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
Allen Webster, SP
Allen Webster made his first start in the Red Sox organization following his trade from the Dodgers to Boston. Things could have gone better -- he lasted just four innings, throwing over 50 pitches in his first two frames -- but they also could have gone a lot worse than seven strikeouts against two walks in four innings.
Webster misses a lot of bats, specifically with his secondary stuff, a slider and change-up, while also inducing grounders in bunches with his power sink. That pitch ranges from the low-to-mid-90s, and tends to sit mid, and if he could just command it better within the strike zone, he'd be a sure thing as a #2 starter in the majors. He doesn't command it better yet, though, so, more realistically, you're looking at a mid-rotation guy.
Chris Mellen from Sox Prospects watched Webster's first appearance with Portland, and while there were issues, he also had plenty of positive things to say about Boston's newest pitching prospect.
Bryce Brentz, RF
Brentz is once again on the upswing, hitting a tremendous .395/.409/.628 over his last 10 games, mashing two homers and six doubles in the process. July might have been rough for him -- easily his worth month of the season -- but he's more than made up for it in August. Those last 10 games are just an extension of the .393/.432/.618 with 12 extra-base hits he's put up for the month.
Brentz continues to strike out a bit too much for his own good, and could stand to draw the occasional walk or sit and wait a little longer in an at-bat, but it's hard to argue too much with what he does when he's on his game. It's when he's off that's a problem. Limiting the lengths of those less productive stretches should be Brentz's goal in the future, as it doesn't look as if he's ever going to outright shift his approach to swing-and-miss less, walk more. With his power, he might be able to swing that, but it's tough to know until he's at another level.
Travis Shaw, 1B
Let's go back a bit, to a time when Travis Shaw was still in Salem, and Adrian Gonzalez was Boston's first baseman of the future thanks to a long-term contract:
Mauro Gomez's presence on the major-league roster should serve as a reminder that, even if you've got a top prospect at one corner and a star signed long-term to the other, that situations will arise where a capable bat is needed anyway. Shaw might seem as if he's blocked, especially in an organization with Will Middlebrooks just beginning his major-league career, Garin Cecchini behind him but rated higher, and Adrian Gonzalez locked in at first. But he's still all of just 22, and has plenty of time left to sit in the minors until he's needed. If he keeps hitting the way he has, he'll be needed in some capacity eventually.
Gonzalez's future in Boston is no more, but Shaw remains, and is yet a capable bat. You'd like his batting average to be higher, but given this is his first full season as a pro, and he's got an Isolated Power of .226 to go along with a .354 on-base percentage in his first stint in the high minors, we can cut him some slack. Shaw needs to face advanced pitching like this in order to refine his plate approach -- he has an excellent eye, but you want someone with that eye and Shaw's power to develop like, say, Kevin Youkilis did, in that he let a little more aggressiveness in at a time until he found the sweet spot for his approach.