Previewing the 2016 Greenville Drive

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A smiling Anderson Espinosa courtesy of baseballhotcorner.com

This is the 7th of 14 SAL team previews as I continue around the league alphabetically.  I hope you guys are getting as much out of these as I am.

The Greenville Drive is a Red Sox franchise and they’re 2015 team was the most talented A Ball team I had ever seen.  Outside of Javier Guerra (traded to San Diego this Winter) and Michael Chavis who I think comes back to the drive, that squad should remain intact and they’ll be putting on a show in Salem Va.

The 2016 Drive won’t be as talented but like I said that 2015 squad was a once in a generation type of team.  For this preview I scoured the rosters of the Lowell Spinners and the GCL Red Sox.  The official rosters won’t be available until early April so this me speculating.

Notes from the Sally is a scouting site, I’ll be getting a lot of looks at the Drive this season and you can expect write ups on most of these players.

 

The Notables

RHP) Anderson Espinoza

Courtesy of milb.com

Espinosa- age on opening day 18, he’s 6’1″ 190 lbs bats and throws right. He’s a young fireballer that took the minor leagues by storm in 2015.  He was promoted to the GCL after only 4 starts in the Dominican Summer League.  He dominated the GCL hitters He actually got one start at Greenville as a 17 year old.  Here’s his scouting report courtesy of soxprospects.com. “Slight of frame right-hander. Fastball sits in the mid-90s, topping out at 99 mph. He reaches that velocity with clean mechanics and a repeatable delivery, generating plus arm speed with loose arm action. He should be able hold velocity deeper into games as he fills out some. Shows great pitchability and feel for his age and features two good offspeed pitches. His curveball is a potential plus pitch, with tight spin and sharp bite at 71-73 mph. He also throws a changeup with some sink and shows good feel for the pitch. Doubled the record for a signing bonus given to a Venezuelan, set by Francisco Rodriguez in 1998.”

 

CF) Luis Alexander Basabe

Courtesy of flickr.com

Luis Alexander Basabe- age 19, listed 6′ 160 lbs, bats both and throws right. There are two Basabe’s in the Red Sox minors they’re twin brothers Luis Alexander and Luis Alejandro. According to soxprospects.com  Luis Alexander Basabe is  an “Athletic center fielder with above average speed, good range, solid defense and an above average arm.  Projectable power.  Slightly below-average contact at present. ”

 

Michael Chavis

Courtesy of greenvilleonline.com

Chavis age 20, listed 5’10” 190 (I’d guess he’s 10-15 pounds heavier than that).  He’s a candidate to repeat at Greenville because he struggled both offensively and defensively, although he did show improvement in the 2nd half.  Repeating the level also splits up the time share he had at 3rd base with Rafael Devers.  Chavis has a long swing with plus bat speed and plus raw power.  He’s a very aggressive hitter who looks to lift and pull everything.  He did a little bit better job of laying off of the tough pitches in the 2nd half and got himself into some more favorable counts.  Hopefully he can build on that.  Defensively the foot work improved as the year went along and he showed more consistent follow though on his throws (he short armed a lot of throws early).

 

C) Austin Rei

Courtesy of mlb.com

Rei- age 22, listed 6′ 180 lbs, bats and throws right handed.  Rei was the Red Sox 3rd round pick out of the University of Washington.  He was heralded as an above average receiver with a strong throwing arm but struggled in rookie ball both offensively and defensively.  I don’t put too much stock in what happens during the 2 month stretch post draft because guys often put too much pressure on themselves trying to prove their worthiness. It is a bit more worrisome when it’s a college guy though.

 

OF) Tate Matheny

Courtesy of foxsports.com

Matheny- Age on opening day 22, listed 6′ 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Matheny was the Red Sox 4th round selection in the 2015 draft and according to Sox Prospects: “Good all-around player that lacks plus tools. Advanced approach at the plate. Excellent baseball IQ. Takes good routes in the outfield. Might lack the speed to play centerfield full-time. Projects, potentially, as a fourth outfielder, but could potentially move to second base. Son of Mike Matheny. ”  He struggled post draft but again lets see what he can do after an off-season.

 

Around the diamond

Catcher

In addition to Rei, we might also see Isaias Lucena, Jhon Nunez, Alixon Saurez returnee David Sopilka, Andrew Noviello and Devon Fisher.

 

Middle Infield

SS-  In the mix at shortstop are Carlos Tovar, Jeremy Rivera, Luis Alejandro Basabe and Yomar Valentin (son of former big leaguer Jose Valentin).  Basabe also plays a lot of 2nd base, there’s a good chance Valentin starts in Lowell.

2B – 2015 5th round pick Jagger Rusconi is a candidate but I think starts in Lowell. Others that could see time at 2B are Luis Alejandro Basabe, Chad De La Guerra, Rafael Oliveras and Andy Perez.  Both Oliveras and Perez also play 3rd base.

 

Corner Infield

1B)  Josh Ockimey probably gets the nod here.  The 2014 5th round pick has a lot of pop but with some contact issues.  Others candidates at 1st are Tucker Tubbs and Jerry Downs

3B)  In addition to Michael Chavis at 3rd there’s Mitchell Gunsolus, Victor Acosta, and Roldani Baldwin.  Acosta has also seen time at 2B and both outfield corners, Baldwin has also seen time at catcher.

Outfield

LF) 15th rd pick Kyri Washington is in the mix for the LF spot.  As is Jordan Spoon, Trenton Kemp, Raiwinson Lameda and Chris Madera. Many of these guys are in the mix for the RF job as well.

CF) In addition to Luis Alexander Basabe, there is Trent Matheny who could start in either corner as well, and Yoan Aybar could play center and right.

RF) Either Matheny or Aybar will likely be here Lameda could be in the mix as well.

 

Starting Pitching

In addition to Espinoza, I’m looking forward to seeing 6th round pick Travis Lakins, 16th round pick Marc Brakeman, and undrafted free agent Austin Glorius.  Others in the mix at SP Jose Almonte, Dioscar Romero, Jake Cosart and Luis Ramos. Gershon Bautista and Josh Pennington also.  I was hoping to see Cosart last season but his command and control are going to need some work.  Maybe he makes it this year.

The 2016 Greenville Drive will be a fun team to follow because of Anderson Espinoza one of the highest ceiling arms in all of the minors and then there’s this bunch of talented kids who haven’t really broken out yet, but have the talent to do so.  I penciled myself in for 8 trips down to Fluor field in Greenville in 2016. I’m  looking forward to it, it’s a great venue.

I’ll be back soon with a look at the Hagerstown Suns.  Cheers