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
Michael Chavis (Worcester)
Technically Chavis is not even a minor-league player at the moment, as he used this strong week in Worcester to earn a call back up to the majors, replacing Ryan Weber on the active roster prior to Monday’s game against the Blue Jays. And Chavis certainly earned the call up, having torn the cover off the ball all week down in Triple-A. All told, the former organizational top prospect smacked nine hits on the week, hitting .474 with three of those hits being homers and one more coming in as a double. And there’s been a little apprehension in how to judge some of these batting lines coming from Worcester given the way the new Polar Park is playing, but this week was on the road in Syracuse, so we don’t even have to ask those questions.
It’s not an exaggeration to say it was this week that really got him the call, too. I suspect the team really didn’t want to bring Franchy Cordero back so quickly, but he had been swinging a much better bat than Chavis prior to this week. It’s been a tough year for the latter, who hasn’t really been able to find much of a rhythm. It could be hard for him to do so now in the majors, too, given how sporadic his playing time is likely to be. In Triple-A this season, he's hitting .263/.329/.408 for a solid, but unspectacular, line.
His numbers are a bit better in a small sample in the majors, with an OPS+ just a tad over league-average, but there are still some issues Chavis needs to work out in his game to stick in the majors on a long-term basis. The strikeouts remain his biggest problem, as he still has not been able to figure out how to make consistent contact on velocity up in the zone. This is a killer flaw in his game right now, and it’s far and away the number one thing to watch from him going forward in this next stint in the bigs. The good news is he’ll have plenty of momentum coming in.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Howlett (Greenville)
The 2021 season has been a great one for Howlett, who came into the year with this season carrying some sneaky importance for his prospect status. After coming in as a late-round high schooler in 2018, he broke out in a big way after the Red Sox discovered some vision issues, leading some (myself included) to think he was a big steal in that draft. But then he struggled in an aggressive push to full-season ball the following the season, and that combined with the lack of baseball last season caused him to fall off the radar a bit. Well he’s reminding us who he is this year. This past week was a big one with a .391 average to go with two homers, four doubles and three walks, and on the year he’s hitting .292/.386/.531.
Pitcher of the Week
Aldo Ramirez (Salem)
This was not the best week of pitching down on the farm for the Red Sox, but there was very little doubt who would get the top nod here. Ramirez had a two-start week, and took full advantage of the extra innings as he continues what has been a very, very strong full-season debut. The young righty tossed a combined nine innings between his two starts as the organization is still limiting his workload (and every other lower level pitcher’s workload as well), but he did not allow a run in that time, giving up six hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts.
Ramirez has been impressive pretty much the entire season, save for the very beginning. It was a rough start to 2021 for the young righty, with his first start getting off to a rocky beginning before rain cut it short. That put a dent in his early-season ERA, but he’s worked hard to rectify that since. Overall, he has pitched to a 2.03 ERA over 31 innings and eight starts, striking out 32 with only eight walks.
At 20 years old, Ramirez is already one of the best pitching prospects in the organization, and arguably the best healthy arm in the system right now. His command and composure is well beyond his years, and we’ve seen it on full display this year. The stuff probably isn’t quite to the point where we can expect a true top-of-the-rotation pitcher to emerge from the farm, but he should be able to stick in the rotation and could be a mid-rotation starter if all breaks right. There’s still a long way to go, but with a good fastball/curveball/changeup combination to go with plus makeup and command, he’s an exciting name to follow moving forward.
Honorable Mention: Brian Van Belle (Greenville)
Van Belle was part of Boston’s undrafted free agent class last summer following the short, five-round draft. He was a Friday night starter for the University of Miami, but has struggled to find his footing in High-A in his professional debut. It’s a tough assignment one year removed from college, but he’s 24 so the aggression makes some sense. He had a nice start this week with five shutout innings on two hits and no walks with one strikeout, and that was a second straight strong start in June. Hopefully that can continue, as his year-long numbers are still a little weak with a 5.04 ERA over 30 1⁄3 innings. Van Belle works best with his fastball and changeup, and is likely an organizational depth arm.