Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Minor League update

Pawtucket Red Sox (PAW 5/LOU 1, PAW 6/LOU 0, LOU 1/PAW 0, PAW 4/BUF 3, BUF 10/PAW 3, PAW 9/BUF 4, BUF 5/PAW 4)

The Paw Sox went winless in their first week, but managed to improve a little bit this week going 4-3. The pitching and offense have both been average which is what one would expect with a near .500 winning percentage.

Kevin Youkilis, a man who is not happy to be in the minors, has struggled so far going 1-15 with only a triple and 4 walks in his first three games at third for the Paw Sox. He has struck out three times and his cold start can more than likely be attributed to a little bad luck and a little bit of being cold from not playing in a little while.

Justin Sherrod has cooled off after a hot first week and is now playing like the sub-par player that he is. He struck out 11 times in the last week and his 2/6 k/bb ratio after one week is now a very unimpressive 13/7. His average dropped 91 points to a .273 mark.

Kelly Shoppach has also struggling. He hit a home run this week, but his average also dropped to .273, a drop of over 100 points.

The offense is still struggling as a whole with only Alejandro Machado and Mike Lockwood hitting over .300. Machado is only 23 and is already a journeyman working on his fifth organization. That says a little bit about him right there. The Sox traded for him over the winter. According to Baseball America, who ranked him the 21st best prospect in the Nationals system before he was traded to the Sox, Machado draws a decent amount of walks, has no pop in his bat, and his speed is average although he is intelligent on the basepaths. He has good range at short or second and an average arm. If he ever manages to make it to the majors in his career his likely role will be that of a utility player. So far this season he is 11 for 34, but has yet to draw a walk. Lockwood is a 27 year old in his second year in the Sox organization after being drafted by Oakland in 1999. He has a .364 OBP in 6 minor league years so he does get on base at a solid rate, but he doesn't have a future in the majors. Used in reserve in Pawtucket this year he is 7-18 with 2 homers and a .389 avg.

George Lombard, a 30 year old who has major league experience in ATL, DET, and TB has struggled the most so far this year batting a meager .154 with an eyepopping 19 k's in 39 at bats. He's walked 8 times, but his numbers are pretty pathetic and won't have a job in baseball soon if he keeps it up.

On the pitching side for the Sox, Abe Alvarez has took the mound twice in the last week giving solid performances both times. He went six shutout innings in his first start allowing only 4 hits and no walks while striking out 2. His second start wasn't as impressive going 5.2 innings allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits, no walks, and 6 k's. So far in 3 games Alvarez has struck out 10 while only walking 2 and has a 1-0 record to go with a 4.60 ERA.

Former Blue Jay, 28 year old Scott Cassidy had a good game in relief going 4 scoreless innings allowing only 1 hit and 2 walks with 6 k's. He has 2 wins so far this year in the long relief role to go along with a 4.82 ERA

Chris Naverson, the young pitcher who came over for Byung-Hyun Kim has been mediocre so far in 2 games (1 start) and 4.1 innings. He's allowed 4 h, 3 bb, 3 runs, and has struck out 3. Still, he's doing better than Kim is in Colorado!

Lenny Dinardo had a decent start going 5 innings letting up only 1 er on 1 h and 2 bb while striking out only 1.

Mark Malaska was the third pitcher of the night in a 10-3 loss to Buffalo. Former Blue Jay Jason Kershner got hammered by the Bisons letting up 8 runs in 3.1 innings, but Malaska came on to pitch the final 3 innings of the game allowing only one hit and striking out 3.

The Paw Sox have been unimpressive so far and there are few prospects worth talking about. It will likely be that way all year unless the Sox decide to move up some of the many impressive guys on the AA squad sometime during the year.

Portland Red Sox (POR 6/NB 4, POR 8/TRE 4, POR 7/TRE 4, POR 5/TRE 1, POR 11/TRE 6, BIN 3/POR 1)

The Portland Sea Dogs are on fire starting the year 10-1 after losing their first game on Monday as the Binghamton Mets somehow managed to hold the stellar Portland offense to one run. The Red Sox AA team is expected to be full of excitement this year as many of the organization's top prospects are on the team. So far they have no dissapointed.

