Outfielder Manuel Margot (shown last year) reportedly has drawn interest from the Phillies. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Ben Crockett says Manuel Margot will be a 'very good player'; Yoan Moncada update

Ryan Hannable
April 30, 2015 - 9:41 am
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The Cole Hamels-Red Sox rumors have picked up again this week, with a new name in the discussions as a prospect the Phillies may want -- outfielder Manuel Margot. A report in the Philadelphia Daily News said adviser Charlie Manuel has plans to visit Salem, Virgina and watch Margot play with High-A Salem. Margot is a 20-year-old center fielder who got called up to Salem at the end of last year, and is quickly rising in the eyes of talent evaluators. Some have even compared Margot to Mookie Betts. Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett isn't one to make comparisons between players, but believes Margot is going to be a very good one. "I don't know that I want to make comparisons to one guy to the other," Crockett said to WEEI.com. "I think Manuel is going to be a very good player in his own right. He continues to [make] his path to doing that. I think he's got physical abilities to play in the middle of the diamond, to put the bat on the ball, to hit the ball with impact and have a good approach at the plate. There's certainly some physical skills there." Margot is hitting .323 with a .361 on-base percentage through 17 games this season. He had an impressive streak that ended Wednesday, as he went 62 at-bats to start the season without a strikeout (79 going back to 2014). Although monitoring strikeouts aren't high on Crockett's priority list, his streak did get some attention. "I mean, yeah, I don't see it too often," said Crockett. "I don't know that's something we've strive for, not ever striking out. I think strikeouts are part of the game, but obviously it shows it effects the level of confidence he's feeling at the plate right now -- the way he's seeing the ball, the consistency of his swing to battle with two strikes. It's not like he's swinging at the first pitch every time. He's seeing some pitches and working some walks and finding his way on base. He's shown a pretty good ability to battle with two strikes right now and he's feeling pretty good about himself." Margot showed more power last year combining for 12 home runs between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem, after hitting just one with short-season Lowell in 2013. The Red Sox don't appear even close to considering dealing Blake Swihart or Mookie Betts, so the Phillies' interest in Margot is worth monitoring. STAYING PATIENT WITH MONCADA The No. 1 ranked prospect in the Red Sox' farm system remains in extended spring training after signing with the organization in mid-March. The organization is remaining patient with the 19-year-old, as he didn't play organized baseball in over a year and he's still adjusting to the American game, as well as the culture. "Just getting used to it and getting used to the daily routine, what's expected of the cage work, batting practice, physical routines and daily preparation," Crockett said. "Being in the right place at the right time. Being mentally ready and the grind of playing every day. All those things. Not to mention the cultural challenges of being in a new culture without having the benefit of some of our other Latin American players of spending some time at the academy and learning some of those things and forming a bond with the others. There's a lot of newness for Yoan, but he's done a really good job of embracing those things and learning a lot." Crockett said he's been working exclusively at second base and there are no plans to expose him to other positions at this point. The thought was after a few weeks of extended spring training he would be moved to Single-A Greenville, but it appears the organization is remaining patient. "I think just spending time down there has been a learning experience for him," said Crockett. "Just getting the full spring training, but also we think of spring training as a shorter period of time, but a good number of our players report in early February to spring training. A lot of our Latin American players report to the academy for about a month before they go to Fort Myers. Generally there's a couple of months of build up before the season. "We're not putting any specific time frame on Moncada, but there's a lot to be learned. He's done a great job on the field learning some of the drill work and getting comfortable and blending in with the team. Having been away from the game and in the team environment for such a long time I think it's valuable for him." WHAT MAKES THE TIME RIGHT FOR A CALL UP TO THE MAJORS? With the Red Sox' starting rotation having a tough time to open the year -- boasting a 5.75 ERA through the first 22 games -- and having a Pawtucket rotation loaded with top prospects in Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez, many have wondered if the team would bring any one of them up