Jupiter, FL, USA; Fans wait for an autograph before a spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
"Update" might be the wrong word for this. The Spinners open their season on Monday night, and two of the three players we'll be covering leading into that game were drafted and signed within the last couple of weeks. It's hard to give an update on those who have yet to do anything, but that's the name of this series; treat it as an introduction (or re-introduction) into who is playing for short-season Lowell.
Williams Jerez, CF
Jerez was a second-round selection in the 2011 draft, who spent his time after signing with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in Rookie ball. The 19-year-old was very raw, but is one of the top athletes in the system, hence the GCL stint followed by the mid-season debut at short-season Lowell.
He's a center fielder at the moment, and while there's a chance he moves to a corner eventually, he's too young to for it to be known if that's going to be required by his eventual filling out just yet. He has plus batspeed and quick hands, and that creates projections of plus power in his future, but he'll have to figure out how to translate that into production -- that's the thing with tools. Just because they could become something doesn't mean they will.
The six walks against 33 strikeouts was a hint, but if you didn't catch it, Jerez doesn't have great pitch recognition or discipline at this stage. He's raw in his approach to hitting, but that's what Rookie and short-season leagues are for, anyway.
If there's one thing the Red Sox have no shortage of in the minors, it's outfielders, so Jerez has plenty of time to develop as needed. A strong stint at Lowell would still go a long way towards his stock, though, given his incredibly-raw game, but he's already been recognized a bit by national publications: Kevin Goldstein ranked Jerez #19 in the systemheading into 2012.
Pat Light, P
Light broke out in his final season for Monmouth, increasing his strikeouts once again, cutting into his already-low walk rate, and allowed a career-low number of runs scored despite a career-high in innings pitched. This was enough to get him picked at #37 by the Red Sox in the 2012 draft.
It's not clear whether Light is a starter or reliever long-term. He's a big righty, at 6-6 and 215 pounds, and he has a plus-plus fastball that is often in the mid-90s, although he has been effective in the low-90s as well. Inconsistent mechanics are not what would send him to the pen, but instead, the lack of reliable secondary stuff. His breaking ball is a bit too slurvy for its own good at present, and needs to tighten up if it's to become an effective pitch going forward. He does, however, have the potential to add some sink to a fastball that's already fantastic, and that could help him significantly.
Serious emphasis on developing the secondary stuff might not happen in Lowell, especially if he's comfortably pitching well harnessing the heater. But if he instantly succeeds, remember: a plus-plus fastball is all that's needed to get rid of hitters at this level, and, as Matt Barnes reminds, through High-A as well.
There's a lot to like about Light, but there are serious questions surrounding him, too. We'll start to see how he answers them very soon.
Mike Augliera, P
Augliera was a college senior who signed for just $25,000, despite the fifth-round slot recommendation of $218,000. He's known for this right now, since the flexibility contracts like Augliera's afforded the Red Sox has allowed them to invest more money into higher upside selections, but he's a pitcher who might have plenty to offer on the mound, too. The right-hander led the NCAA in K/BB ratio in 2012, but his ability to command his pitches and throw strikes isn't new, as his 1.6 walk rate throughout four years of college attests.
Augliera has the potential to move on from Lowell rather quickly, given his ability to find the strike zone. He's already 22, and a college product with four years at that level should adapt well to short-season leagues. If he can continue to use his curve as an out pitch against the hitters of this league, he'll succeed out of the gate, and see a promotion just as quickly.