FORT MYERS FL: Infielder Jose Iglesias #76 of the Boston Red Sox fields a ground ball during a Spring Training Workout Session at the Red Sox Player Development Complex in Fort Myers Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
We've already covered the big names at the level, and there are a few potential pieces sitting in the majors right now, rather than Triple-A, but Pawtucket isn't entirely bereft of players just yet.
Jose Iglesias - SS
Jose Iglesias didn't win the shortstop job out of spring training, with that honor instead going to Mike Aviles. While Aviles has shown why he's in the majors with his .324/.361/.588 start, Iglesias has scuffled in Pawtucket. There are some positives that show Iglesias might be coming along compared to last season's disappointing Triple-A stint, at least.
The 22-year-old shortstop is drawing walks in 10 percent of his plate appearances, and already has eight free passes through 18 games after securing 21 through 101 contests last year. His strikeouts are up slightly, but not in a damaging, significant way. It's not a perfect situation, but the extra patience is a good sign, and an extension of the little positives he showed in the second half last season.
Strangely, he's made three errors already at short, but we've all seen what he can do defensively -- there's little reason to be concerned about a few booted balls in an 18-game stretch. Now, if only he could show the teensiest bit of pop or batting average in that bat of his.
Alex Hassan - OF
Alex Hassan is something of a fringe prospect. He's not in anyone's top 20, and Baseball America places him #26 in the Red Sox system. He has loads of patience -- that .391 on-base percentage this year despite a lack of hitting isn't a fluke -- but it's about the only thing he offers offensively.
Hassan does have power, sure, but he isn't consistent with his swing. His legs don't always get involved, meaning he drives the ball entirely with his upper body. That's a great way to end a lot of at-bats with a flyout, and it's why Hassan's career-high for homers is last year's 13 with Double-A Portland, when he was 23 years old.
It doesn't help that Hassan is a total no-go defensively, as he's even a mess out in left field. If he's not hitting for power and he can't field, it's going to be tough to survive on plate discipline alone, especially against the most advanced competition out there. MLB pitchers are less forgiving than their minor-league brethren, and if he's not a threat at the plate, he won't get pitches that allow him to walk as often as he does.
There are a lot of ifs in his career, as he could still become more consistent with his swing and make the offensive problems disappear. There's always DH work to be had for one team or another, too, if his defense never improves. He's getting to the point where he'll need to figure a lot of that out sooner than later, though.
Che-Hsuan Lin - CF
Lin got just a moment of time with the Red Sox already this year, before Jason Repko was called up. You can see in the line above why he didn't get much more than that, as he hasn't quite figured out Triple-A yet. For a player whose value is in their defense, not figuring out a level means a serious lack of hitting.
After 441 plate appearances, Lin has a line of .229/.316/.296 at Triple-A. The walks are good, but, just like Hassan, if he's not a threat to hit the ball very far, or even to collect a ton of singles, opposing pitchers won't give him opportunities to compile free passes. He's generally come around at every level offensively, even if it's taken time, but he's not quite there yet with Pawtucket.
With Carl Crawford out for a few months more, Lin might end up in the majors again should any more injuries arise. But with Marlon Byrd in town, it's unlikely Lin would see much in the way of playing time, even as a defensive replacement. At the least, that means he can continue to work at Triple-A, and the Red Sox can see if he's worth the 40-man roster spot he's currently taking up.