The First Annual Greenville Drive Recap

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 Greenville Drive recap, he details the ups and downs of the Class A team’s 2015 season.

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Overall Record: 72-68

Home Record: 36-35 Away Record: 36-33

First Half Record: 38-32 Second Half Record: 34-36

First Half Placement: 2nd (of 7) – 1 GB

Second Half Placement: 3rd (of 7) – 12 1/2 GB

Second Half Playoff Placement: 2nd (of 7) – 1/2 GB

Post Season All-Stars: Yoan Moncada – 2B – Most Outstanding MLB Prospect[/box]

How does one begin to judge the season of the Greenville Drive? Via record? By that measure, the Drive were the best full-season team in the Red Sox system, earning the only record over .500 overall. By accolades? The team had eight different players selected to the mid-season All-Star game. Yoan Moncada was named to the South Atlantic-League post-season team as well as Baseball America’s Low Class-A All-Star Team. Alex Speier named Javier Guerra as his player of the year. J.J. Cooper asserts that at the end of the season, the Drive fielded the best prospect lineup in the minors. By playoff dominance? Unfortunately, the team failed to make the playoffs, missing out by losing on the final day in each half of the season. How much should this failure override all the positives created by this Drive team?

The First Half

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Opening Day Lineup

Derek Miller RF

Mauricio Dubon 2B

Jordan Procyshen C

Nick Longhi 1B

Rafael Devers 3B

Michael Chavis DH

Javier Guerra SS

Joseph Monge CF

Mike Meyers LF[/box]

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Opening Week Rotation

Ty Buttrey

Jamie Callahan

Jalen Beeks

Jeffry Fernandez

Michael Kopech[/box]

The Drive started the season as well as Pawtucket, Portland and Salem, winning the first game of the season in walk-off fashion, as Michael Chavis doubled in Nick Longhi. But the Drive would stall after the quick start, losing six of their next eight games, sitting at 3-6 entering the second game of a doubleheader on April 18. But the first double-digit scoring game of the season followed in game two, and led the Drive on a six-game winning streak and eight of nine. The Drive would end the first month losing two of three to the Kannapolis Intimidators, ending April with an encouraging 12-9 record.

The offense was the catalyst for the record, as the team went 10-4 when the offense scored four or more runs and 12-5 when scoring three or more. Unfortunately, the offense was often at its least efficient when the pitching was good, with the Drive losing four games when the pitching allowed three runs or less.

May was a month of streaks for the Drive. After opening with a loss, the Drive would win the following three only to lose the next five in a row. Undeterred, the team would win six in a row with great team efficiency (with the offense scoring three, four or five runs in each game and the pitching allowing zero, one or two runs in all but one game) and ten of eleven – the only loss a 13-11 slugfest. The Drive would then lose three of four before ending the month winning four of five. An 18-11 month brought Greenville’s overall record to 30-20 and with high hopes for a first half division title.

The offense was dynamic during the month, scoring in double digits five times and going 15-4 when scoring four or more runs. The pitching was more erratic, allowing three runs or fewer on 14 occasions (11-3) while allowing five or more runs on ten occasions (2-8).

June started with a win and another double digit scoring binge, but the team’s fortunes took a turn for the worse, losing seven consecutive games, four to a surging Savannah Sand Gnats. When the All-Star Rosters for the mid-season South Atlantic League classic were announced on June 9, eight Drive players were selected. When they lost their seventh consecutive game later that night, they lost a seven game division lead in eight days.

While the Drive would turn their fortunes around with three consecutive wins (including another pair of double-digit scoring games), they could not get the run they needed. Going 4-4 in the eight games leading into the final game of the first half, the Drive and Sand Gnats were in a flat-footed tie for the division title. With Savannah holding the tiebreaker, Greenville needed a win in the final game to have a chance. A 9-3 loss, however, put a painful end to a memorable first half. An 8-12 record down the stretch led to a final first half record of 38-32.

While the offense had dynamic days in June (four times scoring nine or more), an offensive stall doomed the Drive. In half of the team’s final games for the half season, the offense scored three or fewer runs, resulting in a 2-8 record. Not that poor pitching didn’t play it’s part, allowing more than four runs to the opposition 13 times.

Second Half

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Opening Day Lineup

Yoan Moncada 2B

Michael Chavis 3B

Rafael Devers SS

Danny Bethea C

Nick Longhi RF

Javier Guerra SS

Mike Meyers LF

Cisco Tellez 1B

Joseph Monge CF[/box]

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Opening Week Rotation

Jeffry Fernandez

Reed Reilly

Michael Kopech

Jalen Beeks

Dedgar Jimenez[/box]

The second half started much like the first half, with a 4-0 victory for the Drive. The Drive would win the second game of the second half as well, before losing three of four to end June with a 3-3 second half record.

July would begin with inconsistency, with the team going 9-7 to start the month. The dynamic offense would show its teeth again, going 7-0 when scoring seven or more runs, but scored four runs or fewer on seven other occasions, with the team going 2-5. The four run mark would prove prophetic, as the offense failed to score more than four runs on seven consecutive occasions starting on July 18, with the team losing all seven games. Another double-digit explosion – the fourth of the month – would end the losing streak, with the team going 3-2 over the final five games of the month, ending July with a 12-16 mark for the month and a 15-19 mark for the second half.

August would start out with wins in six of eight games… only to be followed by losses in five straight and six of seven. In six of the seven wins, the offense scored six or more runs. In the eight losses, the offense scored more than a pair of runs  twice. Sitting at 22-27 for the second half of the season, the Drive found themselves a long shot for the second half title. But, the Savannah Sand Gnats, who took away the Drive’s first half title, gave them a second bite of the apple. In the midst of an 18-game winning streak which put the second half title firmly in their control, Savannah made the second playoff spot open to the second-best overall record in the division. The Red Sox organization took their best shot, promoting Andrew Benintendi from Lowell on August 17 in a push for the playoffs.

The move did not prove to be immediately successful, as the team alternated wins and losses for the first eight games of Benintendi’s stay before going on a four-game winning streak. The streaky Drive would lose the final two games of August, ending the month with a 15-14 record and a record of 30-33 for the second half.

September would continue the Drive’s streaky play, with four wins when scoring five or more runs and a pair of losses when scoring three or fewer. Like the first half ending game, a win on Labor Day would keep the playoff hopes of the Drive alive. And, like the final game of the first half, a win was not to be had, losing to the pesky Sand Gnats 4-2 and losing the second half playoff spot by 1/2 a game to the Asheville Tourists as the Drive played and lost one additional game in the second half of the season.

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Final Game Lineup

Yoan Moncada 2B

Michael Chavis DH

Rafael Devers 3B

Andrew Benintendi CF

Danny Mars LF

Javier Guerra SS

J.T. Watkins C

Joseph Monge RF

Jerry Downs 1B[/box]

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Final Week Rotation

Luis Ramos

Anderson Espinoza

Ben Taylor

Dedgar Jimenez

Jalen Beeks[/box]

In the next few days, we will continue our look at the Greenville Drive by looking at their offense and their pitching.

*Click here for all of Brandon’s Boston Red Sox minor league recaps.

Brandon Magee is our resident minor league expert, but has also written about, Ben Cherington’s departure, the mishandling of injuries by the Red Sox, interim bench coach Dana LeVangieBROCK HOLT!, undrafted free agents, the home run king Mike Hessman, the Misadventures of Media Magee, and an interview with Trenton Kemp.

Follow Brandon on Twitter @cuzittt.

Check out Tom Wright’s Baltimore Orioles elimination article and Rick Rowand’s article about the Red Sox retaining their manager.

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