Matt Barnes, SP
Prior to his appearance at the Futures Game during the All-Star weekend, Matt Barnes had been going through a bit of a scuffle, his first as a professional. In the three starts before the break, he lasted just 8-1/3 total innings, giving up 14 runs while striking out six against five walks. There was nothing to necessarily worry about -- Barnes was just taking his lumps after three months of nigh-invincibility.
He threw two pitches to two batters and recorded two outs in the Futures Game, not giving us much of a chance to see him on a national stage, although it was easy to enjoy that kind of efficiency. In his first start back on a regular schedule, Barnes went five frames, walking two and striking out four, the most he's punched out (and the longest he's lasted) since one month before, on June 14. It's one start, but it's good to see Boston's top pitching prospect bounce back after a short-but-rough go of things to begin the month.
Yeiper Castillo, SP
Last time we checked in on Castillo, he was a 23-year-old at Low-A Greenville, one who had missed all of the 2011 season, and had failed to recapture the progress he looked to be making before that lost year. Since then, though, he's been bumped to High-A Salem, giving him a chance to get things back on track, assuming the promotion doesn't cause him to veer off instead.
His first start was a little touch and go for a bit there, as he logged four strikeouts, walks, and hits a piece, but scattered all the bad over six innings thanks to some ground outs, holding the opposition to just the one run. The second time out, he once again kept it to a single run, but peripherally, was much stronger, with six punch outs against one free pass. It's too early to think much of this, but considering his time at Greenville wasn't superb, this is as good a start as you can expect.
Adalberto Ibarra, C
Ibarra was acquired by the Red Sox as an international free agent back in 2010, once he defected from his native Cuba. He's already 25, but between his being a catcher and his just coming over to America two years ago, it's hard to fault him for his age in the same way you could your standard prospect.
Ibarra hasn't shown a ton in the way of results just yet. In 2010, he posted a 645 OPS in 19 games and 76 plate appearances, splitting time between the GCL and the Carolina League. In 2011, he took a step back, playing 16 games with short-season Lowell and another nine with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. This limited sample was much more impressive than his previous stint, as he hit .304/.439/.342 in 98 plate appearances.
This time around, at High-A Salem all season long, Ibarra is back to struggling. The on-base percentage is impressive -- really, all the strike zone recognition is, as he's only punching out 16 percent of the time -- but he's having trouble hitting for any kind of power whatsoever. He had a high power ceiling when the Sox first signed him, and, as Sox Prospects put it, his opposite-field line drive swing was "well-suited for Fenway."
He'll have to hit a bit before he ever gets to Fenway to test that theory, but there's a lot to like here, at least in terms of skills, and it's also the first time he's played somewhat regularly. These skills haven't translated into results, besides the walks and lack of strikeouts just yet, so don't be too excited until we see a bit more.