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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4131037)
Obviously the other 150-PA prospect is Will Middlebrooks. He's obviously hitting in some good fortune in his first time around the league, but he doesn't look like a raw kid out there, either. The thing about breakouts is that they aren't all created equal. A good AAA player breakout out to become a good MLB player is much, much more valuable to his team than if, say, Brandon Jacobs gets a handle on A-ball pitching and establishes himself as a top prospect. The last step is the best one you can take, and there are a number of indications that Middlebrooks has indeed taken that step.

Or it's still just 150 PA.
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4131135)
Brentz had been hitting better over the past couple of weeks (up around .340) before going 5 for 5 yesterday. Hopefully that's a sign of a player who is getting settled rather than just a random hot streak (not saying he's going to stay that hot but trying to stay hopeful).

Bradley is exciting to me simply by virtue of not having a K/BB ratio of about 10/1 which seems to be what this entire system does. The BABIP numbers won't continue but if he can have more walks than strikeouts that's an awfully encouraging sign.
   3. philly Posted: May 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4131155)
I think you're giving Barnes a bit too much credit with respect to the Buccholz comparison. Buchholz was very good in 2006 in A ball, but more routinely good. He didn't dominate there the way that Barnes has. Buchholz's real breakout was the next year in AA and AAA. As you point out in #1, that kind of breakout is much more impressive. Unless Barnes gets promoted again soon and dominates AA for a month plus this year, I don't think there's anything he can do to get past Buchholz's 2007 breakout year. Still, #2 to that year is pretty impressive.

I've knocked the Epstein Latin program plenty, but let's give Doubrant a bit of credit. I guess he was never a "real prospect" by the rankings, but he might be on the way to a pretty nice season (and career) albeit not on the Hanley Ramirez (and we hope Boagaets) level. That's at least something.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4131160)
I think you're giving Barnes a bit too much credit with respect to the Buccholz comparison. Buchholz was very good in 2006 in A ball, but more routinely good. He didn't dominate there the way that Barnes has. Buchholz's real breakout was the next year in AA and AAA. As you point out in #1, that kind of breakout is much more impressive. Unless Barnes gets promoted again soon and dominates AA for a month plus this year, I don't think there's anything he can do to get past Buchholz's 2007 breakout year. Still, #2 to that year is pretty impressive.
Oh, certainly. I meant a pitching breakout season straight out of the draft.

Then I said "ever were in the minors", which was mostly wrong. I think I'm going to edit the post, because I really don't know what I meant to say there, but it wasn't the point I was trying to make in the first place.
   5. Mattbert Posted: May 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4131166)
I think there's enough to like in Lavarnway's performance (especially the 20/17 K/BB) that it's a little harsh to label him a disappointment at this early stage. We know the power should be there; given his track record, I believe it will show up sooner or later.

Also, as Jose said, the charitable reading of Brentz's season thusfar is that he struggled initially after the promotion, but now he's made some adjustments and is crushing the ball again. I don't see a superstar in the making there, but a Josh Reddick type hitter isn't out of the question. That could have some value when the Sox look to trade for Brian Fuentes in July.

One guy who is definitely a disappointment is Kolbrin Vitek. For a supposedly more polished college hitter, he is looking more and more like a real bust with each passing year.

To wrap this post up on a more positive note, there are two young pitchers who have made intriguing noises at Greenville. Mickey Pena (21) was the starter in that no-hitter the other day, which made a few headlines. He also owns a 29/3 K/BB in 31 1/3 IP and has been taken deep just twice. Henry Owens (19), Boston's second supplemental first-rounder last year, is a little different. He's also pretty good at keeping the ball in the yard (3 HRA in 29 1/3 IP), but his strikeout numbers are eye-popping (47!). That's Barnesian. The walk numbers (21)...not so Barnesian. However, it's worth noting again that this kid doesn't even turn 20 until July. If his control evolves a bit with age and experience, he's one to keep an eye on.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4131173)
Pena was a JC draftee, so his placement in Greenville puts him on a pretty normal prospect track. I know nothing about him, but I agree he bears watching.

The thing that's really weird to me about Owens are his hit and homer numbers. The eye-popping K and BB numbers usually correlate to very low hit and homer rates, a result of nasty stuff you don't know how to control. It's possible he's just been unlucky - someone on SoSH says that Owens has allowed a lot of infield singles - but I'd like to see his numbers coalesce into a less weird shape.
   7. Mattbert Posted: May 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4131183)
From what I have read, Owens doesn't have a big fastball so it could be that he doesn't necessarily overpower hitters despite all the Ks. He is a lefty, so maybe low-90s is enough for him at that level. That coalescence you desire may already be happening, though. In his last three starts, Owens has only allowed five hits (15 IP).
   8. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: May 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4131303)
Pens threw six perfect innings in the no-hitter.
   9. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 15, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4131979)
I don't really know how reliable these reports are, but the lack of over-the-top (but still pretty good!) enthusiasm for Barnes kind of makes me think it's somewhat legit. At 22, it sounds like he should really be in AA.
   10. Mattbert Posted: May 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4132052)
That's a pretty good report, and it supports my speculation from the other day that main reason he is still in A-ball is to work on refining his secondary offerings before he faces the more advanced hitters in AA.

