The Boston Red Sox farm system is filled with talent, but that does not guarantee success for the minor league affiliates. In Brandon Magee‘s Short Season Red Sox pitching review, he details the ups and downs of the two teams’ 2015 season.
The bridge between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League is one that is well traversed. Prospects who outperform the GCL get called up quickly to the more advanced short season league. With an extra week of regular season playing time, the New York-Penn League also sees an influx of youngsters at the end of the year. Given the relative lack of games in both leagues and the great overlap, we have decided to combine the pitching reviews of the Lowell Spinners and the GCL Red Sox into one.
While the Spinners and the GCL Sox pitching staffs were different in many ways, they did share one important aspect: Both teams were youthful. The Spinners staff was the youngest in the New York-Penn League at 20.5 years old, nearly a full year younger than the median age in the league. The GCL team average age of 19.5 was just above the league average of 19.4, however, 36 of the 58 starts for the team came from teenagers.
The Spinners were just on the wrong side of average in most of their component stats in comparison to the other NYPL sides. The team’s ERA of 3.61 was 9th of 14, the 1.36 WHIP was 10th in the league and the 635 hits allowed was the 7th most allowed. The team did lead the league in a couple of categories: hitting the most batters (36) and allowing the most home runs (36). They also allowed the second most walks in the league with 285 free passes given.
GCL Red Sox
The GCL Sox were the best pitching staff in Florida by ERA, with the 2.28 ERA being 0.40 lower than the second best team in the league. Interestingly, their WHIP of 1.21 was only the 5th best in the league with the team allowing 423 hits and 172 walks, both being the 6th fewest in the league. The team hit only 26 batters, the second best in the league, while giving up only nine home runs, the only team in the league to avoid double digits.
While there were many impressive pitching performances in both Lowell and the GCL, there was one pitcher who stood out above them all.
Most Valuable Pitcher
In his first professional season, 17-year-old Anderson Espinoza picked up a pair of losses and not a single win across three different leagues (Starting in the Dominican Summer League and ending in the South Atlantic League). In ten regular season starts for the GCL Sox, however, Espinoza allowed only three earned runs, gave up 24 hits (22 singles), walked nine while striking out 40 in 40 innings pitched. In every single start Espinoza went exactly four innings, with the Red Sox being careful about the youngster’s pitch count.
Espinoza was pushed beyond four innings only once during the season, going 4 2/3 innings in the GCL Semifinals, where he allowed two singles, two walks and an unearned run. In his eleven total starts for the GCL, Espinoza allowed an earned run in only two of them and allowed more than three hits in only a single game.
Jose Almonte started a team-high 14 games and pitched a team-high 65 2/3 innings for the Lowell Spinners this season, earning a 3-3 record with a 3.43 ERA. The 19-year-old was a terrific hit suppressor, allowing only 38, but was also a bit wild with 38 walks, 11 HBP and 9 WPs. Dioscar Romero also started 14 games for the Spinners, pitching 58 innings with a 3-3 record and a 3.72 ERA. Romero allowed 52 hits and 28 walks while striking out 36.
Kevin Steen pitched in 56 2/3 innings in 13 combined appearances – 10 starts – in the GCL and Lowell. Steen went 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA on the season, allowing 47 hits and 20 walks while striking out 47. Javier Rodriguez also spent time with both clubs. Rodriguez pitched in three games for the GCL club, giving up a single run on six hits and eight walks in a dozen innings. Lowell was much less kind to him, as he went 0-5 with a 7.68 ERA, allowing 32 hits and 36 walks in 34 innings.
Gerson Bautista led the GCL team with 11 of his 12 appearances being starts. Bautista went 3-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings. Like Almonte, Bautista was stingy with the hits, allowing 36, but also walked a team high 27.
Luis Ramos started eight games for Lowell before being promoted to Greenville in August. Ramos’ promotion, however, was not particularly well-earned. Ramos put up an ERA of 4.89 with a WHIP of 1.58 in 38 2/3 innings. Jake Cosart also struggled, going 2-2 with a 5.45 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in nine starts. Cosart led the team with 12 wild pitches in his 33 innings of work.
