Outlook: The Red Sox High Single-A affiliate in Salem has served as a weigh-station for many talented players headed north since 2009 and this season they once again have some high-end talent that seems destined to be headed this way soon.
The trio of third baseman Garin Cecchini and battery mates LHP Henry Owens and catcher Blake Swihart may end up becoming very familiar with each other in the coming years as their careers run parallel to each other on their way towards Boston. The triumvirate are all considered top 10 prospects in Boston’s system and they have each proved it since becoming pros.
Shortstop Deven Marrero leapfrogged Low-A Greenville and looks to be on a fast track after being invited to the big league camp in Spring Training. The first rounder was well seasoned coming out of Arizona State on his way to Lowell last year, showing off a solid bat to all fields and some improved range in the infield that at times seems effortless.
Up-the-middle alongside Marrero will be Sean Coyle, the organization’s best prospect at second base.
Brandon Jacobs returns to the Salem outfield after a 13 home run season a year ago. His 128 strikeouts last season are a point of contention with his advancement at this stage, so look for him to work more on patience at the plate. If he can harness that, then his power numbers.
Thoughts: Of the top talent on this team, there is a good mix at different positions that will provide a great balance to this roster out of the gate.
Cecchini continues to blossom and I feel he has as much potential as anyone in this system. He just gets it on and off the field, he carries himself the right way and he is a beast between the lines. He proved last year that he could stay healthy which was key and his 51 stolen bases really opened the eyes of many to his overall potential.
Watching how Marrero and Coyle work together up the middle is something of note as they could be on a similar trajectory to success, especially is Coyle improves at the plate.
Some sleepers on the pitching side of things include Noe Ramirez, Mike Augliera (who made the leap from Lowell to Salem ala Marrero), William Cuevas and Miguel Pena, who Swihart once noted as one of the best pitchers he has caught.
Player to watch: Owens - As the Sox top left-handed pitching prospect many are hungry for him to be ready sooner-rather-than later. However, he won't turn 21 until July and he is still a raw, young talent. That being said, this kid has the tools to get the job done and more importantly he has baseball smarts, which is something that many at his age just simply do not possess. With another season dealing to former Team USA teammate Swihart, he will be able to work in a comfort zone that notched him 12 wins in Greenville last year.
Strengths: Infield – Three of the starting infielders – Cecchini, Marrero and Coyle - are potential big league starters because they are excel at many different aspects of the game. All are fast and cover lots of ground in the field and on the base paths. The three players combined for 107 extra base hits and 91 stolen bases in 2012.
Weaknesses: Outfield experience –The five outfielders listed on the opening day roster have a combined 214 games played at the High-A level and no experience above it.
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