There is about a month left into the minor league season so let’s take a look at who is heating up and who is hitting a wall heading into the final stretch of the season.
Hot Hitter: Grant Buckner, 1B/DH, Rookie Bristol
Stats: .516/.583/.645 with 4 2B, 3 BB and 4 K in 31 AB
Buckner was drafted in the 26th round out of West Virginia and profiled as an advanced college hitter that should hit well in rookie ball. One thing that’s worth mentioning about Buckner is that he maintained strong college numbers while offensive numbers were down across the board in college baseball. He is 23 so he is merely doing what he should at this level and his walk and power numbers are low so it’s not time to get excited about him. Honorable mentions: Dan Black (.389/.452/.722), Tyler Kuhn (.433/.500/.533), Nick Ciolli (.333/.481/.571) and Ian Gac (.345/.441/.690).
Cold Hitter: Kevan Smith, C, Rookie Great Falls
Stats: .105/.292/.105 with 4 BB and 2 K in 19 AB
The move from Bristol to Great Falls is supposed to be almost sideways, but Smith has struggled upon his move to Montana after destroying the Appalachian League. Smith is just 2-28 with the Voyagers, but before Sox fans get worried he has four walks and just three strikeouts in those at-bats. He’s still showing great discipline and contact skills. The hits just need to start falling. One concern to draw from this is that he’s gone 28 at-bats without an extra base hit after showing huge power for Bristol. “Honorable” mentions: Brad Salgado (.115/.148/.231), Justin Greene (.133/.188/.200), Andrew Douglas (.045/.125/.091) and Tyler Williams (.100/.182/.100).
Hot Pitcher: Charlie Shirek, SP, AA
Stats: 14 IP, 1.29 ERA, 5 K, 4 BB, 9 H
No pitcher stood out over the last ten days. Addison Reed actually gave up a run and Shirek’s ERA was the lowest of any starting pitcher despite relatively underwhelming peripherals. Still, Shirek has been solid for the Barons after starting the year in Winston-Salem’s bullpen. He has a 3.15 ERA in 65.2 innings and has good control, but he doesn’t have top line stuff. Honorable mentions: Terry Doyle (15 IP, 2.40 ERA, 4 K, 3 BB, 11 H), Blair Walters (12 IP, 1.50 ERA, 14 K, 2 BB, 9 H) and Cameron Bayne (14 IP, 1.29 ERA, 4 K, 1 BB, 13 H).
Cold Pitcher: Jhonny Nunez, RP, AAA
Stats: 4 IP, 15.75 ERA, 6 K, 5 BB, 6 H
Nunez was quietly putting together a fine season for Charlotte before getting absolutely blown up August 2. He gave up seven runs against Durham on a pair of homers in one inning. That has inflated his ERA, currently 5.18, but the rest of his stats are still pretty solid. 38 strikeouts against 14 walks in 33 innings. Nunez doesn’t seem to be high on the list of relievers for the Sox, especially with Addison Reed pushing his way up, but he will likely have a chance to impress in spring training. “Honorable” mentions: Dexter Carter (3.2 IP, 14.73 ERA, 4 K, 3 BB, 7 H), Joe Bisenius (8.1 IP, 10.80 ERA, 7 K, 7 BB, 10 H) and Jean Duque (9 IP, 9 ERA, 7 K, 4 BB, 15 H).