Trey Ball, LHP
Ball's full-season debut just has not gone well, and the fact that he's pitched better of late but still produced a 5.95 ERA in that stretch is the best evidence of that. He's throwing strikes, but he's not really striking batters out or inducing swings and misses, and while he's not walking too many batters, he's been absurdly hittable. Far too many balls are being put into play, and it's likely because, even if the control is there, the command is not.
That's not entirely surprising for Ball, who is still a teenager for another few days: while he's technically listed in his age-20 season, his birthday is on June 27, all of three days before the cutoff, so more slack should be cut for him than you normally would for someone who was 20, and someone 20 should be getting plenty of slack to begin with when they never pitched in college and came into the year with seven innings in the pros. I'm not suggesting you completely dismiss his struggles, because they're certainly real, and even more worrisome when you consider Ball was what Boston acquired with their first top-10 pick in 20 years, but let's remember he was selected early for a reason, and his youth meant there was always the chance for some awkward speed bumps on his path through the system.
Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
Plus, Teddy Stankiewicz is here to make you feel better about the early parts of Boston's draft. The 2013 second-round pick owns a 3.39 ERA in his 13 starts, and while his strikeouts are once again not much to look at, he's still punching out 2.4 times as many batters as he's walking, and doing it in an actual age-20 season. You'd like to see a few more grounders to compensate for the lack of swing-and-miss, but at least Stanky seems to be putting the ball in the right places, since he isn't giving up an abundance of hits and has kept the ball in the yard.
It's something to build on, if nothing else, and it comes with the added benefit of Stankiewicz not getting blown out of his starts. As he moves up the organizational ladder, he'll need to make adjustments to counter more experienced and talented hitters, but for now, he's comfortably progressing in Low-A as he should be.
Wendell Rijo, 2B
Rijo's April was fantastic, but he's been struggling ever since. He's batted just .233/.302/.349 since, and it's not because he's having particularly awful problems with batting average on balls in play, either: .317 isn't ridiculous for Low-A, but it's also not cripplingly low. No, of most concern is Rijo's 26 percent strikeout rate during this 39-game stretch: he punched out 21 percent of the time in April, and also produced a .396 BABIP. A rise in strikeouts combined with a severe drop in BABIP brings you the kind of performance Rijo has had since.
With all that being said, he's all of 18 years old and in his first full-season league. He's shown flashes of serious talent, and the league has responded to him. It's not time to be down on Rijo, but instead time to watch and see how he responds to his first real adversity on the diamond as a pro.