Goodyear, AZ, USA; A general view of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Keury De La Cruz, OF
Keury De La Cruz continues to make his presence known, and while his power output was down a bit in June compared to his booming April and May, he still managed a .358/.403/.493 showing with just 13 strikeouts in 67 at-bats. He's been back in the lineup every day for a bit now, and has continued to hit in that stretch, posting a .364/.378/.477 line in his last 10 games.
De La Cruz didn't begin the year as a prospect anyone was paying attention to, but the Red Sox believed he could grow into some power and offensive skills. Now 20, in his first taste of full-season ball, that's just what he's done. The season isn't over yet, and there's still a lot of work to be done here -- he needs better plate discipline, consistency in his power, and, of course, for success to come against more experienced competition -- but the early returns for De La Cruz are encouraging, much more so than they were this time last year.
Dreily Guerrero, OF
Dreily Guerrero waited until mid-June for his 2012 season and debut at Lowell to begin, but after crushing the level in the short time he was there, the Red Sox bumped him up to Low-A Greenville. Guerrero is in his fourth year with the Red Sox, as he spent ages 17 through 20 in the Dominican Summer and Gulf Coast leagues. He had never done much of anything there, walking plenty but failing to show any signs of pop in his results, but is off to a solid start in 2012.
Of course, he's looked less appealing at Greenville, but that's to be expected, and there's little to glean from either of the samples above, anyway. He's likely a utility player in the making, since he can line up just about anywhere on the diamond. While it's not expected he's going to make much in the way of contact -- he hasn't yet, and probably won't as competition stiffens -- he does know how to draw a walk, and there's power potential in there somewhere, despite the whiffs.
Yeiper Castillo, SP
Yeiper Castillo is in his sixth year with Boston, and had used up five years of minor-league service time prior to the start of the current season. This could be it for the 23-year-old in the Red Sox organization, as in addition to the service time he's also Rule 5 eligible as of this off-season, meaning he likely needs a strong second half to stick around for much longer. There are always new players incoming from the draft and international signings, and that means that, after a certain time, your place in line just isn't held anymore.
Castillo hasn't had issues missing bats, but he's also missed the strike zone plenty. This is his second stint with Greenville, as the right-hander pitched there in 2010 before missing all of the 2011 season after undergoing shoulder surgery -- the second time hasn't gone as well as the first. His total work at Greenville still looks solid, although his age is a bit of a concern, giving him even more reason for a strong finish to the 2012 campaign.
Unlike some of the players from last summer who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 by the 40-man roster, I'm not sure Castillo will draw interest from a trade partner. We'll see, of course -- he doesn't strike me as the kind of pitcher who is guaranteed to be scooped up in the Rule 5, so he might not require the protection anyway.