Red Sox Midseason Report





Best Player: Ever since he was taken in the third round of the 2008 draft, Kyle Weiland seemed likely to enjoy no worse than a solid relief career in the majors. Yet for some, there were questions about whether he could be more than that, due partly to uncertainty about his ability to handle lefthanded hitters. But the 6-foot-4 righthander—a closer in college at Notre Dame—has put those to rest in 2011, a year in which he's added a cutter to his sinking low-90s fastball, swing-and-miss curve and improving changeup. Through 16 starts, Weiland had a 7-6, 3.02 record and a .203 opponents average in Triple-A Pawtucket, maintaining tremendous consistency over the year. The 24-year-old has positioned himself to help the Sox in the majors down the stretch this year and beyond.

Biggest Leap Forward: The Sox always believed that Miles Head would hit. However, the first baseman garnered little attention in the Red Sox system while hitting .240/.328/.341 with one homer in short-season Lowell in 2010. But in low Class A Greenville this year, Head asserted himself in a way that ensured he could no longer be overlooked. The 20-year-old earned a promotion to high Class A Salem in late June after leading the South Atlantic League in average (.338), slugging (.612), OPS (1.022) and extra-base hits (41 in 66 games). His consistent results reflect both improved conditioning as well as an improved mental approach to the game.

Biggest Disappointment: After a strong 2010 in which he had a 2.97 ERA and struck out more than a batter an inning in Greenville, the Sox expected lefthander Drake Britton to dominate in Salem. Instead, the 22-year-old struggled with his command and consistency, going 1-7, 7.19 and six walks per nine innings (nearly double his 2010 rate) through June.

Britton still features a powerful low-to-mid-90s fastball and an impressive curve. Team officials suggest that he was falling prey to big innings that distorted outings in which he pitched well in stretches. Even so, in an effort to get him to harness his stuff, the team was having Britton pitch shorter stints (two innings at a time) in late June in hopes of encouraging him to attack the strike zone.

Sox Yarns

• Despite missing three weeks with a wrist injury, outfielder Bryce Brentz was tied for the organization lead in homers through June with 17, including six in 14 games following a promotion to Salem.

• Righthander Stolmy Pimentel (0-8, 9.20), like Britton, began throwing abbreviated outings in June for Double-A Portland in an effort to get his season back on track.