, respectively, while Rayniel Adames had another good start in the Dominican Summer League. Juan Barriento and Juan Hernandez vaulted their batting averages over .400, and Greenville's Tate Matheny and Jeremy Rivera (pictured, left) each belted two doubles.
It was another curious game for Anderson Espinoza, who racked up the strikeouts but still gave up four runs over five innings. He punched out seven and walked two while allowing six hits. Espinoza entered the game with a .352 batting average against on balls in play, which hints that the 18-year-old has been getting a bit unlucky on the mound this year, especially when considering that his ground-ball percentage is near 50 percent. That ground-ball rate combined with his 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings is why the advanced statistics look favorably on the top prospect.Austin Glorius followed with three innings of one-run ball, and Victor Diaz picked up his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.
Jeremy Rivera went 2 for 3 with two doubles, two RBI, and a walk, and Tate Matheny went 2 for 5 with two doubles (though he also struck out three times). Trent Kemp went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk, and Luis Alexander Basabe added his sixth triple of the season.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. Over the July 4th weekend, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. This entry is the final of my reports from the trip that will focus on the pitchers, taking a look at four final members of the Drive pitching staff.
- After a lost year in 2015 in Lowell, during which he lost his delivery and then seemed to get into his own head, right-hander Jake Cosart has had a revival in his first taste of full-season ball thanks to a move to the bullpen. In 40 1/3 innings, Cosart has allowed only 25 hits and eight earned runs, with 59 strikeouts and 20 walks. Cosart put together his best outing of the year on this occasion, throwing three perfect innings and striking out the last six batters he faced.
Cosart has an athletic frame with some projection remaining. He has a live, quick arm and a funky, max-effort delivery that can be disorienting to hitters. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and barely uses his lower half in his delivery, bringing his arm back and then whipping it forward violently (see video below from Spring Training 2016). He then finishes upright with hard leg recoil and head whack, and does not get much extension. These mechanics are very unique, but put a tremendous amount of stress on his arm and as a result, greatly increases his injury risk.
7/12 Cup of Coffee: It was a rough night for the affiliates, as they went 2-5 with a couple tough losses. Chris Marrero (pictured) made up for some of that by winning the Triple-A Home Run Derby, and Jacob Dahlstrand and Joe Kelly each had strong rehab appearances for the Spinners. Trey Ball had a rough night for Salem, and the first DSL squad showed off their team speed with double-digit stolen bases.
After a tremendous June that saw him pitch to a 2.52 ERA over 25 innings, Trey Ball has struggled in July, and that continued last night. He allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks in only 3 1/3 innings while striking out four. Anyelo Leclerc was able to keep Salem in the game with 3 2/3 innings of one-run relief, and Jorge Marban picked up the save with two shutout innings.
Both Yoan Moncada (pictured, right)and Andrew Benintendi participated in the All-Star Futures Game Sunday, and Moncada stole the show. The 21-year-old won MVP honors while leading the World team to victory. He went 2 for 5 with a home run and a stolen base; his home run jumped off the bat 106.7 mph and traveled 405 feet according to Statcast. Moncada also reached a top speed of 21.2 mph on his stolen base. Benintendi went 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
After getting off to a bit of a slow start following his promotion to Portland, Benintendi has been on fire, hitting .354/.420/.667 over his last 27 games, with 14 walks, 14 strikeouts, and 17 extra-base hits. Chaz Fiorino, our Assistant Director of Scouting, featured Benintendi in his most recent version of The Write-Up, which includes a detailed scouting analysis as well as video of the former first-round pick.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Over the course of the season, the Greenville Drive has become arguably the deepest, most interesting team in the Red Sox farm system, with several potential big leaguers both on the mound and at the plate. Over the July 4th weekend, I was able to travel down to South Carolina and take in all four games of a weekend series between the Drive and the Asheville Tourists. This entry is the second of my reports from the trip (first entry), breaking down the highest ranked member of the Drive pitching staff along with another hard throwing right-hander.
- The most heralded member of the Drive staff and the top pitching prospect in Red Sox system, right-hander Anderson Espinoza had an off outing, lacking his normal feel and consistency. Espinoza lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing six hits—including a home run—walking three, and striking out three.
