After roaring out of the gate to a 20-8 record, the Boston Red Sox have slowed down recently, losing eight of their past 10 games. Fortunately during this trying time, fans have been able to be distracted by the activity of Boston’s minor league prospects, whose stock is important enough to be monitored regularly.
The team is deeply invested in player development, and loaded with a variety of prospects who are being counted on to become part of the future. Baseball America’s Jim Callis even ranked Boston’s farm system as the fifth-best in the majors entering the 2013 season.
The recent struggles of the Red Sox have been compounded by a string of injuries. As the team continues to sort out how they will proceed, it must be reassuring to know there is such depth in the minors.
Click through for a stock update on the Red Sox’s top 10 prospects for Week 6 of the 2013 season.
The following players are the top 10 ranked prospects according to Baseball America.
2013 Stats: 15 G, .291/.391/.436, 8 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 SB, 9 R, 9 BB
Deven Marrero, a 2012 first-round draft pick, was on the disabled list with the High-A Salem Red Sox. He hadn’t played since April 22 because of a hamstring injury.
Marrero returned to action on Sunday, and went 1-for-4 against Myrtle Beach.
SoxProspects.com’s James Dunne reported that Marrero missed a total of 17 games, but is now back trying to build on his solid start to the season.
2013 Stats: 24 G, .216/.274/.341, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB, 14 R
Jose Iglesias’ continued lackluster play is nothing compared to his recent issues.
CSNNE’s Sean McAdam reported that Triple-A Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina pulled Iglesias early from games and benched the young shortstop last week for disciplinary reasons related to his unhappiness stemming from being demoted to the minors last month. The infractions leading to his benching reportedly included his attitude and not running out ground balls.
Boston manager John Farrell told WEEI’s Salk and Holley Show that Iglesias is like many players in that his “personal goals sometimes don’t align with the team’s goals.”
The best thing a young player can do in dealing with adversity is to let his play do the talking for him, but in a positive way. Iglesias is going about it all wrong and has seemingly made his path back to the majors all the more difficult.
He has hit just .171 over his past 10 games and is in danger of burying himself on Boston’s prospect depth chart if he doesn't start turning things around.
2013 Stats: 31 G, .260/.321/.496, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 16 R, 10 BB, 28 K
The prospect status of outfielder Bryce Brentz continues to creep upwards after a disastrous offseason that saw him accidentally shoot himself while cleaning a gun.
He missed a couple of games earlier in the week after colliding with a teammate while making a running catch. Fortunately, he was able to return to the lineup without a trip to the disabled list.
Although his batting average is still a bit low, Brentz’s power has emerged this season for Triple-A Pawtucket, with six home runs in 31 games.
WEEI’s Alex Speier pointed out that Brentz, who typically does his best hitting against lefties, has hit all of his home runs against right-handed pitching so far this season.
2013 Stats: 32 G, .376/.471/.675, 12 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 11 SB, 25 R, 20 BB
There seems to be no end in sight to the hot start of Garin Cecchini at High-A Salem.
The 21-year-old already has 21 extra-base hits in 32 games. He is not only hitting, but he is hitting for power, showing patience and displaying great speed on the base paths.
WEEI.com’s Alex Speier wrote how similar the youngster’s performance has been to that of outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. when he was at Salem last year, and became one of the hottest prospects in Boston’s system.
Cecchini had a major scare on Saturday, when he was hit by a pitch and took a few moments to get back to his feet. Showing his resiliency, he played on Sunday and hit his fifth home run of the year.
Cecchini’s play has to be pleasing the Red Sox, as they named him their Minor League Player of the Month for April.
2013 Stats: 26 G, .267/.353/.422, 5 3B, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, 9 R
A 2011 first-round draft choice, Blake Swihart may have the best potential of any catcher in Boston’s system, according to ESPN Boston’s Matt Huegel.
The 21-year-old is quietly putting together a very solid season for High-A Salem, while not showing a lot of flash.
He has yet to hit a home run, but OverTheMonster.com’s Marc Normandin wrote that his five triples is an excellent sign of his athleticism.
