While it's tough to envision the version of the Red Sox that will have players from the current Greenville Drive roster on it, there are players who are expected to have legitimate futures in the majors on that club. As we're now heading into late August, this will be the last in-season update for the Single-A Drive, but thankfully, we've got some good news to report.
Brandon Jacobs is 20 years old and hitting .321/.400/.519 in 448 plate appearances this year. His 15 homers ties him for the team lead with the departed Miles Head, and he has 48 extra-base hits overall at the level. It's been an impressive season, especially since he didn't hit well in Rookie League or for the Low-A Spinners in past seasons. The 10th round pick from the 2009 draft may have a bright future, though, as many scouts are a big fan of his power potential.
Jacobs has struck out 23 percent of the time in 2011, while drawing walks nine percent of the time. Like Will Middlebrooks, he was a football player before signing with the Red Sox, and he has shown himself to be more of a baseball player each season -- he's far from a finished product for more reasons than just his age, and there is no reason to think he won't continue to improve. His pitch recognition still isn't great, but his bat could be great if he gets a handle on that with more time spent playing baseball professionally. That's a big if, of course, and will end up being the difference between him having a decent chance at a major league career and a great chance.
Sean Coyle has had some rough spots this year thanks to a low batting average, but overall the 19-year-old has been impressive for the Drive. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .273/.368/.455, bringing his season line to .248/.368/.468 with 12 homers and 43 extra-base hits overall.
Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally has a video of Coyle available on his YouTube channel that has been conveniently embedded for you below:
Consider that not only is Coyle just 19, but that he's also a second baseman, and those offensive numbers look all the more impressive. He walks 13 percent of the time and has struck out 23 percent of the time, real good numbers for someone his age with his limited experience -- Coyle was a third round pick in last year's draft with just 12 plate appearances to his name prior to 2011.
Xander Boegarts hasn't played nearly as often as Coyle or Jacobs, but in his 226 plate appearances at Single-A, he is hitting .239/.309/.493. While that doesn't look that great, he's an 18-year-old in Single-A ball that owns an ISO of .254 and plays shortstop. He has 12 homers and 23 extra-base hits on the season, flashing power that has many a scout salivating.
His strike zone judgment isn't there yet -- not surprising given his age and lack of experience -- but the power ceiling is for real, and there is an expectation that he can turn into a high-quality big leaguer. He'll need that power ceiling, as he may not stick at shortstop for very long as he ages and fills out more.
I can't tell you if he will play for the Drive again next year or if he will be a 19-year-old in High-A, but as he hasn't completely mastered the level yet and is this young, it wouldn't be a shock to see a repeat season at Greenville, at least to start.
It's not just young hitters the Sox have at this level, as starter Brandon Workman, a second round pick in the 2010 draft, has had a solid season as well. In his 23 starts, Workman has thrown 112 innings, striking out eight batters per nine while keeping his walks to 2.6 per nine. There is a lot to like here, as Workman throws in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball and has good control. His command is a bit more suspect and may hurt him at higher levels, as will the lack of a true off-speed offering -- he is working on a change, and his curveball isn't always in his repertoire, according to Sox Prospects.
Kevin Goldstein felt Workman was a potential fourth starter heading into the year, and his performance this year hasn't done much to change that. Chances are good he will pitch for Salem in 2012, and, if he succeeds like he did with Greenville, he could continue to move quickly through the system.