Espinoza is bigger than his listed 6-foot-0, 160 pounds. There is a misconception that he is undersized, and if I had to guess, he is closer to 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. He has some projection left, especially given his youth, and has a relatively clean delivery. He generates easy velocity, throwing from a three-quarters arm slot from the first base side of the mound. He has a very quick arm and short arm action that works fine with the rest of his delivery (for a better look at Espinoza's delivery check out video from Spring Training 2016 on the Sox Prospects YouTube page). His big issue during this outing was he was out of sync, and his arm was consistently getting out ahead of the rest of his delivery. As a result, he was constantly yanking the ball glove-side and out of the zone. He really struggled to command his fastball, and even his secondary pitches were out of sync and inconsistent.
7/11 Cup of Coffee: Yoan Moncada sent a 400-plus foot blast into the upper deck at Petco Park in San Diego and was named MVP of the MLB Futures Game. As for the Sox' affiliates, William Cuevas (pictured) turned in a gem for the PawSox in a win, and Rafael Devers recorded four hits for Salem. Josh Pennington also turned in a nice outing for Lowell.
The PawSox rode a very strong eight-inning effort from William Cuevas to victory. He gave up just one run on three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. It's his sixth win with Pawtucket, and he lowered his ERA to 3.38. Pat Light picked up his sixth save with a scoreless ninth.
Ryan Court led the way offensively by going 2 for 4 with an RBI double. Chris Marrero also had an RBI double and Mike Miller went 1 for 4 with a walk and an RBI.
Every weekend, we will be featuring videos here from the SoxProspects YouTube page. Today's video is of Pawtucket right-handed pitcher Kyle Martin. The video features the 25-year-old facing batters on May 29. In this outing, Martin sat 92-95 mph and utilized both his changeup and slider.
After being drafted in the ninth round of the 2013 draft and signing for just $10,000, Martin has had a solid season in his first introduction to Triple-A, posting a 3.63 ERA while striking out 50 hitters and walking 10 in 39.2 innings. He has also allowed only one home run this season.
plan to incorporate more video this year to supplement our regular
scouting material, so check back here and on the YouTube page
7/10 Cup of Coffee: On a day that featured doubleheaders by both Pawtucket and Portland, high-scoring wins by Salem and Greenville were highlights from the affiliates. Rafael Devers turned in a solid game in a twelve-run outing by the Salem offense and four players recorded at least three hits. Aneury Tavarez (pictured) stood out in Portland's doubleheader, contributing a pair of multi-hit games. Southpaw Brian Johnson impressed in the second game of his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League, tossing four strong innings.
In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, the PawSox resumed Friday's game trailing 2-0 in the third inning. They were unable to mount a comeback effort, recording just two hits on Saturday on singles by Ryan Court and Dan Butler. Robby Scott threw three shutout innings, giving up four hits and no walks while fanning three. Austin Maddox allowed a run on two hits in two innings of work.
The Red Sox announced early Saturday morning the acquisition of right-handed relief pitcher Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe and right-handed pitcher Jose Almonte. In dealing for Ziegler, the Red Sox acquired a right-hander with experience pitching in the late innings of games. With the Koji Uehara's recent struggles and injury concerns with Craig Kimbrel’s knee and Junichi Tazawa’s shoulder bringing uncertainty to a relief core already weakened when Carson Smith was lost for the season for Tommy John surgery, augmenting that group had become a priority.
This was the third trade of the last 36 hours for the Red Sox following the Aaron Hill acquisition on Thursday and Michael Martinezacquisition on Friday. The cost to acquire Ziegler was more substantial than the Hill trade, as Luis Alejandro Basabe had established himself as one of the better prospects in the low minors of the system and Almonte has shown some potential, albeit now in his fourth season with the organization and first above short-season ball.
- The primary piece heading back to Arizona is second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe. Basabe, whose twin brother Luis Alexander was his teammate with the Greenville Drive prior to the deal, signed for $450,000 back in August of 2012. At the time they signed, the Basabes, who come from a part of Venezuela near the Colombia border where soccer is far more popular than baseball, were relatively new to the game, having only started playing a year or so before signing. While Luis Alexander burst onto the scene last year after getting pushed to Lowell, Luis Alejandro stayed back in the Gulf Coast League and put up a respectable, but not extraordinary, line of .260/.387/.310 with no home runs and eight stolen bases. During spring training of this year, however, Luis Alejandro impressed enough in a limited look that he started the season as the number 34 prospect in the system (after being previously unranked), broke into the top 20 in our midseason rankings at number 18, and was in line to be right on the cusp of the top 10 in the upcoming update following the July 15 draft signing deadline.
