Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox batting helmets and bats in the dugout before a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Travis Shaw, 1B
This is the first Salem update of the season for Travis Shaw, and it comes on the heels of his being named to the Carolina League All-Star team. As you can see above, he's had an impressive campaign, hitting for power, average, and drawing plenty of walks. He's even thrown in a five-for-six stolen base rate for good measure.
Shaw is 22 years old, and was twice drafted by the Red Sox. They first attempted to sign the son of former big-league pitcher Jeff Shaw in 2008, drafting him out of high school, but he instead attended Kent State University. Boston selected him in the ninth round of last summer's draft, and he started his professional career with a .262/.371/.446 line at Lowell, and finished it with a pair of games for Single-A Greenville.
Boston had Shaw skip Greenville otherwise, bumping him essentially from short-season league to High-A, but the 22-year-old has handled the promotion well. He's not exactly young for the level, but he's not an old man, either, so this kind of instant progress is a positive. It also helps that he has an advanced approach at the plate, whiffing just 18 percent of the time, and drawing walks at a nearly 14 percent clip.
Shaw isn't a big-time prospect, but there are some skills here offensively. Even as he's struggled a bit as of late, there have been positives: although hitting just .179 in his last 10 games, Shaw has made those few hits count, going deep three times, and drawing nine free passes against just four punch outs. A 914 OPS in a stretch where you hit under .200 is pretty nifty.
Given how well he's done at High-A after skipping Low-A, Shaw has at least entered the prospect radar. As is usual, we'll know more once he's faced the more experienced pitchers of the upper minors, but making the All-Star team is a good start for a full-season debut. There's very little to complain about here, in terms of results.
Brandon Workman, SP
Workman didn't make the All-Star team, but he's pitched like someone who merits consideration. In his 10 starts this year, he's racked up more strikeouts than innings, has improved on last year's already-good K/BB, and has started to drive up his prospect stock thanks to the use of his devastating cutter.
He's had just one start since his first in which he allowed more than three runs to score, and he's done a better job of keeping his pitches down for the most part in 2012. While he gave up two homers in his first appearance back in April, he's allowed just two since in his last 47-1/3 frames.
Workman isn't outright dominating in the way teammate Matt Barnes is, but he's pitching well enough that a promotion to Double-A could be in his future this season. It would require some shifting around -- Drake Britton has already been sent north, and the aforementioned Barnes just might merit a second promotion in his first full season -- but whether Workman actually gets promoted or not, the fact that his performance merits it is worth some praise.
He still has plenty he could work on at this level -- keeping his fastballs down consistently, working on lengthening his starts -- so it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he stuck at Salem all season. It's just encouraging to see Boston's 2010 second-round selection pitching this well, especially in a system lacking in potential big-league starters.
Michael Olmsted, RP
The right-handed Olmsted is not a prospect, though, it's likely you figured that out once you saw that he's already 25 years old, a reliever, and just in High-A. He's had some things get in the way of his career, though: namely, Tommy John surgery after two seasons in the Mets system, and then time spent pitching in Japan.
Boston brought him back stateside in 2011, and started him off in Rookie League before moving him to Greenville. He's basically followed the path of a kid out of school, despite already doing that, but he's succeeded in his second stint as a pro player. Olmsted is one of four Salem Red Sox to make the Carolina League All-Star team.
As with any pitching prospect, the low minors are not the place to judge his future, and with a case like Olmsted, it's tough to know if there's any future here until he's actually living it. He has a low-90s fastball, and complements it with a slider and curve, and that's enough to relieve. Whether he would still have such impressive-looking stats attached to them is something we'll just have to see about, as the 25-year-old moves up the ladder. As with anyone this old for the level, don't get your hopes up, but odder things have worked out in the past.