Greenville Drive Update: Blake Swihart, Keury De La Cruz, Henry Owens

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

Blake Swihart, C

Year Age Tm Lg Lev PA 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2012 20 Greenville SALL A 292 12 4 6 5 1 21 50 .268 .315 .411
2 Seasons 298 12 4 6 5 1 21 52 .262 .309 .402
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2012.

The season -- Swihart's first in full-season ball -- started out as ugly as can be, but he's more than rebounded from that. Swihart posted a 527 OPS in April, reminding us all that it takes time for a switch-hitting catcher who isn't old enough to drink to start producing results. He's been on the climb since then, though, with a 737 OPS May, 779 June, and now, a 916 July. Swihart is hitting .298/.355/.561 in July, with three homers in the month matching what had been his season total before the calendar turned over.

It hasn't fixed his season line entirely -- his April caused a whole lot of damage that will likely take an August equal to his July to remedy -- but if prospects are going to struggle, it's always good to see it happen early, rather than with more time at a level. Swihart is far and away the top prospect left at Greenville in terms of ceiling and tools, and seeing him start to crush the ball consistently is a great sign, given he's still just 20 years old.

Keury De La Cruz, OF

Year Age Tm Lg Lev PA 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2012 20 Greenville SALL A 371 21 6 14 13 6 19 75 .309 .356 .526
4 Seasons 1204 61 23 27 49 31 88 224 .277 .336 .448
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2012.

Keury De La Cruz is and in his first taste of full-season ball, just like Swihart. But unlike Swihart, his toughest month has been July: his lowest OPS for a month prior to this one was 895, but this time around, he's at just 722 thanks to a .250/.288/.434 showing. His impatient nature has caught up with him a bit, although it hasn't resulted in more strikeouts: De La Cruz just isn't getting the same kind of results on his batted balls, and it might be due to pitchers getting him to go after tougher pitches to do anything with.

It could also just be a few weeks of poor luck, but even that would reveal part of the outfielder's current weakness. He isn't very disciplined to this point, and while he's absolutely young enough to fix that, it's the reality of his situation. It's tough to still get on base and be productive in the midst of a slump, be it on caused by luck or not, when you don't draw walks thanks to your approach.

Don't consider this to be an overly negative take on De La Cruz's season or his potential. It's just stating that there's a clear problem that needs to become less of one with time, as pitchers in higher levels won't make things any easier than those in the Sally have.

*****

Henry Owens, SP

Year Age Tm Lg Lev ERA GS IP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 19 Greenville SALL A 5.30 16 74.2 330 1.420 8.8 1.0 4.0 12.9 3.24
1 Season 5.30 16 74.2 330 1.420 8.8 1.0 4.0 12.9 3.24
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 7/24/2012.

Owens has been just great since his early problems, but since the last time we checked up on him earlier in the month, he has had one problematic start. Before that, though, he did strike out 11 hitters in nine innings against one walk while giving up just a pair of runs in the previous two starts. He wasn't as productive the third time out, with Owens giving up six runs in two frames on Sunday. He struck out four in those two innings, but handed out an equal number of free passes, the most he's allowed in a start since May 6, when he also walked four.

Shortened start aside, you have to love what the still-teenage Owens has been doing in his debut campaign. The ERA isn't pretty, but that's almost entirely the work of early April. His peripherals tell the truer tale, and they say that this kid is going to be real good.

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