Fort Myers, FL, USA; Detailed view of baseballs used for batting practice before a spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Garin Cecchini, 3B
Garin Cecchini was impressive during his first professional stint with Low-A Lowell in 2011, at least until injury cut his season short. The Red Sox saw enough in the 133 plate appearances he did have to promote the 21-year-old to Single-A Greenville for the 2012 season, and while a .268/.341/.341 April didn't show us much, he's made up for it in the time since.
The calendar is nearly ready to turn once more, closing the book on a month in which Cecchini has hit .333/.415/.521 with 20 strikeouts against 14 walks. Both of those figures show plate discipline and pitch recognition, (and better than he displayed in April, too) but he's been doing plenty with pitches besides watching them pass as of late. His 12 extra-base hits are twice the number he had in April, and let's not forget that he's also swiped 16 bases already, while being caught just the three times (84 percent success).
He hasn't dominated the level by any means yet, even if the last month of games was impressive. With Blake Swihart going through the arduous development of a young, switch-hitting catcher, Ceccini is likely the most exciting prospect at the level for the Red Sox right now, and he's starting to hit like that's the case.
David Renfroe, 3B
Cecchini isn't the only third baseman at Greenville (nor is he the lone 21-year-old at the hot corner), but he is the primary one. That's because David Renfroe Has played 17 games at first and another eight at DH in addition to his 13 at third. Renfroe, selected in the third round of the 2009 draft, was quickly forgotten with Cecchini's emergence at Lowell in 2011, but he's had his own solid start to the 2012 season.
Renfroe has struck out 17 percent of the time, with walks in over 10 percent of his plate appearances. While his batting average hasn't impressed despite the low whiff rate, he does have an Isolated Power of just under .200. Not great, but not bad. The difference between Renfroe and Cecchini (at least, in terms of 2012 results) is the direction their Mays took them in: while Cecchini used the month to prop up a poor start, Renfroe hit a rough patch. He's hit .264/.372/.403 for the month, and has just a 661 OPS in his last 10 games.
As with Cecchini, you don't make too much out of a single month, especially since he was just hitting a few weeks ago. It's also good to see him still getting on base and contributing even when he doesn't have his power stroke working for him. But you would like to see more from him, especially against his fellow right-handers: Renfroe has managed just .208/.287/.333 against them to this point in the year. It's too early in both the year and his career for those numbers to mean anything significant, but righties aren't going to get any easier as he climbs the ladder, either.
Jordan Weems, C
Last week, we discussed why it was important to be patient with the 20-year-old Blake Swihart, who had to deal with the duel burdens of being a switch-hitter and a backstop. While the left-handed Jordan Weems doesn't need to worry about the former, the latter by itself is still a massive undertaking.
The 2011 third-round selection is even younger than Swihart, and has to learn the same tricks of the trade that any professional catcher expecting to remain such does in his first year of full-season ball. The line above suggests he hasn't figured anything out on the other side of the plate just yet, but considering he had a batting average of .088 last time we checked in on him, things could be worse.
Weems hit .140/.317/.140 in April, but has had a more productive go of it in May (.263/.344/.316). That's clearly not what the Red Sox want out of him, but it's a good first step to recovery from a horrific start to the year. He's striking out just 20 percent of the time -- don't let the low batting average fool you in that regard -- and has drawn walks at an impressive 15 percent clip, though just how much of that is passivity due to his early struggles isn't quite known at this stage. Weems is very raw, and too young to know just what he's going to turn into. Building on his May would help fill in the blanks a bit, but he's a long way off regardless.