Triple-A Pawtucket: Bryce Brentz, LF
Bryce Brentz hasn't torn up Triple-A in a way that suggests he's going to be an every day regular in the majors, but if you've been paying attention to his development, you've known this was the case for some time now. What Brentz has done for Pawtucket, though, is hit lefties, and hit them hard. This isn't a new phenomenon, either: Brentz has batted .303/.362/.577 with 12 homers in 223 plate appearances against lefties over the last three years, and has slugged .650 against them over the last two seasons.
Now, it doesn't take much mental math to realize that his numbers against right-handed pitching are worse. In those same three seasons, Brentz has only managed a .234/.300/.417 line against them, and while it could get better with more time, it's never going to improve to the point where he's even a half-decent option against same-handed pitching. Brentz doesn't have a spot in Boston at the moment, even with Hanley Ramirez out with a shoulder injury and Shane Victorino on the disabled list -- thanks, Allen Craig -- but someone out there could probably use Brentz to bash lefties into submission.
Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
He won't be a headline piece in a trade unless it's a very minor one, but a team in need of the short end of a platoon should probably give the Sox a call to see what Brentz would cost. Brentz is 26, blocked in Boston, and has limited utility, so the answer is "not much", but he could be plenty useful for a manager who understands the lefty killer's limitations both at the plate and in the field.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Sean Coyle, 2B
Sean Coyle is part of the group of three prospects who are set to play new positions for Triple-A Pawtucket in order to increase their versatility. Deven Marrero and Garin Cecchini are the others, and the side goal -- or maybe even the primary one -- is to increase the trade value of all three players. None of them has a definite place to play in Boston, and except for maybe Deven Marrero, they aren't necessarily promising enough to push themselves into being unblocked, either. Even that would take some doing, as it would require finding a new positional home for Xander Bogaerts, and it's unclear if the Red Sox think that's necessary or even possible with his bat not yet taking off.
Coyle doesn't necessarily have the defensive chops to be a true utility player, but if the bat develops, he could do well enough at third and second to make it work, and adding the outfield to the mix only helps his cause. The important thing there is that the bat still does need to develop: Coyle is striking out 25 percent of the time and is batting .204 at the moment, and while the walks and power have been there in spite of this, that batting average needs to come up.
He has a .200 batting average on balls in play, which could be bad, early season luck, but it might also be Coyle swinging at the wrong pitches -- ones he can't do anything with -- a little too often. We should find out which of the two it is with more time, as either his luck will change or he'll learn how to deal with these tougher pitchers at this new level, or, neither will occur and he'll plateau.
Double-A Portland: Carlos Asuaje, 2B
Asuaje's line has its highs -- a .395 on-base percentage! -- and lows, too, as he's slugging just .325 with five extra-base hits 102 plate appearances. We've told you before not to worry too much about the lack of power, as it was still chilly across much of the Eastern League in April, but things are starting to warm up in that part of the country, and in the Sea Dogs' home city of Portland. We'll see if warmer weather does anything positive for Asuaje's lacking pop in the next few weeks.
Red Sox minor lines: Castillo gets off the schneid
After missing most of the early season with an injury, Rusney Castillo broke an 0-for with a good day in Pawtucket.
A good and comforting sign when it comes to his plate discipline is that Asuaje isn't being passive just to draw walks. Yes, he's walking 15 percent of the time, but he's also striking out just 16 percent of the time: the suggestion here is that Asuaje isn't being passive or aggressive, but is swinging at pitches he thinks he can do something with -- even if they come early in the count -- and leaving the ones he cannot or should not go after alone.
Pitchers might start to challenge him soon, given he hasn't shown much power and his primary ingress to first comes from walking there, and if anything that should give us a look at what Asuaje can do when he has to swing a bit more often.
High-A Salem: Tzu-Wei Lin, SS
Lin still isn't hitting, though, that shouldn't come as a surprise -- it's just not what he's meant to do. A little bit of offense would help, though, as you don't get to be a defense-first shortstop in the majors unless someone thinks you can do a reasonable impression of even a bad big-league hitter. Lin is slugging .380 at the moment, but his on-base percentage is .274. If you can't hit the ball with any kind of authority, you need to be able to trot to first more often than that.
Lin is still just 21, so he's not running out of time, but he needs to learn how to have better at-bats soon, because there are still two levels to conquer after High-A before he even gets to the majors. Lin isn't striking out much, but he might want to risk doing so more often so he can see more pitches to hit, one of which he might be able to hit for the occasional single or double.