Sports

Alex Speier | MINOR LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Manuel Margot creating buzz at Single A Salem

Carlos Febles knows what a potential five-tool star looks like. Febles, the manager of the Red Sox’ high Single A minor league club, spent nearly a decade playing with emerging star Carlos Beltran, first in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system and then in the big leagues.

Febles knows what Beltran looked like as a 20-year-old in the Carolina League. And now Febles knows he has a talent with a skill set similar to Beltran’s in 20-year-old center fielder Manuel Margot.

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“I told my hitting coach that he reminds me a lot of Carlos Beltran. I feel like they’re the same type of ballplayers,” said Febles. “Margot’s a bit better offensively at his age . . . Margot is not a guy who’s going to hit 35-40 homers, because their bodies aren’t the same. Carlos was taller and stronger. But ability, they’re right there.”

The tool-by-tool checklist for Margot is impressive.

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Last year, Margot had a .286/.355/.449 slash line, with 10 homers and 39 steals in Single A Greenville before an electrifying 16-game run in Salem, where he hit .340/.364/.560 with two homers and three steals. He was the youngest of five minor leaguers with at least 10 homers and 40 steals.

This year he’s hitting .353/.389/.706 with a homer, two steals, and perhaps most amazing, no strikeouts in five games (entering Thursday). Febles sees someone who can be a complete player:

Hitting: “He’s more under control right now. He’s working behind the baseball better than he did last year. He can recognize pitches better than he did last year.”

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Power: “I think he’s a guy that can hit 15-20 homers in the big leagues. He’s got a quick bat. He has the power to hit it out. To me, he can put on maybe another 15 pounds and still be OK. He definitely has some pop because of the bat speed.”

Base running: “He’s a true base stealer right now. He’s fast. He’s working on jumps, when to go and when not to go, but he’s definitely a guy who could steal 50 bags in the big leagues or at any level. He has baseball instincts. He knows how to run the bases. He’s always looking for something to happen, to take an extra base.”

Defense: “You remember Andruw Jones? I tell you what, [Margot] can play in the big leagues defensively right now. He’s that good. That first step he has is amazing. He will get to the baseball. He reminds me a lot of Carlos Beltran. He’s smooth going to the baseball, like he’s never going to get to it, and then he’s there. It’s fun to watch. And he has a great arm.”

That’s the portrait of a player with a high ceiling. Player evaluators believe Margot has a chance to become a player like Shane Victorino or Rusney Castillo , particularly given some of the physical similarities of strong players are under 6 feet.

Margot still requires offensive refinement. His aggressiveness could make him vulnerable against more advanced pitching.

“To be able to play in the big leagues and be a top hitter, a good player in the big leagues, you have to be consistent in what you do,” said Febles. “Offensively, you have to be consistent in your approach. He’s working on that right now.”

Still, the upside of a multidimensional game-changer is apparent. Febles knows what such players look like.

Not in short supply

In Triple A Pawtucket, shortstop Deven Marrero reached base in each of his first six games, hitting .389/.476/.556 with three doubles and two steals.

He profiles above average defensively with enough offense to create a likelihood of being an everyday player. He may be big league-ready this year.

Yet the most electricity at the position in the Red Sox system likely surrounds 19-year-old Javier Guerra, who combines Gold Glove potential with surprising pop. He’s hitting .318/.348/.545 in Greenville, but his defensive instincts have been the show-stopper.

“He has instincts that I haven’t ever seen really from anyone at that age, at this level, being able to make throws or plays that he’s only going to have a split-second window to make,” said Greenville manager Darren Fenster. “The things he’s thinking about are so far advanced.”

Fenster cited a single to right with a runner on first. Guerra was the relay man for the throw to third. He cut off the throw, threw behind the man at first, and nabbed the runner.

“If he waits to see where the runner is, it’s too late,” said Fenster. “He’s thinking about things before they’re happening.”

With Guerra at short, Mauricio Dubon — a solid defender who finished second in the New York-Penn League as a 19-year-old with the Lowell Spinners last year in batting average (.320) — has been spending most of his time at second.

Eyes on Pawtucket

ESPN minor league savant Keith Law deemed Triple A Pawtucket one of the seven most prospect-loaded rosters in minor league baseball. Pawtucket features Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Garin Cecchini, and Marrero. Jackie Bradley Jr., included in prospect rankings because of his service time, is hitting .371/.389/.486 . . . Righthanded reliever Kyle Martin, a 2013 ninth-round pick with Double A Portland, allowed just one hit in 4 innings in his first two appearances, striking out seven of the 18 batters he faced without allowing a run . . . The Salem Red Sox entered into a 10-year agreement with the city of Salem, Va., to keep their Carolina League affiliate at Lewis-Gale Field through the 2024 season. The Sox have had a High A affiliate in Salem since buying the team prior to the 2009 campaign . . . Salem pitcher Jake Dahlstrand fired six no-hit innings on Opening Day. The hulking, 6-foot-5-inch righthander had a breakthrough in Greenville and Salem last year, working at up to 96 miles per hour out of the bullpen and then at 91-95 as a starter, posting a 2.90 ERA in 105 innings. “He was our main guy, our horse, and he was reliable. We wanted him out there every five days,” Febles said. “He’s a strike-thrower who generates loads of ground balls, primarily on the strength of his fastball-changeup combination.”

Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.
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