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   1. villageidiom Posted: May 20, 2016 at 11:15 AM (#5225387)
In 2015 the Pawtucket leader in OPS was Jackie Bradley with 853, in 282 AB. Of players who had at least 100 AB in Pawtucket last year, who had the second-highest OPS with Pawtucket?

Give up? Well, let me also point out that the same player in 2016 leads in OPS among players with at least 100 AB in Pawtucket. Must be a name you know, right? Well, sure it is. It's Marrero.

Chris Marrero, Deven's... brother? Cousin? I've seen both reported. Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.

He's such a hot prospect that's scouting report on him is as follows:
Former first-round pick is the cousin of Deven Marrero. Has experience at both corner outfield spots as well as first base.
Impressive, no?

In fairness to the folks at soxprospects, Marrero is 27 and thus a bit toasty as a prospect, and he's only been in Boston's system since August of last year, after being cut by the White Sox. The above scouting report is basically all he's warranted from them. But he is a former first-round pick of the Nationals (ten years ago, out of high school). The Nationals had him in low A that year, then high A for his first full season. He returned to high A in 2008 but broke his leg halfway through the season. By the end of his next season he was in AA, played there through 2010, was promoted to AAA in 2011 and got in around 30 games in the bigs that year as a pre-September call-up. He's been bouncing between AA and AAA, and among systems (Baltimore, White Sox) until the Red Sox picked him up.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 20, 2016 at 01:14 PM (#5225523)
Brock Holt to the DL with a concussion, Blake Swihart called up. No official announcement but it seems like the expectation is that he will start in left tonight.
   3. covelli chris p Posted: May 20, 2016 at 01:50 PM (#5225571)
the nice thing about having swihart around is it lets them be more aggressive pinch hitting for their catchers. seems weird to go with swihart over castillo, though. rutledge is hitting well ... i wonder if he's taking reps in left field ... or maybe give shaw some starts in left with rutledge at 3rd?
   4. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 20, 2016 at 02:14 PM (#5225582)
Well they've got Young if they want a righty out there and Castillo isn't exactly doing anything to leapfrog Swihart. Swihart wasn't tearing it up in Pawtucket but he's hit pretty well as a big leaguer (his numbers dragged down by that first month which I don't think is entirely reflective of his ability).

I missed it but apparently Carson Smith back to the DL also and Noe Ramirez called up.
   5. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 22, 2016 at 12:26 PM (#5226413)
Good reports on EdRod yesterday. Apparently the Sox have found a knee brace he is comfortable with and there seems to be a lot of hope that this will be something he can work with.
   6. Norcan Posted: May 24, 2016 at 09:47 AM (#5227705)
Trey Ball turned in another fine game a few days ago, highlighted by super efficiency (75 pitches in 6 innings) that's been his trademark this season. He's only at 13.7 pitches/inning and that's with throwing 79 pitches in 4 innings in his first appearance.

Statistically, there are some important numbers that have barely changed like his BB and K rates and that's a bit worrisome but his groundball rate has more than doubled. I think the lack of big statistical improvement masks the improvement in his stuff. He is throwing harder, with better command and his fastball has turned into a groundball pitch from a flyball pitch. That's a big turnaround. Also, after reports that he might shelve his curveball, he's shown improved control over it, enough to steal first pitch strikes with it or force hitters to keep it in mind later in the count. I'm excited to see how his stuff plays in Double-A.
   7. Norcan Posted: May 24, 2016 at 10:00 AM (#5227721)
Roniel Raudes also pitched a dandy of a game against Asheville (who were without their best player in Brendan Rogers): 6 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 0 BB, 8 K. His command is so advanced that I think he would fare just fine in High-A ball. If his fastball picks up in velocity in the coming years, I think he could be better than Espinoza. He already has a better breaking ball and increased velocity could make that a tremendous hammer.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 24, 2016 at 10:03 AM (#5227725)
That ground ball rate for Ball is really encouraging. I'd really like to see him striking people out but if he can start getting ground balls reliably that's a big step forward. That's the best thing about it so far, it's just nice to see something in the way of progress from the guy.
   9. villageidiom Posted: May 25, 2016 at 07:57 AM (#5228533)
Eduardo Rodriguez:
7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 HR 0 BB 7 K
   10. villageidiom Posted: May 25, 2016 at 07:59 AM (#5228534)
That's the best thing about it so far, it's just nice to see something in the way of progress from the guy.
This is like the reverse of your spring training jinx. All you had to do is write him off, and he's doing well. Could you similarly give up on Buchholz?
   11. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 25, 2016 at 08:22 AM (#5228544)
My powers DO have limits.

