Jose Vinicio, SS
Vinicio just isn't hitting this year. It isn't because of early struggles, either: his May OPS was 40 points lower than his April one -- which didn't have 40 points to give -- and he's hit all of .184/.205/.211 in his last 10 games. He picked up his last hit on June 5, three games ago, and has reached base just twice in June in 16 plate appearances. Yes, he's just 19, but this is getting tough to watch.
Vinicio wasn't great in 2012, but he was about as good as you reasonably expect an 18-year-old that still has a lot to learn about hitting to be. The .277/.320/.371 line he put up seems very far away now, though, as he's struck out 24 percent of the time and has seen his batting average on balls in play drop nearly 100 points, down to .246. There was a time when some prospect analysts liked Vinicio more than any other shortstop in the system -- more than Deven Marrero, more than Jose Iglesias, and more, at least at short, than Xander Bogaerts, who at that time was expected to have to move off the position well before he was within range of the majors. A lot can change in a year, and if Vinicio can't start to learn from his mistakes, that change won't be in the right direction.
He's still very young, very raw, and with a lot of promise, so don't take this as throwing in the towel. It's just tough to maintain optimism in the present for someone whose OPS has slipped under .500 by mid-June during their second stint at the level.
Francellis Montas, RHP
Montas had been trending in the right direction after a tough start, but that was before he gave up eight runs over his last two outings and eight frames. In the first of those games, four free passes in four frames were to blame, but in the second, he gave up a homer as well as eight hits. These hiccups are going to happen, but all they're doing is reinforcing the idea that Montas' future is in relief, not that he lacks a future.
Sox Prospects' scouting report on Montas gives you an idea of just how raw he is:
Four-seam fastball operates at 96-100 mph. Shows late tail in lower reaches of velocity and ride in the upper reaches. Can be straight at times. Exceptional arm strength. Below-average command and control. Tends to jerk his head off target and is a bit long in the back with arm action. Also throws mid-80s slider, but presently lacks tilt and depth. Flat on approach to the plate. Potential to refine pitch into an average-to-better offering. In the development stages of learning a changeup. Sits 87-88 mph presently, with little deception. Slows arm down when throwing. Very rough and raw on the mound. Just learning how to pitch.
He's missing lots of bats, but has struggled against left-handed batters -- they're hitting .293 against him, and half of the runs scored against him are due to lefties despite facing them less often. That's the sort of thing that might be lessened in a relief role -- and simply with more experience pitching.
Justin Haley, RHP
Haley is the only one of the trio who has done well for himself of late, as he's given up just six runs in his last 24 innings, with 26 strikeouts against 13 walks and three homers allowed in that stretch. A rough start to the year hides his recent success a bit, but he's cut more than a full run off of his ERA since we checked in on him three weeks ago, and has shaved nearly two free passes from his walk rate as well. That last bit is even more important: Haley has been handing out about as many walks as strikeouts this year. If he can continue to pitch more like he has of late, when he's coming away looking like he actually knows where the strike zone is and can put the ball there when he wants to, we'll have a lot more of his last five weeks or so to look forward to.
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