Taking a look at the Greenville Drive this week, a roster that features a loaded rotation but a lineup weak in prospects.
2012 Season: With manager Carlos Febles at the helm , the Greenville Drive finished the 2012 season at 66-73, missing the South Atlantic League playoffs. The best performance on the 2012 club was turned in by lefty Henry Owens in his first professional season.
Rotation: Justin Haley-RHP, Brian Johnson-LHP, Austin Maddox-RHP, Frank Montas-RHP, Cody Kukuk-LHP, Pat Light-RHP
The Red Sox 2012 draft class was heavy on college pitching, and three of those pitchers start the season at Greenville.
Lefty Brian Johnson was the Sox second pick in the first round, after a strong college career at the University of Florida. His low 90’s fastball isn’t overpowering, but he complements it with a changeup, curveball and slider and shows good command. His debut in Lowell last season was ended abruptly by a line drive to the face that fractured his orbital bone, but he is fully healthy to start this season.
Right hander Pat Light has more upside than Johnson, with a lively fastball and developing slider. He has far less experience as a starter though, and faced weaker competition at Monmouth University.
Austin Maddox was the closer on the same University of Florida team as Johnson, but will begin his time in the Sox system as a starting pitcher.
Another starter to watch for the Drive is lefty Cody Kukuk. Kukuk was taken out of high school in the 2011 draft, but his professional career got off to a slow start after he was arrested for drunk driving in Fort Myers and subsequently suspended by the Sox. He only ended up pitching 10 innings in 2012, but after a solid performance in the Fall Instructional camp and Spring Training, he looks ready to show off his above average stuff this season.
C: Jordan Weems
1B: Boss Moanaroa
2B: Mookie Betts
SS: Jose Vinicio
3B: Nick Moore
LF: Drew Turocy
CF: Cody Koback
RF: Aneury Tavarez
DH: David Chester
Signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic for $1.95 million, this will be shortstop Jose Vinicio’s fourth year in the Red Sox system. He has strong defensive skills and good contact skills, but his skinny frame holds him back at the plate. He has hit for average so far at a few different stops, but his lack of strength limits his production. If he can develop gap power to go along with his defense, he could develop into a top prospect with shortstop being such an important position.
The Drive lineup is a bit weak in terms of prospects, but a player who could boost that lineup is Manuel Margot. Another big bonus signing from the Domican Republic, Margot played in the Dominican Summer League last season and is in extended spring training right now. His speed and athleticism will make him a fun prospect to watch if the Sox decide he is ready for the challenge of Low A this year.
Jason Garcia- RHP
Yunior Ortega- RHP
JB Wendelken- RHP
Braden Kapteyn- RHP
Madison Younginer- RHP
Fransisco Taveras- LHP
Madison Younginer’s results have never matched up to his pure stuff in three seasons in the Sox system. He moves to the bullpen this year with the hopes that it will help boost his prospect status. His hard fastball and curve may play up out of the bullpen.