One thing that does bug me about scouting reports is that different writers seems to be operating under slightly different definitions of command and control. I wish folks would spell out how they are using these terms when filing these observations.
   11. Dan Posted: May 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM (#4132513)
Are we (collectively) getting excited about Jackie Bradley Jr. yet or too soon? I know MCoA and JCYS both are giving positive impressions here, but what kind of a time frame are we (optimistically) looking at here? Maybe AA next season, AAA in 2014, and starting CFer in 2015 if everything breaks right?
   12. Mattbert Posted: May 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4132514)
I am allowing myself to start getting excited. He ought to finish this year in AA unless he totally falls apart in the next few weeks.
   13. Xander Posted: May 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM (#4132521)
He should be penciled in as Ellsbury's replacement.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 16, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4132525)
2014 is probably a best case but not out of the question. He's a 22 year old first round pick (supplemental) who looks entirely too comfortable in hi A. In a perfect world he is in Portland by midseason and Pawtucket fairly early in 2013 (if not to start).

The other thing about Bradley's path is that Ellsbury is an FA after 2013. If he progresses well I can easily see the Sox handing him the job to start and letting Ellsbury walk.

This is perfect world stuff of course. Injury, any kind of health issues, simple hiccups in performance push this timetable back. I wouldn't be shocked if the more likely scenario is Bradley at Pawtucket to start 2014 with a Marco Scutaro equivalent in center. If Bradley pushes better than Iglesias has...great, he wins the job.
   15. Dan Posted: May 16, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4132542)
It makes me sad that Ellsbury leaving is all but a fait accompli. Or at least that's the fan perception, who knows if the front office has similar designs. Obviously the guy has missed a lot of time lately, but if he comes back as a 90% of 2011 Ellsbury, isn't he possibly worth committing to, despite the massive contract Boras will be seeking? On a related note: does JBJ have a decent arm? With Fenway's spacious right field, having another true center fielder out there is never a bad thing.

edit: A quick googling suggests that Bradley does in fact have a good throwing arm. A Crawford (assuming he remembers how to play defense) - Ellsbury - JBJ outfield would be mighty awesome defensively.
   16. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 16, 2012 at 01:23 AM (#4132552)
He should be penciled in as Ellsbury's replacement.


Given the fate of the Red Sox last few OF prospects (Reddick, Kalish, Westmoreland, Lin), it should probably be done using a very light touch, with a large gum eraser nearby.
   17. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 16, 2012 at 07:50 AM (#4132593)
Dan - I agree with you on Ellsbury. My thinking is that he's a guy who is just going to be a tough sign, Boras clients don't give discounts for injuries and I think the Sox are going to be wary of investing in a guy with his history. If he does come back in Jine and for the next year and half play lights out that might change things but if he is just very good I think it's just going to be a contentious negotiation.
   18. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 17, 2012 at 07:37 AM (#4133708)
I mean, Bradley could be Ellsbury's replacement, if he plays at this level for another two seasons while Ellsbury returns healthy enough to count on a big payday, and the Red Sox don't plan to give it to him. I am excited about Bradley - he's actually hitting even better now than he was two weeks ago - but no one's a lock in the Carolina League. And Ellsbury initially seems like the kind of player that the Red Sox would make a very competitive offer to. His excellence is a function of all-around skills and he'll be hitting free agency at 30. This may be a bit of wishcasting, since I'm a big fan of Ellsbury, but I am not ready to plan the goodbye party.

--------

A few other guys I'm watching in the minors. I pay perhaps too much attention to hitter strikeout rates, so I'm interested in guys who have prospect-y tools, and make pretty good contact, but aren't actually hitting well. Ryan Lavarnway this season has actually cut his strikeout rate down significantly, while maintaining a pretty good walk rate, but he's not hitting for any power at all. He hit 36 XBH in 60 games in Pawtucket last year, and he has only 6 XBH in 30 games this year. I fear that he's made some adjustments to cut down his swing that have sapped his power, but I don't know. It's weird, and I haven't seen him hit, so I can't really draw any conclusions.

Down in Greenville, Jose Vinicio and Blake Swihart are so young that you wouldn't be at all surprised if they were just overmatched. Both of them have maintained very respectable contact rates without hitting for much average or power. I keep checking their numbers in the hope that either or both of them could be hitting in some bad BIP luck, which would be due to turn around. Even if they're not hitting the ball terribly well, those contact skills are a good base to build on if they can improve their hitting in the future.
   19. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 17, 2012 at 08:59 AM (#4133728)
Salem seems later than most teams in announcing their expected starters but I'm pretty sure today is Barnesday so Happy Barnesday to one and all. The Carolina Mudcats (Indians) are today's foe and there is not much in the way of recognizable names (to me). Jeremie Tice leads them with an impressive .303/.394/.640 line. The Mudcats lead the Carolina League with 313 strikeouts in 38 games (on a per game basis they are second).
   20. Mattbert Posted: May 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4133835)
Miguel Pena had another really good outing last night for Greenville: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K. He's now got a 37/6 K/BB and just the two HR allowed in 37 1/3 IP. I think it's time to start taking him a little bit seriously as a prospect.

