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Update: Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez headline four Red Sox added to 40-man roster 11.19.14 at 8:38 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Thursday represents a day of notable roster change, as teams face a deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox appear likely to add four prospects to the 40-man, including top prospect Blake Swihart. That’s convenient, since the Sox have four open spots on their 40-man roster.

A brief look at the players expected to be protected:

UPDATE: On Thursday, the Red Sox announced that they had indeed added the following four players to their 40-man roster.

Blake Swihart, C, 22 years old

2014: Double-A/Triple-A – 110 games, .293/.341/.469, 13 HR

The top-ranked Red Sox prospect is among the top catching prospects in the game based on his potential for above-average offense and defense. Swihart could become a big league consideration sometime in 2015, with a more likely lasting big league opportunity to come in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, 21 years old

2014: Double-A (Orioles and Red Sox systems) – 22 starts, 120 innings, 3.60 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9

Rodriguez probably has the best stuff of any starting pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, with the left-hander sitting at 92-94 mph and capable of reaching back for 96-97 mph while featuring an excellent changeup and a slider that shows the potential to be an above-average pitch. It remains to be seen if Rodriguez looks more like the pitcher who struggled through the first four months of 2014 in the Orioles system or like the singularly dominant pitcher who proved a head-turner once in the Sox system. Either way, adding him to the 40-man roster is a no-brainer. If Rodriguez builds on his Portland performance, he has a chance to force his way into the big league rotation sometime in 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez, sean coyle, travis shaw
Blake Swihart tops Baseball America’s list of top 10 Red Sox prospects 10.29.14 at 10:13 am ET
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Blake Swihart is the Red Sox' top prospect, according to Baseball America. (365DigitalPhotography.com/Portland Sea Dogs)

Blake Swihart is the Red Sox‘ top prospect, according to Baseball America. (365DigitalPhotography.com/Portland Sea Dogs)

Looking for a catcher in the minors to whom to compare Red Sox top prospect Blake Swihart?

“There isn’t one,” said one evaluator.

Swihart — an extremely athletic switch-hitter who shows well above-average defensive tools, the ability to hit the ball very, very hard on a fairly consistent basis (a skill that translates more often to doubles than homers given that he typically hits screaming liners instead of lofting the ball) and runs well heads the list of Baseball America’s Top 10 Red Sox prospects for the 2015 season. (Disclaimer: I authored the list.)

Given the low standards for offense behind the plate, and the fact that he has a chance to be well above-average in every phase of the game, the 22-year-old stands the best chance of perhaps any Red Sox prospect of being a perennial All-Star. Some rough edges remain in his game (as evidenced by the fact that he walked just twice and struck out 15 times in a year-end stretch in Pawtucket after being promoted following a standout run in Double-A Portland), but the combination of a fairly well-defined floor as a big league starter with a ceiling that suggests the potential to be one of the top starting catchers in the game makes Swihart the Sox’ top prospect.

(Note: Mookie Betts had too many big league at-bats to qualify for the list. Otherwise, he would have been the No. 1 prospect. #feats.)

Here’s a look at Baseball America’s full top 10 list, with their 2014 performance lines and links to stories about the prospects on WEEI.com:

1) Blake Swihart, C – Age 22

Triple-A Pawtucket: 18 games, .261/.282/.377, 1 HR
Double-A Portland: 92 games, .300/.353/.487, 12 HR

Other: Threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers.

Catching On: Blake Swihart’s accelerating development behind the plate

Blake Swihart most difficult Red Sox prospect to trade

Why Blake Swihart looks increasingly like an elite prospect

Blake Swihart taking off the gloves

2) Henry Owens, LHP – Age 22 Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, Rusney Castillo
Red Sox minor league roundup: Rusney Castillo makes his mark; Eduardo Rodriguez, trade deadline steal 09.13.14 at 12:24 pm ET
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Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez impressed in his Triple-A debut. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez impressed in his Triple-A debut. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

Evidently, Rusney Castillo is not afraid.

With Triple-A Pawtucket’s season down to its final strike, Castillo lined a 1-2 fastball up and away to right-center for a game-tying run in the top of the ninth inning, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 2-2 tie that ultimately translated to a 4-2, 13-inning victory for the PawSox that forced a winner-take-all Game 5 of the Governor’s Cup Finals against Durham (box).

Though Castillo went 1-for-6 with three strikeouts, he did not allow a previously poor game to snowball to the point where his pulse quickened in his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, instead going with a heater and lining it to a part of the field that he’s shown a penchant for using in his earliest days playing baseball. The Red Sox will hope that the contest offered the first demonstration of Castillo’s ability to contribute in meaningful situations, to be a winning player who can turn a crowd in an opponent’s park from frenzy to despondency.

