Extended spring training: Yoan Moncada, 2B
Yoan Moncada hasn't officially debuted for the Red Sox organization yet, in the sense that none of the baseball he has been playing counts for anything other than internalized experience and a chance for scouts to watch some games sans fans. Rather than throw Moncada right into actual games in a climate that might be a bit of a shock given how America's winter went and spring has gone, the Sox popped Moncada into extended spring training, to keep him in Florida in a more relaxed setting to get his career stateside rolling.
How long will he be there instead of at Low-A Greenville is the question of the day. Red Sox Director of Player Development, Ben Crockett, spoke to WEEI's Ryan Hannable about when that could occur and why he's still in Florida. In short, the focus for Moncada is more about adjusting to the American game and culture more than anything else at this point, which is standard procedure for many of the younger prospects who end up playing in any of Boston's Rookie-level leagues in the summer.
So, it makes you think that maybe Moncada is going to spend even more time in Florida than expected, rather than hop into Low-A ball after a few weeks of preparation. It seems doubtful he'll be in extended spring training until it closes down and the Gulf Coast League starts up, but maybe the Sox think experience in this environment is more important than anything at the moment. Plus, the Sox don't need to put Moncada in Low-A at all: they could always keep him in Florida until they think he's progressed enough in familiarizing himself with the organization and its expectations, and then send him to High-A, where his talent would surely flourish even without a stop at the level below it. There are ways to make up for the time being used in extended spring training, and without rushing Moncada the person even if Moncada the player is ready to go.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Garin Cecchini, 3B
Garin Cecchini saw his season interrupted by a brief stay on the disabled list, and he did not come back hitting after his 10 days recovering. It's not a great sign for the 24-year-old, but he's also 57 plate appearances into the season, so we can scale back on judging him too harshly for now.
The most intriguing part of Cecchini's time off the DL is that he's started to get time in the outfield. He's played four games in left, and is sure to see more as the Red Sox see how versatile their Triple-A third baseman can become. Versatility is part of it, sure, but as we mentioned previously when it was first announced that Cecchini as well as teammates Deven Marrero and Sean Coyle would be learning new positions, part of the goal here is also to do what they can about increasing their prospects' trade value. The offensive expectations for left and third are similar, which happened slowly as teams began to appreciate defense out of their corner outfielders more, so as long as Cecchini can hack it in left, he could be a prospect there, too.
Double-A Portland: Simon Mercedes, RHP
The start of the season has not been pretty for Simon Mercedes, despite pitching in relatively chilly weather that should have dampened offense a bit in April. It doesn't matter how cold it is when you walk seven batters in under 13 innings of work, of course, so there aren't many you can blame for Mercedes' rough start besides the pitcher himself.
The 23-year-old switched to relief full-time this season, but since the Sox still want their future relievers to get as much work in as possible, he's tossed 12-2/3 frames in just five games. He's bound to have some problems when he starts to see hitters for the second time -- that's why he's in the bullpen in the first place -- but he needs the work. The occasional ugly outing when the lineup sees him again is just something that's going to happen sometimes.
Besides fewer walks, one thing that would inspire confidence in Mercedes is more swings and misses. He's got the fastball to do it, but the control and secondaries just aren't quite where they need to be yet. Punching out 8.5 per nine looks decent enough on its own, but it's against Double-A batters, not big-league ones.
Low-A Greenville: Mauricio Dubon, 2B
Dubon hasn't let the promotion to Low-A slow him down, as he's batting .338/.370/.416 after putting up a .320/.337/.395 line in 2014 for short-season Lowell. Three walks in 82 plate appearances isn't great, but it's up against just 10 strikeouts, or a 12 percent strikeout rate if you prefer to read things that way. Of course, he's not striking out often because he's aggressive at the plate, and eventually he'll face pitchers talented enough to exploit that. The thing to watch for there is how well Dubon adjusts to these adjustments: as he's just in Low-A ball, there is a whole lot of adjustment back-and-forth to go in the 20-year-old's career.
He's made two errors on the season so far while splitting time between second and short, so at least he's doing reliable work there. Dubon has a future as a utility man if he can get his bat to where it needs to be, so how he does defensively matters quite a bit as he climbs the ladder. If your utility man can handle shortstop, and well, then there is a lot of reason to want him on your team. Even more so if he can hit a little, too.