Sean Coyle is another fairly interesting player to keep an eye on. He's shown really good pop for such a small guy (he's listed at 5'8"/175), with nearly half his hits going for extra bases since his first full season in pro ball last year. He has 5 homers in 158 PA so far in 2012 (at Salem). Like most Sox prospects, he strikes out a ton (156 in 535 pro at-bats) but he's still only 20 years old and is supposed to be a very good defender at 2B. If he continues to develop, I'm sure the Pedroia comparisons will start, although his numbers suggest to me more of a pocket Dan Uggla.

Also, the Sox have a handful of early-round picks who have started to heat up after getting off to slow starts:

* In the month of May, Jose Iglesias (.388/.423/.510) and Che-Hsuan Lin (.372/.491/.488) have been hitting the ball well in AAA.

* Bryce Brentz has gone off for a .461/.490/.700 line in Portland over roughly the same period.

* Garin Cecchini is .346/.409/.490 in Greenville since mid-April and is 14-for-16 in stolen base attempts this year.
   21. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 17, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4134061)
I fear that he's made some adjustments to cut down his swing that have sapped his power, but I don't know. It's weird, and I haven't seen him hit, so I can't really draw any conclusions.


One of the knocks on Lavarnway I've heard (and I'm not sure if it's true) is that he tends to be have an uppercut swing that produces too many flyballs, which could hurt him in MLB. Evening out his swing could hurt his power a little if he's hitting more grounders or line drives. Not really sure how to look at ground ball rates for minor leaguers, though.
   22. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 18, 2012 at 09:17 AM (#4134717)
It was discussed in the chatter last night but Barnes yesterday; 6IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 5K.
   23. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:37 AM (#4139160)
Happy Barnesday kids! 7:05 tonight against 2nd place Winston-Salem (White Sox). This should be a good test as Winston-Salem is lapping the field in the Carolina League with 5.53 runs/game, Salem is second at 4.78. Brady Shoemaker is their leading hitter at .340/.407/.553 and in all they have four regulars with an OPS over .800.
   24. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4139700)
Barnes fever! Catch it!

6IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 3K.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4140293)
Keith Law published a midseason top 25 prospects list. There are no Sox on it, but Barnes and Bradley (both unranked pre-season) make the honorable mention / names to watch list, which should count as a big bump for both of them.
   26. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 26, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4141071)
Ryan Kalish back in action. He went 2 for 4 including a homer for Salem against Frederick.

Incidentally the Sox "pounded" Dylan Bundy for 6 hits and 2 runs in 5 innings (that's a pounding in Bundy's world). Kalish's homer was not off Bundy. Sounds like he is still a solid month away from the big club but it's good news that he's back on the field.
   27. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 27, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4141137)
The homer is particularly nice to see given that Kalish is recovering from shoulder surgery. He just DH'd in his first game back, so I'm still worried about how well his arm will recover. If it does, it'd be kind of funny if this club has an Aug/Sep outfield with precisely none of the players who have covered the outfield in the first half of the season.

While Kalish hit a homer off some random A-ball reliever, Travis Shaw homered off Bundy (the first allowed by Bundy as a professional). I had been mostly ignoring Shaw in April because he wasn't hitting for much power, struck out too much, and looked for all the worst like a one-month babip fluke. In May, however, he's added power and cut down on his Ks, and even it's.just one swing and one pitch, a homer off the #1 pitching prospect in all the world has to count for something. Another guy to watch in Salem. That's the most fun minor league roster the Sox have had in years.
   28. plink Posted: May 27, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4141164)
Was at the Frederick-Salem game last night. Shaw's home run was absolutely crushed; right fielder just turned around. Most of the other hits off of Bundy were not all that well-hit; couple of infield dribblers. Bogaerts and Almanzar looked good in the field, Bradley Jr. had a couple of nice ABs.
   29. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4143061)
Forget about the big club being over .500, today is Barnesday! Tonight is a doubleheader so I'm not sure which of the two games Barnes is expected to pitch or how that may change his usage (can't imagine it would).

Your hero faces the first place Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL) tonight. Lynchburg is second in offense behind the high scoring Winston-Salem team. Lynchburg is the most disciplined hitting team in the league leading the league in walks while having the second fewest strikeouts.

The big bat in Lynchburg's lineup is Chris Garcia who has a .956 OPS.
   30. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:30 AM (#4143957)
So, not his best outing - three runs allowed on six hits (five singles and one double). But he did strike out eight and only walk one in four IP. Barnes' Carolina League ERA is now up to 1.93, with 36 Ks against only three walks in 28 innings. I'm hoping for Barnes and Bradley to jump up to Portland by mid-summer.
   31. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 02, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4146255)
The Sox are finally promoting one of their prospects from Salem to Portland, and it's... Drake Britton? He's been pretty shaky, though a lot better than last year, and he does have a bit of a ticking options clock.

My hope is that Bradley jumps to Portland once Kalish moves up from there. The Carolina League structures its playoffs by "first-half" and "second-half" champions, so the Sox may consider a pennant race valuable experience for Bradley and Barnes, and plan to promote them in July.
   32. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 02, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4146283)
Everytime I've seen Britton mentioned over the past month or so it has been in gushing terms.

