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Red Sox Minor League Players of the Week: Devlin Granberg and Raynel Espinal lead the way in Week Five

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With Nick Yorke starting to turn things around as well.

Devlin Granberg (2019)
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

Devlin Granberg (Greenville)

Granberg had an absolute monster week down on the farm for the Red Sox, including performances good enough to grab the Player of Day from us two days in a row. He was a hit machine all week, grabbing 11 hits in just 18 at bats for a ridiculous .611 batting average on the week, and he threw in four walks for good measure. On top of that, three of his hits were doubles and three more were homers to really put a bow on the performance, with his week OPS coming in at 1.973.

Granberg isn’t really a top prospect in the organization, but he is a name to keep an eye on because he is the type of player that has seemingly always put up numbers, and if you keep doing that you’ll keep getting chances regardless of your prospect shine. He was a senior sign, low bonus sixth round pick back in 2018 coming out of Dallas Baptist College, and he put up good numbers that first summer in Lowell and more than held his own in Low-A in 2019 for his full-season debut as well. He’s already 25, but he could get a bump to Portland at some point if he keeps this play up.

Granberg is mostly an all-bat player. He’s fine where he does play defensively, but that is mostly first base and the outfield corners, which puts a lot of pressure on the bat. His tools have been playing up against competition that is still on the raw side, but he could develop into a legitimate major league bench bat if all goes perfectly. It’s more likely than not he’ll just be organizational depth, but with weeks like this he leaves open the possibility for more.

Honorable Mention: Nick Yorke (Salem)

It has been a tough season for Yorke, who was of course the team’s surprise first-round pick last summer. After he made an appearance and impressed everyone at the Alternate Site late last season, and then held his own in spring training this year, the expectations were high for him when the season got started. But he struggled on both sides of the ball. Now, it seems like he’s breaking out of the slump. He had a big week this past week, particularly showing off good plate discipline and finishing the week with an impressive .583 on-base percentage. Even for someone as seemingly polished as Yorke, this is a good reminder that it is indeed tough to go right from high school to full-season ball.

Pitcher of the Week

Raynel Espinal (Worcester)

One of the themes for the Red Sox this year have been former Yankees making an impact, with Adam Ottavino and Garrett Whitlock leading that group and Kaleb Ort getting some shine as well. But don’t forget about Espinal, who was a minor-league Rule 5 pick from them back in the winter of 2019. He obviously didn’t get a chance to pitch last year, but he’s putting together a solid season now and he’s coming off a big week.

Espinal only made one start for Worcester this past week, but he sure made it count. The righty tossed seven scoreless innings (which in its own right is impressive given the way Polar Park is playing these days) on just two hits and one walk while striking out six. The Red Sox, as we’ve talked about a bunch, are suffering from a lack of rotation depth right now, and until Tanner Houck comes back they need someone to step up. Espinal made his case the last time out.

Raynel Espinal
Kelly O’Connor

The righty will throw three pitches, led by his fastball which can get up to the mid 90s. He also mixes in a slider as well as a changeup which is still a relatively new offering. The profile has never seemed like one that can play up in the majors, especially coming off a Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2019 that created some questions after a long lay off, but it’s playing well enough in Triple-A. If rosters still expanded to 40 in September I’d have more confidence we’d see him this year, but even without that there is some chance.

Honorable Mention: Brayan Bello (Greenville)

I mean, we can’t go a week without mentioning Bello, right? He made two starts this week, and if he had only made the second one he may have been the number one pitcher of the week. However, his first start was more good than great, so we bump him down just a tad. In total, he allowed five runs this week (only three earned) over 10 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and three walks. It’s been an incredible season so far for this Red Sox pitcher, who should shoot up the organizational rankings if this continues.