Triple-A Pawtucket: Blake Swihart, C/LF
Feels weird to read "C/LF" as the position designation for Blake Swihart, right? It's the truth of his situation in Pawtucket, though, as he suited up for left for the first time on April 28 and now has three games at the position behind him. He's still catching, so it's not like the Sox have given up on that role for him, but the truth of things is that Swihart's path back to Boston in 2016 comes by way of the outfield.
Christian Vazquez, who displaced Swihart in the first place, is playing his usual lovely brand of defense and the pitchers are happy to be throwing to him. The offense isn't there yet, with Vazquez hitting just .225/.279/.375, but we're also talking about 11 games and 43 plate appearances from a guy who missed all of 2015 and had 55 big-league games to his credit before that. So long as the bat eventually comes around -- and it mostly has, speaking entirely in the context of catchers, as his position-adjusted OPS+ is a below-average but more-than-tolerable 92 -- then he's not going anywhere.
So, you might not want Swihart in left in the long-term, but he also might not be there in the long run, anyway. The Sox haven't fully committed him to either role just yet, as a lot depends on how Vazquez does over an extended period of time in Boston, but it's clear that they're ready to put Swihart in front of the Monster if need be.
Triple-A Pawtucket: William Cuevas, RHP
William Cuevas got a brief shot to pitch in Boston, but it had more to do with desperation caused by the schedule and bullpen overuse than Cuevas himself. Cuevas might be something someday -- he always seems to be just a few tweaks away from being a viable big-league pitcher -- but he's likely not there yet. He's also the kind of minor-league arm the Sox can designate for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for someone better later this summer, and without losing the right-hander in the process.
Cuevas is still starting for Pawtucket, but if the Sox want to find out if he has any real use going forward, they should make him a reliever and see how that transition helps his stuff, if at all. At the same time, there is a spot in the rotation for him in Rhode Island, and the additional innings that starting gives him might benefit him more in the long run. With any luck, though, the Red Sox won't need him or his roster spot again in 2016, and he can try to sort out his future in games that don't count.
High-A Salem: Ben Taylor, RHP
Taylor is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, so there is a lot of right-hander here. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, 201st overall, but his being picked in that round had a lot to do with his being a senior who would sign a below-slot bonus that helped Boston move some budget around.
Don't let that fool you into thinking there's no reason to follow him, though. Kyle Martin was drafted for the same reason back in 2013, and now he's in Triple-A Pawtucket looking like a potential big-league reliever. Taylor's fate -- at least as far as role is concerned -- is similar, but he's bouncing back-and-forth between starting and relieving now. Relieving in High-A isn't the same as relieving in the majors, so Taylor is still getting a full workload in: in two appearances out of the bullpen, he's thrown 4-2/3 innings this year.
It's too soon to know what he'll end up being, if anything, but if he can hold his own at High-A the summer after he was being drafted, then he'll continue to show up in these updates.
Low-A Greenville: Jeremy Rivera, SS
Rivera, as you would expect from a 150-pound 21-year-old shortstop, doesn't have much in the way of power. This is his first year in full-season ball, he's hitting .278/.339/.333 over his first 16 games -- which isn't that far off from the average OPS in the Sally League, really -- and he's got one more walk (five) than strikeout to start the year.
He's ranked the 42nd prospect in Boston's system by Sox Prospects' reckoning -- their brief scouting report describes him as "small" and "quick" -- so don't expect huge things from him, but there could be some skills here. It's worth keeping an eye on young shortstops to see if they evolve any further, you know. You don't need to have a clear path to the Red Sox to have value, whether it's as a bench player or injury replacement or organizational depth or a piece in a trade, and everyone is always looking for help at short.