Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero started off the season well enough, but his time on the disabled list now stands as the separator for the good old days and what he's been up to of late. Marrero had an 851 OPS in April, but has hovered in the mid 500s since, bringing his overall line down to a disappointing .242/.317/.327. He's still hitting lefties well, but right-handers have been an issue for him, with just a 559 OPS in 131 at-bats. It's a small sample broken out of a slightly larger sample, so there's nothing to get too worked up about, but it merits keeping an eye on.
On the bright side, he's 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts, has 14 doubles in 43 games, is walking 10 percent of the time, and has managed to keep strikeouts at a very reasonable 16 percent. His current .294 batting average on balls in play -- normal for the majors, but very low for Low-A ball -- is killing him at present. If he could add even 30 points to that in the coming weeks and months, his 2013 campaign would look significantly better, especially since his glove has always been considered what will make him a big-league shortstop.
Blake Swihart, C
Swihart has managed to put his own struggles behind him, and has brought his line up significantly in the last two months. After a slow April in which he hit .254/.329/.365, Swihart exploded in May, and has continued to hit in June, bringing his line to its most impressive place as a pro. He's whiffing just 16 percent of the time, he's drawing walks over 11 percent of the time (in 2012, just seven percent), and he's managed to add some pop to his game of late, posting an Isolated Power of .147 in May and now .234 in June.
There is work to be done, as he needs to remain consistent at the plate, but you can see progress as it's happening here. Walks have jumped up, he's making contact, and he's starting to rack up those extra-base hits. He's shown more power against righties, but the switch-hitter has still managed to hit .282/.364/.410 against lefties -- it's early, and breaking up the split doesn't make that fact any less problematic, but like with Marrero, it's worth watching.
Noe Ramirez, RHP
Ramirez has now thrown 42-1/3 innings in 2013 without allowing a homer, and while it's too early to schedule a party for this, it's still impressive considering he allowed 10 bombs in his final nine outings of 2012 alone. He's not quite fully a reliever yet, in the sense he's pitching multi-inning outings, but it's unlikely, given the influx of young pitching in the system and a limited number of rotation spots available, that we'll see him vacate this role for very long, if at all, in the future. Not unless he utterly dominates to the point where Boston has to give him another shot as a starter, anyway.
That strikeout-to-walk ratio and the control that helps generate it remain Ramirez's strongest suit, but if he's able to continue to keep the ball down, and through that, in the park, he's going to be a valuable bullpen piece. He doesn't miss a ton of bats, but he's able to generate some swings-and-misses, and he's induced nearly twice as many outs on the ground as in the air in the season's first two-plus months. It'll be interesting to see if the Sox keep him at Salem for the duration, or push him and his progress to Double-A to see how well it holds up against more advanced hitters.
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