Short-season Lowell: Andrew Benintendi, CF
Benintendi was the seventh-overall pick and Boston's first in the 2015 MLB Draft, which occurred less than a month ago. Since he was also playing for Arkansas in the College World Series, he didn't officially sign with the Sox until recently, but he was placed in short-season Lowell almost immediately after doing so. This means he's only had three games as a pro to this point, but he's made them count, as he's already got a homer and five hits overall through those three games.
It's an explosive start to what was already an impressive 2015 for the 20-year-old center fielder, as Benintendi broke out for Arkansas and was not only the SEC player of the year, but also Baseball America's college player of the year. He probably won't be with the Spinners for very long -- either he finishes the last two months of the season with them or he keeps hitting and gets bumped to Low-A Greenville as a reward before the year is out -- so if you're in the area, watch him while you can. Greenville and Salem aren't anywhere close to Boston, so you'll have to wait for Benintendi to hit Double-A before you can catch him again.
If you've followed along with our draft coverage, you already know where Benintendi ranks within the system. If not, the consensus seems to agree that he belongs in the group after Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Manuel Margot -- that's a pretty great place to be, considering those three are highly regarded prospects not just for the Sox, but nationally. While he's young, he has college experience -- and thrived there -- so fans likely won't have to wait as long to see his selection pay dividends as they will for the high schooler first-round picks from the last couple of years, but still, remember to be patient. It's three great games for Benintendi, but he's only got the three so far.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Dayan Diaz, RHP
The Red Sox bullpen just can't seem to get settled, which is how they ended up giving Jonathan Aro a brief shot while the roster was in flux. Dayan Diaz is a righty they might want to consider for his own chance, as the Sox seem to continue to find themselves in situations where lefty Tommy Layne is forced to throw to right-handed batters.
Diaz has done nothing but succeed since coming over to the Red Sox last year. His early career was full of injury issues -- including Tommy John surgery -- and control problems, but he seems to have moved past both. He's now 26, and missed bats while finding the strike zone consistently both at Double-A and now in his 28 innings at Triple-A. The most valid criticisms of him to this point have to do with an inability to consistently succeed over multi-inning stints, but if he's handled appropriately out of the pen, that's mostly a non-issue. He's a name to remember, and while he's not on the 40-man roster, you shouldn't be surprised if he finds his way there soon.
Double-A Portland: Williams Jerez, LHP
Williams Jerez has seen his career turn completely around in short order. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft as an outfielder, but failed to hit at all for his first three years in the pros. He converted to the mound for 2014, and while he spent that year in short-season ball, he's already successfully pitched for Low-A, High-A, and now Double-A in 2015.
It will take him more time to finish up with Portland and the Eastern League, as his secondary stuff is still sort of nonexistent and his velocity inconsistent. As Jerez gets more reps, though, those secondary offerings should improve, and more time on the mound should also contribute to more consistent velocity. It's hard to tell just what he'll be here, given the lack of a track record and the fact even his radar gun readings aren't a constant, but the early returns from this experiment are far, far better than those from his time as a position player.
High-A Salem: Tzu-Wei Lin, SS
Lin has quietly been putting together a solid season at the plate, as he's batting .286/.338/.377 as a 21-year-old, defense-first shortstop in High-A. It's a better line than that of your average position player, never mind shortstop -- the average Carolina League hitter has a .254/.323/.364 line and is also 1.7 years older than Lin -- and he's been even better than that of late: Lin hit just .200/.231/.260 in April, but since, has a slash of .307/.363/.406.
BP says Sox have 3 of the top-15 prospects
Even with Blake Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez in the majors full-time, Boston's farm system remains stacked.
This is all good news for a shortstop whose glove has been essentially been his entire value to this point in his professional career. Lin is probably never going to be a serious hitter in the bigs, but he's showing an ability to learn and improve and at least look competent at the plate: combined with his glove and the state of offense at short these days, that's enough to make him a potentially valuable, or at least useful, piece in the bigs someday. He'll need to do more of this, and against tougher competition, but for the first time as a pro, we can say "it's a start" about Lin's line.
Low-A Greenville: Jalen Beeks, LHP
Beeks has mostly been better than his season ERA of 4.27, but he allowed 12 combined runs over consecutive starts that uglied it up a bit. Otherwise, he's had a 3.33 ERA on the season. You can't -- and shouldn't -- erase those two poor starts from things, but this is mostly being brought up to point out that if he keeps on the pace he's had for all the rest of the season instead of the recent blip, his end-of-year numbers are going to look better than his early July ones.
He does still have work to do here even if you give him a pass, as he isn't striking batters out and has relied almost entirely on control to this point: you'd think a pitcher doing as well as Beeks with under six strikeouts per nine would be inducing grounders to compensate, but he's not. If he can convert some of that control into command, throwing pitches in better places to get more called strikes, swings-and-misses, and to avoid the long ball, then it'll be easier to like what he's doing. For now, he's mostly an intriguing lefty who hasn't quite put it all together, even if there are signs of what's to come.