Since the minor leagues play an important role in any team's success, we'll be keeping a close eye on minors this season here at Over The Monster. Stay tuned, dear readers, as you'll be able to get all of the info you need from the farm, right here, each week.
So we begin in Pawtucket, with the PawSox opening their season with a 10-8 record in the International League. There have been several statistical surprised thusfar, both for the hitters, and for the pitchers.
Top pitching prospect Jon Lester hasn't fared very well in April, ringing up an 0-3 record to go along with his 8.64 ERA. His strikeout rates remain solid, though his 1.92 WHIP and hit rates aren't very favorable.
Another PawSox lefty, Abe Alvarez, has been fantastic so far this spring. His numbers are as follows: 3-0, 1.96 ERA, and 0.78 WHIP. Very impressive.
On the other side of the rubber is Manny Delcarmen, who is putting together a very nice April. Manny has struck out 10 in 10 innings, and has not allowed a single run. Not hard to see why the MLB club recalled him before Sunday's game.
The hitters have also been impressive for Pawtucket. Jeff Bailey already has 5 homeruns, Ron Calloway leads the team with in OBP and BA, and Alejandro Machado has stolen 4 bases. Dustin Pedroia, in limited time, is batting just .263, but is putting up a .417 OBP, which is an encouraging sign.
The PawSox have several players who look to be shuttling back and forth to Boston this year. This could prove to be tough for their record, but they also have enough talent to make the playoffs again.
Portland has begun their season with a 8-9 record.
While several of their pitchers have been solid this season thusfar, the hitting has yet to come around. One example is outfielder Brandon Moss, who has struck out 13 times in 14 games and is hitting just .193. Team hitting leader is Jeremy West at .283. Not one hitter has more than 2 homeruns.
The pitchers, as mentioned, have been very good. Six pitchers have an ERA under 2, including Craig Hansen's 8 scoreless (8 K's, only 3 hits). Big Edgar Martinez has struck out 13 in 7 innings, and has also not allowed a run, OR a walk.
Portland is pitching stacked, and must be to make up for lackluster hitting. Hansen and Martinez won't be around all year, so the SeaDogs will have to figure out how to hit in order to have a successful season.
Wilmington has also opened 8-9, and is packed with players that we're excited about here at OTM: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Ian Bladergroen, Luis Mendoza, etc. Ellsbury has 6 stolen bases and a .333 BA. Lowrie is struggling, both batting below .260 without any homeruns and 11 strikeouts, but leads the team in RBI. Bladergroen, though batting .200, has smacked 2 homers. He's also striking out a lot, with 14 thusfar.
Their pitching, however, is solid. Kyle Jackson is 2-0 with a .84 ERA, and Luis Mendoza leads the team in K's with 16 (thru 18 innings).
Obviously a developmental league, this team could do well this year. Not many players, outside Ellsbury and Lowrie, are expected to move on during the year.
OTHER TOP PROSPECTS
Clay Buchholz went on the DL on 4/22. He had been 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA for Greenville.
David Murphy is batting just .255 for Portland thusfar, and has yet to transform into the 1st round pick that he was projected to be in 2003. His clock is certainly ticking.
WHO TO WATCH:
Cla Meredith. He has been solid this April, and may see time with the big club this summer.
This concludes this week's segment. Don't forget to check back next week for the next minor league report.