Red Sox Minor League Roundup: The end of 2012 (sort of) arrives … at least for some
|09.19.12 at 11:26 am ET|
It was an anticlimactic end for what had been a fun ride for Triple-A Pawtucket. The PawSox enjoyed a surprising run of outstanding pitching in the late summer, clinching a postseason berth in the final weekend of the summer and then losing just one game in two International League playoff series en route to the team’s first Governor’s Cup title since 1984. But the magic carpet ride ended in the one-game, winner-take-all Triple-A championship game against the Reno Aces — the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks — on Tuesday night, in a 10-3 loss.
And with that, the 2012 minor league season came to a close. It was a year in which the Red Sox roster certainly underscored the importance of a fertile farm system capable of churning out players who were drafted and developed, signed as international amateurs and/or plucked from other teams’ minor league systems or other obscure professional leagues. In total, the Red Sox had 18 players who were not on the big league roster (either the 25-man major league roster or the disabled list) — or, for that matter, any big league roster — at the start of the year come up to play varying roles in the major leagues this year. (That number doesn’t include players like Zach Stewart, Brent Lillibridge and Danny Valencia, all of whom opened the year on another team’s big league roster.)
The list (with some details about the players’ paths to the majors):
RHP Clayton Mortensen (acquired in trade with Rockies in 2012)
RHP Aaron Cook (signed minor league deal in 2012)
RHP Justin Germano (signed minor league deal in 2012)
RHP Junichi Tazawa (signed major league deal as international amateur free agent in 2008; more on that here)
RHP Chris Carpenter (acquired in trade from Cubs, 2012)
Ryan Lavarnway (drafted, 6th round, 2008)
Guillermo Quiroz (acquired in trade from Mariners, 2012)
Nate Spears (signed minor league deal in 2010)
Jose Iglesias (signed as international amateur free agent in 2009)
Will Middlebrooks (drafted, 5th round, 2007)
Mauro Gomez (signed minor league deal in 2012)
Pedro Ciriaco (signed minor league deal in 2012)
Ivan DeJesus (acquired in trade from Dodgers in 2012)
Che-Hsuan Lin (signed in 2007 as international amateur free agent)
Jason Repko (signed minor league deal in 2012)
Daniel Nava (acquired from independent Golden Baseball League in 2008)
Scott Podsednik (acquired in trade from Phillies in 2012)
Ryan Kalish (drafted, 9th round, 2006)
The length of that list serves as a reminder of the importance of depth in allowing a big league team to survive the attrition of a season and the varied means by which it must be assembled. Seasons are typically won on the strength (and health) of a nucleus, but they can be lost if an organization’s roster depth proves inadequate.
The Sox are likely to call up at least a couple of players from the PawSox now that the season is done, though the team does not plan to make any big league roster additions until at least Friday.
INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE LOOMS
All of the Red Sox’ affiliates are now done for 2012, but there will be some activity remaining among Sox prospects. Part of that will take place in sundry fall and winter leagues (for instance, outfielder Bryce Brentz will take part in the Arizona Fall League, while knuckleballer Steven Wright will pitch in the Dominican), but more immediately, the team has a 14-game Florida Instructional League schedule that will start on Friday. The league is typically an opportunity for players who are new to the system (whose playing experience is limited to short-season leagues, whether the Dominican Summer League, Rookie Level Gulf Coast League or short-season Single-A Lowell), but within that group (largely detailed here by SoxProspects.com), there are a few names worth mentioning:
— Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who was shut down after experiencing dead arm for Double-A Portland at the start of July, will pitch in games in the Instructional League. He’s been throwing since mid-August in Fort Myers. The big right-hander struggled to a 1-3 record and 6.69 ERA in nine starts in Portland this year, as his season was derailed in spring training by a groin injury, with further health issues that followed.
— Travis Shaw will take part in the Instructional League. The 2011 ninth-round pick played 130 games this year in High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, hitting a combined .287/.397/.517/.915 with 19 homers. He’s being asked to take part in the league in part to get individualized defensive instruction and reps while playing both first base (where he played 109 games this year) and third base (where he played in 11 contests). Shaw is the top first base prospect in the system right now, a designation that is relevant given the long-term vacancy created by the departure of Adrian Gonzalez.
— Keury De La Cruz — who hit 20 homers, stole 20 bases and had a .307/.350/.533/.883 line this year (mostly in Single-A Greenville, with a year-ending cameo in High-A Salem) in his age 20 season — will take part in the Instructional League simply to continue to get playing time and a bit of defensive work. The same is true of Greenville teammate Garin Cecchini, who as a 21-year-old hit .305/.394/.433/.827 with 51 steals in 57 attempts while making considerable defensive strides at third base.
— Outfielder Williams Jerez, the 2011 second-rounder whose season in Lowell came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a broken wrist when hit by a pitch in July, is hitting, and could take part in games. Shortstop Jose Vinicio, who didn’t play in roughly the final four weeks of the season after suffering a knee injury in early August, is rehabbing in Fort Myers and has returned to hitting, but he’s less likely than Jerez to take part in games. In 70 games, Vinicio — in his age 18 season — showed an intriguing skill set, hitting .277/.320/.371/.691 with 24 steals while showing good defensive tools at shortstop.
— Left-hander Brian Johnson, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2012 who had his season with Lowell end when he was hit in the face by a line drive in the Futures at Fenway game, won’t pitch given the amount of down time he’s had. However, he will be in Fort Myers in early October for workouts.
— There are two more editions of “Down on the Farm,” the 30-minute radio show now airing on Saturdays on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com from 8:30-9 am. Great guests are lined up for both: Red Sox GM Ben Cherington will discuss the challenges of sustaining a productive farm system in baseball’s new economic landscape this coming Saturday (Sept. 22). Then, in the final show of the season, Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett will answer some of your questions about prospects and the farm system.
If you have a question for Ben Crockett, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send it to me via twitter (@alexspeier).
If you miss either interview or want to listen to them in their entirety, check back at weei.com/podcast.
— This will be the last installment of the Minor League Roundup for this season. Some end-of-year, state-of-the-system columns and blogs are still to come. Periodic updates will be offered of the performances of various Red Sox prospects in their winter leagues. But, for now, about 140 or so roundups since this project started, the minor league offseason has begun. Thanks for reading.
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