High-A Salem: Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
Teddy Stankiewicz doesn't get a whole lot of attention when discussing Red Sox pitching prospects. Part of it is because he doesn't strike many hitters out, but even more of it just has to do with the fact that he's something of a project arm, overshadowed by pitchers closer to the majors and others, like Trey Ball and Michael Kopech, who are further behind but with loftier ceilings. Starts like his eight-inning gem from Monday night are a reminder that you shouldn't forget about Stanky, however, as he could end up with as much to offer as he still has to learn.
Stankiewicz threw eight shutout frames, striking out four batters while walking one and inducing 13 grounders. His strikeout rate is a bit worrisome, with the righty whiffing just 4.3 batters per nine on the season, but his control has been phenomenal as usual, and he has a 2.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in spite of the lack of swing and miss. If Stankieiwcz figures out how to command his offerings better in order to rack up some strikeouts, then he won't be a forgotten pitching prospect for long.
Whether he does that or not is the great unknown with him, though. He's only 21, and while this is his third year (and second full) season in the minors, he isn't some polished college product who was ready to move up through the system in a hurry. Stankiewicz went to a junior college and was drafted at 19, so while he had a little bit of an advantage over similar high school draft picks from the same summer, it's not that sets early expectations sky high. Plus, Stankiewicz is maybe a mid-rotation arm tops, so he isn't necessarily going to dominate out of the gate, either.
What Stankiewicz has done is succeed in spite of a lack of strikeouts and experience against High-A batters, and that is worth noticing. He has to keep it up and maybe add some whiffs along the way, but at 21, he has time to keep that promising ceiling looking realistic.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero should be trade bait this summer, but he's going to be a less impressive inclusion in any deal if his bat doesn't come back to life. In April, Marrero seemed to have turned a corner against Triple-A pitching, batting .281/.348/.474 with seven extra-base hits and five steals without a single caught stealing. May started off with a whole lot of zeroes in the box score though, and his line hasn't quite recovered. Hitting .077/.111/.077 over seven games will do that to you.
So, even though Marrero is batting .276/.348/.379 since that implosion, his line hasn't fully recovered -- going three for his last 23 helped make sure of that. He needs more consistency at the plate if his bat is ever going to be seriously considered as a potentially average one at shortstop -- the potential is there, but he's 24 and one step from the majors, so potential has to start looking realistic soon.
Don't take this to mean we've lost faith in Marrero, not by a long shot. He's shown an ability to hit, he just needs to show it more often. The plus glove is there, and everyone knows it, but if Marrero has a convincing bat, one teams think won't hurt them -- or at least will help more than it'll hurt in the long run -- then he's going to be a popular guy come July. If he keeps having these weeks where he looks like he's never picked up a bat before, then it's going to be much harder to convince a team to part with something worthwhile.
Double-A Portland: Justin Haley, RHP
Justin Haley was lifted from his start on May 2 with a groin injury, and it might end up being the best thing that could have happened to his season. Haley had been awful in his previous four starts, lasting all of 14-1/3 innings while walking 12 batters and posting a 9.42 ERA. He faced two batters on May 2, recorded one out, and was pulled, and didn't step on a mound in a game for another 10 days. In the three starts since that moment, he's looked an awful lot like the Justin Haley that earned him a spot in these reports in the first place.
Haley has thrown full starts in his last three appearances, with the first cut a little short at five innings because he had thrown 72 pitches and was coming off the groin injury. He's limited opponents to a 623 OPS in those three starts and 16-2/3 innings, while striking out 14 batters against just five walks. He's pitching more like he did when he first arrived in Double-A late last summer, except the control has been better, and suddenly Haley's season doesn't look quite so grim.
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All that being said, it's three starts, so let's not assume Haley has figured everything out and is ready to jump to Triple-A or anything. He needs to keep it up, and see the competition again and again to make sure this is all going to work and isn't just a brief respite from the bad. Haley has seen some serious ups and downs before, with those downs including far too many walks and the ups the recovery, progression period after the downs. This looks like it could be the latest such recovery, but give it some time before saying that's definitely the case.
Low-A Salem: Jalen Beeks, LHP
Jalen Beeks returned to the mound after his own 10 days off, and pitched as if he hadn't left it at all. The 2014 12th-round selection lasted six frames, and while he struck out just two batters, he only gave up the one walk and induced 13 grounders. That's three starts in a row of at least six innings for Beeks, who has been very good on the mound -- and throwing tons of strikes -- since his second start of the season.
Like with Chandler Shepherd, Beeks' former teammate and fellow 2014 draftee, there might be more here than his draft placement suggests. Beeks dealt with a sore elbow last spring, which Sox Prospects says "likely" caused him to slip in the rankings and the draft itself, and that should be noted. He might not be a starter in the long run, given his secondaries project as just average and he's on the small side at 5-foot-11, but he could be one of those later picks worth following the progression of as there might be a big-league career in his future. He'll need to keep pitching like this -- maybe with some more strikeouts, though -- and stay healthy for that to happen, though.