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August 22, 2023 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: Garcia makes full season debut & Romero lands back on IL

As the minor leagues approach the end of the second half and the playoffs, there has been lots of action up and down the system. Some news is great as exciting young players made their full-season debut. While other news is crushingly sad as one of the top-ranked players in the system returned to the injured list. 

Greenville promotions

Shortstop Mikey Romero (pictured, right) was promoted to the Greenville Drive along with outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and righty Caleb Bolden. Romero was coming off an excellent professional debut in 2022 where he hit .304/.368/.506 split between the Florida Coast Red Sox and Salem. However, this season Romero has been unable to repeat the performance as he has struggled with injuries. Jimenez once ranked as high as fourth on the SoxProspects.com rankings to end 2019 but his performance has failed to live up to that early potential as his performance has declined each of the past three seasons. This year he started in Greenville before going down to the FCL and Salem before returning to Greenville. Bolden was drafted in the seventh round in the 2022 draft out of Texas Christian University. The 24-year-old was finishing games for Salem before the promotion, earning four saves in 49 innings all in relief with a 3.67 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 75 strikeouts.

Romero returns to the injured list

Despite the promotion, it was not a good week for Romero. On Thursday, after making a routine-looking defensive play at shortstop, Romero grabbed his lower back and was removed from the game. The team added him to the IL the next day. Romero, ranked 10th in the SoxProspects.com rankings missed a significant amount of time to start the year with a similar injury, not making his season debut until June 23rd. Prior to his promotion, the 19-year-old was hitting only .217/.289/.304 for Salem. 

Garcia makes full-season debut

Johanfran Garcia has had about as much helium this year as any player in the system, rising from 37th to start the year in the SoxProspects.com rankings up to 17th currently. The 18-year-old catcher was signed as an International Free Agent in January 2022 for a bonus of $850,000. That bonus was the third most in the 2022 Red Sox class trailing only shortstops Fraymi De Leon and Freili Encarnacion. He started the year in the Florida Coast League and has been raking all year, finishing his time there with a .302/.408/.497 line with 17 extra-base hits. He profiles as a bat-first catcher but still has a chance to stick behind the plate. The performance this year has started to get attention and certainly did of the Salem staff who has had him hit third or fourth in each of his first four games. 

Off the Pike podcast appearance

This past week, SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall appeared on the Off the Pike podcast where he joined Brian Barrett to discuss Garrett Whitlock, Chris Sale’s return to the mound, and good news on the prospect front.

Playoff update

Worcester is now 27-17 in the second half after a 3-3 week and has fallen behind Lehigh Valley and Durham for the second-half International League lead. 

Portland also has more than a month left in its season and still trails the Northeast Division's first-half winner, Somerset, by 3 games, with a 22-23 record after going 3-3 this past week. Binghamton jumped past them this week and now sits 2.5 games back.

Greenville had a tough week this past week, coming up without a win in their six games. The team has already clinched a playoff spot by virtue of winning the first half of the South Division, sitting at 20-28. The Drive's season ends September 10, and the team will then face the second-half division winner.

Salem is yet another team that went 3-3 this past week. Their season will conclude on September 10. The Red Sox are at 21-27, eight games back in the North Division.

The FCL season ends August 22 and the Red Sox look like they will come up just shy in the Florida League South Division. On Monday, the Red Sox lost to the FCL Braves 6-3 which made winning the wild card very difficult and they would need to win their last two to stand a shot. 

The DSL squads, Red and Blue, have been eliminated from the division, which has been clinched by Pirates Gold. They're also eliminated from the wild card race.
Players of the Week

Wilyer Abreu, OF, Worcester Red Sox
6 G, 19 AB, 7 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 7 BB, 2 K, .368/.538/.789

While he was not able to hit 6 home runs again this week, Abreu did stay hot enough to win back-to-back Player of the Week honors. He offset fewer home runs with seven walks in six games and threw in two stolen bases. This surge has brought the 24-year-old's season line to .274/.391/.539 line with 22 home runs, eight of which have come in the last 14 days along with his 1.751 OPS. He now ranks in the top 20 in the International League in runs, home runs, RBI, and walks. Abreu is now ranked 23rd on the SoxProspects.com rankings.

Hunter Dobbins, RHP, Portland Sea Dogs
1 G, 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

There were a lot of pitching performances this past week, but Dobbins (pictured, left) managed to narrowly rise to the top after walking none and striking out eight in a win on Wednesday against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and, yes, that is a real team name. The 71-game score on the outing was Dobbins' third best on the year and best since his promotion to Portland. The 23-year-old pitched extremely well during his first season in Greenville, and got off to a hot start in Portland, allowing only 7 earned runs in his first 21 innings. However, the righty hit a bump in the road over the three subsequent starts where he allowed 16 earned runs in just over 15 innings. After starting the season unranked, Dobbins has risen up to 32nd on the SoxProspects.com rankings with a 3.84 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 94 strikeouts over a combined 84 and 1/3 innings between Greenville and Portland.

Photo Credit: Mikey Romero and Hunter Dobbins by Kelly O'Connor

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