Mickey Pena, SP
Pena is still putting up some ridiculous numbers at Low-A Greenville, thanks to his minuscule walk rate. He hasn't been at his best since we checked in on him in early June, though, as he's allowed nine runs in his last three starts and 14 innings, while striking out just seven and walking four in that stretch.
It's hard to complain about the overall product, though, as his June 9 start where he allowed five of those runs to score was the first in which more than three runs had crossed the plate against him since tax day. He has more starts with zero runs scored against him than he does four or more on the season, and while two of the three starts were lacking in strikeouts, they are two of the three total he has with fewer than four punch outs on the year. It's been a good year for Pena, his first in full-season ball.
Don't forget, though, that a starter in the low minors with command and a quality heater can decimate opposing lineups in a way that isn't representative of the actual prospect package. His 2012 performance to date, though, certainly intrigues as to what his future holds.
Noe Ramirez, SP
We last peeked in at Ramirez after his professional debut, an event delayed by weakness in his shoulder. The 2011 selection was expected to be the kind of arm that could be productive in a hurry at Greenville, though, and he's shown that in his first few outings in 2012.
Two of his three starts didn't feature a single free pass, and Ramirez has also shown command of his stuff despite the long layoff, with more than five times as many whiffs as walks in his first 14 innings back. This isn't unexpected, as his ability to throw strikes consistently is part of the reason it was expected he would already have seen success in the minors by now. Injuries have an unfortunate history of interrupting schedules like that.
Ramirez isn't an elite prospect or anything with that kind of gravity surrounding him, but he's a promising arm that could easily be perceived as one belonging to a future major-league hurler. Like with Pena, his ability to live successfully in the strike zone in the low minors isn't necessarily an indication of where he'll be as more experienced competition gets a look, but it's a great way to get a pro career going, regardless.
David Renfroe, 3B
Renfroe is the other third baseman on the roster, besides Garin Cecchini, and he's the one who has been pushed off of third a bit because of the latter's existence. In 2011, the 20-year-old Renfroe logged 100 games at the position, but in 2012, the 2009, third-round draft selection has been bumped to first and DH as well, keeping him to just 22 games at the hot corner.
His season has had its ups and downs, with Renfroe having a strong April from a power perspective (four homers and a .261 Isolated Power in the month), but otherwise, things have been a bit tough. He hasn't been unproductive, but he hasn't exactly asserted his bat at the level, either, and that's not the best sign given it's his second tour of duty in Low-A.
His last 10 games have gone well, at least, with Renfroe hitting .300/.382/.500 with a homer and three doubles. He's struck out just five times and walked four in that stretch, though the whiffs haven't been a major issue. And all this pseudo-negativity aside somewhat blocks the fact that Renfroe only posted a .240/.296/.377 line his first time at Greenville: as disappointing as this might seem sans context, it's actually an improvement for someone who is still younger than some of Boston's most recent draft selections.