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April 27, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Minor Notes: Steen in critical condition after early morning car crash

Here are Thursday's minor league notes:

  • Some sad news to start off the notes. Last night pitcher Kevin Steen (pictured, right) was critically injured according to Fox4 while in extended spring training with the team in Fort Myers. Reportedly, another vehicle crossed the median and went airborne before crashing into the vehicle Steen was driving. The other car caught on fire and the driver was declared dead at the scene.  Everyone's thoughts and prayers are with the young man. The 20-year-old was drafted in the 9th round in 2014 and spent all of 2016 with the Lowell Spinners, going 3-5 with a 5.37 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over 14 starts.
  • You needed some good reading with a slew of rainouts this past week across all levels. Good thing the SoxProspects.com System Restart series marched on this week. The upper-level pitching entry featured two recent graduates in lefties Henry Owens and Brian Johnson, and also included three top-20-ranked prospects - Trey Ball, Jake Cosart, and Ben Taylor. Taylor made the opening day major league roster this spring and made his debut on April 7th, a quick rise for the righty who signed for a mere $10,000 bonus as a senior after being taken in the 7th round in the 2015 draft. He has since moved between Boston and Pawtucket, but over the first 20 days of the season, he has performed quite well, allowing only one run over 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and three walks while in Boston. Johnson was also called up to the big-league club earlier this month for a spot start, though his trip was somewhat less successful, allowing four runs over five innings, but he did manage to strike out six and finished with the win.
  • Next up was the mid-level pitching, highlighted by two teammates at Salem, Roniel Raudes and Travis Lakins, and two teammates at Greenville, Mike Shawaryn and Shaun Anderson. One player at each level has gotten off to a hot start. In Salem, that pitcher is Travis Lakins who has rebounded after a down 2016 with a 3.38 ERA in his first 17 1/3 innings over four starts. Even more impressively, Anderson has been nearly untouchable for Greenville, only allowing two earned runs over his first 21 2/3 innings while taking home the SoxProspects.com pitcher of the week for April 10-16.
  • Wrapping up the pitching was the low-minors pitching System Restart. Players in the lower levels are often too far off to rank highly, but 2016 12th overall pick Jason Groome is an exception, currently sitting third in the SoxProspects.com rankings. Unfortunately, due to a lat injury, we have not gotten to see much of Groome yet this season, which has allowed his Greenville teammate, Darwinzon Hernandez, to get some attention. The 20-year-old has had a strong first four starts, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 25 strikeouts to 8 walks.
  • If positional players are more your thing, then third baseman Rafael Devers, the soon-to-be top-ranked player on the SoxProspects.com rankings (Andrew Benintendi is scheduled to graduate May 1st), is one of the players you can't get enough of. Director of Scouting Ian Cundall caught five of Portland's early season games, and fittingly his first positional player Scouting Scratch takes a detailed look at Devers with tons of great info and videos.
  • Brian MacPherson chronicles Taylor's (pictured, left) improbable journey and lightning quick rise through the system for the Providence Journal. While noting that he has impressed manager John Farrel, he also notes that Taylor is an example on the Red Sox recent adjustment to how they value amateur relievers as the market for professional relievers continues to skyrocket.
  • PawSox righty Brandon Workman had lingering soreness after pitching last year, as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. MacPherson writes that it is now a thing of the past and he can again pitch without hesitation. In 2017, Workman has been deployed out of the bullpen, each time for multiple innings. Over his three appearances, he is yet to allow a run in 7 innings while striking out 10 and only walking one.
  • Third baseman Michael Chavis spent his second year in Greenville in 2016 and the results were very similar to his 2015, finishing with a .244/.321/.391 line before a brief, end-of-season promotion to Salem. In the early going, he has been the hottest hitter in the system and has put up video game numbers - slashing .333/.463/.879 with 3 doubles, 5 home runs, 6 walks and 8 strikeouts over his first 41 plate appearances. It may be pure coincidence, but Alex Speier writes for Baseball America that this spring Chavis hit the books hard, keeping a journal of all his routines, at-bats, and results in an attempt find a way to get more consistent through sabermetrics. 
  • The Pawtucket Red Sox announced this week that their latest iteration of their new stadium plan includes a "park at the park" (pictured, right). The stadium complex would be designed to function year-round for the community, including allowing for concerts and winter hockey games, picnic areas, playgrounds and lots of other community-focused features.
  • Some recent MLB transactions this week featured former Red Sox prospects. It was announced yesterday that both Raul Alcantara (A's) and Joe Gunkel (Dodgers) were designated for assignment.  Some former Red Sox prospects were also suspended for violations of  Minor League Baseball's drug program. Righty Jeffry Fernandez received 80-games after testing positive for Stanozolol, and Jonathan Aro received 50-games for an unspecified violation.
Photo Credit: Kevin Steen and Ben Taylor by Kelly O'Connor and Pawtucket Park by the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Will Woodward is a Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.