EdRod was great but Alex Speier was saying the velocity was a bit off so they are likely going to have him make another rehab start.
   12. Norcan Posted: May 25, 2016 at 02:00 PM (#5228892)
Eduardo looked really good. He was hitting his spots consistently with his fastball. His fastball was said to hit 93 a few times, mostly 92; I don't know if it lost steam as his outing progressed. Honestly, I don't think he would be worse than Buchholz, even topping out at 92-93. And when did 92-93 become inadequate? I guess it's more about how it might indicate that he's not fully healthy but then why is he pitching in the first place?

As a result of his knee issues, he went to a modified stretch full-time, apparently for the first time. It's basically like what Price does but with an additional step back with his front leg or what Carrasco and Arrieta do. I don't understand why pitchers don't pitch out of the "stretch" full time anyway. The windup is basically just turning and then throwing from the stretch. A lot of windups have become like 3/4 stretches anyway. Throwing from the stretch seems to carry ominous overtones but there's a difference between throwing from the stretch with men on and having to be quick to the plate and throwing from the stretch without men on and having the ability to take your time and load up. The stretch is so much simpler and there's no loss in power. Maybe this is a silver lining of Eduardo's injury.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 25, 2016 at 02:09 PM (#5228899)
Honestly, I don't think he would be worse than Buchholz, even topping out at 92-93. And when did 92-93 become inadequate? I guess it's more about how it might indicate that he's not fully healthy but then why is he pitching in the first place?

I don't think it's inadequate but for a guy who was working 95-96 a year ago it requires some adjustment. I also wonder if the change up is also slower. As I recall his change was working at 88-89 which even if he's 95-96 is a pretty small variance, if he's down to 92-93 that's non-existent.
   14. Norcan Posted: May 25, 2016 at 02:20 PM (#5228914)
I don't think it's inadequate but for a guy who was working 95-96 a year ago it requires some adjustment. I also wonder if the change up is also slower. As I recall his change was working at 88-89 which even if he's 95-96 is a pretty small variance, if he's down to 92-93 that's non-existent.

Changeups are always slower if the peak fastball velocity is slower. It's not like changeups really have a natural velocity of their own; they work off the possible velocity of a fastball but with a different grip and sometimes different finger pressures. He's not throwing 88-89 changeups if he can't get his fastball up to the mid-90s.

If he was a pitcher who got by on straight velocity (which never happens anyway since 95 mph without command doesn't work in the majors), I could understand thinking that he'll have to adjust to only 92-93. But 92-93 with the command he showed, backed up with a good changeup (and not as good slider unfortunately) ought to work in the majors. Better than Buccholz for sure but that encompasses so, so, so many pitchers.
   15. villageidiom Posted: May 26, 2016 at 01:53 PM (#5229786)
Elias: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
   16. Norcan Posted: May 28, 2016 at 06:04 PM (#5231181)
It seems very unlikely but it's more likely than it seemed months ago that Jason Groome might slip to the Red Sox with the 12th pick. He's still rated in the top 3 by almost every draft site and he offers projection, feel and present stuff that make for a very exciting prospect. It would be amazing if he fell to the Red Sox. He's apparently a Red Sox fan too for some reason even though he grew up in New Jersey. Maybe he has family from the area or something.

The biggest knock against him seems to be some off the field concerns. I don't think he's been in any legal trouble or anything, unless that's been swept under the rug but he doesn't come off as the most magnetic of personalities in his interviews. He actually seems really full of himself. There has to be some other things other than being arrogant. Whether he's arrogant or not, he did handle himself well to reporters after suffering a loss. I could see being concerned about how he'd deal with adversity and all that but he seemed mature in that instance. It's hard to believe that a club like the Marlins for instance, at least according to Keith Law, has taken him off their board. I wonder what the off the field concerns must be for a 6'6 lefty to come off a draft board.

