Goodyear, AZ, USA; A general view of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Jose Vinicio, SS
Vinicio is still showing the same kind of offense that he has for much of the season. He's holding his own as an 18-year-old shortstop in full-season ball -- remember for a second that one of Boston's newest shortstop prospects, Deven Marrero, is 21 years old and a level behind Vinicio -- but isn't quite progressing. He's struck out 20 percent of the time, a rate that's either a lot or less than you'd expect depending on how kind you want to be about his age. Of more concern is the walk rate that only hits the five percent mark if you round up, especially since he's punched out four times as often on the season.
He's young, though, so you can excuse that for now. It's unknown if Vinicio will repeat Greenville as a 19-year-old in 2013, or if he'll move up to High-A Salem, with Xander Bogaerts heading to Double-A Portland and Marrero taking over in Low-A. Sticking here one more time might not be the worst thing given he hasn't mastered the level yet, but the presence of a capable shortstop prospect at nearly every level makes that a difficult proposition, especially given Marrero's age and the fact short-season ball is, well, a short season.
Outside of offense, Vinicio still has to work on his defense. The tools are very impressive, but his 25 errors remind you that he still tends to rush things, causing mistakes that don't need to exist. Again, though, because this can't be stressed enough: Vinicio is 18 years old, and in full-season ball, and not making a fool of himself on a day-to-day basis.
Mickey Pena, SP
Mickey Pena missed a month at Greenville thanks to a hamstring injury, but after a rehab appearance in the Gulf Coast League, he came back to Low-A ball. Pena tossed five scoreless innings a month to the day after leaving a start against Rome, striking out six, and, as is Pena's custom, didn't register a single free pass.
He actually didn't pick up where he had left off, as Pena's hamstring injury came at a time when he wasn't quite himself. It was the final insult in a stretch in which Pena, whose control is his most-recognizable attribute, walked as many as he struck out over a three-start, 11-1/3 inning stretch. Of course, this meant four walks in that time frame, but 3.2 walks per nine is beneath the Low-A version of Mickey Pena.
As long as he can keep up the success, Pena will be at High-A Salem for the 2013 season. It's good he's back now, with about a month to go in the minor-league season, as he can wrap up what had been a highly productive campaign prior to the hamstring issue.
Jason Garcia, SP
Jason Garcia's numbers don't tell a pleasant story, but he's leading the Drive in innings in 2012. He's also just 19 years old, or, the same age as teammate Henry Owens, who has been getting rave reviews for his performance at the level. Owens' praise is deserved, and Garcia hasn't pitched anywhere near as well, but let's give him some attention before the minor-league season is over, as he approaches 100 innings pitched in Low-A ball.
Garcia is still mostly projection. He features a 91-93 mph fastball that has a bit of sink to it, but as you can see, his control of his stuff isn't exactly refined at this stage. He's just 19 years old, and only 185 pounds, and it's expected he'll fill out a bit and add velocity. His slider has plus potential, according to Sox Prospects, but right now, as with the rest of Garcia, it's still in the potential stage. He lacks a real third offering, as his change-up isn't used often in games, and hasn't fully developed yet either.
Sox Prospects also points out that Garcia is the kind of pitcher who you can expect to see maturation out of in his early 20s, and he isn't even there yet. He'll likely repeat at Greenville, unlike fellow teenager Owens, but he's still ahead of the regular pace for prospects even as a 20-year-old in Low-A.