"Drake Britton's stuff too good to be hit"

"Learning to be Lester"

Obviously that's not conclusive but I think it's indicative of the thinking. REmember, this is a guy who two years ago was the breakout star of the minor league season and after a wretched start this year has been pitching well over the past month. I think it makes some sense to push him up to a level he has not been at before rather than letting him spend a long time repeating the Carolina League.

Speaking of minor league pitchers the Sox have assigned Mark Prior to Pawtucket. I was surprised how excited I got when I read that at the thought that maybe, just maybe, he has one more Major League pitch in his arm. I'd love to see him make it back.
   33. Darren Posted: June 02, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4146354)
I could see a case for keeping Barnes down (based on scouty stuff that we really can't know), but it seems like Bradley's got to be ready to go.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 03, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4146723)
Mark Prior made his Red Sox minor league debut, throwing a shutout inning for Pawtucket with a walk and a K.

The DSL season kicked off, and there are a couple more prospects to watch there than usual - Theo's final year in charge saw an increase in Dominican scouting, or at least an increase in signings of Dominican prospects. The big four are Raymel Flores (17-year-old SS, $900k), Simon Mercedes (20-year-old RHP, $800k, actually signed under Cherington), Manuel Margot (17-year-old CF, $800k), and Deoscar Romero (17-year-old RHP, $600k).

Mercedes, given his age and unusual circumstances - he had been signed by the Giants last offseason, but had the deal voided because he lied about his age and identity - has been assigned to the GCL.

Margot and Flores had very positive first games. Flores went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, and Margot 3-for-5 with a triple and a homer and 6 rbis. Romero pitched less well, allowing three runs on a hit and two walks in three innings, with one K.
   35. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 05, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4148623)
Tonight, Matt Barnes v. Winsten-Salem yet again:

6IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 3K.

Only 3K on the night, dropping Barnes' K/9 down to 10.32.
   36. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 07, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4150944)
So Ryan Kalish is killing it since being called up to AAA (granted, playing only 2 games), but he's gone 4-5 with 2 HR and like 5 walks. Apparently, judging from this quote reported by the always informative Alex Speier, we probably won't see Kalish next week:

“What you want him to do is to face left-handers and right-handers, you want him to be hot, you want him to be not, you want him to come out of being not, see him hitting the ball the other way, pull the ball, run the bases, just a long checklist of making sure he gets it done when you’re out that long,” said Valentine.


As Speier says in the article, that sounds like at least several weeks, if not more.
   37. Dan Posted: June 07, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4150992)
Oh #### that. He's better than Marlon Byrd and Scott ####### Podsednik.
   38. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4150995)
According to Keith Law, Deven Marrero ranks 4th right now among Red Sox prospects "behind the Killer B's".
   39. Dan Posted: June 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4151016)
Brentz doesn't get to be a member of the "Killer B's" then, I guess?
   40. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4153521)
Bogaerts is on a tear for Salem, with a 1500 OPS in the last two weeks, bringing his season line up to 360/490. His strikeouts are on the edge of problematic, but I'm going to choose to simply be excited about a 19-year-old hitting like that in A-ball.

2011 4th rounder Noe Ramirez was delayed by some sort of poorly-reported injury, but his Greenville debut last night was perfect. Five perfect innings with five Ks. As an advanced college pitcher, he really has no business in the Sally League, but at least he's pitching like it.

The major league team is frustrating, but the minors have been all sorts of fun this year.
   41. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4153668)
Bard is pitching today, just three days after his last (not so good) outing. That looks like they're readying him to return to the pen.
   42. Dan Posted: June 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4153713)
Bard is pitching today, just three days after his last (not so good) outing. That looks like they're readying him to return to the pen.


It's possible, but I wouldn't just jump to that conclusion. He only threw 25 pitches in his last outing. They might just be saving his innings for when he's a. pitching better and b. in the majors. But they could be "secretly" converting him to relief too. It's hard to say.
   43. booond Posted: June 11, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4153723)
Bard is pitching today, just three days after his last (not so good) outing. That looks like they're readying him to return to the pen.


It could be an attempt to get a few successes under his belt before tossing him out there for a "real" start. Obviously, his first attempt did not smell of success.
   44. Chip Posted: June 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4153796)
Yeah, I thought they said when the sent him down that at least at first he'd be doing shorter, more frequent appearances, the theory being this would better help him re-establish his arm slot and then repeat it.
   45. Dan Posted: June 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4154073)
Something may have changed. Bard is now going to relieve tonight instead of starting the game. Might be due to Matsuzaka looking okay, or some other factor. Could be nothing. But Buckner's now listed as tonight's SP for Pawtucket.
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 13, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4156044)
Entirely stealing this from some guy on SoSH, but these are the Carolina League leaders in OPS under 24 years old:

1051 - Jackie Bradley Jr, Salem (22)
978 - Travis Shaw, Salem (22)
888 - Tyler Kelly, Frederick (23)
842 - Xander Bogaerts, Salem (19)

League average OPS is 710. Salem is so much fun - it'll be a little bit sad when they're broken up after Sunday. In the Carolina League, first-half and second-half division champions earn playoff berths, and Salem is currently one game back in their division. I'm pretty sure the Sox are giving their prospects pennant race experience before calling them up to Portland.

