Minor league monthly: Winston-Salem and Kannapolis

After tackling Charlotte and Birmingham yesterday, let’s see what’s doing in the low minors.

Record: 15-6 (1st place)
Team offense: .852 OPS (1st in CL)
Team pitching: 3.48 ERA (2nd in CL)

Nevin Griffith
4-0, 1.44 ERA, 25 IP, 14 H, 1 HR, 8 BB, 16 K
The Sox had high hopes for Griffith, their second-round pick in the 2007 draft, but Tommy John Surgery threw his progress off course.  He appears to be back, and he’s getting it done with a good groundball rate (58.7 percent) and insaaaanely weak contact (8 percent line drive rate).  Opponents are hitting just .167 off him.  Expect his luck to even out, but either way, I don’t know if the Sox are going to push him. He’s only 21, and he threw just 76 innings last year.
Nathan Jones
2-1, 2.42 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 23 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 22 K
Jones had been a reliever up until this year, and the starting experiment is going well. His peripherals have survived the jump just fine, and there’s nothing fluky about his overall numbers.  In fact, his BABIP is pretty damn high (.365). That’s encouraging, considering he pitched a half season in the Carolina League already. He could get a boost depending on what they want to do with him, starting or relieving.
Stephen Sauer
1-0, 4.76 ERA, 22 2/3 IP, 26 IP, 0 HR, 9 BB, 11 K
Sauer went from being the man of the dour to the man of the hour.  He walked just 19 batters over 142 innings at Kannapolis last season, but started 2010 with nine free passes over his first 11 innings.  He hasn’t walked a batter in his two starts since, and struck out seven over seven strong innings to get back on track. If his control’s here to stay, he could put up some nice May numbers.
Charles Leesman
3-1, 3.86 ERA, 18 2/3 IP, 19 H, 2 HR, 13 BB, 13 K
Front-office favorite Leesman has had the worst month of all Dash starters in terms of peripherals.  He did strike out eight over 5 2/3 innings in his last start, but he walked three. Command has been an issue, and he’s lucky to have a 3.86 ERA.
Justin Edwards
2-2, 2.70 ERA, 30 IP, 24 H, 1 HR, 9 BB, 21 K
Edwards is another Tommy John surgery guy, a third-round pick of the Kyle McCulloch draft.  He’s a crafty lefty, the kind of low-ceiling guy that got Duane Shaffer fired, but he’s been solid, and he might be considered advanceable.
Jon Gilmore
.367/.398/.433, 4 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 6 BB, 14 K in 90 AB
Gilmore’s previous track record wouldn’t make him “borderline.”  It’s more like “terrible.”  Only his status as a supplemental pick in 2007 keeps his prospect star flickering, so it goes without saying that this strong start is welcome.  The average is a little empty and BABIP fueled (.434), but he’s never had this kind of run at any time.  Let’s keep an eye on it.
Justin Greene
.333/.452/.638, 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 12 BB, 16 K, 5-for-8 SB
Time’s running out on Greene, who is 24 and is getting his second good look at Winston-Salem after 175 at-bats here last year.  That said, he’s been a monster at the plate, and can play a good center. Larry points us to this fantastic catch as evidence:

Brandon Short
.354/.382/.500, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 15 K, 2-for-7 SB
At 21, age isn’t Short’s problem.  It’s that he can’t cover enough ground for center, and thus has to hit well enough to play a corner.  The walk rate suggests it isn’t sustainable, but he’s sustained a 17-game hitting streak with no signs of slowing down, so he’s hacking happily in High-A.
Eduardo Escobar
.237/.295/.312, 7 2B, 9 BB, 24 H in 93 AB, 1-for-4 SB
Phil Rogers’ favorite is still all glove, no-hit.
Kyle Bellamy
0-0, 1.59 ERA, 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 HR, 4 BB, 7 K
Bellamy got the call to Winston-Salem halfway through the month, and he’s had no problems missing bats after the promotion.  There’s only a five-inning sample size, so there’s not much to draw from, but lefties are 3-for-9 with two walks against him so far (righties 1-for-10).  With his sidewinding delivery, uneven splits are worth watching for.
Dan Remenowsky
1-0, 3.55 ERA, 12 2/3 IP, 13 H, 2 HR, 5 BB, 18 K
High-A hitters definitely find Remenowsky more hittable, but he’s still finding a way to miss bats.  Not a bad start, considering his fastball’s lack of velocity.
Santos Rodriguez
0-0, 10.57 ERA, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 0 HR, 7 BB, 7 K
Rodriguez isn’t quite the fast-riser everybody hoped he would be, evidently.  In time, he could be effectively wild (3.7 line drive rate!). Right now, he’s just wild.
Gregory Infante
1-0, 3.48 ERA, 10 1/3 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 3 BB, 10 K
Infante’s transition to relief is going smoothly so far, with a nice strikeout rate, appropriate BABIP and 50 percent grounder rate, which is an improvement over last season thus far.