If the Red Sox did select him, I'd imagine they would have to take a 10 K senior with the 51 pick in order to come up with the 4 million plus it might take to keep Groome from going to Vanderbilt.
   17. Norcan Posted: May 28, 2016 at 06:08 PM (#5231183)
Elias: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

I'm ready to see Joe Kelly get booted from the rotation and have Elias take his place. He was throwing from a lower arm slot in Spring Training and maybe that's what messed him up. I don't know if that came about after working with Pedro or not but he's back to his old arm slot. His stuff looks pretty good.

Buchholz and his 6 plus ERA finally got the long awaited boot from the rotation. Joe Kelly and his 6 plus ERA should join him.
   18. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 28, 2016 at 07:31 PM (#5231211)
Groome is the kid that went to IMG as a junior then got a half season suspension upon his return to New Jersey for his senior year.
   19. Norcan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 08:33 AM (#5231949)
Groome is the kid that went to IMG as a junior then got a half season suspension upon his return to New Jersey for his senior year.

Are you saying you think this is the off the field matter that has him dropping in the draft?
   20. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 10:46 AM (#5231980)
I'm not saying it, that was more a question than a statement (the lack of a question mark explains the confusion). More just a wondering about what is troubling teams. He kind of gives me this Trevor Bauer vibe that there is something about him that puts people off. I would LOVE for him to slip to 12 but that's probably just not going to happen.
   21. Norcan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 11:57 AM (#5232011)
He kind of gives me this Trevor Bauer vibe that there is something about him that puts people off. I would LOVE for him to slip to 12 but that's probably just not going to happen.

I'm writing out of my ass since I don't know anything about Groome and really anything about Bauer either but from what I can gather, Bauer turned some people off in Arizona (less so in Cleveland where he's been allowed to do his own thing) by wanting to do things his own way--extreme long tossing, throwing every day, trying to strike everyone out because of BABIP concerns. It doesn't seem like there are similar concerns about Groome's coachability. The prospect writers have mentioned immaturity concerns from sources and while that might seem dumb since they're dealing with a 17 year old kid, if he fares poorly compared to his other high school peers, I guess it's not entirely without merit. There seems to be a greater emphasis on character with high school kids since that could be a differentiating factor as to why some succeed in pro ball and some don't. With the 12th pick, heck yeah, bring him on.
   22. Darren Posted: May 30, 2016 at 02:14 PM (#5232084)
Aaron Wilkerson promoted to AAA, where he K's 9 and BB's 2, while giving up 1 run over 6 2/3. Don't worry though, he's not a prospect, he's an 'organizational arm' despite dominating the upper minors.
   23. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 06:09 PM (#5232200)
It'd be great if he could turn into something. If he keeps pitching like this then yeah he will be in position for a call up at some point, 27 year olds with less than 100 innings above A ball though aren't going to get me too wound up though.
   24. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 06:53 PM (#5232211)
Sam Travis suffered an ACL injury yesterday. WEEI is saying its expected he will be out for significant time.
   25. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 08:52 PM (#5232243)
Just saw on the Twitterz that the sox have announced its torn. Season over but expected to be ready to go for spring training.
   26. Norcan Posted: May 30, 2016 at 09:53 PM (#5232292)
Tough break for Travis. At least it's not something like a wrist injury that could have unpredictable consequences for his future. Why in the heck did Travis and Schwarber become the Indiana ACL brothers? ACL injuries are so uncommon in baseball and these two former teammates just happened to have one two months from each other? WTF.

Alex Speier relayed that Kopech got up to 99 mph in an extended Spring Training outing. Not surprising but it's nice to see something positive linked to his name other than suspension, punch, injury, rehabbing and so on. I'm looking forward to how he'll do this season.

I bought a package because my curiosity of Espinoza got the better of me and why not use it to chart his game? So today against a Yankees affiliate, his line went: 5 innings/0 runs/1 hit (single)/4 BB/4 K/74 pitches/5:2 GO:FO ratio. The box score beyond the walks looks really good but man was he all over the place. His command and control were bottom of the scale. There were a handful of pitches that weren't shown from the center field angle but there must have been only about 12 pitches that hit his intended target. A more experienced lineup would've let him walk the stadium and gotten him out of the game extremely early.

