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SoxProspects News

July 2, 2019 at 5:32 PM

June Players of the Month: Chad De La Guerra and Bryan Mata

Two players from different ends of the prospect spectrum are taking home SoxProspects.com Player of the Month honors for June: infielder Chad De La Guerra (pictured right) and right-handed pitcher Bryan Mata (pictured below). The unranked De La Guerra has been a steady riser in the Red Sox system since being drafted in 2015, but has finally broken out this season despite battling injuries. Mata, on the other hand, has been among the top ten prospects in the system (as ranked by SoxProspects.com) since bursting on the scene in 2017. 

For De La Guerra, this is his first time he has taken home a Player of the Month Award despite being named a SoxProspects.com All-Star in 2017. Never a heralded prospect, the utility infielder has nevertheless slowly and steadily climbed the ladder of the minor league system since being drafted in 2015, finding some measure of success at every stop. Twice named an All-Star in his professional career, the infielder initially struggled to hit for anything more than a solid batting average until 2017. Since then, De La Guerra has steadily improved his power output before seeing a power surge in June. Although he spent most of the first two months of the season on the sidelines in two stints on the injured list, De La Guerra has come on strong since returning to full health, battering International League pitching to the tune of eight home runs, 19 extra-base hits and a .354 batting average in June. Even more impressively, De La Guerra has done this while playing the majority of his games at shortstop, something he has not done since 2017. The infielder's torrid June has seen his season batting line balloon to a herculean .324/.399/.600, good for the top slugging percentage in the system, an impressive feat in a system that includes Bobby Dalbec and Triston Casas.

On the other side of the spectrum, Bryan Mata is no stranger to the spotlight, and boasts a trophy cabinet that seems to grow every season. Despite a solid, if unspectacular, 2018 campaign that saw him participate in the MLB Futures Game, Mata found himself back in Salem after his season saw him struggle with command/control issues before being cut short in July by a back injury. Sporting a new cutter/slider that has already become a weapon, as well as much improved control of his ever-increasing velocity (he now sits in the mid-90s and has touched 98 mph), the Venezuelan right-hander wasted no time showing that he had solved Carolina League hitters, earning our Pitcher of the Month award for April. After spending most of the month of May on the IL with a shoulder issue, Mata has similarly dazzled since being activated, returning to action with consecutive scoreless outings. His dominant performance this month was good for a 2-0 record, 1.23 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 21 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched, and a stellar groundball rate of roughly 69 percent. His success has earned him a promotion to Portland, where we believe the 20-year-old will be the third-youngest player at the Double-A level. The number four prospect and new top pitching prospect in the most recent SoxProspects.com rankings update will make his Double-A debut tonight (July 7th) at 5:00PM as the Sea Dogs face off with their rivals, the Trenton Thunder. 

Honorable mentions for the monthly awards included Marcus Wilson on the batting side and Logan Browning for the pitchers. Since being demoted from Portland, Wilson has torn up the Carolina League, putting up a .345/.413/.636 batting line and six home runs in the month of June. Browning has built upon an impressive first full professional season with the Greenville Drive. The left-hander has not allowed a single run in the month of June, striking out 18 batters in just ten innings pitched, lowering his already-solid ERA to a sterling 1.85. Consideration on the pitching side also went to Yusniel Padron-Artiles (23 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6 BB, 27 K) and Chase Shugart (34 1/3 IP, 1.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 6 BB, 28 K).

Photo Credit: Chad De La Guerra and Bryan Mata by Kelly O'Connor.