The minor league season wraps up for most leagues on Labor Day, but five of the seven Red Sox affiliates will be participating in the postseasons of their respective leagues.
Triple-A Pawtucket clinched a wild-card spot Sunday with a 10-4 win over Rochester. The International League playoffs are expected to get underway Sept. 3, with the PawSox likely hosting the club's opening game that day.
Meanwhile, Double-A Portland recorded its best winning percentage in franchise history: 88-53 heading into Monday's final game. The Sea Dogs will start the best-of-five Eastern League division finals at Binghamton on Sept. 3. That same day, high-Class A Salem is scheduled to begin the best-of-three Carolina League division finals at Myrtle Beach. Low-Class A Greenville and short-Class A Lowell, the only Boston affiliates not headed to the postseason, both close out their seasons Monday.
The rookie-level affiliates’ regular seasons are already over, and both Boston affiliates are deep into playoff runs. The GCL Red Sox are scheduled to play the GCL Yankees in the decisive Game 3 of the Gulf Coast League finals Monday, and outfielder Rusney Castillo is slated to play three to five innings in center field. The DSL Red Sox beat the DSL Rangers 4-1 in Game 1 of the best-of-five Dominican Summer League championship series Sunday, with Game 2 slated for Monday morning.
Here's a look at how the Red Sox system's top prospects fared in August (SoxProspects ranking as of Sept. 1 in parentheses):
Notes: Betts has played only center field since Boston's acquisition of center fielder Castillo, calling into question whether the club sees the top prospect's future at another position or whether he might be dangled as trade bait this offseason. ... Swihart, arguably the top catching prospect in the minor leagues, has struggled offensively since his promotion to Pawtucket on Aug. 4, but he has seen most of the time behind the dish despite splitting time with backstops Dan Butler and Ryan Lavarnway. ... Devers, 17, appears to have hit a wall offensively, which is not surprising given that this is his first pro season, but he has impressed in three games in the GCL postseason, with an OPS of 1.024. ... Vazquez has dazzled defensively since his promotion to the majors, making it easy to overlook (or even excuse) his lackluster offensive performance in August. ... Margot posted the best numbers in the entire system in August, showing no signs of an adjustment period after a midmonth promotion to Salem. ... Chavis showed he was past his adjustment period to pro ball in August, bringing his overall numbers back in line with what was expected from Boston's 2014 first-round pick. ... Cecchini returned to form this month after two consecutive poor months, showing increased power and more comfort defensively at third base. ... Marrero, an Arizona State alum, will play in the Arizona Fall League, which gets underway Oct. 7. ... Longhi was hitting .330/.388/.440 before landing on the disabled list with a torn UCL in his thumb July 24.
Notes: After pitching 135 innings in 2013, Owens is up to 159 innings for the season and likely will get at least one postseason start with Pawtucket. ... He was recently named the 2014 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. ... Rodriguez has been spectacular for Portland since being acquired from Baltimore for Andrew Miller on July 31, but not better than Brian Johnson, who seems in line to win the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award this season after going 13-3 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. ... Ranaudo has earned consideration for a spot at the back end of Boston's starting rotation in 2015, but there could be a lot of competition for rotation spots if the club brings in a couple of starters from outside the organization this offseason, as expected. ... Barnes must have taken exception to not being mentioned as a possible starting option in 2014, possibly using that fire to take his game to another level in August. ... Ball, the No. 7 overall draft pick in 2013, started to show flashes of brilliance in July and August after a dreadful first three months of the season. ... Escobar, acquired from St. Louis as part of the July 26 Jake Peavy deal, made his major league debut Aug. 27.
Other top performers: Portland outfielder Keury De La Cruz, who spent much of the season on the disabled list, hit .337/.402/.547 with four home runs in August. The former Red Sox Latin Program Player of the Year, NY-Penn League all-star and South Atlantic League all-star is Rule 5 eligible this offseason and likely won't be protected by the club. A small-market team might be willing to take a chance on him in December's Rule 5 draft.
Two other top offensive performers were Salem utility man Carlos Asuaje, who hit .342/.417/.541 for the month, and GCL Red Sox second baseman Victor Acosta, who hit .390/.446/.525.
On the pitching front, one of the top performers was Greenville right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, who went 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 29 strikeouts and four walks in 38 innings for the Drive. The 20-year-old was Boston's second-round pick in 2013, signing for a $915,000 bonus. He throws an 89-93 mph fastball with fringe-average command, a plus-potential 11-to-5 curveball and a developing low-80s changeup. Stankiewicz is likely to be promoted to Salem to start the 2015 season.
Other strong performers on the mound were Portland right-hander Justin Haley and Lowell righty Aaron Wilkerson. Haley, 23, went 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP for the Sea Dogs. The 2012 sixth-round pick is a ground ball specialist with decent control and a two-pitch mix, making him profile more as a reliever over the long term. Wilkerson went 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 0.84 WHIP for the Spinners. The 25-year-old former indy leaguer is not considered a prospect at this point, but he is a name to keep an eye on in 2015, especially if he's given a shot at higher levels.
Promotions: Eleven players got the call to Boston from the minor leagues in August: pitchers Heath Hembree, Steven Wright, Alex Wilson, Tommy Layne, Ranaudo and Escobar, catcher Dan Butler, infielder Carlos Rivero and outfielders Corey Brown, Alex Hassan and Betts.
Minor leaguers who received level promotions during the same time frame included Swihart from Portland to Pawtucket; catcher Carson Blair and infielder Mike Miller from Salem to Portland; pitcher Taylor Grover, catcher Jake Romanski and outfielder Margot from Greenville to Salem; pitchers Oscar Perez and Ellis Jimenez, catcher Jordan Procyshen, first baseman Travis and outfielder Danny Mars from Lowell to Greenville; and pitcher Williams Jerez and catcher Alex McKeon from the Gulf Coast League to Lowell.
Mike Andrews is the founder and editor-in-chief of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.