He was very fastball heavy. Of his 76 pitches, he threw 8 curves and I think 2 changeups. 1 curve missed badly outside and in the dirt, 5 curves missed low and 2 could've been strikes but were fouled off or swung through. Besides the one that bounced low and away, his curves were extremely slow looking. They must have been the 70-72 curves I've read about and I didn't find them impressive. He didn't show a lot of feel for the curves and at that velocity, you better be able to throw them for strikes because it's going to be hard to get guys to chase. He really tries to get a big break on them and at his 5'11-6'0 height, he achieves it by putting a big hump on them, which makes them more quickly identifiable. I wish he would try the Raudes curve that comes in harder in the high 70s with a medium sized, tight break. Neither of his two changes were strikes or that impressive. They've been better in other outings.

He got 6 swings and misses, one of which was a checked swing miss at a curve. There were 18 fouled balls and 10 called strikes, three of which came on strike three. There were only 2 hard hit balls put in play all game.

He has as low effort a delivery as I've ever seen but I wonder if it's too little effort. He's about two measures lower in effort than even someone like Kershaw or Price. He could put just a little more bite into his finish and still be very free and easy. Sometimes it looks like he doesn't finish a pitch as decisively as he could and as a result, that pitch might leak and run too early before it gets to the glove. I would like to see him attack his offspeed pitches more.

His fastball has a ton of movement. None of them are straight; they sink or run and sometimes explode high and away but unintentionally. His command of it was really poor in this one game sample but if he ever cleans that up, he has the potential to throw a ton of different kinds of fastballs with the movement he gets. All in all, I think he is very far away. His stuff is good enough that even at 18, he can put up good numbers in Low-A ball but it doesn't mean he's all that advanced for his age.
   27. Norcan Posted: June 05, 2016 at 02:53 PM (#5236786)
Espinoza had a pretty rough start on Saturday against Asheville, going 4 innings/3 ER/ 8 hits/2 BB/1 K. There was no video but I saw a little of the gameday and there were very few swings and misses again, lots of foul balls and erratic control. I guess it shouldn't be terribly surprising that he has a ways to go being so young or that his results have been just so-so considering how raw and little used his off-speed pitches are and how poor his fastball command is. I don't know how other organizations develop young pitching but is it wise to have a young pitcher pitch so exclusively off his fastball? In some of the looks I've had of Cardinals young pitchers, they seem to just pitch. Even at the low-A ball level, hitters can make contact with a fastball if they know it's coming and it comes about 90 percent of the time with Espinoza. The most puzzling thing for me is why Espinoza's breaking pitches are thrown so softly and why his curve has a different arm action. The Red Sox don't have a track record of developing young pitchers to inspire confidence.
   28. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 06, 2016 at 08:56 AM (#5237170)
Roenis Elias twirled a complete game 6 hitter yesterday. The Norfolk Tides are terrible, 6 games worse than the next worst team in the IL and 13th out of 14 teams in runs scored. Still, that's another strong outing. I'm really going to be disappointed if the Sox get to June 18 when they need that 5th starter again and hand the ball to Buchholz instead of Elias.
   29. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 06, 2016 at 09:14 AM (#5237180)
Yoan Moncada named to Baseball America's All-Prospect Team for May. A favorite of mine former Sox' prospect Carlos Asuaje got a shoutout in there too;

Padres prospect second baseman Carlos Asuaje hit .378 at Triple-A El Paso in May, but he did so without the secondary skills demonstrated by Moncada, who drew 19 walks, struck 13 extra-base hits and stole 15 bases (in 17 tries). The 21-year-old Cuban sensation ranks second in the minors with 31 steals and stands as the most dynamic power-speed prospect in the game.
   30. Norcan Posted: June 07, 2016 at 01:51 AM (#5237882)
Some guy (I think he's a dentist or dermatologist in Florida) whose done yeoman's work of uploading youtube videos of extended spring training and GCL games recently uploaded a video of Kopech's latest appearance in extended spring training and it got me really excited. He looked really good, from the delivery to the power of his fastball to the controlled trajectory of his slider. The lack of a consistent plus secondary pitch has been the biggest knock on his arsenal but his slider looked devastating. If he has a plus slider at his disposal, he could dominate. He's come a long way from the very idiosyncratic delivery he had when he was drafted, which may have been too awkward, to having a nicely-tempoed delivery in which he builds up a ton of power from his legs to his upper body and then explodes to the plate. Until Espinoza develops even average offspeed pitches, it's hard to say he has top of the rotation stuff so Kopech might be the only pitcher in the organization right now boasting that kind of arsenal.

