Prospecting: Outfielders on the farm, struggles for "ace" and armed reinforcements coming

The Guru
Contributing Writer

Every year teams go through injuries, slumps and trades that change the face of the current and future Major League roster. Let's take a look at what's happening with the Red Sox minor league prospects down on the farm.

Pawtucket Red Sox outfielders: With center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury struggling in a contract year, left fielder Jonny Gomes platooning with Daniel Nava and right fielder Shane Victorino's disregard for warning tracks or his body, it is not out of the question that one or more of the three Sox outfield prospects currently in Pawtucket could get more than a "cup of coffee" at Fenway this year.

Bryce Brentz- After a rough off season, which included a shooting accident at his home, Brentz has found his groove. In 35 games he has put up 6 HR, 26 RBI, .275 BA and is slugging .486. Last night he hit a walk-off homer to win it for the PawSox.

Brentz has also been working with Sox legend Dwight Evans. Brentz has primarily played right field in his first two-plus years in the Red Sox farm system and Evans was one of the games best right fielders. Brentz worked a little with Evans during the spring, and he's worked more with Dewey as the season enters it's second month. Evans, the veteran of 20 major-league seasons, is doing what he can to help one of the top outfielders in the Boston farm system.

Jackie Bradley Jr- JBJ was hitting .302 with a .400 OBP before bicep tendonitis landed him on the DL. Bradley was activated before last nights game and went 1-3 with a triple batting leadoff as the teams DH.

Jeremy Hazelbaker- Hazelbaker, the left handed hitting outfielder and 2009 4th round draft pick out of Ball State, is hitting .292 with 5 home runs. Last season, between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, Hazelbaker hit 19 home runs and had 36 steals in 121 games while posting a .273 average. For some reason he doesn't get the attention he may deserve as the Sox had high hopes for Ryan Kalish who, while a year younger than Hazelbaker, can not stay healthy and is on the 60-day DL.

Deeper prospecting in the outfield: Keury De La Cruz-The Single-A Salem outfielder is the Red Sox 19th ranked minor league prospect according to Originally projected as a center fielder De La Cruz has been playing the corner outfield spots with Salem. Scouts project him as a 4th outfielder. Currently batting .253 with 3 home runs.

Brandon Jacobs- Jacobs, the Sox 24th ranked prospect at Single-A Salem, has been struggling in his second year of A-ball. After hitting .253 with 13 home runs and 17 steals last season, Jacobs is hitting just .203 this year with 4 home runs. Scouts say the 6'1, 225 pound Jacobs, who was committed to play football at Auburn before signing with the Sox in 2009, projects as a power hitting left fielder with limited defensive ability.

Manuel Margot is a highly regarded 18 year old Dominican talent currently at extended spring training in Florida. Margot is years away, but scouts project the Sox 20th ranked Red Sox prospect as a top of the order guy with average power, plus-plus speed and good defensive range. While Margot is a name to remember, he is in the very early stages of development.

Ace is struggling: Alfredo Aceves started for the PawSox last night and was facing a loss before Brentz won it in the ninth. Aceves threw 100 pitches in only five innings allowing three runs on six hits. Aceves has allowed eight runs in his last 10 innings over two starts.

“He was a little out of sorts,” said manager Gary DiSarcina, "He battled but he could not find his release point.”

The Sox continue to look for possible trade options but are not receiving much interest.

Armed reinforcements: Sox scouts will be watching the results of Saturday’s game very closely. Franklin Morales will start and hope to stretch things out to around 60/65 pitches. Andrew Bailey will follow and pitch an inning. Both Morales and Bailey could immediately make an impact with the Sox if all goes well.

The lefty Morales will be making his fourth rehab assignment since injuring his back in spring training. Morales could take over the fifth-starter role in Boston if Felix Doubront continues to struggle. Doubront's ERA currently stands at 6.03.

Closer Andrew Bailey’s stop in Pawtucket won't be for long. Bailey had taken over the ninth inning job from Joel Hanrahan before landing on the disabled list himself with a biceps strain May 7. With Hanrahan now done for the year after Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox would like to see Bailey pitch an inning in game conditions today and then move him back to the big club for Monday's game against the White Sox.

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