Goodyear, AZ, USA; A general view of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Jose Vinicio, SS
The teenage Vinicio has been hitting well as of late, putting up a .324/.359/.486 line over his last 10 games and 37 at-bats. He's punching out just 17 percent of the time at Greenville, and while he's drawing free passes just one-third that often, it's still notable strike zone recognition for an 18-year-old in his first taste of pro ball other than the Dominican Summer League.
His defense is promising, but isn't there yet -- he's already made 18 errors at shortstop in 217 chances. That being said, he's been turning double plays well enough, and it's expected that a talent as raw and young as Vinicio would struggle defensively at this level.
He needs to work on his technique stealing bases, as he's just 13 for 21 (62 percent), and this gets tougher on runners as they move up the ladder and face better, more experienced catchers, not easier. That being said, there are plenty of encouraging signs here from Vinicio, once his age and size (he's just 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds at present) are taken into account. Boston certainly has no shortage of intriguing shortstop prospects at the moment.
Keury De La Cruz, OF
De La Cruz has continued to impress since we first covered him in mid-May, abusing the opposition to the tune of .410/.489/.641 over his last 10 games and 39 at-bats. The left-handed Dominican has six extra-base hits in that stretch, and is now up to 30 on the season. There's little to complain about with his season, especially given he's all of 20 years old.
De La Cruz entered the year as a smallish outfielder who had shown some promise with the bat, but he just keeps hitting, as with four home runs in his last four games, he's now at .306/.355/.566 overall and among the league leaders in several offensive categories. The knock against him is he's going to have to keep it up. The 20-year-old Dominican is a compact, athletic 5-foot-11, but he has no loud tools, as average speed and arm strength gives him a left field profile, and he's an aggressive hitter whose free-swinging ways could get exposed at the upper levels. His stock is up, but only in the sense that he's gone from a name in the crowd to someone worth keeping an eye on.
This isn't much different of a caveat than what was mentioned to you in the past: De La Cruz doesn't have well-developed plate discipline or strike zone recognition yet, and while he isn't whiffing a lot yet, it's likely the gap between his free passes and punch outs will grow as he moves up the ladder. The power outburst is a great sign, but he'll eventually be challenged, and his future as a prospect will be better understood once we see how he adjusts to that moment.
Noe Ramirez, SP
Noe Ramirez was Boston's fourth-round selection in the 2011 draft, out of Cal State-Fullerton. He had not yet pitched professionally, skipping out on 2011 entirely and missing the start of the 2012 season due to weakness in his shoulder. That delay was a shame for more than the usual reasons, as Ramirez seemed like the kind of arm that could hit the ground running after being drafted: he throws tons of strikes, pitched for a competitive NCAA team, and was also a member of Team USA.
Better late than never, or whatever other cliche you'd prefer to see in this space, as Ramirez was perfect for five innings in his debut with the Greenville Drive. Five innings, five strikeouts, and the rest is zeros. Not that he'll avoid giving up a walk forever, but given he struck out 310 against just 61 strikeouts in college (5.1 K/BB), seeing him succeed with command and control in his first start in the Sox organization isn't a surprise.
Ramirez uses a fastball that sits in the low-90s, but has touched 93 in the past, but his primary out pitch is a mid-to-low 80s change-up with sinking action to it*. Before the shoulder injury, Ramirez was working a breaking ball into the mix, and it's likely that will continue now that he's back on the mound.
*Ramirez credits his change-up to Ricky Romero, who visited his old school of Cal State-Fullerton after hearing of Ramirez's background and scholarship -- the two both hail from East LA, and are now friends. Alex Speier wrote about this last year, shortly after Ramirez was drafted, and it's worth the refresher if you've forgotten.