Austin Glorius pitched in seven games for Lowell after signing as an undrafted free agent in August, going 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. In 26 2/3 innings, Glorius allowed 21 hits and 13 walks while striking out 36.
The trio of Josh Pennington, Logan Allen and Roniel Raudes each allowed two earned runs during their regular season starts for the GCL club. Pennington allowed 17 hits and 13 walks while striking out 22 in 22 innings of work. Allen struck out 24 in 20 innings while giving up 12 hits and walking one in the regular season. Tapped as the Game 1 starter in the GCL Finals, Allen gave up 2 more runs in 4 innings of work. Allen would also get one final start in Lowell, allowing a run in 4 1/3 innings. Raudes gave up 13 hits and six walks in 20 innings of work over four starts, striking out 16. In the second game of the GCL Finals, Raudes pitched five more shutout innings, striking out seven.
Daniel Gonzalez pitched 63 innings for the Lowell Spinners in 15 mound appearances – only one of which was a start. Gonzalez went the Spinners standard 3-3 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He struck out 51 while walking only 16. Enfember Martinez also went 3-3 in his 16 relief appearances. Martinez put up a 4.07 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in his 42 innings of work.
Matt Kent was likely the best pitcher in Lowell this season, going 7-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 14 relief appearances. Kent allowed 44 hits and ten walks in 48 1/3 innings. Logan Boyd put up a perfect 4-0 record in his 13 appearances – one of which was a start. Boyd struck out 37 batters in 41 innings, recording a 2.85 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.
Enmanuel De Jesus put up a team-high six wins in the GCL, putting up a 2.28 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 43 1/3 innings. De Jesus, who pitched in ten games for the GCL side during the regular season, also pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief during the GCL semifinal game in relief of Anderson Espinoza. He was also rewarded with a trip to Lowell to end the season, allowing an earned run on 3 1/3 innings of relief.
In his third season in the GCL, Jalen Williams pitched 34 innings in 12 appearances – three of which were starts – and went 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Williams struggled with baserunners, giving up 41 hits and 13 walks while striking out 18. Yankory Pimentel saw 33 1/3 regular season innings, going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA. Pimentel also pitched 3 scoreless innings in the first game of the GCL finals before ending his season with a scoreless inning for Lowell.
A trio of 22-year-olds provided the short-relief for the Lowell Spinners. Taylor Nunez appeared in 15 games, putting up a 2.54 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Nunez was plagued by bad defense, being credited with seven unearned runs. Danny Zandona struck out 24 batters in his 28 innings of work, but was hurt by the long ball. Zandona record a 5.46 ERA in his 16 relief appearances, allowing 32 hits, four of which went over the fence. Bobby Poyner was the closer for the Spinners, picking up ten saves in 17 appearances. Poyner recorded an ERA of 2.28, striking out 22 batters in 23 2/3 innings. Joining the trio for most of the year was 21-year-old Edwar Garcia, who put up an ERA of 1.96 with a 3-1 record and five saves in 14 relief appearances for the Spinners. Garcia struck out 26 in 23 innings of work, but also allowed 20 hits and 15 walks. He was promoted to the Greenville Drive for five games to end the season.
Trevor Kelley pitched in 18 games for the Lowell Spinners and the GCL Red Sox in his initial professional season, picking up a win and four saves. Kelly allowed ten runs in 25 innings (3.60 ERA), giving up 25 hits and ten walks while striking out 28. Fellow 2015 draftee Nick Duron pitched in 14 regular season games for the GCL Sox, going 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA. In 26 1/3 innings of work, Duron gave up 20 hits and five walks; striking out 28. Duron also pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout in the GCL Finale.
A quartet of pitchers in their 20s were the mainstays of short-relief in the GCL. Pat Goetze saw work in 14 games, going 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Algenis Martinez went 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 16 relief appearances, giving up 32 hits in 29 innings. Carlos Garcia picked up two wins and two saves in 15 appearances, recording a 2.22 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Carlos Caceres was the weak link in the quartet, recording a 5.26 ERA in ten appearances.