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Red Sox Minor League Notebook: How Anderson Espinoza is like Pedro Martinez; Logan Allen’s decision to sign

08.27.15 at 12:15 pm ET
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Anderson Espinoza and Logan Allen play their home games at JetBlue Park. (Erin Lashley/WEEI)

Anderson Espinoza and Logan Allen play their home games at JetBlue Park. (Erin Lashley/WEEI)

As the Red Sox arguably have the best farm system in all of baseball, their prospect with the most intrigue may be at the lowest level — the Florida Gulf Coast League and 17-year-old right-hander Anderson Espinoza.

Espinoza, out of Venezuela, was signed as an International free agent last year as a 16-year-old to a $1.7 million bonus. He dominated the Dominican League earlier in the year with a 1.20 ERA and is continuing his success in the Gulf Coast League.

Standing only 6-foot, 170 pounds, Espinoza has a 0.68 ERA over 10 games this season. He’s pitched only four innings in each of his starts, as the organization monitors his innings. He has 40 strikeouts in 40 innings.

Even more impressive is the 17-year-old Venezuelan has already picked up a good amount of the English language.

“I feel happy to be a part of the Boston Red Sox,” Espinoza said this week.

Espinoza’s stuff is very impressive, but even more impressive may be his maturity, as watching him from afar it would be hard to tell he could still be in high school.

“It still blows me away he’s only 17 years old,” Nick Green, one of the pitching coaches said. “You see him and his makeup and how mature he is, his mannerisms — it goes a long way and that really stands out.”

Green said Espinoza’s fastball has touched 101 mph on their radar gun a few times this season, but said he’s consistently in the high-90s.

“He’s a huge competitor,” he added. “This guy wants to go nine [innings] every time he gets the ball. I think from an organizational standpoint we’ve been advised to make sure he’s on a strict pitch count limit, which is important for his future.”

Being on an innings limit and coming out after the fourth inning in each game has been an adjustment for Espinoza because of how competitive he is. In his 10 games he’s allowed only five runs (three earned), while walking just nine.

“It’s difficult because I can’t get the win,” he said.

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Sean McDonough on D&C: ‘I know [Don Orsillo] is devastated’

08.27.15 at 11:06 am ET
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Sean McDonough. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Sean McDonough. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox play-by-play man and current ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to talk about Don Orsillo’s contract not being renewed by NESN. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

McDonough was also let go by NESN before Orsillo ended up replacing him completely in 2005. He said it was really difficult for him when he first found out back then, so he knows how upset Orsillo is now.

“It was heartbreaking, and it took me a long time to stop being emotional about it,” McDonough said. “I remember Kevin Dupont called me a day or two later and I basically sobbed on the phone. As soon as I heard the news the other day, I guess it broke on your show, I left Don a message and got a very nice text back from him, and I know he’s devastated and it is devastating. When you are a guy like Don who this is, since you knew you wanted to be a sports broadcaster, the job you wanted to have, and you put your heart and soul into it, and you think you’re good at it, and you don’t see this coming at all and all of a sudden you’re gone, it’s a really difficult thing.”

“I’m sure he won’t have any trouble finding a job because he’s a terrific guy, and he’s a talented guy,” he added.

There’s been a tremendous amount of support from Red Sox fans who want Orsillo to stay on with announcing partner Jerry Remy, including a petition circulating around social media. McDonough said he experienced a similar kind of support, but the way the business is formatted caused him to be grateful for his opportunity, although it took him awhile to be able to put things in perspective.

“When I left, I was really appreciative of the nice things people said, and I’m sure Don is too,” he said. “But eventually that goes away and you’re left with the reality that you’re not going to do this job anymore than you grew up dreaming about doing and I just, with hindsight, came to appreciate I was very fortunate to do that for 17 years. Very few people are blessed to do what they always wanted to do, and I had the opportunity for 17 years for a job that most people in broadcasting would die to do, so I hope with the passage of time, Don comes to appreciate that he was blessed.

