Unlike the Baltimore Orioles, whom we covered in our last Winter League Report, the Boston Red Sox have had some of their better young prospects playing in Latin American winter leagues.
Bryce Brentz, who was MLB.com’s #64 prospect going into the 2012 season has backed up the hype fairly well although his statistics at the higher levels of the minor leagues have been more “good” as opposed to outstanding. After a 2013 season that saw him hit tons of extra-base hits and lower his strikeout percentage (but also his walk percentage) in Triple-A Pawtucket, Brentz, 24, headed to the Dominican Republic where he hit only .105 in 57 at bats up until November 18th. Again, the point of concern is his 21 strikeouts in only 57 at bats.
Catcher Dan Butler, 27, had a pretty strong season in Pawtucket, putting up a .262/.350/.479 line and threw out 30% of runners stealing. He also went down to the Dominican this fall and hit .167/.189/.194 in 12 games (36 at bats) with Toros del Este up until November 13.
22-year-old outfielder Keury de la Cruz is getting some at bats in his native Dominican Republic following a long season that saw some struggles and some signs of potential with tons of strikeouts (130) but lots of extra-base hits (51) in High-A Salem. De la Cruz looks like he’s only playing in a limited role with Aguilas Cibaenas, accumulating 26 at bats in 13 games this winter. He’s hitting .192/.222/.269 in that time.
At 25, Alex Hassan has reached Triple-A Pawtucket in each of the past three seasons with the Red Sox organization. In 225 plate appearances in 2013, he hit extremely well, putting up a .321/.431/.460 line with 14 doubles and four home runs. Hassan has been in the Dominican and has gotten into 17 games with 56 at bats, hitting only .214/.290/.286 with a double and a home run. Disappointingly, Hassan has struck out 17 times and taken only six walks.
Cuban outfielder J.C. Linares, 29, has spent the winter playing both in the Dominican (hitting .176/.300/.294 with a pair of home runs in 51 at bats) and in Venezuela (hitting .353/.408/.485 with three doubles and two home runs in 68 at bats). He’s still in Venezuela and went on a tear on December 19,20 and 21 over which time he had eight hits including both of his home runs. Linares had a very good season spent mostly in Double-A Portland, hitting .276/.351/.449.
Another outfielder, 21-year-old Jesus Loya, is at home in Mexico putting up some solid numbers in the Mexican Winter League. He’s hitting .253/.295/.410 with 5 doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs in 83 at bats. Typical of a young player, Loya has struck out 19 times so far.
Left fielder Heiker Meneses is spending time as a backup outfielder in his home country of Venezuela. The 22 year old spent most of 2013 in Double-A Portland and hit fairly well, putting up a .255/.312/.354 line. He’s hitting well in limited opportunities, hitting .308/.379/.423 in 26 at bats.
21-year-old Puerto Rican Henry Ramos, a fifth round pick from 2010, is getting loads of playing time in the Puerto Rican Winter League after a solid .252/.330/.416 season in High-A Salem. In Puerto Rico, Ramos is hitting just .224/.277/.336 in 143 at bats with four doubles and four home runs.
Carlos Rivero, a 25-year-old third baseman who spent 2013 with the Washington Nationals organization, signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox earlier this month. The Venezuelan has palyed for two different Venezuelan league teams this winter, hitting .276/.356/.408 for Caracas and .280/.341/.483 (with six of his eight home runs) for Margarita. Rivero played in both Double-A and Triple-A for the Nationals in 2013.
Catcher Christian Vazquez is playing winter ball at home in Puerto Rico, hitting .202/.307/.273 in 99 at bats. Vazquez had an excellent season with Double-A Portland for the Red Sox organization and is considered one of the team’s top 15-20 prospects (and is certainly the most advanced catching prospect).
24-year-old Australian third baseman Stefan Welch was traded to the Red Sox in June of 2013. He’s now with his third organization in MLB but put up extraordinary numbers after coming to the Red Sox despite a demotion. He was hitting just .149 in Altoona, Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliate and was sent to High-A Salem after the trade where he hit .292/.409/.476 with 19 doubles and 10 home runs in 325 plate appearances. Back home in Oz, Welch is hitting .295/.497/.341 with a pair of doubles in 44 at bats.
On the pitching side, 24-year-old Rubby de la Rosa has made two appearances in the Dominican League, throwing only 2 2/3 innings and giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk. He still hasn’t struck anyone out. De la Rosa had an okay season with the Pawtucket and Boston Red Sox. In Pawtucket, he threw 80 1/3 innings with a 4.26 ERA, 65 hits against but 48 walks with 76 strikeouts. The walks are obviously concerning but he only walked two batters in 11 1/3 major league innings coming out of the bullpen.
Puerto Rican native Jose de la Torre, 28, made his major league debut for the Red Sox in 2013, also throwing 11 1/3 innings with the Red Sox and walking 10 but striking out 15. De la Torre spent most of the season in Pawtucket, working out of the bullpen, throwing 52 1/3 innings with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 59 strikeouts and 27 walks. De la Torre has thrown 18 1/3 innings in the Puerto Rican Winter League, with 9 walks and 18 strikeouts and has posted a 3.93 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.
After pitching in the low minors for the Red Sox, 21-year-old Venezuelan Ellis Jimenez pitched six innings in his home country before apparently shutting things down. His final appearance was on November 9 and he amassed only six innings with three runs against on six hits and one walk.
Another minor league veteran, Jeremy Kehrt, has been starting in Puerto Rico. The 28 year old from Plainfield, Indiana has made eight appearances (in seven starts) and has racked up 36 2/3 innings with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Kehrt has been helped by his good control, walking only nine and striking out 26. The righty spent 2013 mostly in Double-A Portland, putting up solid numbers as a swingman after a demotion from Triple-A.
The Red Sox signed 26 year old lefty Nate Reed to a minor league deal in late September after a tryout in the Dominican Republic. The 6’3″ lefty spent two minor league seasons with the Mariners’ organization before leaving affilated baseball for a year. In 2013, he resurfaced pitching mostly out of the Lancaster bullpen in the independent Atlantic League. In the Mexican Winter League, Reed is showing excellent stuff, allowing just one run over 16 1/3 innings (in three starts and one relief appearance) with six walks and 18 strikeouts.
Mexican Oscar Villarreal is also putting up some gaudy numbers in the Mexican Winter League, with just four runs allowed in 26 innings for a 1.38 ERA. He’s walked only four batters and struck out 21. The 32 year old righty spent 2013 split between Pawtucket and the Mexican League where he had strong numbers overall.
One of the Red Sox’ top pitching prospects, Allen Webster, made five starts for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican League, getting roughed up quite a bit with a 6.11 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP in 17 2/3 innings with 10 walks and 15 strikeouts. Webster made his major league debut in 2013, amassing 30 1/3 major league innings with 18 walks and 23 strikeouts and an 8.60 ERA. Outside of that, he threw 105 innings in Triple-A Pawtucket to much better results, giving up only 71 hits, 43 walks and striking out 116.