The question is, who gets the call? Bradley is about as certain as it gets. Barnes seems like an obvious call, but his conservative initial placement in Greenville suggests the Sox aren't going to be that aggressive with him. Shaw is a mid-round college guy currently way overperforming expectations, so if he gets a promotion it would suggest the organization really likes him. I'd be surprised if Bogaerts were promoted. There's no need at all to rush him, he's doing very well but not overmatching the league, and my understanding is that he's still relatively raw at the plate and in the field.

I'm going to be optimistic and bet it's Bradley, Barnes, and Shaw. What do y'all think?
   47. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 13, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4156066)
That seems reasonable. Bradley is the only one where you might think the players already at Portland (Hazelbaker, Linares and Brentz) might keep him down but he's the one in my opinion most clearly deserving and outfielders are easy enough to manage around.

Regarding Barnes I think the Sox have semi-recently shown a willingness to be aggressive with pitchers; Papelbon, Buchholz and even Hansen were all promoted multiple levels in season.

I can see a wait for Shaw. I kind of wonder if the Sox re content to keep getting a look at Rodriguez who while not really a prospect just keeps hitting. He's not age appropriate for the league so maybe he gets a bump to AAA.

I agree with you on Bogaerts. I think the only way he moves is a trickle down where the Sox want to get Marrero somewhere (is he signed yet?) and Vicino and Bogaerts move.
   48. booond Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4156269)
It all depends on room at AA but there's no need to keep Bradley, Shaw or Barnes down there any longer as the hitters aren't young for the league and Barnes, as long as they don't abuse him with innings, needs a challenge. Bogie could spend a little more time but if he keeps it up it won't hurt to give him a taste later in the year.
   49. philly Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:48 AM (#4156463)
I don't think a Barnes promotion is imminent. His K rate is substantially down from an other worldly 43% to a still very good, but not "he's bored at this level" at 28%. That's K/PA, I guess I should add. I think at this much more appropriate level you want him to get 12-15 starts and see how teams do with a second look against him. He's only had 7 starts. Although now that I look I see that in the cozy 8 team Carolina League that's enough to give him 3 starts against Winston-Salem.

6 IP and 12 Ks in the first one. 6 IP and 3 Ks in both subsequent starts. All of them with 0 or 1 run. His K rate dropped 75%! Not that it means much, but I think we'll get a chance to see a lot more repeat starts before he gets a promtion. If he spends August in AA, that's still a great year.

Bradley, on the other hand, has to get out of there asap. I saw the games last night against Wilmington. He had a 3 PA stretch in which he saw 13 pitches and the only strike was a 3-0 take. He's a very disciplined hitter who probably has gone up to the plate planning on taking a 1st strike. These A ball pitchers don't have the control, nevermind the command to challenge him with that approach. I'm not saying that his huge BB total and OBP is soley due to wild pitchers, but his plate discipline is just on another level than the A ball pitchers he's facing. I can't see how one would argue that he got much of anything developmentally out of those three PAs. A promotion to a level where pitchers can attack his ultra disciplined approach with quality strikes can't come soon enough.

No reason to promote Bogearts this year at all. His body language wasn't all that great when a couple balls and strikes didn't go his way either. No big deal, but he needs to keep making progress on maturing as a player. Better to do that in A ball at 19 than AA. He made some nice plays in the field. He also had a bizarre play where he fielded a ball, went to plant his foot for the throw and just plain fell down on his face. While he made the plays in the field, he didn't seem to have the quickness normally associated with an elite up the middle athlete. And maybe this is because I got home in time to hear the Phils announcers talking about how the Twins Trevor Plouffe seemed a half second late on every ball hit to him at 3B because he lacks quick reactions associated with the position, but I'm now wondering if the reason people seem to want to move him to RF instead of just to 3B is because Bogaerts lacks the quick actions that you'd want at 3B as well. Just a thought.

I thought Shaw looked pretty good. Not as long a swing or bad a body as I probably expected. On the other hand, he smacked a HR against a lesser pitcher and was completely overmatched by Yordani Ventura's high 90s gas which I guess performance wise is more what you would expect.
   50. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4156493)
Was going to write something about how Barnes doesn't look like he's in need of a promotion just yet, but Philly covered my thoughts exactly (with more detail and nuance).

Bradley should go up with Linares moving up ahead of him. At 22, Shaw moving to AA would make some sense too (I doubt Reynoldo Rodriguez is going to stand in the way). Bogartes is already above his age level. Let him succeed for a bit.
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4156497)
I think that you're both nitpicking Barnes' numbers, and you're being way too DIPSy with minor league stats. Barnes has been allowing just a handful of singles along with his slightly less impressive K/BB. One of the reasons I tend to think Barnes should move up is that I don't know if A-ball hitters can do much of anything with his mistakes, because his fastball is so good. This would show up in his BA/SLG against as well as his DIPS components.

Now, I was too glib about the reasons that one might keep Barnes in A-ball. Giving the league another chance at him, making him spend time refining his secondary pitches, working on mechanics, working on game plans, any of these could be a perfectly good reason to keep Barnes in Salem. I didn't mean to suggest I think it'll be a mistake if he stays past the All-Star Break.

