Yoan Moncada to Make Single-A Debut on Monday

Yoan Moncada, who was one of the most highly touted international free-agents ever, is set to make his minor league debut for the Single-A Greenville Drive after spending a little over a month in extended Spring Training. Moncada signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox worth $31.5 million back in February, with Boston paying 100% tax on the contract for exceeding their international spending pool limits.

Moncada, a top-10 MLB prospect, is a switch-hitter who can play a variety of positions, including second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield. He reportedly spent time working wiYoan Moncadath Greenville’s staff during Spring Training, which should make the transition to playing in actual games a little easier on the 19-year old.

“He’s just getting comfortable with the routine of everything,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster told MiLB.com in Spring Training. “I think what everyone has to do and has to keep in mind, this is just a 19-year-old kid who has some incredible tools, but still needs a lot of work just to kind of improve every day, just like every single other guy out here.

Moncada played two seasons in the Cuban Serie Nacional, where he hit .277/.388/.380 with 11 doubles, four triples and four home runs to go with 28 RBIs over 101 games. So far, his plate approach seems very much the same here in America.

“You can already see that he’s a professional who uses the whole field when he’s hitting,” Ben Crockett, who is the Red Sox director of player development told MiLB.com. “We’ve seen him drive the ball really well, but when he’s in the cage, it isn’t just a home run derby. He hits the ball where it’s pitched and, for a young guy, he has a pretty good idea of what to do when he steps into the box already.”

Moncada will make his full-season debut for the Greenville Drive against the Lexington Legends at Fluor Field on Monday night at 7:05 PM, and the game will be broadcasted live via MiLB.tv.

Sea Dogs’ Jantzen Witte Making Transition from Third to First Look Easy

Jantzen Witte sea dogs

Jantzen Witte has been one of the Portland Sea Dogs best hitters to this point in the season, posting a .348/.392/.500 line with seven extra-base hits, 19 runs batted in, seven runs scored and six walks in 18 games.

He began his transition from third to first base in Spring Training last sJantzen Witteeason, and so far has made the job look easy, posting a .996 fielding percentage at first base over 960 career innings.

“Last year I kind of got moved over there the last day of Spring Training, and then played the majority of my games at first,” Witte told Yawkey Way Report. “I actually felt okay with it.

“As far as ground balls and things like that, I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment, but as far as my footwork around the bag and picks and things like that, it looks so easy, but there’s a lot of stuff going on. A lot of moving parts that I think a lot of people don’t realize. That’s something that I am still working on.”

Witte was selected by the Red Sox in the 24th round of the First-Year player draft in 2013 out of Texas Christian University. He was named to the 1st-Team Academic All Big-12 Team his senior year, when he hit .293 with 15 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 34 runs batted in.

The 25-year old talked about how his college baseball career has helped ease the transition into professional baseball, although there are some major differences.

“I think anybody that played college baseball, they have so many more reps than these guys [that come out of] high school,” he said. “The earlier levels of [professional baseball] we have so much more experience in close ball games, and so many AB’s [while] facing some pretty good arms.”

“I think the hardest thing to do is be consistent in pro ball, [because] you play so many games—[Double-A] is where the level is that everyone is at an even playing field.”

So far this season, the New England weather has had little effect on the Ft Worth, Texas native.

“In college we played in places like Air Force in Colorado in the snow. When we were in the Mountain West, BYU, you know we’re up in the snow, it’s icy, so it’s something I have played in before,” he said. “It might take an extra one or two sprints to get loose, but you know, you just got to play the game regardless of what the temperature is like.”

In 181 career minor league games, Witte is hitting .293/.361/.457 with 13 home runs, 54 doubles, eight triples and 122 runs batted in while splitting time between third and first base.

Robby Scott Looking Impressive So Far for Sea Dogs

Robby Scott Portland Sea Dogs

Robby Scott continued his hot start to the season against the Trenton Thunder on Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field; tossing two innings of relief and allowing just a single unearned on one hit, while striking out two.

Scott has not allowed a run in four of his five appearances this season, including four shutout innings against the New Britain Rock Cats last Tuesday, only the second start of his professional career.Robby Scott Portland Sea Dogs

So far this season Scott is 0-0, with a 2.70 ERA and nine strikeouts in 10 innings.

The 25-year old Miami, FL native is coming off a strong 2014 campaign in which he owned a 8-2 record to go with a 1.96 ERA and 51 strikeouts.

Those numbers were good for a trip to the 2014 Mid-Season All-Star Game for the Eastern League. Scott was also voted to the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Star team in October.

“Between being in the All-Star game last year in the Eastern League and then having the opportunity to play in the All-Star game in the Fall League was awesome, two opportunities, two accolades that I will remember when my playing career is over,” Scott told Yawkey Way Report.

“It’s one of those things where you get to reward yourself for something for your efforts, for the work you put in throughout your time. It’s not the last time I want to be on an All-Star team, and hopefully can be on an All-Star team at [every] level.”

Despite a shortened off-season because of the Arizona Fall League, Scott felt no ill effects during Spring Training this year.