The top offense in the Eastern League has been led by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Jared Sandberg, and semi-prospect/slugger Jeremy West. Pedroia is riding a 7 game hitting streak and has reached base in all 10 games that he's played in. Last week he went 9-20 with five walks and four doubles. He's hitting .417 so far this year. Ramirez's .348 avg so far this season almost looks pale in comparison. Ramirez went 8-25 last week with 7 RBI's and 2 triples. Sandberg leads the team with 4 homers on the year while batting .333, usually in the clean-up spot. West is off to a surprisingly well start hitting .421 so far this year. He went 11-25 last week striking out only once but also walking only once. Sandberg is the only one of the group to not get excited over. At 28 he's far too old to be wasting away in AA. He's always had decent power, but he has already proven that he strikes out far too often to be effective at the major league level.

The team's usually leadoff hitter, Christ Durbin, hasn't made a blip on the prospect radar but he's off to a .351/.400/.649 start.

The only dark spot on the Sea Dog offensive unit has been Brandon Moss who has been doing his best to justify the fears of many Sox fans who believe that last year was a fluke. So far he is batting .194 for the year and leads the team with 14 k's. It's still early in the season, but many believed that the breakout season for the #2 prospect in the Sox system was done with smoke and mirrors. So far that appears to be true.

The pitching for the Sea Dogs has been nearly as good as the offense. The ace of the staff, Jon Papelbon, went twice last week and despite the fact that he earned the team's first loss he was fairly impressive in both of his starts. In his first he went 5 innings without walking a batter and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 2. In his second start he had a little problem with the longball as he let up 2 homers that resulted in 3 runs on 5 hits. But for the second start in a row he didn't walk a batter and on his second start he managed to strike out 9.

Jon Lester (4 IP/7 h/0 er/3 bb/6k) and Kason Gabbard (7 IP/2 h/1 er/1 bb/4 k) both pitched very well for the team last week. Lester didn't last very long and did get into a lot of trouble, but worked his way out every time and didn't allow a run. Gabbard, an unknown with a long injury history entering the season, has performed very well in both of his starts this year and leads the Sea Dog starters with a 0.64 ERA.

Charlie Zink (5ip/6h/4er/0bb/1k) and Dave Pauley (5ip/8h/3r/0er/1bb/2k) both struggled a little bit, but kept the team in the game. Zink served up 3 home runs in his start to allow 4 runs despite his impressive control and only 3 non-homer hits. Pauley allowed 3 runs, but none of them were earned thanks to a Jared Sandberg throwing error that should have ended the inning. Sandberg leads the Sea Dogs with 4 errors so far this season.

The Sea Dogs have also had a lot of support form the back end of their bullpen as their closer, Cla Meredith, hasn't allowed a run in 6.1 innings this season. He's pitched in 6 games and has 6 saves. He still hasn't walked a batter and has allowed only one hit so far.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (WIL 7/KIN 4, KIN 9/WIL 1, WIL 6/SAL 2, WIL 2/SAL 0, SAL 2/WIL 1, WIL 4/KIN 2)

The Blue Rocks had a good week with a 4-2 record and are 6-5 overall for the year, good enough for second in the Carolina North division. As a whole the team offense is struggling batting .231 and scoring only 44 runs in 11 games. The team has only hit three home runs. The pitching has been a little bit better as they lead the league in strikeouts with 95, but their 3.95 ERA is towards the higher end of the pack.

Ian Bladergroen, the first baseman who came over for Doug Mientkiewicz, has struggled so far this season hitting .258 with only two extra base hits. Although he does lead the team with 7 RBI. While I do agree that Mientkiewicz was the obvious choice for the Sox to ship out, I don't like the trade. If the Sox were able to get a major league arm like Blaine Neal (who has admittedly struggled, but that's not the point) for a AAAA guy like Adam Hyzdu then how did they get stuck with a borderline prospect like Bladergroen for a great fielding first baseman?

The only bright spots for Wilmington's bats so far have been the usual all-glove, no-bat shortstop, Zach Borowiak and Scott White, a 21 year old third baseman with power potential. Borowiak has hit .371 so far with 5 doubles and a triple, but still hasn't walked this year and hasn't displayed much of his speed going 1/2 in stolen base attempts. White has a .350/.422/.450 line to start the season, but hasn't had any of his power as he only has 4 doubles and no homers. He also has been spending a lot of time at DH with Chad Spann getting a lot of time at third.

The only story on the mound for the Blue Rocks so far has been Anibal Sanchez. Despite only pitching 10 innings so far this year Sanchez has opened a lot of eyes around the country with his 22/0 k/bb ratio. He has allowed only 1 run and 4 hits in his 2 starts and so far is looking very good.

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