Rene Miniel joined the Padres from the Boston Red Sox in a deal that sent Lou Merloni back east.
In 2001, Miniel started the year in the bullpen, but by year's end emerged as one of the top starters in the SAL. He finished 10th in the league with a 2.73 ERA, posted an 8-4 record, while striking out a club-high 114 batters and walking 38 in 122 innings. He earned Augusta's pitcher-of-the-year honors and went 6-2, 1.48 in his last 15 starts.
His fastball is in the 92-96 range and he throws an exceptional overhand curve. He has never had an overly effective change and it is something he will need to succeed at the next level.
In 2002, his velocity dropped to the low 90s and his off-speed offerings were very hittable, resulting in a 4.51 with just 78 K's in 128 innings pitched for Sarasota of the South Atlantic League (High-A).
"I think he is an outstanding major-league prospect, and you've got to keep him healthy to move him through the organization," Mike Boulanger said, his coach during his time at Augusta. "If he does, I think he has a chance to be a very good starter in the major leagues."
Rene has been solid but unspectacular this year, spending time in the bullpen at Portland (Maine) and as a starter for Single A Sarasota.
Opponents were hitting .270 off Rene in Double A and despite an ERA of 2.45 he has allowed 16 runs in 25.2 innings of work. Only seven of those runs were earned, but a WHIP of 1.52 is disconcerting.
Miniel was ranked as Boston's fifth best right-handed prospect by Baseball America entering the season. Miniel, 24, ranked as Boston's third-best prospect entering the 2002 season before aging two years in the span of a minute. He went a combined 3-5 with a 3.09 ERA in 34 games, including seven starts, for Single A Sarasota and Double A Portland. Miniel was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1998. The Sox believed he was 16 at the time but learned last year he actually was two years older.
Many ranked Rene among the top 20 Red Sox farmhands, but the Sox are known to have a weak system. At this point, the 24 year old Miniel has reached a crossroads in his career and it is why the Red Sox shipped him out of town fearing he would never reach his potential or duplicate his early success.
A change of scenario could do Miniel well. His chances of reaching the majors are dependant upon his velocity over the coming year. He is set to begin the season with Mobile.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scouting Report: Rene Miniel
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