While the 'Big Club' continues their push towards the World Series, some of the brightest prospects in Boston's farm system ready for the start of the Arizona Fall League, set to kick off on Tuesday afternoon.
The Red Sox send six players to the Surprise Saguaros for a 32-game run, showcasing them alongside and against some of the best young talent in the game.
Here is a quick look at the Arizona six (with their 2013 stats), plus one coach you are all familiar with:
RHP Keith Couch – Unable to crack Portland’s prospect-laden rotation to start the season, Couch remained patient and was solid out of the pen, pitching admirably in 14 appearances before turning it up a notch once he returned to a starter’s role. On full display at the Futures at Fenway game in August, Couch was the story of the day, flashing poise and control that pushed him to the forefront of the AFL list for Sox pitchers.
LHP Miguel Pena – The slender left-hander has used his four-pitch repertoire to climb up four levels in just three seasons, finishing 2013 with Portland. In 218 2/3 innings as a pro he has struck out 183 batters and walked only 57.
RHP Noe Ramirez – After making 16 starts with Greenville in his debut as a pro in 2012, Ramirez was moved to the bullpen and it paid off in a big way. He made 36 appearances between Salem and Portland and stuck out 75 over 75 2/3 innings.
RHP Pete Ruiz – The 6-foot-3 righty has been steadily climbing the ranks since 2008 and has earned a return trip to Arizona after making 10 relief appearances with Surprise last fall. He averaged 11.6 K/9 IP in 30 relief appearances, but battled inconsistencies throughout the year.
2B Mookie Betts – The breakout prospect of the 2013 season for the Red Sox, Betts stepped into a realm that was unexpected on many fronts. Following a solid campaign with Lowell last season, Betts powered-up and launched 15 home runs in 2013 and planted himself on many Top 10 Red Sox prospect lists.
3B Garin Cecchini – Although some may consider Cecchini as the ‘breakout’ guy on the farm, most were already well aware of his potential and he didn’t skip a beat in jumping from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland mid-season. Now noted as one of the better hitters on the Minor League level, it will be a matter of if he can maintain it with a brighter spotlight on him. Based on his makeup, it shouldn’t be an issue.
2B Derrik Gibson – The 2008 second-rounder might not have proven his worth at the plate thus far in his career, but his versatility and defensive prowess has made up for that at times. He showed an improved patience at the plate in 2013, dropping his strikeouts from 98 the year before, to 61 over 308 plate appearances. As that aspect of his game continues to develop, the bat could follow.
1B Travis Shaw – Although Shaw may top the Sox minor league depth chart at the first base position, there is still work to be done. The slugger powered through High-A Salem in 2012 with 16 home runs, but when he jumped to Portland later that year, he was unable to keep up that pace. He did regain the power stroke in 2013, hitting 16 bombs, including a big one at Fenway in August, but his splits were down once again.
Rich Gedman, hitting coach – The former Red Sox backstop has, much like his pupils, worked his way up the ranks since rejoining the organization at the hitting coach in Lowell in 2011. After a season in Salem last year, Gedman returned to New England with the Portland Sea Dogs in 2013.
Joining the Red Sox in Surprise will be prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.; most notably Orioles 2B Jonathan Schoop and P Eduardo Rodriguez, Indians OF Tyler Naquin, Rangers C Jorge Alfaro and Brewers P Taylor Jungmann.
The Saguaros will play Peoria at 2:35 p.m. EST on Tuesday and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of these players, while hopefully getting an opportunity to track some of them down to get the inside word on how things are going in the Arizona Fall League.
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