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Red Sox Minor League Players of the Week: Stephen Scott stays hot

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And Brayan Bello makes his return to this space.

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Stephen Scott
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

Stephen Scott, Greenville

Over the last few weeks, there have been two notable hit streaks in the Red Sox organization, including one that has come in as a new record in the organization’s history. Scott is not one of the players carrying one of those two hit streaks, but he does hold the distinction as the hottest player in the farm system. After coming in as the honorable mention in this space last week, he moves up to the top slot this week. And it was well earned. Over six games, the 24-year-old has hit .478/.571/.826, topping the system in both OBP and SLG. Of his 11 hits over the course of the week, five were doubles and he also added a home run and five walks. It’s hard to argue anyone else should get this spot.

Scott, a 10th round pick who was drafted as a senior sign out of Vanderbilt in 2019, started his season in Low-A Salem and spent most of the season there. The utility man hit .259/.381/.453 over 61 games at the level before getting the bump up to Greenville in the lat week of July. Rather than taking some time to adjust to the new level, Scott has actually just improved his performance since the promotion, hitting .418/.484/.836 in 14 games at High-A. After hitting eight homers with Salem, he’s already got five under his belt with Greenville.

Coming out of the draft, there was some reason to be intrigued about Scott despite being a 10th round senior sign, which are typically not exciting prospects. The former Commodore didn’t possess the highest of ceilings, but immediately after being drafted it was hard to avoid praise for his work ethic and makeup. It’s showing with how well he’s adjusting to new levels on the fly, as well as his willingness and ability to adjust to new positions defensively. He’ll need to expand his versatility as much as possible in order to maximize his ceiling at the highest level, and this year he’s played first base, both outfield corners, and has even started getting some time behind the plate. At this point he is still most likely an organizational player, but if he keeps hitting the possibility of him being a viable big-league bench bat will only become stronger.

Honorable Mention: Yairo Muñoz, Worcester

There is a solid argument to give this nod to Tyreque Reed, who had a big week in Portland while also adjusting to left field with the return of Triston Casas, but Muñoz was right around the same production level and gets the narrative boost. That, of course, refers to his organizational record 35-game hit streak. He hit .500/.524/.700 this past week, adding some power that we haven’t seen during most of this streak. With players starting to come back from injury and others being added from outside the organization, the path to the bigs for Muñoz is becoming harder to see this year, but this performance should certainly give him a look for at least a real shot at an Opening Day roster with someone on a camp invite next spring.

Pitcher of the Week

Chih-Jung Liu, Salem

There wasn’t really much internal debate here for who should get the top spot this week, as Liu’s performance certainly stood out among the pitchers. This is his second time making this column, having also gotten a nod as an honorable mention at the start of his season on the complex. He had another great outing this time, now out of the complex and up in Salem. In his lone outing of the week, the righty tossed five innings of work, allowing just one run on one hit (a solo homer), walking two and racking up 10 strikeouts.

As I mentioned, Liu did start his season on the complex, which meant that he got off to a bit of a later start than most other full-season prospects in the organization. That said, he only made that one start on the complex, moving right up to Salem after that. He’s made seven starts at Low-A, and there has been some adjustment period. It’s important to mention this is also his first season pitching in the States — he was signed as an international amateur out of Taiwan in the winter following the 2019 season — so adjustments like this are to be expected. Overall in Salem, he’s pitched to a 5.53 ERA, striking out 27 and walking 10 over 27 23 innings. He has looked better over his last three starts, allowing two runs over 14 innings, striking out 19 and walking four.

Chih-Jung Liu
Kelly O’Connor

It’s still plenty early in Liu’s professional career that there are a lot of different ways his path can take him. He did come out of high school in Taiwan as a two-way player, showing promise on the mound as well as at shortstop. The Red Sox opted to have him concentrate on his pitching. Reports earlier this year from Sox Prospects indicate his stuff was down, though they acknowledge that could be at least in part due to the layoff last year. At 22 years old, Liu isn’t exactly young for his level, though he isn’t old either. Right now we’re at the point with the righty that we likely need to see how things progress over a full season in 2022 before making any big judgements on what his future could provide.

Honorable Mention: Brayan Bello, Portland

Early in the season, Bello was a regular feature here in this space, having gotten one of these two spots in three of the first seven weeks. This is his first mention since then. Bello went six innings in his lone start this week, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out nine. Bello has had some inconsistency issues in adjusting to Double-A offenses, pitching to a 4.60 ERA over 11 starts, but the stuff is still very much playing as he’s racked up 67 strikeouts in 45 innings of work.