FORT MYERS, FL: The Boston Red Sox take batting practice just before the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Brandon Workman, SP
Workman didn't have to wait until 2013 to move to Double-A Portland, and he made his first start at the level earlier this week. Things went about as well as you would hope them to, with Workman throwing six scoreless frames while striking out a half-dozen batters. And, to top it all off, all sans any walks.
Things won't always be that easy, especially as Double-A hitters get more of a look at what Workman is utilizing. But if he can keep the ball down in the zone, inducing grounders while keeping his cutter as an effective pitch for helping with whiffs, then he'll find success against the most advanced hitters he's faced.
Unless Workman goes all Matt Barnes-on-the-Sally on the Eastern League, this is going to be his home for the start of the 2013 season as well. But now, the 23-year-old is just two stops from the majors, likely two years out from coming to the majors to stay, right in line with when the Red Sox will start to have some openings in the rotation due to free agency.
Vazquez's season line with Salem might not look like much, but there are a few things to keep in mind. When we looked at his season back on August 1, he was hitting a similar .266/.358/.395, a point he got to by destroying opposing pitchers between the All-Star break and the first of August to the tune of .347/.448/.592, with five of the seven homers he would hit at the level. Nine plate appearances later, he was in Portland: the Red Sox saw enough of what they thought was legitimate progress in that stretch to bump him before letting his line recover to reflect said improvement.
Unsurprisingly, Vazquez has scuffled a bit in his introduction to the new level, as he was just becoming well-acquainted with the previous, easier one. That's not a knock on the promotion, so much as a reminder that the process is now beginning anew for the 21-year-old backstop. Remember, though, that there's reason to be patient about 20-year-old Blake Swihart, who is two levels behind Vazquez, so there's no reason to worry too much about Vazquez just yet.
Ryan Pressly, RP
Ryan Pressly appeared in relief more than a handful of times for High-A Salem, but since moving to Portland, that's been the only gig. This shouldn't be a surprise, given Pressly has had some problems with homers, walks, and hits in High-A in 2011, and as such hasn't graced these pages often in our reviews of prospects' seasons. As a relief option, though, his career could take on some new significance. As his early returns show, though, that's certainly no guarantee.
He generally sits in the low-90s with his fastball, and has a mid-80s cutter that can occasionally catch too much of the plate, as cutters are wont to do. That, and his secondary stuff, could use some more work, but that's why a bullpen role is a good one for Pressly. He can focus on cutting out the extraneous, and work on what's worth keeping around, then go from there.