Yoan Moncada could potentially help the Red Sox out this season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox minor league notebook: How Yoan Moncada could potentially help big league club this season

Ryan Hannable
August 04, 2016 - 3:00 am
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1. With Andrew Benintendi being promoted to the Red Sox this week, the next question is when will it be Yoan Moncada's turn? The two are a little different as Benintendi was a two-year college player, while Moncada just came to the United States from Cuba last year. The second baseman also needs to likely begin playing another position -- which he already has started by getting pregame work at third base and in the outfield -- so there will be some time before he's in Boston, but that doesn't mean it won't happen this year. A likely scenario is Moncada gets promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in the very near future and then once major league rosters expand in September, Moncada could get his first taste of the big leagues. It's also unlikely he gets any meaningful every day playing time, but the Red Sox could use his speed as a pinch-runner off the bench. It's worth mentioning president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was asked in Seattle this week about that being a possibility and he said he doubted it would work out that way, but it's still over a month away and a lot can change between now and then. It just wouldn't make sense to have a player like Moncada and his speed not used to the Red Sox' benefit. The Red Sox were 11th in baseball in stolen bases going into Wednesday, stealing 63 bases and Moncada alone has 44 in 54 attempts between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year. Last year he stole 49 bases in 81 games with Single-A Greenville. As it stands now, Moncada has the most stolen bases at any level in the Red Sox' organization this season and by a good margin as the next highest is Danny Mars' 27 with High-A Salem. "His first step is unbelievable on the bases and defensively," Portland manager Carlos Febles said to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford of what makes him such a good base stealer in addition to pure speed. "He's a beast." With David Ortiz's noted foot and ankle issues, he could use a pinch-runner late in games, so why not use Moncada for Ortiz and in other timely situations? It's better than wasting him on the bench or not even having him on the September roster at all. Then depending on how that goes, manager John Farrell and Dombrowski could see how much value he could give a potential playoff roster as a pinch-runner, which the Red Sox haven't been afraid to do in the past with most notably Quintin Berry and Dave Roberts. Perhaps he could be more valuable then an extra reliever. That discussion is months away, but for now the discussion should be getting Moncada to Boston in September and using his speed to the Red Sox' benefit. 2. High-A Salem right-hander Michael Kopech may have had his best start as a professional on Tuesday night. Kopech went six shutout innings, while allowing one hit (a bloop single), walked one and struck out 10, which was a career-high. "I felt really good," Kopech said Wednesday on the Salem Red Sox Baseball Network pregame show. "More comfortable than I have been lately. Kind of stopped worrying about throwing the ball hard. I know everybody likes to see it, but 99 (mph) gets as many outs as 105 (mph). It was more about pitching instead of throwing. I was able to throw a lot of my pitches for strikes, which I haven't been doing. Limited it to one walk and just got in a groove out there." Kopech acknowledged he's put more of an emphasis on his secondary pitches and not just his fastball, especially after he was recorded at 105 mph a few weeks ago. "(Pitching coach Paul Abbott) has said I'm not going to pitch in the big leagues with one pitch, and I completely agree," he said. "I can't throw all fastballs because they are eventually going to catch up to it. The changeup I have been working on and threw a lot yesterday. I threw about 12 or so and the same amount of sliders. The changeup, by definition is a feel pitch. The main thing was getting a feel for it and I got the feel for it. [Tuesday], it just worked out." 3. Kopech also talked about his season as a whole, which started in mid-June after breaking his wrist in an altercation with a teammate during spring training. He pitched once in short-season, Single-A Lowell before being promoted to High-A Salem. "It's been a little rocky," Kopech admitted. "[Tuesday] was only the second time I've gone five innings this year and it's my sixth start. That's kind of been eating away at me a bit. Now that I am getting deeper into games and keeping the pitch count down and if I can continue that, that will be big for me. I really never got tired last night. If I can keep that up, that will be big for my future. I just have to get in a groove throughout the season. Unfortunately for me, my season started a little later for me." It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with him the rest of the year. It wouldn't be a complete surprise to see him close the year with Portland for a few starts, especially if he continues to pitch the way he did on Tuesday. 4. The biggest news with the trade deadline coming and going with just Fernando Abad being added on Monday was the Red Sox held on to Benintendi, Moncada and other top prospects like Kopech and Rafael Devers. While the Chris Sale rumors were fun, it likely was not ever a distant possibility. Dombrowski told reporters the Red Sox didn't talk with the White Sox since last Friday and it just wouldn't have made sense to give up four or five players, including multiple high prospects, including either Moncada or Benintendi for one player. From this viewpoint, Moncada and Benintendi were 100 percent untouchable. Dombrowski did do a solid job with keeping the majority of his farm system in tact. Obviously Anderson Espinoza departed in the Drew Pomeranz trade, but other than that it was fringe minor league players getting moved, with the latest being reliever Pat Light on Monday for Abad at the deadline. That deal was a no-brainer for the Red Sox as Light has looked like a deer in the headlights in his limited major league experience. 5. It's worth looking back at the prospects the Red Sox traded to the Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel last offseason. Manuel Margot is having the most success of the three as he was named to the Futures Game once again and is batting .305 with the Padres' Triple-A club. He's the only player having success as shortstop Javier Guerra is batting just .196 with the Padres' High-A club and 19-year-old left-hander Logan Allen hasn't pitched since June 8 because of inflammation in his elbow. Overall, it seems like a win for the Red Sox as both Margot and Guerra were likely blocked in the system any way. 6. Single-A Greenville reliever Jake Cosart was finally promoted to High-A Salem on Wednesday. The right-hander, who was a starter prior to this year, is 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA this season out of the bullpen. In 52 2/3 innings, he has an astonishing 76 strikeouts, mostly courtesy of his fastball. He does have a high stress delivery, so his durability is a question, but he's exceeded expectations in a big way this year. Cosart was a third-round pick in 2014 and his brother Jarred, was just traded from the Marlins to the Padres. 7. While Henry Owens isn't back to what he once was, he's pitching better of late. On Wednesday, the left-hander went five innings and allowed one earned run (three total) on four hits, while striking out seven, but once again walks were an issue as he let up four free passes. This snapped a streak of three straight starts of allowing three walks or fewer. His strikeout totals have climbed of late -- 16 in his last 10 innings -- but again, it all comes back to his control. It would appear he wouldn't be part of the Red Sox' plans at all next month as a potential call up. 8. A player who may be in the Red Sox' plans next month who is with Triple-A Pawtucket is lefty Brian Johnson, who appears all the way back after taking a leave of absence with anxiety. Johnson excelled in the Gulf Coast League and with short-season, Single-A Lowell in four starts, but allowed four runs in three innings in his first outing back with Triple-A Pawtucket. The left-hander rebounded nicely though as in his last start last Friday Johnson tossed six scoreless innings, scattering four hits, not walking a batter and striking out five. Potentially, he could be a September call up, but regardless it's a great story with him coming back and pitching well. 9. Although it's been a tough year overall for Double-A Portland right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, he had his best performance on Tuesday night. He tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout, while not walking a batter and striking out seven. Overall, he's 4-7 with a 4.81 ERA on the year. He is Rule 5 eligible this offseason and it seems unlikely the Red Sox will add him to the 40-man roster. 10. The Red Sox Farm Report podcast with myself and Dennis & Callahan producer Ken Laird returned this week following Benintendi's promotion. The trade deadline along with other key players in the system were also discussed. Check it out.