Maybe the optimism about Trey Ball was a bit unwarranted. His defense hasn't helped him the past two games but he also hasn't helped himself by issuing too many walks and hardly striking anybody out. For the season his BB:K ratio stands at 25:21 in 39.2 innings. Regardless of anything else, it's hard to be optimistic about him with that kind of ratio in the minors. It's not like he's a great "stuff guy" either.
   31. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 12, 2016 at 07:19 PM (#5242126)
Spent my day at Hadlock Field in Portland today. The Sea Dogs are awful and Benintendi was DHing so blah. Still, it was a nice day out, a few thoughts on some of the semi-interesting guys I saw;

Benintendi - Like I said he DHed so meh. He singled to right and singled to left on the day and struck out twice (swinging once, looking once). His swing is really gorgeous. Nothing new here, he's just fun to watch. I saw him in Lowell last year and had the same reaction, just a real fundamental player.

Luis Ysla - 2 innings, 1 hit, 2 K, 0 BB, 24 pitches, 17 strikes. Looks good right? It wasn't. Pretty much every ball that was hit against him was a rocket. The wind was howling in from center and he probably would have allowed at least one homer and one wall ball without it. One of the pictures I have is of his very funky follow through.

Chandler Shepherd - Shepherd was a 13th rounder in 2014 and considered a bit of a project. So far he has worked his way up the system working out of the bullpen pretty nicely. He's not going to ever be more than a useful arm at the back of a bullpen but that's not a bad lot in life. He worked a clean and easy 9th just coming in and throwing strikes.

Aneury Tavarez - He rocketed a homer to right and added a single and a double to his ledger. He seems like a guy who is eventually going to get a cup of coffee just based on inertia.

Mitch Atkins - He retired the first 18 men he faced then when Christian Arroyo (the Giants' top prospect) doubled he got yanked. He's 30 and he looked like a man among boys. He wasn't throwing hard (90 consistently) but he was hitting his spots and changing speeds and getting a lot of off balance swings. He also benefitted on a few occasions from the 20mph wind that was coming in from center.
   32. Norcan Posted: June 12, 2016 at 10:02 PM (#5242185)
Espinoza looked really good in his last start against Augusta. His pitch usage still looked under developmental restriction so he must have only thrown 8-9 curveballs again but they were far better. The announcer didn't relay any velocity readings on them but they looked harder and he showed a nice feel for getting them to break big for strikes. He seemed to have a better rhythm with his hips on his curves. Interesting to see the development of a young pitcher with a great arm.

I don't understand how he generates so much velocity. It truly looks effortless. Only two velocity readings were conveyed all game but they were 96 and 97 against his second batter. His head stays still, he doesn't fly off the mound, there's little body violence and yet he pumps in premium velocity despite not being big at all, although he does have proportionally longer arms and legs advantageous for pitching. As easy he hits the upper 90s, he could probably sit at 100 mph if he wanted to.
   33. villageidiom Posted: June 14, 2016 at 07:32 PM (#5243750)
I'm really going to be disappointed if the Sox get to June 18 when they need that 5th starter again and hand the ball to Buchholz instead of Elias.
Elias is pitching for Boston Friday against the Mariners.
   34. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 14, 2016 at 10:13 PM (#5243854)
That pleases me. I may have to check on stubhub tomorrow.
   35. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 16, 2016 at 02:32 PM (#5245031)
Lots of good stuff in WEEI's minor league column today.

