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Red Sox Minor League Players of the Week: Greenville’s infield hogs the spotlight

And Kutter Crawford makes another appearance.

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Kutter Crawford
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

Christian Koss, Greenville

It was an extremely close week for the position players, with five players coming in with an OPS between 1.200 and 1.300 for the week. But it was Koss stealing the show. The infielder was a bit overshadowed at Greenville this week as he was joined in his infield by top prospect Nick Yorke, who has been one of the hottest hitters on planet Earth for weeks now and was just promoted up to High-A. But Koss actually had the better week this time around, hitting .385/.448/.846, smacking extra-base hits all over the field. Of his 10 hits in the week, four were doubles, two were homers, and one was a triple.

Koss came over to Boston from the Rockies organization this past offseason, with the Red Sox trading Yoan Aybar to clear space on their 40-man roster. Koss was an intriguing player at the time who had looked good in his first taste of pro ball, but there were still questions about whether or not it would carry over as he moved up the ladder. He hasn’t been totally consistent this year, but for the most part it’s been a strong showing for the infielder. Koss has played 86 games with Greenville this year — he had played in Advanced Rookie Ball in 2019 after being drafted in the 12 round — and in that time he’s hitting .279/.336/.453. They’d probably like to see a few more walks — his rate is just over seven percent for the season — but the bat-to-ball has been strong.

And that is the best part of the infielder’s game as we scout things out moving forward. Coming off his strong showing back in 2019, there were still some questions about his power given that he was playing in a hitter-friendly league. While the power isn’t elite, I think we’ve seen enough to at least say it shouldn’t be a non-factor moving forward. Throw in a solid hit tool, and there’s a path to a major-league role a few years down the road. He is 23 so we’d like to see this against a higher level of competition, but with what we’ve seen and a defensive profile that should allow him to make an impact all over the infield, he’s a low-ceiling but relatively high-floor sleeper in this system.

Boston Red Sox Spring Training at the Jet Blue Complex Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Honorable Mention: Nick Yorke, Greenville

We can’t have one of these without Yorke, right? He’s now been mentioned in three of the last four of these columns, and frankly I’m running out of things to say. He hit .435/.458/.826 this past week, which was his first at High-A. We talked before his promotion that the power probably wouldn’t carry over, but it did in a big way. Yorke hit two homers this week along with three doubles. There’s really nothing new to say about him at this point, but he’s a clear top five prospect in this system and should find himself on top 100 lists next year.

Pitcher of the Week

Kutter Crawford, Worcester

Crawford hasn’t been quite as hot as Yorke, but he’s been pretty damn close and has become something of a regular in this column as well. With yet another superb start this week, he makes his fourth appearance here. And he was the clear winner for the top choice this week. The righty was nearly perfect in his outing for Triple-A Worcester, ultimately allowing just one hit over six innings, with just one unearned run crossing the plate. Crawford struck out eight in the outing without issuing a walk.

This has been a massive season for the righty, who wasn’t quite a forgotten man coming into the year but not too far off. Following something of a breakout in 2018, Crawford got off to a solid start in 2019 as well before going down with an injury and requiring Tommy John surgery. That led some to think he should just be converted to the bullpen at this point to make the most out of his talent, but he started and has never looked back. Splitting his season between Portland and Worcester, he’s pitched to a 4.16 ERA, but with much better peripherals. The righty has struck out 103 batters over 75 23 innings, walking just 13.

There are still questions about how his stuff is going to carry over to the majors, and to be fair he has struggled a bit more with his command since his promotion to Worcester. That said, we’ve also seen starts like the one he had this week, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least get a shot. His ceiling is probably that of a back-end starter, but that’s still a better outcome than most were expecting coming into this season. He may be a better fit as more of a swingman, however, given his pitch mix. Crawford is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter and will be one of the most interesting protection cases in the organization.

Honorable Mention: Yusniel Padron-Artilles, Greenville

This is the first time we’ve seen Padron-Artilles in this column this year, as it’s mostly been a tough 2021 for the righty. Most known for striking out 12 straight batters in a playoff game with Lowell, the command has just been too inconsistent to really get anything going. That said, he had a nice start this week, allowing one run over six innings on just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The righty is probably not a major-league pitcher, though some of these flashes he’s shown over his career suggest he should perhaps get a shot at airing things out in a relief role.