The season is a quarter over and we are starting to see some signs of development and growth in the minors.
Triple A Pawtucket The minor league pitcher of the week honors should be going to PawSox’s Roenis Elias. On Wednesday, he pitched 7.2 innings and had 13 strikeouts, which was not only a personal best but also the most strikeouts by a Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher since 1999. Manager Kevin Boles said:
“He was aggressive to the zone and had great fastball command,…Terrific mix of pitches, he threw strikes and was very efficient-just a terrific performance today.”
In other good news, Allen Craig returned from a month long stint on the disabled list and has had three hits over two games since returning, including a home run on Thursday evening. A positive return to form for Allen Craig could do wonders not just for the Paw Sox but also could effect the MLB trade market and help the Boston Red Sox. Also earlier this week, Rusney Castillo played hero for the Paw Sox with a walk-off single in the 14th inning for a team victory. Castillo has quietly started to show signs of coming out of his early season slump and has upped his average from .231 in April to .263 for thd season, by batting .290 so far in May.
Another great sign that he may eventually help the big league club this year either as a bench bat or as a trade candidate.
Double A Portland All the buzz for the Sea Dogs this week centered around Andrew Benintendi who was finally called up from High A on Monday. He’s only had two hits in the three games since arriving, but it was a call up that was over due. Even scouts arriving to see him in Portland are already saying may not even stay in AA for long
“Watch him while you can,” said one scout, who also witnessed the batting practice.
Much has been made this week about how Benintendi is the fastest to reach AA since Dustin Pedroia, in 2005. Pedey stayed there three months before going to AAA and probably would have been called up to the majors in September that year, but suffered a injury after being hit by a pitch right before rosters expanded. Will Benintendi follow the same course? Will his Salem team mate Yoan Moncada join him soon?
Aaron Wilkerson continued to lower his ERA to 1.84 for the season with another shutout performance this week, He had eight strikeouts in his seven inning win over a respectable Blue Jays affiliate. His stock is definitely rising around the league and should be added to the 40 man roster by the end of the season if he doesn’t become a trade chip first.
High A Salem The bats here in Salem continued to not lose a beat with Benintendi’s departure. Nick Longhi is batting .400 over the last 10 games, and is finally starting to up his walk to strikeout rate that was worrying scouts and coaches earlier in the season. Meanwhile Moncada currently boasts an eight-game hit streak and continues to show he should not be long for this level.
Danny Mars steps in as the teams new center fielder and will be get more at bats as a result. Unfortunately for the Salem fans the win lose record tends to follow the ups and downs of the teams inconsistent pitching performances by the entire pitching staff. Hmm, who does that sound like? This minor league club is called the Salem Red Sox after all.
Low A Greenville In contrasts to the high A Red Sox , the low A Drive’s bats have been struggling as of late. Almost every starter has seen a decrease in their season batting average; hopefully its just the cold dreary weather that is rubbing off on the team and the upcoming summer season will bring about better results.
In addition to that, uber prospect Anderson Espinoza took a loss this week but pitching coach Walter Miranda, is not concerned, as they are working on making him a better pitcher, not just an arm. Miranda said
“It’s been only a few times to have a guy like him with that type of talent. We’ve got all kinds of talent, but his talent is unique. He’s what we call in baseball a phenom. He’s a guy that’s a phenom because at 18 years old, he can hit 100 miles per hour. He can throw strikes. (He’s) able to throw his changeup, curveball. He just needs to learn how to pitch.”
Its a fine line that is walked while letting prospects develop in the minors. You don’t want to push them up levels before they are ready but you don’t want to hold them back, where they can get bored or experience set backs. Expect some shuffling to occur in the coming weeks as some moves are made to readjust these learning levels and needs arise more in the organization as a whole with possible trades being discussed.