Mookie Betts, OF/2B
Mookie Betts is slumping, y'all. He has a .212/.413/.364 line over his last 10 games. Man, I remember when he used to put up a .413 batting average. It was all so good while it lasted, but I guess it's over now.
Seriously, though, Mookie slumping means he has a 777 OPS, what in the hell? The average OPS in the Eastern League this year is 716. Please continue all of your love for Mookie, who is also nearly four years younger than all those players he's better than.
Plus, we can cut him some slack, since he's been learning a new position since the last time we checked in on him. Betts has been playing in center since his 71-game on-base streak ended, and has logged eight games and 14 putouts at the position. It's not much of a sample to go on, and I haven't had a chance to personally see him out there, but the early word seems to be encouraging thanks to his time spent chasing fly balls in batting practice and his natural athleticism and speed.
With a little luck, it will stop raining during a homestand long enough for me to see for myself. I'm not scout, but I've seen enough Jacoby Ellsbury first steps to know when they're going in the right or wrong direction.
Henry Ramos, OF
Ramos has had a killer May, hitting .372/.416/.511 on the month, despite being in the midst of a weird 10-game stretch where he is batting .297/.297/.297. That's 11 singles without a walk or extra-base hit in sight. Still, it's good to see Ramos start to make successful contact often, even if you'd also like additional patience and power attached to it. The switch-hitter has been performing against both lefties and righties, with equal power from both sides, and is striking out 20 percent of the time. That last bit isn't great, but considering he was at 19 percent in High-A, it's not bad to see similar figures post-promotion.
There's still a lot of work to be done here. "Equal power from both sides" still results in an Isolated Power that resembles a middle infielder's -- and not the Mookie Betts kind, either -- and walks more than six percent of the time would be a plus, too. This is possibly the start of something good, though, so for now, we wait and see if it actually becomes that something.
Brian Johnson, LHP
Johnson now has five starts at Double-A under his belt, and they've been great. He's struck out 22 batters in 29 innings against eight walks, has gone at least five frames every time out, and has limited the opposition to two runs or fewer in all but one of those appearances, in which he only gave up three instead. His last outing featured just two punch outs, but he walked only the one batter, and induced plenty of grounders to make up for the lack of swing-and-miss in his day.
If he keeps it up, he might find himself in Triple-A Pawtucket before year's end: his start to the year at High-A Salem was mostly just to confirm that he was as finished with the Carolina League as his brief stint there to end 2013 suggested he was, so it's not as if it would be an aggressive assignment. It all depends on whether or not he can continue to find success against Double-A hitters, of course, but Johnson was a polished arm out of college who wasn't in Double-A sooner only because of injuries: one a line drive to the head, the other a brief shoulder scare last summer that turned out to be nothing to worry about, if his performance since is any indication.
He's a back-end arm in the majors no matter how much he toys with minor-league bats, but that's a good thing, as this season has already managed to remind us now that not one but two of the Triple-A starters find themselves in the big-league rotation thanks to injury and ineffectiveness from the planned crew.