Brian Johnson, LHP
Johnson hasn't pitched much yet, as his last appearance was cut short at 2-2/3 innings. He walked five batters and gave up a home run, but amazingly, it was a solo shot. Obviously, drawing any kind of conclusion from roughly seven innings of work would be silly, but you prefer to see starts just a wee bit better than this last one anyway. Johnson's next turn will come in a few days' time, and hopefully he puts that poor appearance behind him with another strong outing.
A liner to the face cut short the lefty's 2012 campaign, but he's believed to be a fairly polished college arm who should have a pretty direct path to the majors in a couple of years. His ceiling isn't particularly high, but his floor is, and he could be a back-end starter for the Red Sox in a few years so long as his development sticks to that plan.
For now, let's see if he can start cranking out consistent and full outings on the mound at the lowest level of full-season ball.
Austin Maddox, RHP
Maddox, who was Johnson's teammate at Florida, was also selected in last summer's amateur entry draft. While he's missing plenty of bats in the season's early going, his hit rate indicates he's not missing nearly enough of them. That's a typical problem for a young pitcher, though: as Maddox learns the difference between strikes and quality strikes against professional hitters, you should see hits decrease. Should being the operative word there: not every prospect gets it, as even big-league pitchers have problems with sharp and consistent command.
Remember to be a bit patient with Maddox, too, as he was a two-way player in college, and not considered as developed as Johnson, who is in the same boat. Also, he's starting now, but that's likely not a permanent thing: his development should be looked at through the lens of a future back-end piece in the bullpen, so if he can't quite get his control under wraps, or fails to develop a third pitch, it's not the same situation as it would be for a future starter.
Cody Kukuk, LHP
Kukuk is just 20, and threw all of 10 innings for the Gulf Coast Red Sox in 2012 -- consider him Greenville's 2013 iteration of Henry Owens, in that his numbers are the wrong think to look at. The 2011 draft pick was a seventh round selection, and his professional start was delayed by a DUI, though, charges were later dropped due to a lack of probable cause -- Kukuk was pulled over initially because his tires squealed when he made a left turn, and that's not enough in Florida. Hopefully, Kukuk learned an important lesson about calling a cab from all of this.
The lefty is a long, long way from the majors, but according to Sox Prospects, he projects as a potential mid-rotation arm. He's 6-foot-4 and still very young, so there's room to add strength to that imposing frame. He has a low-90s fastball, a low-80s slider, and is beginning to work on a third pitch, a change-up. All of them are works in progress: Sox Prospects says the fastball's release needs work to keep it from sailing, his slider has plus potential but isn't there yet, and the change-up is too new to talk much about. He's one to watch, but it could take awhile.
Here's hoping he decides not to delay his development with any further dumb mistakes.
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