as a way to shakeup the rotation. While Crockett and the rest of the organization's mentality is players in Triple-A are just an extension of major league depth, and if they are playing in Triple-A they could play in the majors, it doesn't seem like a move is likely in the immediate future. Crockett said there isn't a "checklist" or anything a player must check off before being called up, rather it's case-by-case basis. "It's case-by-case," he said. "I don't think he would necessarily hold anybody back if they didn't have enough at-bats or innings. If we felt like the physical tools and the performance, the make up, the personality and the work habits and all those things showed they were ready. And vise-versa it's not all about hitting a certain number of at-bats or innings and saying, 'Oh, good. We can move him.' Each case is individual." SCOUTING REPORTS ON JOHNSON, OWENS, RODRIGUEZ Johnson, Owens and Rodriguez are the players most likely to take over a spot in the rotation if the organization were to call upon a player from Pawtucket. While none of the three have appeared in a major league game yet, all three have put up impressive numbers in the minors. Johnson Having a breakout year last year, going 3-1 with High-A Salem before getting promoted to Double-A Portland where he went 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA, the left-hander has continued to have success at Triple-A. Through four starts Johnson is 3-1 with an 0.86 ERA, allowing just two earned runs over 21 innings. "I don't know if there was one thing that was necessarily key for his success," Crockett said of Johnson. "He's a guy that does a lot of things really well. He's aggressive to the strike zone. He's got a good pitch mix that keeps hitters off balance. He knows how to pitch. His stuff is good. I think coming into last year having a healthy offseason of preparation and really improving from the year before. It was just the way he felt going into the season that was repetitions on the mound and his ability to repeat his delivery and be consistent was really showcased. We've seen similar this year. He's shown some ability to get some swing and miss so far this year. For the most part he's aggressive to the strike zone and when he's had runners on base or when he's been in tough situations he's made pitches to get out of it for the most part. Even in his more challenging outings he's done a nice job of keeping things slow for him and keeping the game under control." Owens Owens may be the most talked about player in the Red Sox' farm system. With Double-A Portland last year he went 14-3 with a 2.60 ERA before being promoted to Pawtucket towards the end of the year where he went 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA. The tall left-hander seems to be in an adjustment phase, as through four starts he's 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA. He's working on his control as he has 17 walks in 21 innings. "He's continued to improve," Crockett said. "He had a solid outing his last time out, obviously throwing again [Wednesday]. I think the biggest thing for him of late has been continuing to improve his fastball command and his aggressiveness to the strike zone. I think the curve ball was an area of focus last year and he's done a really good job with that. It's become a weapon for him. And the change up remains an area of strength. I think overall command and just the aggressiveness to the strike zone is what he's working on." Rodriguez Rodriguez is the newest member to the system, as he was acquired from the Orioles in the Andrew Miller trade last year. The 22-year-old lefty went 3-1 with an 0.96 ERA in six starts with Portland following the trade and is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his first three starts with Pawtucket this year. Crockett likes what he's seen in the short period of time working with him. "I think right off the bat he's a great kid," said Crockett. "He wants to learn. He's shown us he's passionate about the game and he wants to work. On the mound he's got a simple, repeatable delivery and that's the stuff really does hit you in the face when you first see him. He's got a well above average fastball and he's got two other pitches with the slider and change up for weapons for him at any given time." 3 STARS OF THE WEEK 1. Michael Kopech, RHP, Greenville: A 2014 first-round pick, who throws in the high 90s, gave up two hits over five innings in each of his starts last week, picking up his first pro victory April 25 against Asheville. 2. Mike Miller, SS, Portland: A ninth rounder in 2012, Miller has been on a tear of late, as over his last five games he's 9-for-23 (.391), with multiple hits in three of the five games. 3. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, Salem: A tough-luck loser in all three of his starts so far this year, Stankiewicz has looked good to start the season. Over his last two starts the right-hander has allowed three runs over 11 1/3 innings and striking out nine.

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