As Castillo (who played all 13 innings on Friday) works to get physically ready to join the Red Sox in the big leagues, he is now 3-for-14 in his three games against Durham. Certainly, he made his third hit of the series count, giving the PawSox an opportunity in a winner-take-all Game 5 on Saturday.

Here is a look at Castillo’s crowd-silencing hit:

— One evaluator on Eduardo Rodriguez, the 21-year-old left-hander whom the Red Sox acquired at the trade deadline for left-hander Andrew Miller: “Steal of the trade deadline…I know Miller is doing great in Baltimore, but this kid will make that trade look real bad.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: eduardo rodriguez, ivan de jesus, Rusney Castillo,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ Triple-A challenge; Travis Shaw mashes; Rusney Castillo makes his mark; electric Eduardo Rodriguez 09.06.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens allowed five runs in four innings on Friday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Left-hander Henry Owens allowed five runs in four innings on Friday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-6 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); WIN BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 3-0

(BOX)

— The routine dominance that characterized Henry Owens‘ march through the last two years has yielded to a more challenging reality in Triple-A. The left-hander allowed eight hits (including a homer and two doubles) and three walks en route to a five-run, four-inning outing. He did show the ability to elicit swings and misses, punching out six, and he now has 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A, but there are markers to suggest the challenging nature of the transition Owens has faced from Portland to Pawtucket.

He has a 4.71 ERA in his seven Triple-A starts. He’s now given up five homers in 42 innings with the PawSox, one fewer than the number he gave up in 121 innings in Portland this year. The four innings on Friday matched his shortest outing of the year. The five runs represented his second-largest yield.

Some of Owens’ struggles in Triple-A may represent an adjustment to the level. Some may point to fatigue as he’s now up to 164 innings between the regular season, postseason and All-Star Futures Game, a 21 percent bump from his 135-inning total of a year ago. And some of it simply may be a matter of imprecise execution.

Regardless, the fact that Owens is being challenged in Triple-A likely helps to pump the brakes on the notion of his big league timeframe. The Sox have already stated that he won’t be brought up to the big leagues this month, and the fact that Owens has had to work in Triple-A suggests that he’ll have more to prove at that level in order to position himself for the possibility of a mid-year big league summons.

— Outfielder Bryce Brentz had his second three-hit game of the series, going 3-for-5 with a double. He was 6-for-14 with a walk, two doubles and two strikeouts in the three contests, scoring a run in each game.

— For the third straight game, Travis Shaw had an extra-base hit and reached base multiple times. The 24-year-old first baseman went 2-for-4 with a double and walk, finishing the series 5-for-10 with a homer, two doubles, four walks and two strikeouts. After Shaw hit just .209/.273/.319 to close out the regular season in August, the playoff series represented a very different final note of the year for the 2011 ninth-rounder.

— Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-3 with an RBI infield single and a walk, and went 4-for-7 in the series.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-3 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-1

(BOX)

— Center fielder Rusney Castillo had his most impactful game since signing with the Sox, going 2-for-3 with an opposite-field double into the right-field corner, a walk and two runs while playing seven innings. His double came on a first-pitch with a runner in scoring position, suggesting an aggressive approach when given a chance to produce runs.

— Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez logged 6 2/3 innings in which he gave up three runs (two earned) on just three hits (all doubles) while walking two and striking out six. Opponents are now hitting .198 against the 21-year-old in his seven starts with Portland following his July 31 trade from the Orioles in exchange for Andrew Miller. The outing marked the first time with Portland that Rodriguez had given up as many as two earned runs.

Here’s a look at his somewhat electrifying stuff, a mid- to high-90s fastball with an above-average changeup. (His slider, which flashes as an above-average pitch but remains inconsistent, isn’t used in this sequence.)

— Eight of the nine members of the Sea Dogs lineup had at least one hit.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-0 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS); LOSE BEST-OF-THREE SERIES, 2-1

(BOX)

— Left-hander Cody Kukuk‘s start lasted just two-plus innings, as the 21-year-old allowed four hits and two walks en route to a three-run yield. He closed out the year with six straight outings of at least four walks. In 21 Carolina League starts, the wildly talented (emphasis on wild) 2011 seventh-rounder issued 75 walks in 80 2/3 innings. He had a 5.47 ERA in Salem. But while that mark makes clear that a big league future is anything but a certainty for Kukuk, from a scouting perspective, his tremendous three-pitch arsenal (mid- to high-90s fastball, wipeout slider, swing-and-miss change … when thrown for strikes) suggests a potential impact arm if he can use his athleticism to lock in his mechanics and throw strikes with any kind of consistency.

