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SoxProspects News

April 29, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Minor Notes: Chavis, Duran, & Portland pitchers rule the week

Here are Monday's minor league notes:

  • SoxProspects.com's top prospect, Michael Chavis (pictured right), continues to perform well during his stint with the major league team. He started all three games since the last Minor Notes, going 3-for-10 with two home runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. That brings his season totals up to .250/.419/.667 over his eight major league games. The Red Sox Twitter account noted that ".@MichaelChavis11 and the Monster are getting to know each other pretty well." 
  • “Dude, I’m having the time of my life,” Chavis told the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham. One interesting quote from the article is from Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers who was the organizations hitting coordinator in 2015. He said “I saw how much Michael had changed[...]He had a lot of body movement in his swing. Now it’s more compact and balanced from start to finish.”
  • At the NFL draft this past weekend, most first round players at the draft hug the commissioner when their name is called. While that is not standard for the MLB draft, it didn't stop Chavis as WEEI's Rob Bradford writes.
  • Right-hander Josh Smith was called up to pitch for the Red Sox on Friday. It was set to be his first major league appearance since 2017 and his first major league start since 2016. Unfortunately, the game was postponed due to rain and the team no longer needed the spot start.
  • 23-year-old Josh Ockimey has had a very strong start to the season and easily could have been among this year's Players of the Week. On the week he hit .294/.455/.765 which was mostly fueled by one fantastic game on Friday when he went 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double, a walk, three runs scored, and five RBI. Ockimey's .703 OPS for Pawtucket last season had him fall on many rankings, including on SoxProspects.com where he currently sits ranked 27th. If he can keep up his .254/.420/.603 line he has produced over his first 20 games he could see his stock rise closer to his peak of seventh in the second half of 2017.
  • Another player whose stocked dropped after last year was right-hander Bryan Mata. Aaron McFarling writes for the Roanoke Times that the 19-year-old is once again the youngest pitcher in the Carolina LeagueWhile his ERA looked solid last year, he notes there is one number he needed to reduce: his walk rate. Mata has made strides on that early in 2019, lowering his BB/9 rate down to 2.61 from 7.25 last season. He currently slots in as the 10th ranked player on the SoxProspects.com rankings.
  • Lots of rehab action expected for this week. Infielder Eduardo Nunez is set to begin a rehab assignment at Pawtucket on Monday and second baseman Dustin Pedroia will report to Portland on Thursday.
  • Melanie Newman and Suzie Cool became the first all-female broadcast team at any level when they handle the booth for the Salem Red Sox this season. Brittany Ghiroli chronicles the story for The Athletic ($) and says "the hardest part comes next."
Players of the Week (April 22 through April 28)

Jarren Duran, OF, Salem
6 G, 24 AB, 10 H, 2B, 11 R, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, .417/.517/.458

Duran just continues to hit as he has done consistently over his two years as a pro and now earns back-to-back Player of the Week honors. This week he continued to get on base at an incredible clip and once he was on base he was stealing bases and scoring runs. His only poor game was the first of the week where he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. After that, he hit .500 and reached base at least three times in each game. The strong week brings his season line up to .393/.457/.524 and his career line split between Greenville, Lowell, and Salem sits at an amazing .365/.409/.518 over 88 games. He was selected in the seventh round last June and signed for slot money which is looking like a steal with weeks like these. MassLive's Christopher Smith says that Duran would have signed for "a bus ticket."

Tanner Houck, RHP, Portland (tie)
2 G, 10 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 0.70 WHIP

It is rare that we split the Player of the Week honors between two pitchers, but it was hard to find fault in either of the two players. Houck (pictured, left) made two starts this week and threw shutouts and earned wins in both. Monday was the slightly more impressive of the two starts when he threw 5 innings, allowing only one hit and no walks with nine strikeouts. His second start was strong also, going six shutout innings with five hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Houcks's season ERA now sits at 3.60 but it is slightly deceiving as he has only allowed one run over his last 16 innings after getting lit up in his season debut. Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald even goes so far as to woulder if Houck could be the next Sea Dogs pitcher to get called up to Boston. The 2017 first round pick currently sits fifth on the SoxProspects.com rankings.

Kyle Hart, LHP, Portland (tie)
1 G, 6 2/3 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.16 WHIP

It is hard not to reward a no-hit outing with Player of the Week honors and that is exactly what Kyle Hart did this week. Even better, Daniel McGrath and Adam Lau were able to come in and finish off the team no-hitter, throwing 2 1/3 more hitless innings. Despite the result, Hart had to mix and match to get it done, ultimately walking one and hitting two more. He threw 65% strikes but got only six swinging strikes. Repeating Double-A this year, the 26-year-old is trying to improve upon his 2018 ERA of 3.57. Hart was a 19th round selection in 2016 and despite the lower profile, he has had lots of success over his 3 pro seasons with a career 2.88 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.

Photo Credit: Michael Chavis and Tanner Houck by Kelly O'Connor.

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