This week I will be previewing the High A level Salem Red Sox, who feature three Red Sox first round draft picks.
2012 Season: Under manager Billy McMillon, the Salem Red Sox finished the 2012 season at 68-69, missing the Carolina League playoffs. The 2012 club was led by the dynamic performances of two top Red Sox prospects, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Rotation: Henry Owens-LHP, Kyle Stroup- RHP, Mike Augliera- RHP, William Cuevas- RHP
I’ve been all in on Henry Owens since last season, and wrote my first article for this site on him back in December. After a terrific Spring Training (including this dominant start), he’s off to a strong start for Salem.
Drafted in the 2011 supplemental first round, his biggest improvement has been cutting down on walks. While his K/9 rate of 11.51 was one of the highest in the minor leagues last year, his BB/9 of 4.16 was too high. This year his BB/9 has come down to 2.57, and he’s still striking out batters at a high rate. Finally, the Carolina League is only hitting .160 against him in his first 21 innings.
Kyle Stroup is finally healthy this season after he lost most of the last three years to ACL surgeries. He tore the ACL in his right knee in 2010, and then tore the ACL in his left knee two years later on THE EXACT SAME DAY. Stroup has shown plenty of promise when healthy with a very good fastball and curve combo. If he can stay off the DL he has a chance to climb prospect lists this season.
C: Blake Swihart
1B: David Renfroe
2B: Sean Coyle
SS: Deven Marrero
3B: Garin Cecchini
LF: Brandon Jacobs
CF: Henry Ramos
RF: Keury De La Cruz
DH: Jose Garcia
The Salem Sox lineup has two first round draft picks, Deven Marrero and Blake Swihart. Marrero already shows major league quality defense at shortstop, but needs to prove he can handle professional pitching. Swihart had a solid first season in the Sox system at Greenville, and looks to use that as a building block as he works on both his offensive and defensive skills.
Sean Coyle is off to a hot start at the plate, continuing his success from the end of 2012. As a short second baseman, Coyle draws comparisons to Dustin Pedroia, and like Pedroia he will have to hit to make it to the majors. Coyle leads Salem with 5 home runs so far this season.
Third baseman Garin Cecchini impressed in both batting average and on base percentage in Greenville last season. Now, the Sox are hoping he will start to develop his power like another Sox third baseman converted from shortstop, Will Middlebrooks.
Keury De La Cruz flew under the radar in the Red Sox system until last year in Greenville, when he hit 19 home runs in 116 games to lead the club. Another strong season might convince scouts that he has the skills to make it at the higher levels.
Heri Quevedo- RHP
Noe Ramirez- RHP
Nefi Ogando- RHP
Matty Ott- RHP
Nathan Striz- RHP
Matthew Price- RHP
Yunior Ortega- RHP
Robby Scott- LHP
Despite an unsightly ERA, Heri Quevedo has impressed so far this year, striking out 17 batters in 10 innings. Signed out of the Dominican Republic last season, Quevedo features a mid-90’s fastball but needs to work on his control.
An outstanding starter in college at Cal-State Fullerton, Noe Ramirez has moved to the bullpen this season. Ramirez features an outstanding changeup that is his primary weapon in his relief outings.