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
Sean Coyle, 2B
Coyle's season line cannot be saved, especially at this late junction, but he can finish the year on a high note. After posting an 889 OPS and .254/.372/.507 July, Coyle has come on strong to close out August, batting .313/.395/.469 in his last 10 contests. It's an encouraging last two months for a player who just couldn't get things together after his promotion from Greenville.
Remember, though, Coyle is all of 20 years old, and your average Carolina League batter is 22.5 years old and hitting .258/.328/.391. Coyle is right around the average despite being two years below that mark, so the real test, following his strong finish, is what can he do next season, during a repeat of the level, with the experience he's armed himself with from 2012?
Brandon Jacobs, LF
Brandon Jacobs has had his season slowed by a hamate injury, but there are some concerns outside of that, too. He's now struck out 26 percent of the time in 2012, and is having an absolutely brutal August in which he's hit .145/.287/.250 with strikeouts around 30 percent of the time. He's hit more homers after the all-star break than he did before, but other than that, things have just been ugly in the season's second half.
He's been successful on just two-thirds of his stolen base attempts, as he's been nabbed once more than he was in 2011, and in 13 fewer attempts. He has 40 extra-base hits, but last year, the then-20-year-old had 52 in just 35 additional plate appearances. Between the slight increase in strikeouts, the hamate issue, and a drop in his batting average on balls in play from a likely absurd .381 to a more normal .324, it's been a tough 2012 for Jacobs.
He's still just 21, of course, but it's not as if he's overloaded with tools that are biding their time before flourishing. He's a poor defender, is having a tough time on the basepaths thanks to more advanced catchers, and has exploitable problems with his swing and approach. Don't take this to mean he's finished, and that there's no hope for him, it's just that 2012 is tempering the expectations that 2011 might have inflated.
Yeiper Castillo, SP
Yeiper Castillo missed all of 2011 recovering from shoulder surgery, and it took him time in 2012 to get back on track in his repeat stint with Low-A Greenville. He was moved out of the Sally and into the High-A Carolina League at the start of July, though, and has pitched well since the promotion. Castillo has seen a slight drop in his strikeout rate, but other than that, it's been all good, with fewer homers, hits, and walks.
Castillo is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year, but likely won't get 40-man protection from Boston. He's not a big-time pitching prospect, just an intriguing organizational arm that might turn into something useful down the line, so snatching him out of High-A to put him on a big-league roster isn't an idea the other 29 teams might be into. Then again, someone could always surprise, and try to hide him in a bullpen all year, but that doesn't mean the Red Sox should slap a 40-man roster spot on him to prevent that remote chance.