The Red Sox announced early Saturday morning that they have traded second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe(pictured) and right-handed pitcher Jose Almonteto the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Brad Ziegler. With this move, the Red Sox add an impact arm to their bullpen in exchange for a pair of Low A players including one top 20 prospect in the SoxProspects.com rankings.
Basabe, who currently ranks 18th on the SoxProspects.com rankings and was poised to move to the cusp of the top 10 in a rankings update coming after Friday's draft signing deadline, has enjoyed a breakout season with Greenville this year. Playing alongside his twin brother Luis Alexander, who is currently 11th in the SoxProspects.com rankings, he has slashed an impressive .310/.412/.467 with 14 stolen bases and earned a trip to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Although hampered in the past two seasons by injuries, mostly due from getting hit on the wrist in the same spot by multiple pitches, he has stayed healthy this season and his game has benefitted as a result.
Cup of Coffee 7/9: The DSL Red Sox teams were the only affiliates to pick up wins Friday, each continuing to beat up on Dominican League competition. Portland’s Yoan Moncada (pictured) and Lowell’s Tyler Hill kept up their hot streaks at the plate in losing efforts. MLB reliever Brandon Workman had an ugly first rehab outing for Lowell.
Rain cut short Eduardo Rodriguez’s second start since returning to Triple-A after three innings. Rodriguez surrendered a pair of two-out RBI hits in the first inning but had retired seven of the last eight batters he faced before the rain came. Singles from Chris Marrero and Dan Butler were Pawtucket’s only offense. The game will be resumed as the front end of a doubleheader Saturday.
Left fielder Kyri Washington (pictured) and right-handed pitcher Aaron Wilkerson are the Player and Pitcher of the Month for May, as voted on by the SoxProspects.com community.
Washington has been one of the breakout performers so far in 2016. The 21-year-old leads the organization with a .553 slugging percentage and he ranks second with 53 runs batted in. Washington was dominant in June, posting a .319/.385/.652 slash line with six doubles, five home runs, and four stolen bases. Following a decent professional debut last summer, the 2015 23rd-round pick entered the season ranked 55th on the SoxProspects.com rankings. His strong season with the Drive has elevated him to #28 in the July rankings.
The Red Sox announced Thursday night the acquisition of infielder Aaron Hill and cash considerations from the Milwaukee Brewers in return for right-handed pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and second baseman Wendell Rijo. In dealing for Hill, the Red Sox acquired the right-handed hitting infielder John Farrell has been asking for. Hill provides solid coverage at first base, second base, and third base. Given that Travis Shaw has really struggled against left-handed pitchers this season (.211/.240/.380), Hill’s playing time should come primarily as something of a platoon partner for Shaw at third base. The cost to acquire Hill was on the light side, as Wilkerson was not seen as someone who could help the big league rotation and is already 27-years-old, while Rijo has struggled to adjust as he has progressed to higher levels and plays a position where the Red Sox have depth with Dustin Pedroia at the major league level and Yoan Moncada in Portland. - Aaron Wilkerson, was signed as a free agent back in July 2014 when the Lowell Spinners needed rotation depth. He has taken quite a unique path to the brink of the major leagues. Wilkerson went undrafted after two seasons each at Panola College, a Texas junior college, and Cumberland University, an NAIA school in Tennessee. He then underwent Tommy John surgery late in his senior season in 2011 and was out of baseball entirely for a year while rehabbing, even working in a supermarket. He made his return to the mound playing with three different independent teams in three different leagues in 2013, then was signed midseason in 2014 from Grand Prairie of the American Association to fill a spot in the Lowell rotation. He worked primarily in a piggyback role to start 2015 before forcing his way into the Salem rotation for good after getting chances to start due to injuries. This year, Wilkerson has excelled across two levels (Portland and Pawtucket), posting a combined 2.14 ERA and 1.02 WHIP across 17 appearances (16 starts). He has thrown 92.1 innings, striking out 102 and only walking 25.