But I'm not convinced there's anything in Barnes' numbers that should necessitate his remaining in Salem.
   52. philly Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4156500)
Basically, MCoA's making the argument that Barnes fastball is so good that he's not being challenged in the same way that I said Bradley's plate discipline is too good for the level. I guess I have to say that I can see how that could be the case. And maybe if I literally saw Barnes get nickle and dimed with soft contact singles the way I saw Bradley wasting his time, I would say the same thing. But I didn't. Unfortunately missed Barnes this series in Wilmington by one day.

But you could see Bradley was probably wasting his time based on his stats. He could see that Barnes was wasting his time when he was striking out 43% of the lo-A hitters. It's not as obvious in the stats. I wouldn't think it a mistake to promote Barnes now, but working on things at an appropriate level seems fine to me. Hell, even with these same stats I would have wanted him promoted out of lo-A so it's not just about the stats. Barnes is a good prospect, but he's not Trevor Bauer or Danny Hultzen. Spending most of the year in A ball should be able to provide reasonable challenges and a learning environment.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4156511)
But you could see Bradley was probably wasting his time based on his stats. He could see that Barnes was wasting his time when he was striking out 43% of the lo-A hitters. It's not as obvious in the stats. I wouldn't think it a mistake to promote Barnes now, but working on things at an appropriate level seems fine to me.
I agree with all of this.

We're definitely niggling around the edges. One way of putting my point is to say that think that Barnes' numbers are a better argument for his promotion than for his remaining in Salem. They are indeed not as convincing an argument as Bradley's, or as Barnes' lo-A numbers, but I don't think that means his numbers support the argument that Barnes' development is better served by remaining in A-ball.

More edge-niggling: Is the Carolina League a more appropriate place than the Eastern League for a 22-year-old pitching prospect? I probably would have guessed the opposite, though neither is clearly inappropriate. It depends on the prospect, I guess.
   54. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4156541)
I am going to see Portland play tonight. Who on the team (besides Brentz) is worth watching?
   55. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4156547)
Not much.

-The starting pitcher, Chris Hernandez, is a fringe prospect. (Which makes him maybe the 3rd best prospect on a dire roster.) Advanced college draftee, sinkerballer who pitches to contact, unimpressive component numbers but solid run prevention so far. Might have a 6th starter / middle relief career in the majors.

-Juan Carlos Linares. He's way too old for the league, but he only made his US debut a year ago after starring in the Cuban league in his early 20s. The Sox have been in need of OFs this year, but for whatever reason they haven't been interested in him despite very good numbers.
-Dan Butler. Non-drafted free agent catcher who's managed to earn his way up to AA with his bat. Could someday be a good story or even get a few years as a backup catcher somewhere.
-Failed prospects a-go-go. All of Kolbrin Vitek, Oscar Tejeda, and Derrik Gibson got serious bonuses and made some prospect lists, but have been unimpressive in professional ball. You can see if you see anything there.

Try to catch a Portland game later in the season - the Sox will be sending at least one legit prospect to Maine by then, and probably a couple.
   56. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4156550)
Not a great prospect but Jeremy Hazelbaker is a fun player to watch. Very fast and he's got some pop in his bat. He looks like a guy who could have a nice career as a 4th outfielder if things come together.

Catcher Dan Butler never seems to get mentioned as much of a prospect but he is good defensively and seems to be not terrible at the plate. Catchers develop at funny rates so I wouldn't be shocked if he became something useful.

Closer Josh Fields is a former first round pick that I believe was part of the Kotchman deal a couple of years ago. Strikes tend to elude him but when he throws it over the plate, people don't hit him. He's the kind of live arm who could figure it out someday.

Derrik Gibson fascinates me. He's crazy skinny and has less power than my friends' 3 year old son but the Sox spent a 2nd rounder on him a few years ago and he keeps getting nudged forward despite not appearing to be deserving. I think he has about no chance to play in the Majors but I can't help but be fascinated by him. Last time I saw him he looked almost emaciated.

All in all Portland is not exactly home to much. Besides Brentz the best prospect there is probably Kolbrin Vitek but he is injured. You stumbled into some less than great timing for the rotation; Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton and Stolmy Pimentel are all better regarded than tonight's starter Chris Hernandez. Hernandez is one of those low-K types who probably isn't going to have the stuff to do anything in the bigs.

Carbonated sugary beverage to MCoA.
   57. Dan Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4156562)
Fields was a throw-in in the Bedard trade last summer, not part of the Kotchman deal.
   58. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4156564)
Thanks guys.

Thanks to Eatern League scheduling, this week is the only time they are down in Bowie all year. Salem is around in a few weeks. Is that where the better prospects are now?
   59. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4156565)
I saw Jeremy Hazelbaker, Kolbrin Vitek, Zach Gentile, and some others in a local Moe's a couple months ago. All except Hazelbaker looked rather shockingly small to me. Nice guys, it seemed.
   60. booond Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4156569)
Spending most of the year in A ball should be able to provide reasonable challenges and a learning environment.


I understand the argument if he was 20 but at 22 he's marking time in A ball. He's pitched against these guys plenty back in college. He needs to pitch against a better brand of talent to learn what he can and can't do.
   61. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4156574)
Salem is around in a few weeks. Is that where the better prospects are now?
Yes. In a few weeks a couple of them will be gone to Portland, but Xander Bogaerts, a legit top 50 prospect (19-year-old SS with power bat, probably ticketed to 3B/OF), should still be there. He's a better prospect than the entire Portland roster put together. Other prospects (Barnes, Shaw) might be with Salem then, as well, and the Sox might promote one or two guys from Greenville.
   62. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4156587)
Fields was a throw-in in the Bedard trade last summer, not part of the Kotchman deal.