“I [actually] felt better, just because I didn’t have that extended period of time off. My arm felt a lot better getting ready to go for Spring Training because I didn’t have that extra month and a half off, so I felt actually a lot better the first time I started throwing,” Scott said.

Robby Scott also realizes that with his recent string of success, his promotion could be just a phone call away.

“That’s what it’s all about, seeing guys have that opportunity. You got to be able to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed and be ready for that opportunity when your name is called, and hopefully that opportunity comes,” he said.

“A year ago now Mookie Betts was in this locker room. Now seeing him doing what he’s been doing [for the Red Sox] it’s been awesome. It’s exciting for us and exciting for the entire organization.”

Will We See Brian Johnson in the Majors This Season?

Brian Johnson

After one of the more impressive seasons for a Red Sox minor league pitcher in recent memory, Brian Johnson has continued to impress many with his Spring Training performance.

Johnson added another effective start to his Grapefruit League resume last Sunday afternoon (March 29) at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers, FL, tossing four innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits and three strikeouts.

“I think this has been a very productive spring for him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell toldBrian Johnson Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet. “He has certainly helped his cause here. He’s has a very good mound presence, good poise. He’s attacked the strike zone and he works as a very quick pace. Sometimes that gets the better of him, where he might rush into some pitches. But he’s shown very well.”

The only glaring number for Johnson is his eight walks in just 15 1/3 innings, which equates to 4.7 walks per nine innings.

“He’s a guy who’s typically has good command of the strike zone,” Farrell said. “A couple of times during the course of his outings, there’s been some base-on balls that have lead off an inning that result in a run.”

Despite a lack of command at times, it has not wavered the 24-year old first round draft pick’s confidence.

“I’m confident with any pitch in any count,” Johnson told Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com. “I threw a couple 2-2 changeups, 3-2 cutters and 3-2 curveballs today. Didn’t always work out, but I’m confident when I throw it.”

Johnson is coming off a season in which he was voted the Boston Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as well as earning a runner-up finish to fellow teammate, Henry Owens, in the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Voting. Johnson finished 2014 with a 13-3 record with a 2.13 ERA in 25 starts between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket.

Red Sox in No Hurry to Rush Blake Swihart

blake swihart

Despite projected starting catcher Christian Vazquez beginning the season on the 60-day disabled list, the Red Sox are in no hurry to rush Blake Swihart’s progression to the majors.

Swihart, who will turn 23-years-old in April, is considered the top catching prospect in baseball, and is currently listed as the Red Sox number one prospect Blake Swihartaccording to SoxProspects.com. In 13 Grapefruit League games, Swihart is hitting .333/.375/.533 with a double, triple, home run and eight runs batted in.

“The view is that with a young player like Blake or other guys, we prefer to get them on a little bit of a roll at the minor league level before they come to us,” Farrell shared with NESN.com on Monday morning. “There’s also the need to continue to refine the receiving side of things. He’s gotten quite a bit of opportunity here in camp. He’s shown well I think. But just in the big picture, I think we can probably all benefit by playing every day and continuing to work on the developmental areas that are there.”

The Red Sox will presumably look to Ryan Hanigan, whom they acquired from the San Diego Padres in December in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

So far this spring, Hanigan is hitting .263/.353./.341 in nine games. For his career, the 30-year old veteran has hit .256/.353/.341 with 25 home runs and 172 runs batted in over eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox didn’t waste much time adding another catcher to bolster their depth at the position, acquiring catcher Sandy Leon from the Washington Nationals on Monday in exchange for cash considerations.

“This is a guy who, given Christian’s situation, we felt like we needed to build some depth at the position—a guy that’s available because of being out of options and someone we’ve always graded fairly high on the receiving end of the position,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told ESPN Boston.

Justin Masterson Progressing Well as Opening Day Nears

Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson is hoping for a bounce back season with the Red Sox, after going 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA for the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals in 2014.

Although he has been shaky at times, Masterson has looked good overall this spring, going 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA and .250 opponent batting average in 18 innings over five games.

The 30-year old Kingston, Jamaica native delivered what was arguably his best outing of the spring so far on Monday, pitching 5 2/3 innings while allowing just one Justin Mastersonunearned run.

According to Masterson, part of his effectiveness is due to having a clean bill of health.

“It was a combination of feeling good and feeling strong and, for the most part, hitting my spots,” Masterson told MLB.com. “It is definitely moving in the right direction. I was able to make a few adjustments.”

“I feel great. At this time last year, if we were going into the fourth or fifth inning, I’d be giving up at least a couple of homers out there,” Masterson continued. “The first couple would be good, and after that, not so much.”

Boston’s newly stacked offense has also seemed to have an effect on Masterson’s level of comfort while on the mound.

“What I’m really excited about is, you’re going to have a different guy who I feel is just going to go on hot streaks for a while. You’ll have a week of this guy, a week of that guy and when they all come together, I’m going to sit there and just watch. Put my feet back and say, ‘This is awesome’,” shared Masterson in the same  interview.

The Red Sox signed Masterson in December to a one-year, $9.5 million contract, returning him to the team that originally drafted him in 2006. With many questions surrounding Boston’s rotation, the Red Sox should have a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about the return of his health.