August 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM
- After signing on July 15, first-round draft pick and left-hander Jason Groome made his professional debut today in the Gulf Coast League, striking out three over two innings of one-hit ball.
- The SoxProspects.com Podcast returned on Sunday to discuss a plethora of topics, including Andrew Benintendi’s time in Boston, Yoan Moncada’s transition to third base, and the reasons why Salem's Rafael Devers and Michael Kopech (pictured, right) will not be promoted this season. The podcast also includes Arizona Fall League roster predictions and first-hand reports from Director of Scouting Ian Cundall.
- Kopech had another dominant start last week, tying a career-high with 11 strikeouts. Kopech spoke with Damien Sordelett of MiLB.com about his development and how he is handling his past mistakes. Kopech credits Salem pitching coach Paul Abbott with providing advice and a blueprint to follow. That blueprint seems to be working; over his last 22 innings, Kopech has struck out 39 batters while allowing only three earned runs.
- Moncada has played sparingly since suffering a Grade 1 left ankle sprain on August 5. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald makes a strong case as to why, if healthy, Moncada should start at third base for Boston. The recent struggles of Travis Shaw, combined with Moncada's immense upside, make this a compelling move for the Red Sox as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.
- Baseball America subscribers can read an article by Alex Speier about Devers and how he has made adjustments throughout the year. Devers struggled to begin the season, batting .180/.268/.293 over his first 40 games. However, he has rebounded and hit .329/.370/.528 since May 24. Nelson Paulino, Salem's hitting coach, believes the turnaround can be attributed to Devers letting the ball get deeper (which improves his pitch selection) and taking advantage of his power to all fields.
- Another member of Salem's pitching staff is matching Kopech's dominance, as Jake Cosart has struck out 16 over 9 2/3 innings while allowing only three hits and no runs since making his debut for the team on August 6.
- A potentially crucial piece of the Red Sox pitching staff down the stretch could be Brian Johnson. Speier talked with Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper for the Boston Globe's Minor League Notebook, and Kipper feels that Johnson is on his way to re-establishing himself on the mound. While Kipper admits that Johnson's stuff is a tick below where it was in 2014, he feels that his tempo, control, and way of attacking of the strike zone are back. Over his last four starts, Johnson has allowed only five runs over 25 1/3 innings while walking four and striking out 15.
- Speier also wrote about Ryan Westmoreland, who many consider to be one of the most talented players to ever play in the Red Sox system. Westmoreland, who was opening speaker at the SaberSeminar, said he considered suicide after being forced to retire at the age of 22 after two brain stem surgeries. He has since devoted his life to raising awareness for his condition, working closely with the Angioma Alliance, while also working as a personal trainer and a high school baseball coach.
- A 19th-rounder in the 2014 draft, Tyler Hill (pictured, right) has made a name for himself this season with Lowell. Hill started in the New York-Penn League All-Star game last Tuesday, and the 20-year-old launched a home run to lead off the bottom of the first. In his latest Toolshed, Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com talked with Hill about his background, routine, and why David Ortiz is the reason he plays baseball.
- After undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, Brandon Workman has returned to Portland for a rehab appearance. Workman's rehab started in July, but an oblique strain set him back for a month. Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald caught up with Workman, who discussed his long road back and why he feels like he can help the big league club this season.
- Logan Boyd has been flying under the radar this season, but the 22-year-old left-hander has set the single-season Drive franchise record with 13 wins. Boyd admitted to Myron Hosea of GreenvilleOnline.com that he has been shaky at times this season, but feels he has gotten into a groove and his confidence is high. Boyd's ERA is currently 4.57, so he does owe some of his record to Greenville's offense.
- Brendan McGair of the Woonsocket Call wrote a feature on PawSox manager Kevin Boles, which highlights how Boles is well-liked in Pawtucket's clubhouse. The article sheds some light on Boles's thought process as a manager as well as how he deals with young adults who are maturing both on and off the field.
- If watching the Olympics has you wanting to break a world record, go to McCoy Stadium on September 4 as the PawSox will invite their fans on the field to play the largest game of catch.
Players of the Week 8/15-8/21
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Lowell Spinners
6 G, 25 AB, 6 R, 13 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K .520/.520/.1.080
Dalbec (pictured, right) is known for having prodigious power, and that was on full display last week. The 21-year-old is currently slugging .675 over 22 games with the Spinners, and 15 of his 31 hits have been for extra bases. The big concern for the 2016 fourth-round pick when he entered the system was his high strikeout rates in college; however, he is currently striking out in just under 23 percent of his at-bats, which is a manageable rate especially when considering his current production.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Salem Red Sox
1 G, 6 IP, 1-0, 1.50 ERA, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 11 K
As mentioned earlier, Kopech is currently tearing through the Carolina League, and he turned in arguably the best start of his career last week. It was the second straight 11-strikeout performance for Kopech, and he has recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of his last four starts. After missing time to begin the season with a broken hand, Kopech is a prime candidate to play in the Arizona Fall League to make up for his lost innings.
Dalbec was also named the Player of the Week for the New York-Penn League, and Daniel McGrath was named the Pitcher of the Week in the Carolina League after tossing eight innings of one-run ball on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Michael Kopech, Tyler Hill, and Bobby Dalbec by Kelly O'Connor