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AFL Roundup: Darwinzon Hernandez is dominating

And Josh Ockimey is struggling

Darwinzon Hernandez
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com

It goes without saying that the focus for all of us right now is on the major-league club. The Red Sox are in the middle of the ALCS, after all. The rest of the organization is of little consequence during the month of October when the major-league team is in the postseason. That said, the minor-league beat marches on, and in this case the Arizona Fall League has gotten underway and is starting to get into full swing. The Red Sox, like every other team in baseball, has sent a handful of intriguing prospects out to Arizona for a winter league that pits six teams against each other on a near-daily basis. Teams have only played four games so far, but with the Sox having an off-day let’s take a look at how the Sox participants are doing.

Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP

Hernandez has been the standout in the very early parts of the AFL, though it’s not in his normal role. Many chose the lefty as their breakout prospect for 2018, and while he certainly wasn’t bad and he earned a late-season promotion to Portland, he didn’t put it all together as many hoped. Out in Arizona, just like the end of the year in Portland, he is pitching out of the bullpen. Here, he’s dominating. We’re only talking about two outings spanning four innings, and he’s yet to allow a run on two hits and a walk. Oh, and of the 12 outs he’s recorded? Eleven have been strikeouts. That is bananas. Now, the hope is that Hernandez is a long-term starter, and the organization does plan to move him back to the rotation for 2019. However, many scouts see his future in the bullpen anyway, and if this extremely small sample is a preview of what he could be, that outcome wouldn’t be so terrible.

Bobby Dalbec, 3B

Dalbec has been one of two Red Sox position player prospects to play regularly in the first four games, participating in three of the contests and getting 14 plate appearances. The 2018 breakout and one of the top prospects in the organization, Dalbec has been a mixed bag. The good news is that both of his hits have gone for doubles, and he’s also drawn three walks to help to a .357 OBP. The bad news is the swing and miss that threatens to hold him back is showing up again. He’s struck out in over half of his plate appearances (eight) and in this test against a lot of good pitching prospects, the early results aren’t encouraging. Of course, there’s plenty of time to turn it around.

Josh Ockimey
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com

Josh Ockimey, 1B

Along with Dalbec, Ockimey has gotten into three games so far in this AFL schedule, though he does have a couple fewer plate appearances. He’s come to the plate 12 times, and it hasn’t been pretty. The first baseman, who made his way up to Pawtucket midway through the year, has just two singles to his name so far with one walk and five strikeouts. Ockimey is another guy who has some swing and miss to worry about, and he also has the added struggle of sometimes not having his raw power show up in games. Down in Arizona, I’ll be focusing on his contact more than the power.

Mike Shawaryn, RHP

Shawaryn is one of my personal favorites in the system, and he had one of my favorite seasons. After succeeding in the lower levels on pure stuff, the righty moved up to Double-A and had similar success, but changed his style against more advanced hitting. It was a good sign for his future, and now he’s down in Arizona to face a different class of hitters. He’ll be pitching in relief here — for what it’s worth, at this point in the year neither starters nor relievers are throwing many innings either way — before likely going back to Pawtucket’s rotation in 2019. He hasn’t allowed a run in two innings with a walk and a strikeout. Like Hernandez, many see Shawaryn in the bullpen eventually, but I’m hoping he gets every chance to stick in the rotation long-term.

The Rest

  • Esteban Quiroz was one of the more intriguing names in the minors heading into the year as an infielder with a strong track record in Mexico. Unfortunately, an injury kept him out for most of the year and now he’s getting a jump on preparation for 2019. In his one game he went 2-3 with a home run and three walks. Pretty good!
  • Josh Taylor is more of a depth arm, though he had a solid year at Portland and will likely be part of Pawtucket’s bullpen next year. He’s tossed 3 13 scoreless innings on one hit, one walk and five strikeouts.
  • Teddy Stankiewicz is a former second round pick who has never panned out after stalling out at Portland. He’s made a two-inning start so far and in it he allowed three runs on four hits (one homer), one walk and one strikeout.
  • Michael Chavis is on the roster but has not yet played in a game. I can’t find any concrete reasoning for this, so we have no reason to be too worried. Although, with his injury history this is a tiny bit concerning. I’ll keep my ear to the ground.