Having young pitching is important for any organization. The Boston Red Sox have been able to call up some arms to help the struggling rotation, and they have more in the pipeline. Brandon Magee takes a look at some impressive DSL Red Sox pitchers in his weekly minor league report.
Just as absence makes the heart grow fonder, distance and lack of knowledge makes for unrequited love of prospects. In the Dominican Republic, the Red Sox have a host of pitchers which make the heart race, some dominating in multiple ways, others in just a single category. Nevertheless, the grand possibility of future major league greatness seems only a few years away.
Anderson Espinoza, the Venezuelan right-hander who signed for a nearly $2 million bonus last July, used the DSL merely as a warm up this season, pitching 15 innings in four starts. He only allowed 2 earned runs in his starts, striking out 21. Since moving to the Gulf Coast League, Espinoza has had five more four inning starts, allowing only two earned runs on 13 hits and six walks (three in one game) while striking out 14.
He’s electric. Fastball up to 99 mph, plus curveball, feel for a changeup, pounds the strike zone and mixes his pitches like a veteran, not a 17-year-old kid. I would take him over any of the pitchers in the 2015 draft, which is really saying something given that if Espinoza were born in the United States, he wouldn’t even be draft-eligible until next season.
While Espinoza has moved on to the States, others on the DSL Red Sox teams still enthrall us. The most intriguing is Denyi Reyes, a 6’4’’ right hander who has pitched in nine games, throwing 48 innings and yet to walk a batter in his professional career. His lack of walks, however, is only the tip of the iceberg for Reyes, who has also struck out 44 while allowing just 38 hits. His ERA of 1.88 leads the team and his WHIP of 0.79 is second in the DSL. He is also one of the league leaders in wins with six.
Espinoza’s teammate Victor Garcia has been impressing in a completely different way. In nine starts, Garcia has put up an ERA of 2.13 and a WHIP of 1.00, striking out 46. But Garcia allows walks… in fact, he is second on the team with 20 walks allowed. His wildness extends to hitting batters as well, leading the team with seven. What he has not been doing is giving up hits, allowing only 18, an average of two per game.
On the other DSL squad is Roniel Raudes, a 6’1’’ right-handed pitcher, who has thrown 44 ⅓ innings in his nine starts. Raudes leads the DSL with 52 punch outs while walking only a pair. His 0.83 WHIP is 4th in the league, but his ERA is slightly higher than Reyes or Garcia at 2.64, possibly due to him allowing a pair of home runs in his nine games.
The unfortunate reality is that these players are far from the majors. The obstacles that each pitcher will have to overcome in order to make it to the major leagues are innumerable; the chances of injury, stagnation or failure along the way are immense. In the best case scenario, each of these pitchers are years away from an MLB debut. But, the lovestruck teenagers do not let logic get in the way of their pursuit and the followers of the minor leagues will always believe that their special prospect can not fail. Sometimes, it’s just good to dream.
Minor League Roundup
Overall team records are shown as of the end of play on Wednesday, July 22nd. This week’s record is from Thursday, July 16th through Wednesday, July 22nd.
Pawtucket Red Sox (Overall: 41-57 Week: 2-5)
The PawSox have been playing with a shortage of starting pitching, with Brian Johnson, Steven Wright and Joe Kelly all getting the call to start for Boston. Unsurprisingly, the PawSox have lost their last four games.
Marco Hernandez left Portland with a thirteen game hitting streak and with hits in his first three AAA games, extended the streak to 16. In his first six games with the PawSox, Hernandez has batted .304/.304/.478 with a double and a HR.
Garin Cecchini continues his rise out of the offensive murk, reaching base seven times in the last three games. Since July 7th, Cecchini has had six multi-hit games and has batted .432/.512/.541.
On the Friday before the All-Star break, Henry Owens went seven innings while striking out a season-high nine batters. Eight days later, Henry Owens would match the strikeout number in a six inning, one run outing. In his last seven outings, Owens has struck out 43 while walking an even dozen.
With the bullpen being taxed by pitching entire games, infielder Jeff Bianchi made his second relief appearance of the season on Tuesday, pitching a perfect inning of relief and lowering his ERA to 2.25.
Portland Sea Dogs (Overall: 35-63 Week: 3-4)
After starting the second half with three straight defeats, the Sea Dogs followed up with an official winning streak of three games, their first since May 25th through May 27th.
After a month and a half stay on the disabled list, Tim Roberson rejoined the Sea Dogs on July 7th. Roberson, who had been white hot in the week prior to going on the DL (.433/.433/.700), started off slowly in his first six games back (4-for-20), but has had back-to-back two hit games, each with a double, to end the week.
Sam Travis continues to have an excellent July. He started the month with a Double-AAA line of .100/.174/.150 (in six games), Travis has put up a .338/.402/.468 line with eight walks and only seven whiffs in July. He has also reached base safely in 19 of 20 games during the month.
Not content with seeing Greenville, Salem and Portland this season, Williams Jerez is making a case for promotion to Pawtucket. Jerez pitched three times out of the bullpen this week, pitching 5 ⅔ scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out five. In nine games for Portland, Jerez has pitched 16 ⅔ innings with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.
The Sea Dogs continue a four game home series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats tonight. They then will travel to New Jersey for three against the Trenton Thunder.
