Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero recently returned from the disabled list from an unidentified hamstring injury, and things have not looked so great since then. He was hitting .294/.400/.451 at the time of the DL stint, but is now down to just .235/.306/.347 and had a 414 OPS in his last 10 games. Granted, this looks worse than it is: missing nearly a month in a season that's just two months old will allow for these sorts of fluctuations. If he had actually played all season and had seen his line drop this much since April 23 -- the day he was put on the DL -- that would be one thing.
Still, Marrero's bat is something to watch for, as there are no questions about his ability to stick at shortstop defensively. The concern, from the moment he was drafted until he's in the majors, will be whether his bat can do enough against big-league pitching to make him more than a defense-first shortstop. Hopefully whatever lingering effects from his time on the shelf dissipate soon, and Marrero can get back to impressing at the plate as he did in his short pro career to that point.
Blake Swihart hasn't hit for much power of late, but he has been putting the ball in play successfully. He's at .303/.378/.364 over his last 10 games, drawing four walks against four strikeouts while stealing a couple of bases. Two of his 10 hits in that stretch are doubles, so he's not entirely without some pop, but even without, it's mostly just good to see him making contact early in the year, especially after his start to 2012.
Swihart is a switch-hitting catcher, and as with any switch-hitter, you hope that they can have success against right-handed pitchers, as that tends to be the arm they will face the most often. Swihart has hit lefties better this year, but he's hit them very well at .324/.410/.471. He's not quite as good against righties, but you could do a lot worse than .253/.330.374 as a backstop. Things are looking up for him, even if he's not quite in breakout territory or anything like that. Remember, he's still just 21, and learning the most difficult position in the game while simultaneously figuring out two swings. He's got a lot on his plate, and considering that, his development is coming along well enough in 2013.
Noe Ramirez, RHP
The Ramirez home run watch continues, and he's now yet to give one up in nearly 31 innings of work. Remember, Ramirez gave up 10 homers in his last nine appearances to close out 2012, as his command wasn't quite where it needed to be. It's still a small sample we're talking about here -- especially since Ramirez similarly lacked long ball issues in the first half of last season -- but you have to be pleased with the results to this point.
He's missing bats, keeping walks to a minimum, and inducing more ground outs than fly outs. These are all significant positives for him, even if, pitching at just High-A, they don't quite tell you what he's going to end up being. The real test is against upper-level competition better-suited to punishing a misplaced offering. Still, though, given how last year ended, this is good to see in the interim, and gives you a bit more faith about his performance at, say, Double-A.
Ramirez is likely a reliever if he's anything, so even though he's still going through these long outings, it's simply because he's been pushed out of the rotation earlier than some other hurlers similarly destined for the bullpen -- the Red Sox won't cut down that workload until they have to, as they like their pitching prospects to get as much work as they can, while they can.
Read more Red Sox:
- Is John Lackey really back?
- Two Red Sox prospects in Keith Law’s updated top 25
- Where’s Dustin Pedroia’s power? Ask the pitchers
- Jacoby Ellsbury’s pull problem
- Terry Francona, a roaring memory