Ty Buttrey, RHP
Buttrey has had a rough start to his first stint of full-season ball, but maybe he has an excuse for it other than youth and inexperience. Buttrey was placed on the minor-league disabled list on May 18 with blisters on his pitching hand: it might not account for this entire poor performance, but blisters messing with him over the course of 11 innings can believably produce an ugly line. We should hope so, anyway, because otherwise this is a pretty rough start.
That being said, it is 11 innings over four games for a 21-year-old who, despite his age, is just two years out of high school ball. The real time to panic for someone in Buttrey's situation is if, by year's end, he isn't making any real progress. We knew he was pretty raw considering his performance at short-season Lowell last summer, when his ERA was shiny but his strikeouts and strikeout-to-walk ratio were in need of some love: he's still just as raw now, given he's four starts past that point, and dealing with blisters. Hopefully, Buttrey reappears with his blisters in check sooner than later, and his more encouraging performances show up alongside him.
Tzu-Wei Lin, SS
Lin is having some serious problems producing at the plate, batting .222/.320/.291 on the season, and that's after a strong start to the season. It was a brief run, though, as he's managed to slug under .300 in each of the three months of the season to this point, with May worse than April, and June starting to look like a continuation of that downward trajectory. Lin is a glove-first shortstop, for sure, but still, anything that reminds you of Jose Vinicio is not a positive: at least Vinicio waited until he got to High-A before he was totally exposed at the plate.
Let's not be too hard on Lin, however. He just turned 20 a few months ago, and he's shown an ability to draw walks, with 29 in 224 plate appearances (13 percent) this year, and has kept strikeouts down to a manageable level (17 percent). He's also stolen some bases in the times he's managed to make it to first, and would have more if he only had more opportunities to try. There's at least something to work with, if Lin could translate some of that patience into a more disciplined approach that allows him to swing at pitches he can do something with, even if that something just turns out to be singles.
Carlos Asuaje, IF
It's not clear what Asuaje's position will ultimately be, and that's evident in his assignments to this point in 2014. He's played 25 contests at third, 14 at second, and then another 19 split among shortstop, left field, and even designated hitter. All this shifting around hasn't impacted his performance at the plate, as the 2013 11th-round pick is hitting .302/.420/.543 in his 245 plate appearances.
He's cooled off somewhat since his incredible April, in which he hit .365/.489/.608 with 13 extra-base hits three steals in three attempts, and four more walks (15) than strikeouts. He's still performing at a high level, however, batting .264/.377/.504 with six homers and 15 extra-base hits, as well as 19 walks against 25 strikeouts, in month-plus since. The major difference seems to be in the batting average on balls in play: Asuaje is at .281 since May began, whereas in April he was at an absurd and unsustainable .429. There's likely a middle ground to be found -- .281 is low for anywhere in the minors, never mind the Sally -- but given Asuaje's performance in the first half, we probably won't find out what it is until he heads on to High-A Salem.