Ft. Myers, FL, USA; A general view from the stands during the sixth inning of a spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero has seen his batting average and power slip a bit, but there's still some things to like from his first stint as a pro. He's 18 for 23 on steals, and has attempted a theft about one-third of the time he's been on base. The line looks totally punch-less sans context, but your average New York-Penn leaguer is at .247/.322/.349 -- average power from your fresh-out-of-school shortstop prospect is just fine, especially coupled with above-average discipline.
It's that plate discipline that should have you the most optimistic about Marrero's chances once he gets to full-season ball in 2013. He's walking over 13 percent of the time, a rate that at this level could sometimes be construed as passive rather than honestly patient. But, as he's striking out just 15 percent of the time, it's far more likely this is just Marrero showing off some advanced strike zone recognition. As he develops, hopefully he'll add in a bit more pitch recognition to help him figure out what he should attempt to drive, and what he should let pass him by. The early returns are solid either way.
Mike Augliera, P
Augliera was roughed up in two July appearances, in which he totaled just 3-1/3 innings but allowed 12 runs to score. That's ruined his ERA, likely for the entirety of 2012, but he's already begun to turn things around. In his last four appearances and 12 innings -- all the work post-implosion -- Augliera has allowed one run while striking out 18 batters against a single free pass.
Augliera led the NCAA in K/BB before the Red Sox drafted him this summer in the fifth round, so it was expected he would show off excellent control in his pro debut. The issue, at least at times, has been that his command isn't as developed as it will need to be. The last four appearances give you hope that he's recognized this, and is focusing on throwing quality strikes, rather than just strikes. There's a huge distinction, as even major leaguers still need to be reminded of every now and again. Ask Jon Lester about that one.
Kendrick Perkins, OF
Perkins started out his year hot, but has just fallen apart since then. He's hit .200/.273/.333 in his last 10 games, and has seen his monthly OPS rates fall from 803 to 676 to the 340 he's thrown up to this point in August. He's still all of 20 years old, but you'd like a little more from the 2010 draft pick, given it's his third year in the pros.
You could deal with some of the line from the last 10 games -- he's shown some power despite a low batting average, for instance -- but he has just two walks against 14 strikeouts in that stretch, and that's an area he's going to need to work on to continue to be considered a prospect in the future. Punching out 36 percent of the time, as Perkins is this year, is insanity at any level, and the average in the New York-Penn League is 19 percent -- Perkins has nearly doubled that. It makes the 10 percent walk rate look ugly simply by being so much smaller, and that's tough to do.
His approach needs some work, as Perkins needs some development in the pitch and strike zone recognition areas. With a strikeout rate this high, you have to think at least some of these walks have more to do with passivity than they do the intention of drawing a free pass. It's not working at Lowell, and it won't work at more difficult venues, either.