Record: 10-13 (5th place)
Team offense: .685 OPS (11th in SAL)
Team pitching: 3.04 ERA (3rd in SAL)
Trayce Thompson
.280/.357/.580, 6 2B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 16 K in 50 AB, 1-for-2 SB
Thompson wasn’t expected to be up at A-ball this early, but so far, he’s proving he belongs.  Those numbers are impressive, even though 12 hitless at-bats at the end of the month leveled them off a little bit.  The strikeout rate isn’t good, but it’s an improvement upon his rookie ball numbers.  All signs are positive thus far; he’s just 19.
Miguel Gonzalez
.210/258/.355, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 10 K, 1-for-2 SB
Also just 19, Gonzalez didn’t have Thompson’s luck starting off.  He had a rough patch in the middle of the month, but finished the month with eight hits in his last 29 at-bats, and respectable walk and strikeout numbers.  He’s making enough contact, the power is there, and his throwing arm is there.
Juan Silverio
.143/.187/.243, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 17 K, 0-for-3 SB
He’s just 19, too, if you can believe it.
Kyle Colligan
.274/.379/.466, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 BB, 15 K in 73 AB, 5-for-6 SB
Colligan has been the steadiest of the trio by far. He’s showing a good walk rate and good speed, and finished the month with an eight-game hitting streak.  Four of his 15 strikeouts game in one game, so that number may be misleading.  We’ll see with a greater sample.
Nick Ciolli
.272/.294/.383, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 27 K in 81 AB, 3-for-4 SB
And then you have Ciolli, whose walk-to-strikeout ratio is a huge early red flag.  When you scroll down, you’ll see that it gets a lot worse. One bizarre early split: He’s 2-for-26 on the road.
Brady Shoemaker
.250/.357/.306, 2 2B, 5 BB, 10 K in 36 AB
Shoemaker was sent to extended spring training to make room for Thompson, which explains his smaller body of work.  Not much to see here — he’s going to have to be a dynamic hitter to make up for his corners-only skillset, and that’s not happening so far.
Justin Collop
0-2, 6.75 ERA, 16 IP, 20 H, 0 HR, 3 BB, 14 K
He was terrible in his first outing (11 runs on 12 hits over five innings), and has since pitched well — although he made a brief stint on the disabled list.  He was the sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
Matthew Hopps
0-1, 5.12 ERA, 19 1/3 IP, 23 H, 0 HR, 5 BB, 6 K
He gave up 11 of those hits and 8 of his runs over 1 1/3 of an inning in his second start.  Since then, he’s been getting good results and a ton of grounders — 60.3 percent and climbing.
Joe Serafin
3-2, 2.64 ERA, 30 2/3 IP, 27 H, 4 HR, 9 BB, 22 K
Undersized lefty from Vermont was a 37th-round draft pick last year. He’s going to have obstacle after obstacle going upwards, but he’s been Kanny’s most reliable and durable starter early.
Ryan Buch
1-0, 0.66 ERA, 13 2/3 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 9 K
Buch is said to have the biggest fastball in the low minors, and it seems to be rattling the A-ball bats.  But he’s missing spots almost as much as he’s missing bats, so he’s a work in progress right now.
Site note: I’m heading down to Yankee Stadium today.  I’ll wrap up the series with the Bombers Sunday night or Monday.
Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 7, Toledo 5
    • Jordan Danks doubled, walked, drove in two, and didn’t strike out.
    • C.J. Retherford might still be slumping after a 1-for-4 day, but the hit was a two-run shot.
    • Stefan Gartrell hit his third homer, a three-run shot.
    • Tyler Flowers went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts.
    • Ramon Castro did the same, but with just one K.
    • Dayan Viciedo went 1-for-4.
  • Huntsville 4, Birmingham 3 (11 innings)
    • Brent Morel went 1-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
    • Christian Marrero went 1-for-4 with a walk; John Shelby went 1-for-5.
    • Jhonny Nunez struck out six over five strong innings, allowing just one run (unearned) on three hits and a walk.
  • Winston-Salem 10, Wilmington 5
    • Jon Gilmore pounded out three hits, driving in two.
    • Brandon Short went 2-for-5 with a double.
    • Justin Greene doubled and walked twice.
    • Eduardo Escobar went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.
    • Nathan Jones survived poor control: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 2 HR.
    • Santos Rodriguez walked three batters and allowed a hit over two-thirds of an inning. He struck out one.
  • Kannapolis 5, Lakewood 1
    • Trayce Thompson went 1-for-4, but was caught stealing.
    • Kyle Colligan went 1-for-4 with a double and a K.
    • Brady Shoemaker (one K) and Nick Ciolli (golden sombrero) each went 0-for-4.
    • Terry Doyle isn’t much of a prospect, but a tip of the hat for 11 strikeouts over eight innings.
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Hey Jim,
Ready to DFA your boy Raaandy yet? Course there’s another option. We could toss him out of a moving van in the middle of the desert.
The sad thing is the Sox have bigger problems, beginning with their vaunted starting rotation. Is Buerhle through? The guy has been a stud for so many years but more recently resembles a middle of the pack pitcher.
Dump Williams, bring up Flowers. Have him lead off instead of Kotsay. What a joke this season is turning into.


The reason I rag on Williams is not just because he’s total crap for us almost every time he’s taken the mound, but because he has NEVER been successful at the ML level. I bet even his wife thinks he sucks! I seriously doubt that any of the upper half teams in the league have a guy as hapless as Randy in their pen. I mean, the Twins signed Ron Mahay to a Minor league deal. Mahay may be in his twilight, if not totally done, but I’d be happy to give him the ball right now to try to get out one lefty. Moreover, Mahay did actually have success, actually a lot of it, in his career.
Torres isn’t a bad idea because, as far I can see, the Sox don’t have an innings-eater like they did with Carrasco. The pen won’t last long with all these starters getting shelled early.
Yeah, the bad roster construction you could see coming a mile off. I’d love to hear you analysis of that, maybe in some future column?
The season’s not over yet, but damn do we need Peavy to step up tomorrow. Losing a series to the Royals at this juncture would be a real soul-sucking event.


Just got around to watching the Justin Greene catch-of-a-career. The inexplicable playing of “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” halfway through really captures the moment.