Red Sox prospects contribute to Arizona Fall League championship team
|11.16.13 at 6:35 pm ET|
A number of Red Sox prospects wrapped up their 2013 campaigns the same way that their parent club did: Storming the field after winning a championship. Eight Red Sox minor leaguers were part of the Surprise Saguaros club that won the championship of the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League. In the title game, second baseman Mookie Betts went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a walk, while right-hander Noe Ramirez contributed a scoreless inning of relief in which he recorded all three of his outs via strikeout in a 2-0 victory for Surprise over the Mesa Solar Sox.
The AFL is viewed as an imperfect setting for scouting by virtue of the fact that players — unaccustomed to playing beyond early September — tend to be physically exhausted, balls that are lofted can fly in the dry air of Arizona and balls on the ground can take off like rockets on the hard infield surfaces. Nonetheless, scouts can get a read on stuff and, at times, the quality of a hitter’s approach, even if the numbers can sometimes be misleading.
Here is a look at the Red Sox prospects’ performances in the AFL:
— First baseman Travis Shaw hit .361 with a .452 OBP, .705 slugging mark, five homers and 19 RBI in 17 games. The 23-year-old’s monster performance was noteworthy on the heels of a disappointing regular season in Double-A Portland (.221/.342/.394).
— Third baseman Garin Cecchini, 22, hit .277 with a .434 OBP and .338 slugging mark, reinforcing the impression of him as a hitter with exceptional strike zone judgment whose line drive-oriented swing has yet to produce much power in the minors.
— Betts, who turned 21 in October, was the second-youngest position player on Surprise. Nonetheless, he held his own, hitting .271 with a .368 OBP and .373 slugging mark while swiping eight bases (in 10 attempts). Scouts who hadn’t seen him before were impressed with the 5-foot-9 second baseman’s unexpected ability to drive the ball, strike zone management and speed.
— Shortstop Derrik Gibson, 23, hit .125/.286/.225 in 14 games.
— Ramirez added to a solid year in which he moved from the rotation to the bullpen, posting a 1.93 ERA with 11 strikeouts, just three walks and a .196 batting average against in 14 innings spanning 10 games prior to his standout performance in the championship game. The 23-year-old right-hander could put himself on the big league radar in 2014 after posting a combined 2.38 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 17 walks in 75 2/3 innings.
— Right-hander Keith Couch, who turned 24 this month, worked in a full-time bullpen role for the first time in his pro career, posting a 4.05 ERA with 12 strikeouts and five walks in 13 1/3 innings.
— Miguel Pena, who turned 23 in October, had a 4.55 ERA in seven starts with 19 punchouts and 10 walks in 27 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .255 average. As a left-hander who relies on weak contact thanks to his strong command, Pena represented one of the players who is particularly hard to evaluate in the atmospheric conditions of the AFL, given that contact tends to yield atypical results.
— Right-hander Pete Ruiz was 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA with seven strikeouts and five walks in five appearances towards the beginning of the AFL, but he didn’t pitch after Oct. 24.
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