Red Sox minor league affiliate roster analysis: Single-A Greenville Drive

April 01, 2014 - 5:15 am

The Greenville roster: PITCHERS Mike Adams Mario Alcantara Jonathan Aro Jamie Callahan Jake Dahlstrand Jason Garcia Sergio Gomez Joe Gunkel Cody Kukuk Pat Light Myles Smith Teddy Stankiewicz Raynel Velette CATCHERS Carlos Coste Jake Romanski Jordan Weems INFIELDERS Carlos Asuaje Tzu-Wei Lin Kevin Mager Mike Miller Jimmy Rider Wendell Rijo Tim Roberson Jantzen Witte OUTFIELDERS Zach Kapstein Aaron King Jesus Loya Manuel Margot TOP PITCHING PROSPECTS Greenville features a reminder that there's an impressive next wave of pitching prospects behind the current group in the upper levels. Indeed, the crowd with the Drive is such that the Sox were trying to sort out spots and innings for all of their promising pitching prospects, something that may have played into the decision not to have left-hander Trey Ball -- the team's first-round selection (No. 7 overall) in last year's draft -- break camp on a roster. The upside to a number of players in Greenville is nonetheless considerable, even with Ball, right-hander Ty Buttrey (a 2012 pick who received a $1.3 million bonus) and impressive left-hander Daniel McGrath -- whose start of the year has been delayed by recovery from tonsillitis that required surgery -- not on the roster. Notables: -- Left-hander Cody Kukuk returns to Greenville, where he was 4-13 with a 4.63 ERA, 9.5 strikeouts per nine and 6.8 walks per nine. Don't be fooled by the numbers. The soon-to-be 21-year-old has electric stuff, having run his fastball up to 97 mph in extended spring training, and while he had severe command struggles last year, he showed improvement over the course of the year and possesses the type of athleticism and body control that creates at least the potential for a strike-throwing delivery. There may be no player in the Red Sox organization with as big a spread between his potential ceiling and floor. If he can dominate in his return to Greenville, the Sox may have a player who makes a considerable jump in prospect rankings. -- Right-hander Jamie Callahan, a second-round pick in 2012, was one of the head-turners in spring training. He showed a powerful fastball that regularly made it into the mid-90s, a good curveball that elicited swings and misses and a bulldog demeanor about which team officials rave. Now 19, Callahan is coming off a strong performance in Lowell last year when, as one of the youngest pitchers in the New York-Penn League, he went 5-1 with a 3.92 ERA, 8.1 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine. -- Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, a 2013 second-rounder, will likewise be in the Greenville rotation. He features a four-pitch mix of average pitches with power (he can throw 92-96 mph); if any of those offerings develops into plus, he could develop into a potential No. 4 or perhaps even No. 3 starter. In his pro debut last summer, the 20-year-old had a 2.29 ERA with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 19 2/3 innings. -- Right-hander Mario Alcantara has an electric arm, with the ability to work in the mid-90s. He has yet to find consistency on the mound in the minors, and had a 5-5 record and 4.17 ERA with 7.1 strikeouts and 4.5 walks per nine in Lowell last year, but there's still upside if he can attack the strike zone. -- Right-hander Joe Gunkel was something of a revelation after the Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round last year, a strike-throwing machine whose low three-quarters arm slot gave opponents fits. He did nothing but get swings and misses or groundballs in Lowell, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 32 strikeouts and three walks in 20 innings. He'll work out of the Greenville bullpen, but has a chance to move quickly in the Sox system if he can show anything like what he did in Lowell last year. -- Right-hander Pat Light, a supplemental first-rounder in 2012, returns to Greenville after suffering through repeated groin issues that effectively wiped out his 2013 season. At 23, he will need to show that he can dominate in Single-A to restore his prospect status. POSITION PLAYERS Not nearly as deep a group as the pitchers, though the Sox' best prospect below Double-A will open the year in Greenville. -- Center fielder Manuel Margot represents the one position player with true impact potential in Greenville. Indeed, there had been some thought to having the 19-year-old skip short-season ball and open there last year. But Margot ended up in Lowell, where as one of the youngest position players in the league, he more than held his own, hitting .270/.346/.351 with a homer and 18 steals. Margot has five-tool potential, a great work ethic and approaches the game with energy and dynamism that command notice. He could well break into the Sox' top 10 -- potentially even top five -- prospects with a strong year. -- Second baseman Wendell Rijo skipped the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut and was a strong performer in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, hitting .277/.367/.375 and showing a solid offensive approach. He'll continue to be pushed at a pace that is uncommon for his age. The 18-year-old's ceiling appears somewhat limited, but he shows an ability to hit for average and get on base, making for a potential everyday second baseman in the big leagues down the road. -- Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin has intriguing athleticism, speed and defensive skills, though he seemed to wilt under the physical demands of his year in Lowell. He hit .226/.312/.296 for the Spinners. If he can demonstrate greater durability that permits some of his physical tools to translate to performance, he'll solidify his prospect standing.