Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero, who skipped Low-A Greenville to move from short-season ball to High-A Salem, is off to a good start despite the jump. It's early yet, but numbers like six doubles, seven walks, three steals (without a caught stealing!) and just six punch outs all look more than just okay for a 22-year-old with little professional experience.
The thing with Marrero is that we know his glove is going to be a positive -- he has potential as a plus defender, and it's still a bit surprising he fell to the Red Sox at #24 in last year's draft given that hard-to-find trait. If he can continue to show an ability to control the strike zone, though, and is able to make hard contact on enough singles and doubles while also contributing on the basepaths, then he's going to look like an absolute steal for the Sox. With that being said, remember that it's still just High-A, and we won't see him tested at the higher levels until those in front of him -- Xander Bogaerts and Jose Iglesias -- conquer their own levels.
Blake Swihart is Boston's top catching prospect, ahead of Ryan Lavarnway and Christian Vazquez despite being levels below the pair. He's also the youngest and rawest of the trio, however, and his early struggles after an off-season promotion from Low-A are unsurprising. He's still all of 21 years old, was drafted out of high school, and coming off of a year in which it took some time for his bat to adjust to the pitching and expectations of a professional baseball season. It's likely that we can check back in a few weeks and see that he's started to pick it up, though, once the switch-hitting backstop gets his bearings.
Swihart's career line looks pretty awful at this stage, but after a terrible April, he picked things up and started to look a bit more like the hitter he's expected to be. He's still far, far from being a finished product, but as a catcher, that's not unexpected. Jason Varitek wasn't a mainstay in the majors until he was 27, and Lavarnway, despite the obvious holes in his game, is still considered a catching prospect at 25. Then there's Vazquez, who was far, far worse at High-A Salem before finally exploding at the plate and earning himself a promotion to Portland. It's going to take patience with Swihart, who probably isn't going to be big-league ready until 2015 at the absolute earliest. That's quite a ways from now, and the key to his 2013 season will be seeing if he can start on down that path, or spend the year without any kind of developmental leap.
Noe Ramirez, RHP
Ramirez, after starting for Low-A Greenville in 2012, has come in relief in all three of his 2013 appearances. This isn't surprising, as he's likely a reliever in the future anyway. Plus, the Red Sox aren't using him for single-frame appearances, as he's put in seven innings of work in those three appearances.
After Ramirez's issues with the long ball in the second half -- he allowed 10 homers in his final nine starts, with at least one ball going yard in each of them -- sped up the shift to relief. He's capable of missing bats, but he needs to refine his command and keep the ball down in the zone more consistently, lest it not matter very much that he has swing-and-miss stuff.
He hasn't given up a homer yet, but he's having trouble keeping the ball in the strike zone early. Still, this promotion will be good for the 2011 draft pick, as facing better hitters is the quickest way to learn what does and doesn't work on the mound.
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