Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
There are some intriguing arms at the lowest levels of the Red Sox minor-league system, even if there are no outright stars.
With the minor-league regular season over, it's time to look back at what the farm has accomplished in 2012. The plan is go to team-by-team, as we did for our daily prospect updates, but this time around, we'll review by position, so you get a sense of where the Red Sox are strong and where they are lacking depth.
This time around, we turn our attention to the system's pitching. If you missed out on our review of outfielders, you can find all of it here.
Pat Light, SP
Light was Boston's third pick in the 2012 draft, the last of their three first-round selections. It's unknown at this point if he'll be a starter or a reliever, but he started each game he pitched during this season. Of course, starting in short-season Lowell isn't like starting elsewhere, even Low-A, as pitchers tend to throw 2-3 innings per outing, rather than what we think of as a full start.
Light throws from the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball -- one Baseball America described as plus-plus in their pre-draft evaluations. He also features a slider and a change-up, though, both of those offerings are in need of work. That's the primary reason why it's unknown what Light's future holds for him at this early stage, as the development of secondary offerings is tied directly to his future role.
He struck out nearly a batter per inning in his 30 frames while keeping the ball in the park and free passes to a minimum. The challenge for Light won't be found in the lower levels, something that can be said about just about any pitcher with a plus fastball. When he gets to the point where he needs to lean on his secondary stuff more, we'll have a better sense of what Light will be for the Red Sox in the future.
Justin Haley, SP
Haley was Boston's sixth-round pick, out of Fresno State. He's a big pitcher already, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and has the velocity to match his imposing frame. The right-hander also throws a curveball and a change-up, though, you won't be surprised to hear that a sixth-round pick needs to refine those pitches in order to improve his chances of success as a pro.
Walks were the issue for Haley in 2012, but between the strikeouts and the more grounder-oriented results he induced, he was able to get away with it. That will be more difficult at higher levels, as is everything else for pitchers in the minors. But if Haley can keep the ball on the ground and continue to miss bats, a few extra walks won't be insurmountable.
Mike Augliera, SP
Augliera walked just three of the 157 batters he faced. His 4.42 ERA doesn't look as good as what Light and Haley accomplished, but the fifth-round selection from this summer's draft was plenty successful after initial issues. Augliera struggled to begin his professional career, but over his last nine appearances and 27-1/3 innings, the righty struck out 30 hitters while giving up just a pair of free passes, and held opponents to just three earned runs. That's an ERA of 0.99 for those of you keeping score at home, and while it's not an accurate representation of who Augliera is, neither is the 12.74 ERA he posted prior to this excellent stretch.
Augliera is something of a wild card, as it's clear he has fantastic control -- he led the NCAA in K/BB in his senior year. But, he had trouble early on with his command, as he threw plenty of strikes, but not quality ones. That seemed to fix itself with more exposure to pro hitters, and it's something that will be tested each step up. If he can combine consistent command with his control, then there could be a future for Augliera despite the lack of attention given to him as a potential prospect.
William Cuevas, SP
Cuevas was signed as a non-drafted free agent back in 2008, but this is the first year that he's spent outside of Rookie ball. He set new career bests in strikeout and walk rate despite the promotion, and was second on the Spinners in innings. Cuevas started just six times, but again, short-season starts don't mean what they normally do -- he still averaged over five frames per appearance, more than many of the pitchers who outpaced him in games started.
Cuevas will likely be a 22-year-old in Greenville next year, along with the rest of this group (though, Augliera will be the old man at 23). He's never been rated as a prospect with the Sox or in the GCL, and, like Augliera, his ability to keep consistent command to go along with his ability to throw strikes will be what makes or breaks his career.