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Red Sox Minor League Players of the Week: Portland showing up big in Week Four

And we have our first two-time winner.

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Johan Mieses
Kelly O’Connor

Welcome to a new feature here at Over The Monster in which we will be looking at the best players on the farm from the past week. With the new minor-league schedule being implemented this year that has teams playing six-game series every week with Mondays off, there are no Minor Lines on Tuesdays. We figured rather than just leaving that timeslot blank every week, we’d hand out some fake, virtual hardware. Each week, we’ll pick players of the week for both position players and pitchers, as well as an honorable mention in each category. (See Previous Winners Here)

Position Player of the Week

Johan Mieses (Portland)

We have our first two-time winner here on our minor-league player of the week awards, with Mieses only needing a month to win it twice. The veteran slugger has been rock solid in the middle of Portland’s lineup this year, and that was no different this past week. He went 9-23 across the week for a .391 batting average, and he added four homers to his tally. On the season, Mieses now has 11 homers, which ties him with Jo Adell of the Angels system for the most among any players in affiliated minor-league ball.

Mieses is not quite a top prospect in the Red Sox system, instead coming in as a minor-league veteran prior to last season. He had spent the bulk of his career before signing with the Red Sox in the Dodgers system, while also spending a quick period of time with the Cardinals. The 25-year-old (he’ll turn 26 in July) spent only a short time wearing a Red Sox uniform in 2020, getting into a few spring training games before COVID shut things down. It was enough for him to decide and re-sign this past winter, and things have certainly worked out well.

It should come as no surprise that power is the calling card for Mieses as far as scouting goes, although he’s had some trouble with the hit tool. He can go through stretches where he’s just not making much contact, which in turn obviously makes it difficult to tap into the power. That said, it hasn’t been much of an issue this year, clearly. Defensively, he has been playing mostly right field for the Red Sox. He’s not a great defensive outfielder, but he can make it work in the corner and certainly has the arm for right field. Overall, he’s likely just organizational depth, but his month of May could give him a chance to get to Worcester this summer under the right circumstances, and who knows what can happen from there.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Esplin (Greenville)

There are two Tylers manning outfield spots in Greenville. Last week, Dearden was our position player of the week. This week, it’s Esplin taking home the honorable mention. He went 8-21 for a .381 average, and while there wasn’t much power in the week he did draw six walks on top of the eight hits to be an on-base machine throughout the week. A former overslot seventh round pick, you wouldn’t know it by how he played this week but he’s generally a power hitter who has some trouble consistently making contact. There’s some chance of him carving out a major-league career, though there’s still room to grow in his age-21 season.

Pitcher of the Week

Josh Winckowski (Portland)

What a week it has been for the Andrew Benintendi trade, eh? Franchy Cordero, the major-league piece that came back in that deal, was finally demoted down to Worcester in order to get his swing back in, well, swing. It was reported over the holiday that we are not far off on learning the final three players in that deal, all of whom have yet to be named. And then Winckowski, the lone prospect who we know of as of yet, was electric in his outing. The righty tossed seven scoreless innings for the Sea Dogs in his lone start of the week, allowing just a single hit and no walks while striking out nine.

Josh Winckowski
Kelly O’Connor

This was a big-time start for the right-handed pitcher, who has been good all year but never quite looked dominant in the way he did in this start. Winckowski has been able to carry a sub-2.00 ERA throughout this season even before the latest outing, which is impressive no matter how you get there. That said, he’d walked nine and struck out 17 over 20 innings of work. Those are solid enough numbers, but there was room for improvement in the peripherals. When you throw in nine strikeouts and no walks over seven innings, the peripherals get much better overall, not to mention his ERA falling to 1.33.

Winckowski isn’t quite an elite prospect, but he is one of the better starting pitching prospects in the system. He was originally with the Blue Jays system but was traded twice this winter (he came to Boston via the Mets) after a big boost in his stuff last fall. His fastball is definitely his best offering, sitting in the mid 90s and getting up a couple ticks higher when needed. He came into this season needing to work on refining his secondaries — he throws a slider, a changeup and a splitter — along with his overall command. So far, things are looking good.

Honorable Mention: Stephen Gonsalves (Worcester)

There were a couple of strong single starts that got consideration here — Brayan Bello and Jay Groome, mostly — but I decided to give this nod to a guy who had one great outing and one solid one. Overall, Gonsalves tossed 10 innings over his two appearances (in one of them he was the follower after an opener), allowing three runs total with 17 strikeouts and seven walks. The control is a bit of an issue here, but the stuff he showed off this week was enough to give him the nod. Gonsalves was once a top prospect with the Twins, and while injuries have taken that shine off, he’s a sleeper option to provide some swingman innings this year and moving forward in this organization.