Thanks. I knew we got him from Seattle. I forgot about Bedard.
   63. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4157096)
I think that you're both nitpicking Barnes' numbers, and you're being way too DIPSy with minor league stats. Barnes has been allowing just a handful of singles along with his slightly less impressive K/BB.


I don't mean to get even more nitpicky, but isn't K rate usually the best indicator of a minor league pitcher's dominance? In low A ball, Barnes's K rate was off the charts. In high A, it's been merely excellent. His hit rate has similarly not insane. I'm not sure of how hard they're hitting their singles (and HR) and whatever other hits they've gotten.

So when I say he's not in need of a promotion, I only mean that from the numbers we can see--strikeouts being the most important--it doesn't make me think that they MUST promote him. If they decide to keep in in Salem for a while, I'll assume they have good reasons. If they do promote him, that'd be pretty exciting.
   64. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4157102)
So when I say he's not in need of a promotion, I only mean that from the numbers we can see--strikeouts being the most important--it doesn't make me think that they MUST promote him. If they decide to keep in in Salem for a while, I'll assume they have good reasons. If they do promote him, that'd be pretty exciting.
Well, I agree entirely with that. Pretty boring.
   65. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4157108)
Boring--but exciting!
   66. Xander Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4157232)
5 IP, 2 H, ER, 9/1 K/BB
   67. Dan Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4157237)
So he struck out 9 of the 18 batters he faced? #### it, send him to Portland.

By my math that gets his K% at Salem up to 30.5%.
   68. Dan Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4157249)
Strong outing for Bard in Pawtucket tonight. 2 innings, just 1 BB and 4 K on 25 pitches.
   69. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4157261)
ER? ER?!? pbbtht!
   70. Mattbert Posted: June 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM (#4157379)
The thing with a young pitcher who's got a big fastball is you've really got to see how he's putting up his numbers, rather than just saying Golly! and calling it a day. If the Sox have Barnes at Salem primarily to work on polishing his secondary offerings, is he doing that successfully or does he just reach back for the heater and blow guys away whenever he gets in bad count?

Is he giving up those singles primarily on breaking pitches? Offspeed? If so, how does he react afterwards? Does he still trust those pitches, or does he go back to the fastball after he gets a guy on? Etc, etc, etc.

The always awesome Barnesday pitching lines are great, don't get me wrong, but in terms of gauging whether or not he should be promoted to Portland...that absolutely requires observational data.
   71. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4160391)
Short-season A ball gets cooking tonight for the Lowell Spinners (and a bunch of other teams probably). Couple of names at Lowell;

Pat Light - RHP - Supplemental 1st 2012
Mike Augliera - RHP - 5th Round 2012
Justin Haley - RHP - 6th Round 2012
Kyle Kraus - RHP - 7th Round 2012
Mike Miller - SS - 9th round 2012
Kendrick Perkins - OF - 6th round 2010
Williams Jerez - OF - 2nd round 2011

Youngest player on the roster is Mookie Betts, SS. 5th round pick last year born October 7, 1992. Man am I old.
   72. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4161064)
Roanoke Times says that Jackie Bradley has played his last game in Salem. No mention of Barnes, Bogaerts or Shaw in the piece.
   73. JJ1986 Posted: June 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4161071)
Kendrick Perkins - OF - 6th round 2010


Isn't he busy playing hoops right now?
   74. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:13 AM (#4161822)
The weirdness of the draft sort of changes the meaning of round selections. Kyle Kraus got a 30th round bonus and is being deployed like a 30th rounder - he pitched in set-up relief yesterday. Aguilera hasn't pitched yet, which at least probably means he'll probably be at the back of the rotation. Mike Miller, like the UFA he was likely to be if the draft rules hadn't been changed, hasn't even played in a game yet.

This is probably meaningless, but: Zachary Good and Francisco Taveras, the first two guys in the Spinners rotation, had very nice initial outings. I didn't know anything about Good or Taveras, and neither has any kind of prospect-y pedigree, but it might mean something that the Sox chose them to front the rotation in Lowell.
   75. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4161825)
Thanks I wasn't thinking about the changes in the draft and just blindly listed out the top ten picks that were at Lowell. I'm a dope.

Travis Shaw with a homer in the All Star Game last night, Bradley 0 for 5, Bogaerts 0 for 2.
   76. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4161845)
Well, the fact that the Sox selected those guys suggests the Sox think they're at least more worth their bonuses than the typical late round talent. Aguilera, it looks like, will get more of a real shot.

Shaw has been a huge surprise this year. He didn't even make BA's top 200 prospects before the draft last year, and he was pretty meh in the NYPL, but the Sox promoted him aggressively straight to Salem, and he's been the best power hitter in the Carolina League in the first half. Given Shaw's lack of pedigree, I'm not too surprised or disappointed that he's staying in Salem.

Thinking about the midseason promotions, the Bradley move turned out a little silly. Surely the Sox have been planning to promote him ever since May, but determined to keep him in Salem for the mini-pennant race. Bradley went through the first slump of his professional career in the last two weeks, hitting .200 with no power, but he gets called up anyway. I'm glad they stuck with the call-up, but the timing ends up looking a touch odd.