In a separate column there is a note that Keith Law said on Buster Olney's podcast that Groome was not happy to be drafted by the Sox because he had a deal for more money with someone picking after the Sox. Law also says that despite that he expects Groome to sign noting the improved college pitching for the 2017 draft and the unlikelihood of doing much better than a ~$4 million deal next year.
   36. SY Ruined School Lunches! Posted: June 16, 2016 at 02:43 PM (#5245040)
Looks like Kopach will start Lowells opener tomorrow.
   37. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 18, 2016 at 09:21 PM (#5246918)
I went to Lowell for the game today. No Kopech but Josh Pennington was very impressive. Low 90s touched 94 a few times and a very impressive curveball. First time through the order he was brilliant fanning 7 of the first 10 men he faced. Not sure if it was second time through or fatigue (about 50 pitches at that point) but the next three hitters went double-double-homer and his day was done.

Gerson Bautista finished up with 1.1 perfect innings. He threw gas. Mid 90s comfortably and despite the scouting report was showing impressive command and control. He overwhelmed the Vermont hitters.

The other guy of some note was Jagger Rusconi who reached base a couple times, had a sac fly and made a couple of very nice defensive plays.
   38. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 19, 2016 at 12:39 PM (#5247126)
Rusney Castillo waived.
   39. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 19, 2016 at 10:49 PM (#5247623)
Moncada to Portland.
   40. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: June 24, 2016 at 07:40 AM (#5251306)
Baseball America article highlighting players who may be better than we think based on good K/BB rates includes Benintendi. Nice to see him continuing to generate positive attention.

Apparently Kopech's start was scratched to a leg cramp last night. No one seems concerned that it's anything more than that but no news about his next start.
   41. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: June 24, 2016 at 10:51 AM (#5251467)
Josh Ockimey's batting .300/.438/.531 in Greenville with 17 doubles 10 HR, 53 walks and 63 strikeouts in 267 PA. He's seen his K% dip from 34.1% last year to 23.6%. His BB% has gone from 10.9% to 19.9%.
   42. Norcan Posted: June 24, 2016 at 12:33 PM (#5251601)
Yeah, I'm very excited about Ockimey. As good as his overall line is, he's had some slumps but has been able to bounce back. I like that he can adjust and get out of ruts. Hopefully that ability will help him as he goes up the ladder. He also uses the entire field, with power.

It's pretty damn hard to draft high school first baseman and get them to have success in any level of the minors. That Ockimey was a 5th rounder who's playing so well is a nice scouting coup for the team thus far.
   43. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: June 29, 2016 at 10:57 AM (#5254710)
Benintendi's rebounded quite nicely after a slow start to AA in May. He's batted .316/.370/.520 with 9:12 BB:K in 98 AB in June. Now up to .283/.333/.441 in Portland.
   44. Norcan Posted: July 02, 2016 at 11:58 AM (#5257211)
Espinoza struggled against Asheville again last night. Too many pitches got him pulled after 3.2 innings. He was victimized by some bad luck on balls in play--a groundball that goes up about 20 feet in the air to third base has happened in back to back games; there was also a blooper that fell an inch fair and just out of Ockimey's reach--but he also has trouble putting hitters away. When he gets ahead in counts, hitters foul off his curve and fastball with regularity. I don't know what it is with him but he bounces more fastballs than I've ever seen. You can go games in the majors without seeing a fastball bouncing and they're pretty rare in the minors too. I feel like it has to do with how much he drags his back foot during his delivery. One of the soxprospects guys was there and had his fastball in the 92-96 range. The velocity is good but I'm not surprised he rarely gets swings and misses on them, even in Low-A ball. They have movement but they don't pop on video. If I didn't know any better, I would peg his velocity in the 88-90 range.
   45. Norcan Posted: July 07, 2016 at 08:28 PM (#5260898)
Kopech got his second start of the season, this time for Salem and he got progressively more dominant. He came out of the gate throwing a lot of 98/99 mph fastballs but most of them missed up and away. He walked his first two hitters but got out of the inning unscathed as the third batter got himself out with poor plate discipline, swinging at fastballs that the first two batters mostly took to get walk and the fourth batter grounded into a DP. Since he was missing up and away so much, I wondered whether he'd be able to hold his velocity. I'd read that his velocity could slip later in games so I wondered if he was generating his top of the scale velocity by maxing out. Would he be able to throw quality strikes with command at 98 and 99? The answer on this night was yes. Maybe he was just too amped up early or maybe it takes him a little bit to settle in but through 4 innings, his fastball held at 98 and even 100 mph and it's got located at the knees and to the glove fairly regularly in the third and fourth innings.

