Matt Barnes, RHP
Barnes' overall season hasn't been the best, but there's plenty to be pleased about. He's consistently induced swings-and-misses from Double-A opposition, and has punched out well over 11 batters per nine on the year, while also striking out over three times as many as he's walked. Homers haven't been a severe problem for him, even as his command has occasionally faltered. Then, there are moments like his last start, in which Barnes struck out 10 batters in seven innings while holding his opponent to just six baserunners and no runs. Flashes like that remind you of the prospect contained within what has been something of a down year.
There's absolutely still work to be done here, but Barnes has shown what he's capable of when things go well on many occasions at Double-A. If he can finish up July on a high note and push that success into and through August, he might find himself with a promotion to Triple-A for 2014, as was originally hoped for before the struggles put that timeline into question.
Noe Ramirez, RHP
Speaking of promotions, Ramirez has pitched exceptionally since coming to Portland from High-A Salem. He's given up two homers at the level after not allowing any in 47 innings in the Carolina League, but everything else is working out very well, with five times as many strikeouts as walks and over a punch out per inning to his credit.
Ramirez is more about command than stuff, or, at least, he will be when he's finished developing. With that in mind, it's understandable that there would be some homer problems while he's busy figuring out a plan of attack against the more advanced hitters he's recently been introduced to. It's a game of adjustments, and Ramirez has already shown himself capable of adjusting once before. He'll have his chance to do so again over the last month-plus of this season.
Miguel Celestino, RHP
Celestino's ERA is a mess, but he's consistently missed bats all year. The problem is that he's also missed the strike zone, and too often when in it, missed his spots. July has been a solid month for him, though, with 12 strikeouts in 13 innings against four walks, without homer allowed. He's still raw, despite his age and the level, but somewhere within here there might be a big-league reliever who can miss some bats. He'll need more months like July, and a lot fewer of the others on this year's calendar, for that to remain believable, though.
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