The Arizona Fall League is a chance for top prospects in the minor leagues to play in a competitive environment, and the Boston Red Sox have been well-represented with players in the league in recent years. That continues in 2013, as nine former members of the Greenville Drive, eight of whom are still in the Red Sox system, are playing in Arizona this fall.
Among those players is 2B Mookie Betts, who had a breakout 2013 campaign between Greenville and High-A Salem. Between the two levels, he hit .314 with 93 runs, 145 hits, 36 doubles, 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 81 walks, 38 steals, a .417 on-base percentage and a .506 slugging percentage. In addition, Betts posted two separate streaks of 35 consecutive games reaching base, one at each level, and his 19-game hitting streak tied for the longest in the South Atlantic League this season.
3B Garin Cecchini (2012) was also invited to play in Arizona after he put together a terrific 2013 season, which included a selection to the MLB Futures Game. Splitting time between Salem and AA-Portland, Cecchini hit .322 with 146 hits in 129 games. He added 80 runs, 33 doubles, seven homers, 61 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and an outstanding .443 on-base percentage.
The other six players in the Red Sox system, RHP's Keith Couch, Noe Ramirez and Pete Ruiz, LHP Miguel Pena and IF's Derrik Gibson and Travis Shaw, all finished the season in Portland.
Couch (2011) has been a reliable arm during his time in the Boston system. He served as both a starter and a reliever for Portland this season, but was at his best in the rotation. In 15 starts, he went 8-1 with a 2.93 ERA while hurling a pair of complete games. Overall, he threw 130 2/3 innings and boasted an 11-3 record.
After a stint in the starting rotation with the Drive in 2012, Ramirez moved to the bullpen before the start of the season and thrived at two levels. In 36 appearances combined between Salem and Portland, he posted a 2.38 ERA to go along with six saves. He struck out 75 batters in 75 2/3 innings while walking just 17 batters.
In his second full season as a reliever, Ruiz (2010) has shown an ability to pile up strikeouts. Despite a 5.23 ERA in 30 games in Portland this year, he punched out 69 hitters in 53 1/3 innings. In Salem in 2012, Ruiz struck out 51 in 48 2/3 innings while posting a 3.14 ERA and collecting five saves.
Pena (2012) made three starts with Portland to finish the season, including seven shutout innings in his first outing. In 15 starts with Salem, he went 6-7 with a 4.00 ERA.
Gibson (2010) spent his second season with Portland, primarly playing second base. In 88 games, he hit .250 with a pair of homers, 22 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .348 on-base percentage.
After a breakout year with Salem in 2012, Shaw (2011) spent most of this season in the middle of Portland's lineup. Despite a batting average of just .221, the first baseman cracked 16 homers and drove in 50 runs to go along with 21 doubles and 78 walks.
All eight players in the Red Sox system will play for the Surprise Saguaros this fall.
The ninth Drive alum that is heading to Arizona is current Chicago White Sox farmhand Brandon Jacobs (2011), who is suiting up for the Glendale Desert Dogs. The outfielder spent a majority of the 2013 season in Salem before being traded to the White Sox in July. Combined between Salem, Portland and Birmingham, Chicago's AA affiliate, Jacobs hit .244 in 127 games with 33 doubles, 13 homers, 66 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.