Salem Red Sox (Overall: 49-48 2nd Half: 11-16 Week: 2-5)
Salem experienced a scoring slump this week, losing two games by being shut-out and another two by scoring a single run. They are also on a current four game losing streak.
With all the promotions up to Portland, the Red Sox organization picked up a cast-off from the Mets, Dustin Lawley, to fill out the roster. Lawley has enjoyed his return to High-A ball, going 5-for-12 with a pair of doubles in his first three games.
Aaron Wilkerson continues to impress. For the third time this season, Wilkerson has come out of the pen before starting a game a few days later. In the six innings he pitched this week, he allowed a single run while striking out six. His ERA in Salem now rests at 2.77 and his WHIP at 0.97.
Brandon Show has been a dependable reliever on three separate teams this season. In over 25 innings in Greenville, Lowell and now Salem, Show has only allowed one run. In his four appearances for Salem, Show has pitched 11 ⅓ scoreless innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out five.
Salem finishes up a three game series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks tonight before starting a three game set against the Potomac Nationals tomorrow. They will head out to Lynchburg on Tuesday to begin a three game series against the Hillcats.
Greenville Drive (Overall: 50-46 2nd Half: 12-14 Week: 2-4)
Greenville exploded for double digit runs last Thursday and Friday, but like Pawtucket and Salem, ended the week on a four game losing jag.
After a 2-for-20 start to July, Rafael Devers has quickly gotten back to mashing, batting .365/.389/.596 with three doubles and three home runs the rest of the month. Devers is currently on a six-game hitting streak.
Javier Guerra continued his assault on South Atlantic League pitching, having an additional four multi-hit games this week. He did, however, end his 16 game on-base streak with an 0-for-5 on Sunday. Guerra is amongst the league leaders in Batting (8th – .309), Slugging (2nd – .511), OPS (2nd – .873), HRs (4th – 12) and RBI (6th – 51).
Jamie Callahan was transitioned out of the Drive rotation after a disastrous May 9th appearance where he allowed eight runs in 1/3rd of an inning. The move to the bullpen, as a multi-inning artist, has suited Callahan well. In his six starts to begin the season, Callahan put up an ERA of 9.14 and a WHIP of 2.08. In his 14 relief appearances, totalling 36 innings, Callahan has put up an ERA of 3.25 with a WHIP of 1.33.
The Drive finish off a three game set at the Augusta Greenjackets tonight before heading to Charleston to face the Riverdogs in a four game series beginning tomorrow.
Lowell Spinners (Overall: 17-15 Week: 2-5)
The Spinners played nothing but close games this week, going 2-4 in games decided by a single run and 0-1 in a game decided by two runs.
Andrew Benintendi started his professional career with 5 hits in his first three games for Lowell, including his first home run on July 4th. However, his next six games were all hitless, going 0-for-15 with six walks. Benintendi has reacquired the hitting stroke over his last six games, going 6-for-18 with four extra base hits and six more walks. His last three hits have been home runs.
Tate Matheny went 1-for-15 with two walks in his first four professional games. However, since July 9th he has been consistently getting on base, batting .278/.333/.333, while reaching base in nine of ten games played.
Since allowing three runs in 2/3rds of an inning in his first start of the season, Dioscar Romero has been quite productive for the Spinners. In his last five starts, Romero has pitched 24 ⅔ innings with a 1.82 ERA and a .198 BAA. It is not all good news, as Romero has walked fifteen batters during this streak, including a pair of games with five walks.
The Spinners begin a three game home set tonight against the Auburn Doubledays. They will then take a road trip to Pennsylvania, beginning a three game series against the Williamsport Crosscutters on Tuesday.
GCL Red Sox (Overall: 19-7 Week: 4-1)
The Red Sox won the final four games of the week, all by at least five runs. Their last eight wins have all been by at least four runs.
Andy Perez has made sure his debut did not go unnoticed. The undrafted free agent out of Duke went 5-for-9 with a double, a triple and a stolen base in his first three professional games.
Kyri Washington has found his stroke, going 8-for-14 with two walks and his first two extra base hits, a double and a home run, in his last four games.
Carlos Garcia has pitched in seven games for the GCL Sox, pitching 14 ⅔ innings and allowing a single earned run. Garcia has allowed only 10 hits and three walks, while striking out 13.
DSL Red Sox (Overall: 15-30 Week: 0-5) and DSL Red Sox2 (Overall: 33-12, Week: 5-0)
A tale of two teams continues in the DSL, as the Red Sox2 continue their season of light with a perfect week and the Red Sox1 continues their season of darkness with a perfect week as well.
After three mediocre starts to begin the season, 17-year old lefty Yorvin Pantoja has shown very nice progress. In his next six starts, he has lowered his ERA to 2.93 from 6.23, allowing no more than two earned runs in any of the starts, and lowered his WHIP to 1.23 from 1.46. He has also struck out 30 batters, including a career high 10 in six innings on July 9th.
Freiberg Marin has reached base in ten consecutive games. While that is certainly a good thing, it stretches credulity to say he has been on fire… batting .214/.250/.286 during this streak.
Luis Yovera finished the month of June in a 0-for-22 slump, but he has quickly turned it around in July. In 13 games, Yovera is batting .375/.423/.521 with five doubles and seven multi-hit games.
Eddy Reynoso started his Red Sox career by going 3-for-21 with three walks and a HR. Since then, Reynoso has started to show some hitting prowess, batting .333/.349/.452 in his next ten games with five multi-hit games.