May 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of a glove and Boston Red Sox hat in the dugout prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The Pitchers, Part 1:
Aaron Wilkerson is the most intriguing prospects among the Red Sox pitchers in the AFL. The right-handed Wilkerson was a two-time NAIA All-American (yet undrafted) out of Cumberland University in Tennessee, in 2010 and 2011. The Red Sox might be trying to see if the Texan can keep up the momentum he has built up since signing with the Red Sox out of an independent league in July of 2014 at the age of 25. Wilkerson started out his Red Sox career spectacularly, posting a 1.62 ERA in eight starts with Rookie League Lowell in 2014, striking out 54 batters in 50 innings. After a slow start to 2015 (4.76 ERA in 17 innings and one start at Low-A Greenville), Wilkerson became a more frequent starter, posting a 2.96 ERA in 79 innings (12 starts) at High-A Salem, then a 2.66 ERA at AA Pawtucket in 40.2 innings (seven starts). At 26, the Red Sox will likely promote him quickly if he continues to pitch well and strike out a batter an inning (137 in 136.2 minor league innings). The fact that Wilkerson can touch 96 with his fastball (Sox Prospects.com) doesn’t hurt his chances either.
In his first AFL start, Wilkerson was touched for two runs and three hits in 3.1 innings, walking two and striking out one.
Right-hander Kyle Martin) was a ninth round selection in the 2013 draft from Texas A&M University. He has a career 3.43 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP for his professional career. The six foot seven inch Texas native got off to a promising professional start in 2013, posting a 1.25 ERA in 36 minor league innings that season, with three saves. He struggled a bit the next season, posting a 4.02 ERA in 82.2 innings, though saving 10 games for High A Salem. Martin’s fastball sits in the low 90s, sometimes touching 95. His best pitch is a change up which is ten or more miles per hour slower. Similar to Wilkerson, Martin is a strikeout pitcher fanning 164 in 162.2 professional innings.
Martin’s initial appearance of the AFL season was a perfect one, striking out one batter in one inning of relief work.