Read More: cody kukuk, eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, Rusney Castillo
Red Sox minor league roundup: Eduardo Rodriguez’s electrifying first impression; Bryce Brentz mashing; Henry Owens finding his way 08.27.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been dominant in five starts for Portland. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been dominant in five starts for Portland. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

— On a night when he walked his most batters (4) and threw just 61 of his season-high 105 pitches for strikes (58 percent), left-hander Henry Owens overcame his struggles to limit his opponents to three runs on eight hits. His efforts were helped by his eight punchouts in 6 1/3 innings. In his five starts with Pawtucket, Owens is now 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32 innings. Opponents are hitting .248 against him with three homers in that span, up from the .201 average to which he held opponents in Double-A this year. In short, there’s an adjustment to a higher caliber of opposing hitters to which Owens is still adjusting, though he’s holding his own amidst that transition.

— Right-hander Dalier Hinojosa was dominant, retiring eight of nine batters he faced. The 28-year-old has a 2.03 ERA since the beginning of June with 26 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 2/3 innings. After he entered July with a 5.51 ERA, he’s dropped that mark to 3.90.

Bryce Brentz can mash against left-handers with good stuff. He went deep against highly regarded Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris, his 12th homer in 58 games in Pawtucket this year. Against southpaws, Brentz is hitting .304/.355/.725 with eight homers in 76 plate appearances (one for every 9.5 trips to the dish). His performance both against lefties and overall since his return from a groin injury (.260/.333/.558) suggest someone who might be getting close to capable of contributing at the big league level. Yet as much as the Sox’ recent acquisitions of outfielders such as Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and Rusney Castillo has raised questions about the future of a player like Shane Victorino in the organization, the questions are just as significant for players like Brentz and Alex Hassan, who now find themselves behind a considerable crowd of corner outfielders. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, dalier hinojosa, eduardo rodriguez, gabe speier
Red Sox minor league roundup: Eduardo Rodriguez dominating post-trade; Henry Owens delivers innings; Mauricio Dubon turning heads 08.22.14 at 1:30 pm ET
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A brief and, frankly, incomplete look at Thursday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

— Though he threw just 58 of 96 pitches (60.4 percent) for strikes, left-hander Henry Owens made the strikes he did throw count, matching a season- and career-high with eight innings during which he gave up two runs on five hits (including a two-run homer and double) while walking one and punching out six. He secured 10 more outs via groundball. While Owens has given up three homers in his first four Triple-A starts, his performance since his promotion has otherwise been strong. He has 27 strikeouts and six walks in 25 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .226 average while forging a 3.51 ERA.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 with a homer and for the first time since he was sent down, he didn’t strike out. Bradley is now 4-for-19 with the homer (.211/.211/.368) in four games with the PawSox. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, mauricio dubon, michael chavis
Red Sox minor league roundup: Deven Marrero’s slump deepens; Eduardo Rodriguez dominates; Trey Ball shelled; Kevin McAvoy, groundball machine 08.16.14 at 3:08 pm ET
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For the first time this year, Henry Owens has allowed four runs in back-to-back starts. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

For the first time this year, Henry Owens has allowed four runs in back-to-back starts. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-1 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

— While Deven Marrero could well end up emerging long term as the Red Sox shortstop, any idea that such a turn of events is imminent overlooks his offensive struggles in Pawtucket. Marrero went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts on Friday. He’s 0-for-13 with five punchouts in his last four games, and in 17 games since July 27, he’s hitting .131/.182/.230, with both his average and OBP the lowest in the International League during that time. The slump has dropped his Triple-A line to .235/.281/.324, a far cry from the .291/.371/.433 line he posted in Portland prior to his promotion.

It’s worth recalling that, a year ago, Marrero struggled after his mid-year promotion to Double-A, hitting .236/.321/.236 in 19 games. By the time he returned to Portland for the start of this year, he was ready to hold his own as a hitter. (His defense is considered a given, as he’s already an above-average big league defensive shortstop.) So, he’ll have to prove himself in similar fashion next year in Pawtucket to open the year. If he can do that, then depending on the Sox’ needs, Marrero could position himself for a midyear call-up. But for an organization that endured lineup vulnerability thanks in part to the struggles of players who were at a very early stage of their transitions to the big leagues, the idea of being patient with Marrero in Triple-A has obvious logic.

— Left-hander Henry Owens allowed four runs on six hits in six innings. It marked the first time all season that the 22-year-old has allowed three or more runs in back-to-back outings (he also permitted four in his previous start on Aug. 10). Though he permitted some hard contact in the form of a pair of homers, Owens did attack the strike zone in noteworthy fashion, throwing 60 of 84 pitches (71 percent) for strikes, getting 12 swings and misses, punching out seven and walking none. In three starts spanning 17 2/3 innings, Owens now has a 4.08 ERA with 21 punchouts and just five walks. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, keury de la cruz, kevin mcavoy
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