Fort Myers, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins center fielder Darin Mastroianni (left) gets tagged out at home plate by Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway (60) at JetBlue Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
The power still isn't quite where Lavarnway's past indicates it would be, but he's coming along thanks to a .405/.469/.667 June in which he hit more doubles (10) and homers (four) than he had during the season's first two months. The combined production of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach means Lavarnway can continue to work on his game on both sides of the plate in Pawtucket on a regular basis.
Defensively, Lavarnway is throwing out 34 percent of runners, in line with last season's rates, and has cut down on his passed balls -- whereas last year he let seven by in 62 games behind the plate, in 2012, he's allowed three in 64 contests. Within that citation is another important one: he's already caught more games this year than he did in all of 2011.
He's not a finished product, despite June's outburst, but there's been progress this season, enough so that, if he stays on track, 2013 is looking like it will be the year Lavarnway finally gets to lose his prospect and rookie eligibility.
Pedro Ciriaco, IF
Ciriaco is no prospect, but the 26-year-old is a highly-capable defender at multiple infield positions. The bat isn't going to impress anyone in the bigs -- this season, his third at Triple-A, is possibly the best thing he's ever had at the plate in the minors -- but that glove... well, you saw him in spring training. It's a thing of beauty.
The reason Ciriaco gets a mention now is because of Boston's chaotic infield situation. Dustin Pedroia is on the disabled list. Will Middlebrooks has missed four straight games, and it's unclear where he's headed to the DL as well. Ciriaco isn't on the 40-man roster, but room could easily be made, and his glove would help to keep the pain of losing Pedroia down to a minimum on at least one side of the ball.
Alex Hassan, OF
The 24-year-old Hassan has had a decent stretch as of late, helping to bring up a batting average that's been low all season long. In his last 10 games, Hassan has hit .333/.463/.364, logging just one extra-base hit, a double, but picking up eight walks against four whiffs in the same stretch. June was easily his best month of the year, with the outfielder hitting an even .300 to go with his 875 OPS. He also had more walks (15) than strikeouts (11), showing off that patience that's the primary reason some Boston fans are excited about his future.
Hassan still doesn't show any consistency with his power, though, and since he offers nothing defensively, it's tough to get too excited about him, even after a strong month. There might be a big-league career in here, but right now, given those issues, he doesn't profile as a starter, even of the second-division variety.