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SoxProspects News

September 3, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Minor Notes: Salem wins division & sweeps players of the week

Here are Monday's minor league notes:

  • As the calendar turns and the minor league regular seasons come to an end, the SoxProspects.com rankings get an update. There are many changes, including the graduation of lefty Darwinzon Hernandez from the rankings. Check out the top 20 prospects here and the 21st through 60th prospects here.
  • After finishing the first half with a 25-42 record, worst in the Carolina Leauge's Northern Division, Salem turned things around in the second half. After a 3-1 victory on Sunday, Salem clinched the Northern Division's second-half crown edging out second-place Potomac. The division title earns them a playoff spot and they will face off against the first-half division winners, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, in a series beginning on Wednesday.
  • In advance of the playoffs, the top-ranked player on the SoxProspects.com rankings, first baseman Triston Casas (pictured, above right), was promoted to Salem. In 118 games at Greenville, Casas hit .254/.349/.472 with 19 home runs, The home run total is all the more impressive with the pitcher-friendly environment in the South Atlantic League and ties him for third in the league. He is also seventh in total bases, 13th in OBP, and fourth in slugging. Casas also hit a 437-foot bomb in his second game for Salem on Monday night.
  • Casas continues to draw rave reviews in his second professional league season. Still only 19 years old, the Boston Globe's Alex Speier writes that Casas has perspective and stats beyond his years.
  • Along with him, right fielder Tyler Esplin was also promoted to Salem. The right fielder has struggled since being drafted in the seventh round in 2017, never posting an OPS north of .730. This season, Esplin has hit .253/.326/.375 with five home runs and 26 doubles.
  • Another Salem Red Sox player was in the news as Andrew Politi won the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 19th through 25th. Over that week, Politi made two starts and did not allow a hit in either. On August 21st, the righty threw four innings with one walk and four strikeouts, and then on the 25th he threw another five hitless innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Since then, Politi has made one additional start, throwing 4 1/3 innings with three hits, two earned runs, three walks, and seven strikeouts, his most in a game in 2019.
  • The Portland Sea Dogs announced their year-end team awards prior to Monday's game. The two big awards were the Player of the Year and the Pitcher of the Year, and neither came as a huge surprise. Third-ranked prospect Bobby Dalbec (pictured, left) took home the Player of the Year after clubbing 20 home runs to go along with a .235/.372/.455 slash line before being promoted to Pawtucket. Daniel McGrath was awarded the Pitcher of the Year after setting a Portland record with a 1.68 ERA this season to go along with a 1.04 WHIP, 113 strikeouts, and 45 walks over 112 1/3 innings.
  • Dalbec has been settling in at Pawtucket as the Providence Journal's Bill Koch writes. While Dalbec's walk rate has dropped dramatically since his promotion, he has seen his strikeout rate decrease and his slugging percentage increase. The third-ranked player on the SoxProspects.com rankings, Dalbec finishes the year with 27 home runs, just shy of the 32 he put up in 2018.
  • Mass Live's Christopher Smith knew the Red Sox would call up a right-handed hitter and wondered whether it would be Dalbec or outfielder Gorkys Hernandez. Well, he was right and Hernadez got the call on September 1st as rosters expanded. The 31-year-old journeyman has hit an unimpressive .219/.319/.377 for Pawtucket but does have major league experience after playing for the Pirates in 2015 and the Giants from 2016 through 2018.
  • Red Sox 2017 first-round pick Tanner Houck has quickly moved through the system and now finds himself knocking on the door of the majors. He began the year in Portland before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July. Just before his promotion, he was also moved from the rotation into the bullpen where he has pitched almost exclusively during his 16 games in Pawtucket. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford writes about how Houck (and that versatility) could be key for the Red Sox in 2020
  • The Red Sox also announced that they have signed Jhoulys ChacĂ­n to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is likely just a depth signing and struggled earlier in 2019 for Milwaukee, logging a 5.79 ERA and 1.56 WHIP over 19 starts. However, he had a strong year in 2018 for the Brewers with a 3.50 ERA over 35 starts, but the underlying numbers did not support that performance.
Players of the Week (August 26 through September 2)

Tanner Nishioka, UTL, Salem

7 G, 26 AB, 9 H, 4 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 3 K, .429/.500/.619

Nishioka had a very consistent run over the last eight days. Playing in seven games, he had a hit in each game, got on base at least twice in five of the seven, and doubled in each of his first four games. The strong week concludes a strong month of August for Nishioka who hit .308/.403/.442 for the month. Despite the strong month, the 2017 ninth-round pick is still only hitting .250 on the season with a slugging percentage below .350, but he did perform a lot better in 2018 for Greenville, posting a .912 OPS over 84 games. A bit late in the year, but hopefully the strong finish will carry over to 2020. 

Jhonathan Diaz, LHP, Salem

2 G, 13 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 13 K, 0.62 WHIP

Salem sweeps this week awards after two extremely strong starts by Diaz (pictured, right). He started out the week strong on Monday, throwing six innings with two walks, two hits, with five strikeouts in a winning effort at Winston-Salem. He returned to the mound on Saturday, and again was nearly untouchable, allowing three hits and a walk with eight punchouts, tied for his second-most of the season. Diaz, ranked 38th on the SoxProspects.com rankings, got off to a bit of a rough start this year. However, ever since the calendar flipped to June he has been dominant to the tune of a 2.13 ERA and .604 OPS against.

Photo Credit: Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, and Jhonathan Diaz by Kelly O'Connor. 

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