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
Tyler Dearden (Greenville)
This is the second time we have featured Dearden in this spot, joining him with Johan Mieses as the only players to take top billing twice this season. For Dearden, he is somewhat the beneficiary of a bit of a weak six days of action from the farm. That is not to say that he didn’t have a great week, but rather that there was no clear winner and arguments can be made for someone else. But they can be made for Dearden as well, as the outfielder was making hard contact all week for a .250/.423/.750 line. You don’t typically look at a .250 batting average as a mark that would top a system for a week, but all five of his hits went for extra bases, including three leaving the yard, and he had four walks compared to three strikeouts.
It has been a bit of a breakout season for Dearden, though he’d cooled off a bit for a few weeks before this big performance. On the season, the 22-year-old (he’ll turn 23 next month) is hitting .272/.408/.579 with eight homers over 34 games. For a little context, that would put him on pace for 35 homers over the course of 150 games. He was also our player of the week in the third week of the season.
Dearden was selected out of high school in the 29th round of the 2017 draft as an overslot signing. There are still some questions he needs to answer, but there was a bit of excitement around him when he was drafted, and again after putting up solid numbers in two years in short-season ball before struggling a bit in 2019. He’s bouncing back in a big way this year, showing his power can indeed play at least in these lower levels. The outfield picture is a little bit crowded in the upper levels, but if Dearden puts together a few more weeks like this he should be looking at a test in Portland to close out this season.
Honorable Mention: Chris Hermann (Worcester)
Just last week, the Red Sox had to make a decision as to which catcher to call up to replace the injured Kevin Plawecki. They went with Connor Wong over Hermann, and the latter responded in a big way. He gets docked from the top spot due to only playing in four games, but he hit .400/.500/.933 over those four games with three doubles, a triple, and a homer. He may have an opt-out coming next month, and the way he’s swinging he may be tempted to use it, especially with Wong apparently ahead of him on this depth chart.
Pitcher of the Month
Brandon Walter (Salem)
This isn’t just the first time that Walter has been featured in this space, but his performance in his one start in the week (he also tossed an inning of relief) was enough to get him his first write-up in Minor Lines on the season. But he certainly deserved it, making his first start of the year after handling a multi-inning relief role prior to this outing. His whole line for the week was dominant, as he tossed five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits while not issuing a walk and striking out 10.
As I said, the southpaw had been pitching out of relief prior to this start, going either two or three innings in pretty much every outing. But he’s been able to put together a great season in whatever role he’s been asked to fill, pitching to a 1.33 ERA over 27 innings, striking out 40 while issuing only five walks across the whole season.
Walter was a 26th round pick in the 2019 draft, coming out of the University of Delaware. He got a bit of a taste in that first summer as a pro, pitching down on the complex and putting up good numbers, again in a multi-inning relief role. The now-24-year-old (he’ll be 25 in September) is a little bit older than you’d like to see at Low-A, though given his career trajectory it’s totally understandable why he’s there. There are still not enough innings to get a great scouting report, but at a certain point players just aren’t being challenged. I suspect Walter will get a few more starts coming up, and if he’s still dominating it’ll probably be time for a push up to Greenville.
Honorable Mention: Chris Murphy (Greenville)
Speaking of Greenville, things have been a little bit all over the place for Murphy, the team’s sixth-round pick back in 2019. The lefty has been hit around a little more than you’d like, but his strikeout and walk numbers are good and he’s sitting with a nice 3.22 ERA on the season. This past week was a particularly impressive start, allowing one earned run (plus two more unearned) over 5 2⁄3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks. He still needs to refine his command, but the 23-year-old has been trending in the right direction since being drafted and only seems to be getting stronger with his stuff as the season progresses.