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Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Minors Making Major Moves Man

Well the Major League club will continue playing baseball after Tuesday’s thrilling Wild Card victory over the third place Yankees but the minor league season has largely concluded with just some Arizona Fall League baseball to follow.  With that in mind I thought a look at the system as it stands was in order.  The prospect hounds have been pretty positive about the state of the Red Sox system as the Sox saw real movement forward from many in their system.

The Good:

The biggest positive for the Sox is the skyrocketing performances of so many of their top prospects.  Triston Casas got to stamp the passport with a trip to Japan for the eventual silver medal US team.  When he was stateside he hit .279/.394/.484 in Portland and a Worcester cameo.  He remains on track to be a part of the 2022 club at some point though not at the start.  While Casas and his Freddie Freeman upside gets the attention it was Nick Yorke who boasted the biggest move this year.  Yorke raked at Salem and Greenville (.325/.412/.516) and while he doesn’t turn 20 until April he may be in Portland to start 2022.  The glove remains a question but if he keeps hitting like this the Sox will find a place for him.  The other big star among the hitters was 2020 draftee Blaze Jordan.  Jordan was eased into things not playing until the July start of the Florida Complex League but in 28 games he hit .324/.368/.590 with 6 homers in 114 PA.

The good news kept coming in July when the Sox, thanks to their “performance” in 2020 had the fourth overall pick and landed shortstop Marcelo Mayer.  Mayer is only 18 but in 26 games in the FCL he hit .275/.377/.440.  What strikes me there is the plate discipline and power, two tools that often are something that needs to be grown into.  In a dream world the Sox infield in five years is the four guys I’ve listed so far with veteran DH Rafael Devers leading them to a title.  There was also some less heralded positives as former international signee Brainer Bonaci had a solid performance and was well regarded in the FCL and Salem.  For a young kid playing in the States for the first time that is encouraging.  Imagine being 18 with the pressures of playing professional baseball and oh yeah, doing it in another country where you likely aren’t comfortable with the language, culture and customs.

On the mound there were some hopeful performances as well.  Josh Winckowski, a big part of the Andrew Benintendi deal, was solid in Portland and then for a couple of Worcester starts.  He has operated as a starter so far though most of what I’ve read about him suggests he’s heading toward being a reliever. A name to remember is Winkelman Gonzalez.  The righty from Venezuela cost the Sox a quarter mil a couple of years ago and he’s coming along.  Like Bonaci he made his first appearance on this side of the Caribbean this year and was effective in that time.  He is someone to watch.

Two other names that deserve recognition are Jay Groome and Durbin Feltman.  These are two guys who were big time prospects a few years ago but have yet to pull it together.  Both found a new gear in 2021.  Feltman’s issue has simply been not pitching well enough but this year he stepped up pitching very well in Portland then even better in Worcester.  He seems to really be finding his groove throwing strikes walking only 4 batters in 24 innings in Worcester.  For Groome it has been all about health and finally stayed healthy in 2021.  While his overall numbers looked a bit sketchy he was really very good after a couple of rough starts early.  After getting pounded his first three starts he had a 4.00 ERA in his final 18 starts so progress was there.

The city of Worcester seemed to really embrace the WooSox.  I went to a game there.  The park is kind of meh for me but the atmosphere is good and I’m told the area around the park is being developed which it needs.  There’s a huge empty lot across the street that is quite frankly a bit scary postgame.

Brayan Bello - Sox Prospects named him Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year
Gilberto Jimenez - .306/.346/.405 at Lo A Salem

The Bad:

Unlike Nathan Eovaldi’s pitches last night not everything was perfect.  There were some down performances.  Obviously nothing is a bigger bummer than flame thrower Bryan Mata having season ending Tommy John surgery in April.  Next year is his age 23 season and he should be back at some point though with the surgery in April he is probably on a time scale not dissimilar to what we saw from Sale this year so think May or June for him.  That’s not a terrible thing if he’s right when he gets back.  Franchy Cordero was another part of that Benintendi deal and suffice it to say it did not go well for him. The numbers were good in Worcester but he was SO bad in Boston and he’s 26 already.

Speaking of trade acquisitions Jeter Downs had a nightmare as well hitting just .190/.272/.333.  Downs made a big jump after the lost season of 2020 right into AAA and after a decent start he was appallingly bad in July and August (.113/.201/.200) before bouncing back in September.  Hopefully we learn there was something up for July and August health wise and he can be the player he was in May, June and September.  Former 2nd round pick Cole Brannan had hoped to see some improvement but has never been able to put it together.  I’m not sure what to make of Jarren Duran.  He was very good for Worcester but struggled with the Sox. Despite that I thought he looked a lot more comfortable at the big league level than the numbers suggest unlike Cordero who looked genuinely overwhelmed.

Connor Seabold pitched well but continues to struggle with health.

Other Notes:

Arizona Fall League gets going next Wednesday and the Sox are sending eight players; Casas, Downs, Seabold, Winckowski, C - Connor Wong, C - Kole Cottam, LHP Brendan Cellucci, RHP AJ Politi.

Rumors are rife that the Salem Lo A team may be headed to Lowell potentially as soon as 2022.  As someone who lives 15 minutes from LeLacheur Park I am selfishly excited about that.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 06, 2021 at 01:26 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. The Mighty Quintana Posted: October 07, 2021 at 12:52 PM (#6044481)
Thanks, Jose. Any word on Noah Song timetable? Not sure if his extended military commitment can be spun as a good thing propect-wise, as it does limit pitches thrown at a young age.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 07, 2021 at 01:22 PM (#6044488)
I haven't heard anything about Song in awhile. He's in flight training apparently and really there is no updates since last spring. I think it was a two year minimum then he could ask out if he wanted but that doesn't mean he will. I would expect we will hear something over the winter.

I agree there is potentially a "hey his arm isn't getting any wear and tear" and presumably he's keeping in shape (I saw a documentary years ago, navy pilots play lots of volleyball, do some karaoke to pick up girls and drive motorcyles so that should work). I think more relevantly let's say he comes back and progresses quickly. The earliest he'd be in the majors is his age 26 season so assuming no radical changes to the CBA the Sox will comfortably control his prime years.
   3. Darren Posted: October 07, 2021 at 01:43 PM (#6044495)
The hulking first basemen category had some nice results:
--Tyreque Reed, 24, minor league rule 5 guy: 0.296 0.405 0.587 at A+, earning a promotion to AA, where he didn't fare so well.
--Pedro Castellanos, 23, always made good contact, finally showing power at AA: 0.289 0.364 0.471
--Joe Davis, 24, a 19th rounder, was way too old for A ball, but did well there and then got promoted: (A) 0.333 0.384 0.577; (A+) 0.261 0.303 0.441
   4. villageidiom Posted: October 07, 2021 at 02:16 PM (#6044506)
(I saw a documentary years ago, navy pilots play lots of volleyball, do some karaoke to pick up girls and drive motorcyles so that should work)
I'm not sure how comforted I should be if he's driving the motorcycle on the highway to the danger zone.
   5. Darren Posted: October 07, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6044520)
I've heard his fastball can take your breath away.
   6. The Mighty Quintana Posted: October 07, 2021 at 05:17 PM (#6044563)
Well, Noah would definitely have the advantage at net over Maverick in volleyball: 6'5" vs 5'6"

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