Argenis Diaz, who has attended spring training as a member of the 40-man roster in each of the last two years, hit .253 (70-for-277) with 14 doubles, 24 RBI and 21 runs scored with Double-A Portland this year. The 22-year-old shortstop entered the season rated by Baseball America as the "Best Defensive Infielder" in the Red Sox minor league system.
Diaz was originally signed by the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent on July 22, 2003. He has been rated as the organization's "Best Defensive Infielder" by Baseball America since 2006 when he joined the Gulf Coast League Red Sox after playing in the Venezuelan Summer League the previous two years. Last year the native of Guatire, Venezuela raised his batting average and slugging percentage for a third consecutive season after hitting a combined .284 with 52 RBI in 110 games between Single-A Lancaster and Double-A Portland.
"Diaz is an intriguing shortstop prospect who projects to play above-average defense with soft hands, good first step quickness and an above average throwing arm," said Huntington. "He is developing on the offensive side of the baseball, but Argenis quickly becomes the best defensive shortstop prospect in our system."
Hunter Strickland went 5-4 with one save and a 3.35 ERA (83.1ip/31er) in 18 appearances (12 starts) this year for the Single-A Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League. The 20-year-old Strickland entered the season with a career record of 5-5 and 3.94 ERA (96.0ip/42er) in 24 games (16 starts) since being selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Last year with Single-A Lowell of the New York-Penn League, Strickland posted a 3.18 ERA (70.2ip/25er) in 15 games (10 starts), which ranked fifth among all Red Sox minor leaguers. Strickland finished the season by posting a 0.43 ERA (20.2ip/1er) in his last four starts.
"Strickland is a young developing right-handed starting pitching prospect with a good frame, solid delivery, clean arm action and an interesting pitch arsenal," said Huntington. "He is a quality strike thrower with a fastball that has averaged as high as 93 miles per hour, with the potential for a major league caliber breaking ball and changeup to complement his fastball."
LaRoche was batting .247 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 87 games with Pittsburgh.