His fourth inning and final inning was particularly nasty. Well-located upper 90s fastballs at the knees and corners, sharp sliders that generated swings and misses and a high fastball to put away a hitter. All that added up to striking out the side in an economical amount of misses. His third strikeout of the inning came on a comeback fastball on the inside corner to a lefthanded batter that apparently was clocked at 100 mph. It was vicious.

He gave up his only hit on a slider but his other sliders were sharp and put away hitters. They looked good to me. I think he threw two changeups and they were noticeable for having more sink than his fastball. I assume he grips his changeup like a changeup but in action and velocity, it looks like a sinking fastball.

It seems to me that on pure arm strength, Kopech and Espinoza are about equal. Radar gun wise, Kopech has thrown harder this season but he also expends more effort to generate that velocity than Espinoza does. I have no doubt that Espinoza could sit in the upper 90s if he just pushed it a little more, not that that's entirely necessary. Either way, both have plus-plus velocity. Kopech's slider looked more nasty than Espinoza's curve.
   46. Darren Posted: July 07, 2016 at 09:36 PM (#5260969)
   47. Norcan Posted: July 07, 2016 at 10:37 PM (#5261023)
With the stuff Kopech showed tonight, he, not Espinoza and maybe Groome if he signs, might be the best pitching prospect in the Red Sox system. The guy checks off so many boxes that don't include off the field stuff. If the flashes of command can become more than flashes, oh my goodness, he could be devastating.

With Kopech, Espinoza and Raudes, it's nice to see pitchers in the system who are good athletes and have fluid deliveries. So many of their other pitchers are below-average athletes with below-average stuff and funky deliveries. Oh and they're tall. Being tall and funky seemed like the primary attributes they've been looking for.
   48. Darren Posted: July 07, 2016 at 10:41 PM (#5261032)
If I were looking to trade any of the prospects, I'd trade Espinoza. He's a million miles from the majors and a pitcher.
   49. Norcan Posted: July 07, 2016 at 10:50 PM (#5261048)
If I were looking to trade any of the prospects, I'd trade Espinoza. He's a million miles from the majors and a pitcher.

I don't think it's worth it because of the reasons I assume make him tradeable in your eyes. I think his current potential outweighs his trade value. He's far away enough that I doubt he can be the centerpiece of a trade for a hypothetical top target but he's potentially too good to be the second or third piece of a trade. He's also potentially too good to traded for the likes of Jeremy Hellickson. If he ends up not being the pitcher many think he can be, so be it, it happens.
   50. Norcan Posted: July 15, 2016 at 03:35 AM (#5265487)
Kopech hit 105 on two radar guns in his last start. Freaking 105. I feel like 105 should leave a hole in the middle of the bat if connected with but as far as I know, there are no reports of that happening or even if the pitch was in the strike zone.

I really like the subtle changes he's made to his delivery, the most prominent being making his leg kick more compact. It makes his delivery look smoother, more stable and there's less of a contrast between his delivery out of the windup and the stretch. Even if Espinoza hadn't been traded, I think Kopech is the best pitching prospect in the organization. His prospect ranking coming into the season was suppressed by concerns about his inconsistent slider. I saw some of his games last season on archive and it was clear that his slider was inconsistent, hanging too often, not getting enough bite. The ones I saw this season were better than any of the ones I saw from his last season. If he has a devastating slider in his arsenal to go along with a top of the line fastball that gets swings and misses, I don't know how Espinoza can rank higher than him.
   51. Norcan Posted: July 15, 2016 at 03:47 AM (#5265488)
Espinoza's final start as a member of the Red Sox organization was just so-so in the box score (5 innings, 7 hits, 4 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 7 Ks) but I thought it was as good as he's looked. His fastball command was pretty sharp, not an easy thing when you're 18 years old throwing 93-96 mph with movement and his curveball was as good as I've seen from him. I think 5 of his 7 Ks were from his curveball. He didn't throw his changeup much but one in particular looked really good. His results have been mixed overall this season but from his first start to his latest one, he really has improved. I hope he does well with the Padres.

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