Fort Myers, FL, USA; General view of JetBlue Stadium during a spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Noe Ramirez, SP
Seven starts in, Noe Ramirez is starting to look like he was worth the wait. He's not overpowering hitters with strikeout stuff, but he's flashing quality control of what he has, and it's helped him punch out three times as many batters as he's walked, regardless. On July 7, in a six-inning start, Ramirez struck out eight hitters, a professional high for him (in what has been a very short time of being professional), but also walked four hitters, the first time he ever handed out more than two free passes in an outing.
The 2011 draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton likely won't be at Greenville for very long, despite the missed first few months of the year, if he can keep up this level of success. That's not to say he'll be bumped to High-A Salem in 2012, just that, if all goes well, this initial half-season of Low-A just might suffice for a player whose career has already been delayed by injury. That would help put his development back on track, and, also give us a chance to see how this command-oriented hurler can succeed against slightly more experienced competition.
Mickey Pena, SP
Pena is currently on the minor-league disabled list with a hamstring injury, hence his only throwing one-third of an inning in July. Before his leg cut into his season, he was very impressive, striking out almost five times as many hitters as he walked while keeping the ball in the yard during his first year of full-season ball.
Pena, like Ramirez, will find a real test for his particular skill-set later on in his career. That doesn't mean we shouldn't appreciate what he's done, here, though, as it's worth paying attention to. He picked up where he left off after a handful of frames and appearances at short-season Lowell, and, if he returns intact, should have a nifty first 100 innings as a professional pretty soon.
Jose Vinicio, SS
Jose Vinicio was out with his own injury, but after a quick stop with the Lowell Spinners, he's back in Greenville where he began his season. Just because the 18-year-old shortstop isn't setting the Sally on fire like Xander Bogaerts did in the same position one year ago doesn't mean he's not worth an update. Vinicio has plenty of his own tools, and while he's not as obvious to pay attention to as someone with Bogaerts' power, there's a lot more to his game than his bat.
Vinicio's fielding needs work, but he has the instincts and tools to become a positive contributor at short someday. He's still making tons of errors, leading one to believe he's still rushing things and forcing mistakes where they needn't be, but there's still plenty to like here, despite how raw his glove is. The same can be said for his bat -- he's an 18-year-old switch-hitter, and it's going to take time for him to develop both swings, and the pitch recognition from each side. The fact he's not completely overpowered, at his age, at his diminutive size, is noteworthy on its own.
As with basically every others shortstop in the system, Vinicio has plenty of questions surround him, but he's an intriguing talent that, once you take age into account, is having a solid debut in full-season ball.