As discussed, we don't have nearly the knowledge of Matt Barnes' development to praise or criticize the decision to keep him in Salem. It's a little disappointing, insofar as a promotion would suggest the Sox think Barnes is already prepared for AA, but Barnes isn't behind a top prospect schedule or anything.
   77. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 21, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4162973)
Barnes and Bogaerts headed to the Futures Game. Bradley's promotion is made in conjunction with Linares going to Pawtucket.
   78. Darren Posted: June 23, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4164266)
Linares goes 4-6 in his first game at Pawtucket. Freedom!
   79. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4165538)
I went to the Lowell Spinners' game on Saturday night. For some unknown reason it was the first time I'd gone to a game there and it was a lot of fun. I always forget how much ancillary BS the minor league teams do to entertain the kids there but the kids were having a blast. One of my little leaguers got to run onto the field at the start of the game with Mookie Betts.

The game itself...ugh. I know better than to draw conclusions about the quality of short season A ball on one game but wow was it awful. The two teams combined for seven errors (five by Vermont) and there were a couple of other makeable plays that went as hits. By the 6th inning my father and I were openly cackling anytime a ball was hit to Betts at shortstop, he made about 5-6 throws and I don't think he reached first base on the fly on a single one.

Mike Augliera got the start and pounded the hell out of the strike zone for his two innings. According to the radar gun he was working around 89-90 consistently. It looked like he wanted to establish a change up as his number two pitch but he couldn't find the strike zone with that and it wasn't effective enough to induce swings. He also threw a few sliders and that did seem like a pretty good pitch for him, much better than the change up. Based on the swings on that he was starting it in the zone and having it dive out of the zone to get some weak swings.

The other guy I was interested in was Kendrick Perkins. You could see all the good and bad in him. He was physically a man among boys and he doesn't get cheated on his swings. Unfortunately actually hitting the ball is a bit of a problem. He fanned a couple of times breaking the bat when he slammed it on the ground after the first one and hit a little dribbler for an out.

I'm probably preaching to the converted but for those of you with kids it's a great take. Inexpensive, accessible and lots for the kids to do. I ran into a buddy who has a 6 and 9 year old and he said they typically watch a few innings, then run down to the "Gator Pit" where the kids play in a bouncy castle and a big inflatable slide for a couple of innings then return for the final few innings.
   80. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4165774)
Well, he only made it to 9 IP. Mark Prior has been placed on the DL.
   81. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: June 25, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4165788)
Is it tough to get tickets to Lowell? A few years ago I thought I heard that were always sold out.
   82. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 25, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4165816)
Is it tough to get tickets to Lowell? A few years ago I thought I heard that were always sold out.


I'm not sure. My father got them free as a thank you from the baseball league in my home town (he was recently honored for his work with youth baseball in town). Saturday certainly was not filled but it had poured from about 5:30-6:30 so that may have kept some people away. My father and I were the only two people in our row (one section beyond the dugout, about 10 rows up).
   83. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4165865)
I've noticed that in the month since this thread was posted that Lavarnway has started hitting the snot out of the ball...
of course he's now 24 (will be 25 in August) and is approaching the age at which he becomes a AAAA suspect rather than a prospect... and he's never NOT hit, and he's only gotten 43 MLB PAs

right now, after a terrible start he's 18th in the IL in OPS- but only 2 guys above him are younger than him- Middlebrooks, and Chisenhall- both of whom are now up - AND- hitting

last year he was 3rd in the IL in OPS
#1 was Plouffe- a former first rounder/failed prospect, who started hitting last year- and is hitting this year in Minny
#2 was Dennis Phipps- 2+ years older than Lavarnway- who basically had a fluke half year in the IL in 2011- out of line with his prior career and 2012
after him the only guys within 100 OPS points of him that was his age or younger was Kirk Nieuwenhuis...



   84. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4165875)
Lavarnway's hot streak has been nice. His power is still down, but his Ks are way down, and that's probably a good trade in the long run.
   85. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 25, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4165882)
I've noticed that in the month since this thread was posted that Lavarnway has started hitting the snot out of the ball...
of course he's now 24 (will be 25 in August) and is approaching the age at which he becomes a AAAA suspect rather than a prospect... and he's never NOT hit, and he's only gotten 43 MLB PAs


I think the fact that he is a catcher is a big caveat in all of that. My read on Lavarnway is that no one has questioned his bat but his glove was in dispute. Catchers seem to have odd promotion patterns.

I think it's worth noting that he's not really repeating AAA. His career has been about one full season at each level it's just been split across two seasons;

106 games at Lo A
82 games at Hi A
99 games at AA
118 games at AAA (and counting)

The extra time at AAA doesn't seem particularly surprising given that the next level is MLB and the Sox have two pretty good catchers there. I think we're a year from moving him from "prospect" to "suspect." I think that the Sox signed a generic backup catcher to a one year deal heading into this season suggests they are still comfortable with him.
   86. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 29, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4169551)
Barnes showing signs of humanity, giving up eight runs in 4.2 IP in his last 2 starts. Still, the strikeout rate is good, and other than his last couple starts his control has been fine.

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