Perhaps most impressive has been the 38 percent of runners Swihart has thrown out this season. Defense was his biggest question mark coming out of the draft, but his rapid improvement seems to be putting that to rest.
2013 Stats: 7 GS, 3-1, 3.57 ERA, 35.1 IP, 22 H, 14 ER, 13 BB, 45 K
Henry Owens had been to Red Sox pitching prospects what Garin Cecchini has been to the hitters.
Pitching for High-A Salem, the 20-year-old southpaw had been absolutely dominant, having not allowed more than four hits or two earned runs in any one game until his last start.
Pitching against Myrtle Beach on May 11, he allowed five hits (including three home runs) and eight runs in 3.1 innings.
However, Owens is missing plenty of bats, averaging 11.46 strikeouts per nine innings. Additionally, right-handed hitters have mustered just a .156 batting average against him this year.
Even with a bad start under his belt, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern for the lefty. Everyone is allowed to have a bad day at the office every now and then, and Owens just had his.
2013 Stats: 4 GS, 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 20 IP, 12 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 26 K
Following the demotion of Felix Doubront to Boston’s bullpen, Allen Webster was summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket to make a spot start.
Unfortunately, his second major league start of the season didn’t go nearly as well as his first, as he was shelled for six hits and eight earned runs in just 1.2 innings of work. He was returned to Pawtucket after the game, sporting a cumulative major league ERA of 12.91 on the year.
Barring further need for him in Boston, Webster will continue his development in the minors and try to hone his skills and consistency.
The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson suggests the 23-year-old should start by throwing his sinker more often. Citing various Baseball America scouting reports that lauded it as Webster’s best offering, MacPherson noted that the prospect has all but abandoned the pitch in deference to his mid-to-upper 90s four-seam fastball.
The bad outing should be just a blip for Webster, who has shown plenty of promise in his four Triple-A starts. Although his last major league appearance didn’t go well, he will likely have a lot more opportunities to make up for it once he gets himself back on track.
2013 Stats: 7 GS, 3-1, 4.65 ERA, 31 IP, 35 H, 16 ER, 12 BB, 38 K
Matt Barnes is finally on a roll for Double-A Portland.
He has been dominant in three consecutive starts, allowing just two runs over his past 17 innings, while striking out 21.
Most exciting about the right-hander has been his ability to thrive while not having his best stuff. Following his start against Reading on May 6, he told the Portland Press-Herald’s Kevin Thomas, “My stuff wasn't exceptional. There were flashes of really good curveballs, really good change-ups. But it was inconsistent. Fastball command wasn't the greatest, but good enough."
After not being able to get through the fifth inning in three of his first four starts, the right-hander is now settling in and working on his repertoire, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow.
It sounds like Barnes is trying to figure out who he is as a pitcher. If he can claim his identity, the 2011 first-round draft choice could develop into a very valuable commodity for the Red Sox.
2013 Stats: 11 G, .302/.400/.349, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 7 R, 7 BB, 13 K
Jackie Bradley Jr., a 2011 first-round draft pick, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Pawtucket. He has not played since May 3 because of tendinitis in his right bicep, according to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier.
On a positive note, Speier also noted that Bradley recently spent his 20th day in the minors since being demoted by Boston last month. That means the young outfielder is under team control by Boston for an additional year, and won’t be eligible for free agency until at least 2019.
2013 Stats: 28 G, .296/.382/.452 4 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB, 20 R, 15 BB, 33 K
After his hottest stretch of the season last week, Xander Bogaerts missed four games at Double-A Portland because of “tightness in his core,” according to a tweet by the Portland Press-Herald’s Kevin Thomas.
The 20-year-old shortstop returned from his brief absence with a bang, producing a triple and three RBI on May 8 against the Reading Phillies.
WEEI’s Alex Speier reported that after Saturday’s game, Bogaerts had reached base in 21 consecutive games, a streak he extended to 22 games on Sunday.
Although his strikeout numbers remain high, he has upped his OPS to .834 and has done nothing to displace himself as Boston’s top-ranked prospect.
Statistics via Milb.com