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
Swihart's first half featured a bit less power than his second, but his season line is doomed to be ugly given he's been unable to maintain any kind of positive consistency in his first full season as a pro. There are some good signs -- he's striking out just 17 percent of the time -- and some bad -- a six percent walk rate and sub-.300 OBP -- but remember that he's a switch-hitting catcher who is just 20 years old. Players like that don't always just show up as finished products, ready to mash.
That's not to say you can't be disappointed with Swihart's first campaign, but, to at least some degree, a season with the kinds of severe ups and downs he's had isn't unexpected. He's shown flashes -- even in his last 10 games, when he's hit just .189, Swihart has managed to go deep twice and complement that with a pair of doubles and a triple -- but there just hasn't been enough, in consistent enough stretches, to bring his line out from the extreme ugliness of his April.
Garin Cecchini, 3B
Cecchini is another whose season can be likened to a roller coaster, but as he never quite slumped in the same way that Swihart did, it's less noticeable in his season line. His month-by-month OPS rates:
July is the lone month where Cecchini actually hit around .300, as the rest of the time, he's either been way above (season-high of .336 in May) or well below (.268 in April). He hasn't had a dominant campaign, but there's been plenty to look kindly upon. The 40 steals in 44 chances is good for a 91 percent success rate, he's striking out just 18 percent of the time, and drawing walks in 11 percent of plate appearances. The power hasn't been there all season, but has come on occasion, like in May, when he had three homers and 13 extra-base hits.
You'd like a bit more pop from Cecchini going forward, but after a rough start to the year, he's settled in quite well for the most part. It's likely he'll be 22 and in High-A next year, so a real breakout between now and then would do a lot for his value.
Keury De La Cruz. OF
It's a little surprising that Keury De La Cruz hasn't been moved up to High-A Salem already, as he's hitting .312/.359/.542, and it's at higher levels that his free-swinging ways are bound to be challenged. De La Cruz makes a lot of contact -- free-swinging here doesn't mean he swings-and-misses often -- but he doesn't sit around to draw walks very often. As this is his first campaign where the strategy has developed into production, and he's all of 20 in Low-A, you can't just assume that it's something he can continue to replicate going forward until you actually see it happen.
De La Cruz has had a great August, with a .286/.359/.514 line, but his whole season has been pretty good (and at times better) than this. He was something of a sleeper, a player that the Red Sox front office believed in more than prospect analysts at the start of the season, and it will be interesting to see just how close the opinions of the two camps come together when the 2013 rankings and scouting reports are published.