Double-A Portland: Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
Teddy Stankiewicz didn't pitch himself out of being considered an actual prospect last summer, but let's not pretend like his stock avoided taking a dive. The culprit very well might have been some tinkering with his mechanics that brought him into a lower arm slot and took the life out of his pitches. His strikeouts dropped, his ERA climbed, and it looked like the predecessor to a real issue at Double-A.
Instead, Stankiewicz tweaked further, going back to a higher and more traditional arm slot, and the results have been wonderful. Stankiewicz has given up 13 runs on the season in his 33-2/3 innings, which doesn't sound that great until the chaser: eight of those runs came in one unfortunate outing.
In five of Stankiewicz's six starts, he's pitched six innings. In five of his six starts -- not the same five -- he's walked two batters or fewer. He's struck out at least four batters and as many as six in four of his six starts. Both of his homers came in that one awful, 3-2/3 inning performance with eight runs allowed, but otherwise, his last start where he gave up two runs in six frames is his "worst." The strikeouts are up, the walks remain down, and he's doing a good job on the whole of inducing weak, fieldable contact. Stankiewicz still isn't a frontline pitching prospect and isn't going to be regardless of the zeros he manages at Double-A, but he's back to looking like a potential big-league pitcher. That's something.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Rusney Castillo, OF
Rusney Castillo didn't have the trust of the Dave Dombrowski-run Red Sox this spring when he lost his job to Brock Holt and then eventually was demoted to Triple-A to get at-bats. He's unlikely to have gained any in the ensuing weeks, as he's batting all of .231/.291/.282 at Triple-A. The Red Sox haven't fully committed to Blake Swihart in the outfield yet, likely in part Christian Vazquez's bat still isn't giving him 100 percent control of the catcher's job, and maybe in smaller part because natural outfielder Andrew Benintendi is tearing things up and could be around in 2017. Castillo's struggles make it a lot easier to see what Swihart can do out there, though, as the depth that was supposed to exist at Triple-A apparently does not.
It's still early, and Castillo has still only played 60 games at Triple-A over the past two years thanks to injuries and promotions, but it's never a good sign when the performances get worse with additional exposure. He needs to pick things up, or he's going to end up splitting all the PawSox' dinner checks with Allen Craig for the next couple of years.
High-A Salem: Trey Ball, LHP
Trey Ball had knee surgery that delayed the start of his season, and he seems to be getting worked back into things pretty slowly. So, it's May 10, and he has two starts behind him for a total of 10 innings. They went well, all things considered, and that "all things" includes Ball's getting wrecked by High-A opponents just last summer. Seven strikeouts against three walks in 10 frames with two earned runs is a good start, but he's still not showing the kind of performance that he needs to in order to get a push to Double-A and the high minors.
Strasburg's extension makes Buchholz a rare commod
Clay Buchholz isn't having a good season. But somehow, the Red Sox starter might find himself at the top of the free agent market for starting pitchers...if the Sox let him get there.
Will he ever? That's a tough question to answer now, as Ball is seasonally still just 22 years old, and won't actually turn as much until June 27. Struggles from essentially a 20-year-old in High-A aren't unheard of, even for first-round picks, so some time would be good for him. However, Ball is in his fourth year in the pros and third full season, so you would sure like to see something resembling progress sooner than later.
Low-A Greenville: Luis Alejandro Basabe, IF
The twin brother of up-and-coming prospect Luis Alexander Basabe, Alejandro Basabe is holding his own as a 19-year-old in his first taste of full-season ball. The switch-hitting middle infielder is batting .263/.337/.400 in a league where the average player is over 21 years old and also hitting .251/.324/.372, so he's well ahead of the pace you'd be happy with. He's got a ways to go before he's recognized as anything other than the twin brother of a more beloved prospect, though, so don't get too excited just yet.
Keep an eye on him, though, if only because it helps to have guys like this in the organization. Meaning, guys who seem ahead of the curve, have youth on their side, and can play the middle infield. Whether it's organizational depth or a piece in a trade, the longer someone like this succeeds, the easier it is to take them seriously even if no one was at the start of their career.