ANAHEIM CA: World Futures All-Star Stolmy Pimentel #45 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Derrik Gibson, SS
Gibson was drafted back in 2008 by the Red Sox, a second-round selection who made his professional debut as an 18-year-old back in Rookie League and then Low-A Lowell. It's been a slow climb for him since, with Gibson spending all of 2009 at Low-A once more, and then repeating the one year, one level dance each season since.
Except for that 2009 stint at Lowell, he's never been impressive statistically. His loftiest OPS as a pro is 776, with the second-place finish going to his 2011 at High-A Salem (627). He draws walks, and he doesn't strike out much, but he just hasn't shown much of an ability to hit to this point.
He's also likely a future second baseman because of his arm, and more offense will be expected of him there. Until he starts to hit even a little, it's tough to even hand him an informational pamphlet from Utility Infielders Of America. Even the club that employs Willie Bloomquist has standards, you know.
Boston hasn't been particularly aggressive with him, in the sense he's done one level per year, but he hasn't even shown as much progress offensively on a level-to-level basis as someone like Che-Hsuan Lin. Who, by the way, isn't in Boston while they are short on outfielders because he can't hit.
Dan Butler, C
Dan Butler isn't so much a prospect as he is organizational depth, but he's still interesting as a backstop who occasionally flashes some offensive ability. He's also moved up through the system quickly as of late, playing in Double-A Portland for the first time as a 24-year-old in 2011. He's back there now with Ryan Lavarnway on the 40-man roster and getting the playing time in Triple-A.
Butler isn't a future everyday backstop, but thanks to his defense and ability to throw out runners, there's likely a backup job in his future. The Red Sox might be flush with young, promising catchers at the moment, but there's always room for someone who can block the plate, throw out a runner, and maybe lash a single every fourth or fifth day.
Stolmy Pimentel, SP
Pimentel didn't make his first start of the season until April 27, thanks to a lat injury that slowed him down this spring. Given his 2011, you expect horrible things to happen each time he takes the mound, but he's still young enough to turn things around. Whether or not he will do so is another matter entirely -- youth isn't everything.
Pimentel struck out seven batters in five innings without surrendering a walk. He gave up seven hits, too, so he wasn't without some blemishes, but he scattered them enough to hold the opposition to two earned runs.
If you've forgotten why Pimentel is a pitcher who you are only allowed to be cautiously optimistic about at present, here's a reminder of his 2011 campaign. Pimentel was crushed in Portland, failing to miss bats or find the strike zone, and he gave up 13.4 hits per nine. This wasn't just bad luck and batting average on balls in play -- well, the latter was part of it, but it was on Pimentel and not just the defense -- as he had problems with his command and sequencing.
He was demoted to High-A Salem, where he had pitched successfully in 2010, and while things improved, it wasn't enough to convince anyone that panic time was over. Now, back in Portland, Pimentel essentially gets a second chance to erase the year of his development he lost.
Failure can be productive for a prospect, but it can also be a sign that things just aren't going to happen. Watching Pimentel's progress in 2012 will go a long way towards telling us which way we should be thinking of him as a starter. He's on the 40-man roster, placed there following the 2010 season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so there's even more reason than usual to hope a young pitcher at Double-A pans out -- he's using up a valuable roster spot. More pitching, regardless of outcome, will give us a better idea of whether he's worth it or not.