March 17, 2017 at 9:00 AM
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall arrived in Fort Myers on Monday for the start of the annual SoxProspects staff trip to minor league camp. Here are his notes from his first two days in minor league camp, including the start of games on Wednesday.
Tuesday, March 14
- The top prospect in minor league camp upon being reassigned from major league camp that day, third baseman Rafael Devers put on an impressive display during batting practice, launching several home runs to right field onto the roof of the batting cages. What is remarkable about Devers’ power is how easily he generates it, with such little movement. His swing starts quiet, but then explodes into the ball as he clears his hips and uses his remarkable bat speed to drive the ball with backspin to the pull side.
- The morning fielding drills and batting practice provided a first look at second baseman Josh Tobias, who was acquired in December from the Phillies for Clay Buchholz. Tobias is undersized, listed at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, and has a sturdy, physically mature build. He has a strong lower half and minimal remaining projection. A switch hitter, Tobias starts open and utilizes a slight leg lift from both sides of the plate. He showed off more power and a longer swing from the right side, while he was shorter and more direct to the ball and more line drive-oriented from the left.
Wednesday, March 15
- 19-year-old right-handed pitcher Victor Garcia got the start for the Greenville team and was inconsistent over his two innings of work. He came out throwing 94-95 mph before settling in at 91-93, but really struggled with his control, walking the first three hitters and inducing a ground out before the coaches rolled (ended) the inning. Garcia has a solid pitcher’s frame and looks heavier than his listed 6-foot-4, 204 pounds. He has a physically mature frame for his age with minimal remaining projection and already is a below-average athlete. His delivery has effort, especially with his arm action that is very long with an arm swing behind. He had trouble finding a consistent release point due to the long path his arm takes to get there, leading to his trouble controlling his fastball. Garcia was consistently yanking the ball glove side, as his front side was leaking early and arm was not in sync with the rest of his delivery.
Garcia looked much better in his second inning of work, striking out the first two hitters on a changeup and curveball (video to come later this week) and inducing a weak ground out to the final hitter. Garica’s curveball was the better of his secondary pitches, showing depth at times and good 11-to-5 shape when he snapped it off. He throws it 77-79 mph and has some feel for the offering already. His changeup is more of a work in progress, coming in 85-88 mph and looking more like a two-seam fastball at times. The pitch is on the firm side and he doesn’t have great feel for the offering yet.
- After Garcia, the rest of the Red Sox pitchers in the Greenville game all look like potential relievers. 20-year-old right-hander Juan Perez came in first and he worked in the high-80s with his fastball. Perez has a physically mature frame with minimal remaining projection. His throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a long arm action that is difficult to repeat, but does get some movement on his fastball. He also showed off a short 10-to-4 slider in the low-80s.
- Venezuelan left-hander Oddanier Mosqueda is one of the youngest players in camp, but he did not look out of place facing hitters three years or more his senior. Mosqueda is small at present, listed at a generous 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, but he does have some projection in his frame and should add strength as he matures. His arm action works and he has a controlled, repeatable delivery throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot. Mosqueda’s fastball sat 87-89 mph and lacked plane due to his height. He also mixed in a changeup at 79-81 mph and curveball at 70-74 mph with long, sweepy, 1-to-7 break. Mosqueda showed some feel for both secondaries and could be someone to keep an eye on as he gets older.
- Converted catcher Devon Fisher sat 92-93 mph during his two innings of work, mixing in a slider at 79-84 mph and a changeup at 82-83 mph. Fisher has a short, stocky build with minimal projection, but showed off a strong arm. He has a short arm action, keeping the ball behind his body, and a high leg kick before releasing from a three-quarters arm slot. Fisher’s secondaries were inconsistent, but he did throw a couple good changeups, including one that he pulled the string on and located down and away from a left-handed hitter to elicit a swing-and-miss.
- Right-hander Joan Martinez was the final pitcher for the Greenville squad and he sat 93-95 mph, but his fastball was on the straight side when elevated and hit hard. He mixed in a slider at 77-79 mph and firm changeup at 88 mph.
- Of the position players, the standout was 2016 10th-round pick Santiago Espinal for his defense. Espinal started at shortstop and made several impressive plays, most notably one charging a slow roller in and another on a ground ball up the middle. Espinal has an athletic frame with projection remaining to fill out his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame. Espinal’s instincts and feel for the position were evident during infield the day before, and in the game this carried over. He carries himself confidently in the field and is extremely fluid with soft hands and smooth actions. He has a quick first step and range to both sides. He is comfortable throwing the ball on the run and showed off at least a solid-average arm. At the plate, Espinal starts open with his hands high, getting them back and in a good hitting position quickly. He showed good bat control on a hit and run that resulted in an infield single and short, compact swing. He also showed off above-average speed getting down the line in 4.24 seconds on the infield single.
Photo credits: Rafael Devers by Kelly O'Connor
Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.