SoxProspects.com: May minor league notes

Here’s a look at the top performances in the Red Sox minor league system in May, the not-so-impressive performances, and other minor league notes from the second month of the season.

Top offensive players in May

Chris McGuiness, 1B, Greenville -- .324/.407/.648, 5 HR, 71 AB

Ryan Kalish, OF, Portland -- .345/.430/.586, 4 HR, 8 SB, 87 AB

Nate Spears, 2B, Portland -- .301/.439/.456, 3 HR, 103 AB

Dan Butler, C, Greenville -- .342/.398/.494, 2 HR, 79 AB

Mitch Dening, OF, Salem -- .351/.442/.419, 0 HR, 74 AB

McGuiness, 22, is putting up numbers with Low-A Greenville reminiscent of the numbers that Kevin Youkilis put up in A-Ball at the age of 23 ... Kalish really broke out at the end of the month, including a 5-hit game on May 29, and earned himself a May 31 promotion to Pawtucket ... Despite being a six-year free agent this past offseason, Spears just turned 25 and is still considered a prospect in many scouting circles, particularly due to his strong on-base abilities .... Greenville backstop Butler has raised a few eyebrows with his bat by leading the Drive in batting, this after going undrafted out of Arizona in 2009 ... Following up on a rough April, Aussie import Dening got on base at an excellent clip in May, but only 4 of his 26 hits went for extra bases.

Top pitchers in May

Cesar Cabral, RP, Greenville -- 2-0, 1 save, 0.00 ERA, 15 K, 4 BB, 16.1 IP

Felix Doubront, SP, Portland/Pawtucket -- 2-1, 1.48 ERA, 30 K, 11 BB, 30.1 IP

Brock Huntzinger, SP, Salem – 5-0, 1.59 ERA, 16 K, 10 BB, 34.0 IP

Ryan Pressly, SP, Greenville – 1-2, 2.11 ERA, 23 K, 8 BB, 21.1 IP

Stolmy Pimentel, SP, Salem – 2-1, 2.70 ERA, 22 K, 6 BB, 26.2 IP

Cabral continues to flat-out dominate in his new bullpen role with Greenville, and it’s expected that the Sox will challenge him with a promotion to High-A Salem in the near future ... Doubront has only allowed 1 earned run in 6 innings since his promotion to Pawtucket on May 20, and multiple insiders have said that he’s a candidate for a major league call-up later this summer ... Huntzinger, a 3rd round pick from the 2007 draft, has maintained low run totals throughout the season, but will need to miss more bats before he’s considered a top-flight prospect ... Pressly held opposing batters to a .153 batting average in May despite bouncing in between a starting role and a long-relief role with Greenville ... Pimentel has garnered a lot of attention after throwing 6 perfect innings against Myrtle Beach on May 15, and then by following that up with 6 hitless innings against Winston-Salem two starts later.

May underachievers

Derrik Gibson, SS, Greenville -- .187/.267/.252, 1 HR, 107 AB

Ryan Dent, SS, Salem -- .183/.230/.280, 1 HR, 93 AB

Josh Reddick, OF, Pawtucket -- .181/.226/.302, 2 HR, 116 AB

Fabio Castro, P, Pawtucket -- 3-3, 7.36 ERA, 15 K, 9 BB, 22.0 IP

Yamaico Navarro, IF, Portland -- .228/.301/.304, 1 HR, 92 AB

Gibson hasn’t adapted well to Low-A competition as of yet -- he’s struggling to make solid contact with off-speed stuff and striking out at a higher-than-expect rate ... Similarly, former first-rounder Dent has failed to impress early on in High-A, producing a lot of weak contact ... Reddick still hasn’t made the proper adjustments to Triple-A, but his approach has shown slight improvements in the areas of pitch selection and working the count ... Castro has struggled since his one-day promotion to Boston at the end of April, allowing opposing Triple-A batters to hit .315 against him in May ... While Navarro heated up at the tail end of the month, he still managed to go 28 games in between home runs, this after flashing a lot of home run power in spring training.


An interesting trend this year has been the aggressiveness of Boston’s minor league player placement -- three of Boston’s four affiliates are the youngest teams in their respective leagues, including Portland (23.1 team average age to 24.3 league average age), Salem (21.8 to 22.7), and Greenville (21.0 to 21.7) ... At the close of the month, Greenville leads the South Atlantic League in stolen bases (80) and walks (179) ... Meanwhile, Pawtucket is last in the International League in steals with just 17 ... Salem leads the Carolina League in saves with 16, with 8 different pitchers earning saves for the Salem Sox this season ... Prior to his May 23 promotion to Portland, lefty reliever Mitch Herold led the Carolina League in WHIP (0.62) and was second in ERA (1.05) ... Cabral leads the South Atlantic League in ERA (0.31) and is third in WHIP (0.78) ... Jeremy Hazelbaker is second in the South Atlantic League with 24 stolen bases ... After an out-of-this-world April, Salem catcher Ryan Lavarnway fell back down to earth in May, hitting a pedestrian .250/.358/.430 ... Portland catcher Luis Exposito has shown nice improvements with his plate patience in 2010, putting up a .079 isolated discipline, an improvement over his .046 career total ... Another player showing improvement is lefty Kris Johnson, who is rebounding nicely from an atrocious 2009 to go3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 11 games for Pawtucket.

Player movement

Four players got the call to Boston in May in Joe Nelson, Angel Sanchez, and Scott Atchison ... May minor league promotions included TJ Large, Doubront, and Kalish from Portland to Pawtucket and Anthony Rizzo and Herold from Salem to Portland ... Six players also got the call from extended spring training, including Zach Hammes and Bryan Peterson to Salem and Joantoni Garcia, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Tom Ebert, and Chris Court to Greenville ... New to the system is right-handed pitcher Carlos Pinales and catcher David Sopilka, both of whom have been assigned to play in the Dominican Summer League ... Portland outfielder and former first-rounder Jason Place left the team on May 13 for personal reasons, remains on the inactive list, and is rumored to be contemplating retirement ... Gone from the system is Devern Hansack, the Nicaraguan right-hander who pitched a rain-shortened no-hitter for the Sox on October 1, 2006, and Scott Schoeneweis, who passed through waivers and was declared a free agent on May 30 ... Low-A catcher Josue Peley was acquired from Pittsburgh for Jonathan Van Every on May 31.

The injury front

Kalish missed a week of action after suffering a bruised forearm and a tweaked hip muscle on May 22 ... Portland shortstop Jose Iglesias is expected to miss 2-3 days after getting hit in the hand by a pitch on May 29 ... Right-hander Stephen Fife was placed on the DL on May 28 with a bruised foot, but will likely only miss one turn in the rotation ... Greenville starter Roman Mendez was placed on the disabled list on May 8 with a left knee contusion, and he’s likely taking the time off to work on refining his mechanics and his approach ... Drive infielder Zach Gentile missed a week in Mid-May with a fractured ring finger on his right hand ... McGuiness was originally slated to miss up to three weeks with a left knee strain, but ended up coming back after just one week ... Greenville outfielder Wilfred Pichardo was placed on the disabled list on May 24 with a right shoulder strain ... PawSox starter Randor Bierd was scratched from his May 15 start and placed on the disabled list with soreness in his throwing shoulder.

Mike Andrews is designer and developer of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.