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)
Jose Vinicio, SS
It hasn't been an eye-poppingly awesome campaign for Jose Vinicio, but considering it's his age-18 season, and he has impressive tools, there's a lot to like about it. He's hit .277/.320/.371 in a league where the average batter puts up a .258/.334/.385, and he's done that as an 18-year-old, whereas your average Sally League position player is nearly three years older than that.
His baserunning could use work, as evidenced by the paltry 69 percent success rate on steals, and his glove, while promising, still creates errors in bunches. He hasn't been able to work on any of this as of late, as he last played on August 10 before heading to the minor-league disabled list with a sprained knee. But even if he doesn't suit up again until 2013, there's a lot to like in this teenager's first year out of short-season ball.
Mickey Pena, SP
Pena has not pitched nearly as well after his injury as he did before, with the left-hander giving up 11 runs in 21 innings over four starts. He's struck out 17 against five walks in that stretch, but also allowed three homers, so he might not be hitting his spots as consistently in the strike zone as he was before his season was interrupted.
All told, though, this has been a successful transition out of short-season leagues into full-season ones, with Pena still owning an ERA for the season under three, as well as that impressive K/BB. As he moves up through the minors, he'll be challenged more, as pitchers who rely so heavily on command are. How he responds to that will tell a lot about what kind of future he has in store.
Blake Swihart, C
Swihart's rough April meant that his season line was likely doomed from the start, but he's slowly patched it up to hide much of the damage. His year looks mediocre, but that sells him short on what he's done since adjusting to early struggles:
Swihart has kept his strikeout rate down, whiffing 18 percent of the time against six percent walks. The latter figure needs work, but that's what he's in the minors for. There's a lot he's dealing with in his first full year as a pro, too, as Swihart is a switch-hitter, meaning he has to develop two swings at once, and also a catcher, a position with a completely different learning curve than every other on the diamond. He's been much better against right-handers than lefties this year, though, if there were going to be splits in your catcher, that's how you would prefer it given the sheer volume of innings tossed by right-handers.
Swihart hasn't worn down despite a year behind the plate. He's lined up at DH 23 times, but 63 of his games came while wearing backstop gear. There's no clear claim to make based on this, but it's a good sign for his career.