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SoxProspects News

August 16, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Minor Notes: Houck's arm angle & Lakins' latest win

Here are Thursday's minor league notes:

  • In Tuesday's Daily Prospect Notes from Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs, he takes a look at 2017 24th overall pick Tanner Houck (pictured, right). Longenhagen notes the Red Sox have been experimenting with different arm slots to try and maximize Houck's effectiveness. While initially they raised his arm slot, recently he has dropped back down to where it was in college, coinciding with a string of improved starts.
  • Sea Dogs infielder Michael Chavis missed the first 80 games of the season due to a suspension, but he is making up for lost time as noted in the Portland Press Herald. The top-ranked player on the current SoxProspects.com rankings has hit .303/.398/.539 with 5 home runs over 24 games and 89 at-bats since joining Portland. This is a considerable improvement from the .250/.310/.492 line he posted there in 67 games last season, and at 22 years old, he is still two years younger than the average position player in the Eastern League.
  • Awards continued to roll in for Chavis for his recent performances. In Monday's minor notes, Chavis won the SoxProspects.com Hitter of the Week and he also won the Eastern League Player of the Week. He added to that by also being named to MLB.com's Prospect Pipeline Team of the Week.
  • Over the Monster's Matt Collins takes a look at the development of former SoxProspects.com top-ranked prospect, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Collins writes that it is a strange and difficult position for the 21-year-old as he continues to try and develop while playing for a team in win-now mode with the best record in baseball.
  • The Greenville Drive went 24-44 over the first half of the season this year, finishing in last place among all teams in both divisions of the South Atlantic League. The second half has been quite a different story, as they now sit 29-23 and one game out of the top spot in the Southern Division.  Myron Hosea of Greenville News takes a deep dive into what enabled that turnaround. The top spot currently belongs to the Lexington Legends, the Kansas City affiliate, and since they did not win the division in the first half, the Drive would need to overtake them to earn a playoff spot.
  • Recently Pawtucket righty Travis Lakins (pictured, left) was moved to the bullpen, a big change that has largely been a success. Since moving to the pen in late May, Lakins has held hitters to a .110/.229/.165 line, 1.00 ERA, and 30 strikeouts and 11 walks over 27 innings. This week he had an even bigger change when he became a father with the birth of Brezzlynne Lou Lakins as his wife posted on Twitter.
  • The Red Sox announced on Tuesday that they were designating catcher Dan Butler for assignment in order to activate Blake Swihart off the 10-day disabled list. That gives them a week to trade Butler or put him through waivers. Butler, known more for his defense, has only hit .202/.312/.322 at Pawtucket this season and is a lifetime .246/.332/.383 hitter at Triple-A in over 450 games. At 31 years old, Butler is in his 10th professional season, all but one for the Red Sox organization.
  • On Sept. 1, MLB rosters expand from 25 players to 40 with the International League season concluding a few days later on Labor Day. Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times spoke with PawSox manager Kevin Boles, who said that players should not fixate on Sept. 1. McGair writes that Boles said, “You need to focus on what you’re doing on a daily basis. It’s that simple. Keep it simple and take care of what you can control and that’s your effort and your play.”
  • MLB recently adopted some rule changes for international prospects and most seem very sensible. Changes include allowing prospects earlier access to team facilities, allowing teams to pay for the travel of prospects earlier in the process, and more flexible rules for trainer-organized leagues. Allowing prospects to travel is expected to have the most significant impact on prospects from Venezuela, where the political climate in the country creates safety concerns for scouts. Baseball America has more details on the new rules.
Photo Credit: Tanner Houck & Travis Lakins by Kelly O'Connor.

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