This week, we’ll look at a disappointing trend for a certain corner infielder, a pair of first round picks, and a Cuban that the Red Sox envision as their next super-utility player.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Allen Craig, 1B and Deven Marrero, SS
Allen Craig, perhaps unsurprisingly for a guy with major league experience, is getting on base in Pawtucket. That’s never a bad thing, but that might be the only positive we can say for him as of this moment. Over the last seven days, Craig has gone 9-for-24, which is good – until you realize all those hits were singles. His OBP is higher than his slugging percentage, and that rings true for the entirety of Craig’s 2015 season. That’s not good for a guy whose primary position is first base. He’s gotten one extra-base hit over the last month, which was a two-run double off Norfolk Tides starter Tyler Williams on July 23rd. There’s no power there anymore.
Combine that with Craig’s startling inability to hit right-handed pitching (.214/.340/.252 in 250 PA), and you’ll see why Travis Shaw has gotten the call to the majors rather than Craig this year. The Lisfranc injury he suffered in 2013 might have just sapped the power that would’ve have made him a solid first baseman. He’s just not the same hitter, and the Red Sox can only hope that he regains any of that lost thunder in his bat sometime soon.
It can’t be easy being in the shadow of Xander Bogaerts, but Deven Marrero keeps plugging away. What first sticks out about the former Arizona State Sun Devil is his fielding. It’s not flashy, but you get the sense that glovework comes naturally to Marrero. Fundamentally sound and able to make just about every play, he’s widely regarded as a plus defensive shortstop. However, as is the case with many glove-first middle infielders, he’s an unremarkable hitter as well. To his credit, Marrero hits tons of liners, but he’ll get beat on the inside half when he can’t get his hands inside the ball. At this point, it’s safe to say he’s ticketed for a utility infielder role in the majors, and his fielding will keep him there for a long while.
Double-A Portland: Manuel Margot, OF
It seems like a long while since Manny Margot was mentioned in the webpages of BP Boston. If you were worried about the man who set fire to the Carolina League, fear no more: Margot’s been hard at work adjusting to Double-A baseball. The one thing we can definitively say about him so far in Portland is that he’s still getting used to it. In the long run, that’s quite alright for a guy like him, since he’s four and a half years younger than the average age in the Eastern League. He already has the same number of extra-base hits in Portland in 160 PA than he did at Salem in 198 PA. On top of that, when you combine his time at both Salem and Portland, Margot has had a grand total of five plate appearances against pitchers younger than him. The pitches are going faster and breaking sharper, but Margot keeps on getting better.
High-A Salem: Yoilan Cerse, OF and Jose Vinicio, SS
Another Cuban import, Cerse was seen as a future super-sub for the Sox. He’s a sign that the Red Sox see value in having prospects learn several positions to increase versatility and up their chances for success. While fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada is a fantastic hitter, what Cerse brings to the table is his speed. His stats from Cuban leagues won’t explicitly show this, as he hit in the three-hole for the majority of his time there. As a guy who has been out of organized baseball for a year, Cerse has been tasked with getting his plate discipline and baserunning instincts up to snuff. He’s done pretty well with the former so far, as he’s walked almost as much as he’s struck out in Salem. The latter is a bit of an issue, since he’s been caught stealing a tad bit too much for someone whose best tool is his speed. Nevertheless, it’s only been 44 games for the 28-year-old, so he’s got plenty of time to sort things out before he moves up.
Vinicio’s not really been talked about lately, due to the fact that he got placed on Salem’s disabled list on July 19th with an undisclosed injury. It’s a real shame, as Vinicio had been red-hot for most of July, posting a .333/.364/.405 line in 12 games. Rail-thin and a mere 160 pounds, Vinicio’s game is built around his superb fielding and good speed, but he’ll tend to rush plays in the field when he doesn’t have any reason to do so. His hit tool is decent, but he needs to put on more weight so he can utilize it more effectively, and that’s where the problems lie – Vinicio has had issues putting on pounds since his debut in the minors. Where he goes from here is strongly connected to how he can physically grow and develop, and if Vinicio cannot add strength, he might be stuck in the minors for a while.
Low-A Greenville: Michael Chavis, 3B
In almost any other minor league system, Chavis would be getting all of the reps at third base. In the Red Sox system, however, there’s this Rafael Devers dude taking his spot. So not only will he get reps there every now and then, he’ll reportedly play some outfield as well. Chavis is a solid fielder, and so as long as he sticks in an OF spot long enough, there’s every reason to believe he’ll get it down. What’s more important here is that he’s trying to fine-tune his approach at the plate in Greenville. A 113-20 K/BB ratio looks bad on the surface, but Chavis was drafted right out of high school, and he’ll need time for his pitch recognition skills to be refined. It’s the one facet of his game that needs a ton of work. Mechanically, there’s almost nothing wrong with his swing at all – good bat speed, quick hands, and he’s able to get a lot of backspin when he hits with power. So while the stats might look worrisome, don’t fret – this is just the case of a very talented 19-year-old getting his reps.
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