July 4, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Mauro Gomez (50) hits his first major league hit with a double during the second inning in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris (center) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Mauro Gomez, 1B
You might be surprised to hear this, but Mauro Gomez is still hitting in Triple-A. He's slowed down a little post-All-Star break, but .297/.366/.486 over 19 games and 74 at-bats isn't exactly embarrassing, either. He has three homers and eight extra-base hits overall in that stretch, and still looks like a guy who will be called up to Boston when it's time for expanded rosters in September, thanks to that pop plus some patience. Albeit not an overabundance of it.
Gomez has also hit .300/.323/.400 in limited big-league time, and even though he's 27 years old and in Triple-A, there are scouts who think he has the ability to adapt and believe he can be a useful bat in the majors, too. That's good news for the Red Sox, as they dealt Lars Anderson away at the deadline. It's not that Anderson was a future savior in Boston, but he was considered their depth at first should anything go wrong, and Gomez even more officially has had that role passed on to him with Anderson's departure.
J.C. Linares, OF
J.C. Linares, who you might still know by his full name of Juan Carlos, has been a bit up-and-down since his promotion (and return) to Triple-A Pawtucket. He's now at .291/.319/.457 on the season, in part due to an awful 36 at-bat stretch over the last 10 games in which he's walked zero times, struck out on 10 occasions, and hit all of .194/.184/.361. He's ripped the few balls he's made solid contact with, but otherwise, it was a rough 10 games.
Linares did very well in Portland, and while he was 27, he's also a Cuban import lacking a bit in professional experience, at least relative to other 27-year-old minor-league hitters. You can cut him some slack for that, but not too much, as there was also plenty of evidence that Linares was going to struggle against more advanced secondary stuff. He's had his approach torn to shreds a bit, as he's already whiffed 26 times after 30 in 74 additional plate appearances, but more trouble is the dip in walk from nine to four percent.
He needs a bit more time than this before we make any kind of call on his career, but the initial results are not looking great. We'll see with that time, though, whether it's in Linares to adjust and succeed.
Chris Hernandez, SP
Chris Hernandez doesn't generate much discussion, but the 2010 draft selection is already in Triple-A at age 23. He was a seventh-round pick in that draft, and is at the highest level of the minors before either Anthony Ranaudo or Brandon Workman, both of whom were selected far earlier in MLB's amateur draft.
No one wants to talk about a pitcher who relies entirely on deception and grounders in the minors, though -- that's the kind of thing you get excited about with veterans clinging on to a career, not kids just about to begin theirs. That doesn't mean Hernandez isn't interesting, though, because when his control is working for him, and he can generate grounders, then there's something here, even if it's not flashy or even mid-rotation worthy.
He's had some trouble keeping that control in check during his first four games and 18 innings at Pawtucket, but that's to be expected, given there are more experienced hitters here than there were in the Eastern League. As he's very command-oriented, and relies on a high-80s fastball with sink to it in order to succeed, leaving the ball up or out of the zone could both result in problems for Hernandez. If he can locate low and in the zone, though, he could be trouble for hitters, despite a lack of obvious out stuff. It's a big if, but we won't have to hypothesize for much longer, as he's here, one step from the majors.