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The lower levels

Dustin Pedroia went 2-4 with another double in his second AAA game and his former double player partner, Hanley Ramirez is back from the DL. Adam Stern is also back in the line up for Pawtucket...well, at least until Boston comes up with another injury to keep him on their roster for just a little bit longer.

Before I get started on the low levels, I have something else to add in a couple hours after I originally posted this. Apparently there is a claus in Roberto Petagine's contract that I either didn't know about or completely forgot about. According to this article in today's Globe, if Petagine is not on the major league roster by June 30th, he has the option to get out of his deal with the Sox. Since there is no room on the major league roster for him at the moment, it seems as if the Red Sox are in real danger of losing Petagine. They are trying to shop him around. It's a shame because I'm really starting to like this guy.

My problem with the lower levels of the minors is that a lot of talented players down there don't put up good numbers. The prospects below AA have the skills and the tools, but some just haven't put up the numbers yet. I don't get a chance to see these guys play and even if I did, I am by no means a scout and wouldn't know what to look for anyways. So while Baseball America says that Ian Bladergroen is the 9th best prospect in the Sox system, I see a guy with a .218/.343/.287 line who has spent the last month on the DL. For that reason, I will likely never get that deep into the minor leagues. For the most part I just don't know what to look for. It's not even worth it for me to list the standings for Wilmington, Greenville, or Lowell because now that the drafted players have been placed in the systems, the standings have been reset. So, at least for now, I'm just going to touch the surface of the lower levels on a weekly basis. So far there have been a few guys worth talking about. There haven't been too many, but they deserve their time in the limelights nonetheless. This one will get a little bit long as I point out a lot of the guys who have had success over the course of the whole year, but next Friday when I talk about the lower levels, I hope to cut it down in size by a lot.

The Wilmington Blue Rocks have a horrible offense. They are second to last in the Carolina league in runs scored, HR's, doubles AVG, and SLG. They are third to last in OBP. They're even in dead last in steals. So it makes sense that they've had few offensive players worth even mentioning. Twenty year old Mickey Hall, a 2nd round pick in 2003, was putting up some respectable numbers until he was placed on the DL over a month ago. His .260/.354/.474 line is good enough to stick out in that offense. His replacement in the line up came in when Matt Van Der Bosch was promoted from Greenville. Van Der Bosch quickly became the team's only offensive weapon and has put up a .303/.361/.513 line in 76 AB's since his call up. He was hitting .290/.427/.427 in 124 AB's in low-A. Speed is supposed to be this 23 year old's biggest weapon. He stole 72 bases in 76 attempts between college and rookie ball last year but he is just 9 for 14 in stolen base attempts over the two levels this year.

The Greenville Bombers have fared a little better than their A level cousins when it comes to offense. They are in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories in the South Atlantic League. Their offense has been led by Andrew Pinckney, a 23 year old third baseman who was drafted in the 34th round last year. Pinckney leads the team with 8 homers in 263 AB's and has a .308/.356/.510 line. Pinckney is nothing to get excited about, however. His OBP is based entirely on his AVG as he does not walk very often. His SLG isn't as impressive as it looks either. His 6 triples are padding the total. Leading the team in home runs is good, sure, but hitting a home run every 32.9 AB's isn't good. If you're looking for someone who might have a future, Christian Lara, another of the club's shortstop prospects, is also holding his own for the Bombers with a .270/.351/.373 line. Lara has never, and likely will never, be known for his power so his low SLG is expected. His defense is supposed to be a strongpoint, but he already has 14 errors, tied with Pinckney for the team lead. If you want to see offense, the Lowell Spinners scored 20 runs in their first game of the year on Tuesday. Luis Soto, a converted shortstop, played rightfield and lead the way getting on base 5 times with 2 singles and 3 walks. Lowell is 2-0 so far this year.

When it comes to pitching Wilmington is a little bit better than they are with offense. They rank 4th in the South Atlantic League in ERA. Anibal Sanchez is the biggest reason why the team's pitching isn't too bad. Sanchez has been dominating the competition this year with a 2.40 ERA in 75 IP. His numbers actually aren't as good as the last time I checked and that's mostly due to the number of walks he's allowed. A month ago he had struck out 56 and walked only 6 in 37 IP and his ERA was at 2.19. Since then he's pitched 38 IP and has a 33/17 k/bb ratio. On the year his 89 k's and 23 bb's are still really good, and it was only a matter of time before his super human efforts came back down to earth, so I'm not surprised or dissapointed. This is still a guy who is cruising along. He's only 21 and there's a good chance that he'll be in Portland by the end of the year. Jose Vaquedano, a 24 year old spot starter, has been the only other effective starter for the team. He's pitched in 14 games, 9 of them starts, and gone 68.2 IP. He has a 3.01 ERA. His 59 K's and 22 BB's are good enough for 7.8 K per 9 and 2.9 BB's per 9, both a little better than average. He has allowed only 4 HR's. Edgar Martinez, a 23 year old converted catcher, and 25 year old Felix Romero have both been very effective out of the bullpen. Romero has a 2.37 ERA in 30.1 IP over 17 games with 39 K's and 7 BB's. Martinez has a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 IP with 31 k's, but he has walked 11.

Greenville is just as average with their pitching as they have been with their batting. They're also in the middle of the pack in ERA with a 3.96 mark. Mike Rozier, a 20 year old drafted out of high school last year is considered to be a very talented guy. He was considered to have first round talent, but fell to the Sox in the 12th round because of signability questions. The $1.575 million the Sox flashed in front of him was enough to get him to sign and so far in his professional debut, he has been holding his own. He still needs a lot of work, however. His ERA is 3.53 in 66.1 IP, but he still needs a lot of work on his low K rate and high walk rate. He's struck out only 5.3 K per 9 and walked 4.6 per 9. Peripherals like that can only get a guy by in low-A ball. The top starter for the team has been Matthew Goodson, a 22 year old taken in the 23rd round last year. His peripherals aren't spectacular, but they are good with 6.8 K per 9 and 2.8 BB per 9. He has a 3.12 ERA in 66.1 IP. Their most dominant pitcher has been 21 year old Harvey Garcia. Garcia has a 2.12 ERA in 34 IP to go along with 43 K's and 13 BB's. He's been one of the guys used as a closer for the team and has earned 5 saves to go along with a 3-3 record.