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Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada continues hot stretch with 8th home run; Allen Craig hits 1st homer in over 2 months

08.27.15 at 9:18 am ET
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Jonathan Roof

Jonathan Roof

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (52-80): W, 4-3 in 10 innings, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Centerfielder Jonathan Roof lined a two-out single to right-center field in the bottom of the 10th inning to bring home first baseman Allen Craig and gave Pawtucket a walkoff win and a three-game sweep of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Roof, 26, finished 2-for-3 with a double and two walks for his fourth multi-hit game in his last nine contests, as he’€™s raised his average from .189 to .215 over that span. In 36 games in Triple-A this year, Roof is slashing .215/.260/.273 after starting the year with Double-A Portland where he slashed .234/.333/.313 over 47 games.

It was the first sweep of any series in more than three months for the PawSox, since winning all three games in Toledo from May 5-7 and only their third sweep on the year. It is also the first three-game winning streak for Pawtucket since winning four straight from June 10-13.

— Craig, 31, hit the ball hard all night as he finished 2-for-5 with a home run, two lineouts to center and a leadoff single in the 10th inning that was blistered back up the middle. Craig’€™s homer, his fourth of the year in Triple-A and first since June 17, came in the fifth inning on a 3-1 pitch, pulled deep to left to tie the game at three. Through 89 games in Triple-A, Craig is slashing .272/.369/.349 with 30 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He is now hitting .290 in August with 12 RBIs in 25 games this month.

— Pawtucket’€™s offense had 11 hits on the night with other multi-hit games from shortstop Deven Marrero (Boston’€™s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com, 2-for-4, walk, RBI) and second baseman Mike Miller (2-for-4, RBI).

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Read More: Allen Craig, heri quevedo, Jonathan Roof, michael chavis

Closing Time: Rick Porcello makes triumphant return in Red Sox win

08.26.15 at 10:41 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

CHICAGO — Whatever Rick Porcello did during his time away, it worked.

Making his first start since July 29 — when he allowed six runs on 10 hits in just two innings to the White Sox — the righty befuddled Chicago for seven innings Wednesday night on the way to leading the Red Sox to a 3-0 win at U.S. Cellular Field.

Porcello, who was coming off the 15-day disabled list after a battle with triceps soreness, didn’t allow a run or walk while giving up five hits and striking out five. It was the second time in the pitcher’s Red Sox career he got through his start without giving up a run, having pitched seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay May 5.

The effort lowered Porcello’s ERA to 5.47, having come into the game at 5.81. It was also just the starter’s second win since May 16.

As it turned out, what Porcello did do during his hiatus was make a commitment to resurfacing the pitcher he had been prior to this season — relying heavily on his two-seam fastball and staying down in the zone.

“I thought about it a lot and the more and more I thought about it, the more and more frustrated I’€™d get with myself for getting away from what I’€™ve done,” Porcello said. “Just had some success with it and kind of got carried away, that’€™s the best way you can describe it. But I learned from it and it’€™s over with now and I know where I need to be and just stay disciplined with that.”

The time of reflection, and revamped strategy, paid off.

“Pinpointed inconsistencies that led to inconsistently locating the fastball,” he said. “My delivery, kind of going back and forth with the four seamer and sinker, found it hard to get a groove with one pitch. It wasn’€™t anything that I could foresee happening. I was throwing some pretty good four-seam fastballs early on in the year and it was a viable weapon for me and in turn it kind of led to me getting away from doing what I do well, which is sink the ball. I kind of came to the realization that I need to throw sinkers primarily and then occasionally throw a four-seamer. Not 50-50 or anything like that. That’€™s what we talked about a lot and just trying to get back to keeping the ball down and then have timely, elevated fastballs.”

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Torey Lovullo on D&H: Discussion to move Hanley Ramirez to first ‘had been taking place for a period of time’

08.26.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo

Interim manager Torey Lovullo made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday afternoon before the third game of the Red Sox‘ series with the White Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Though Hanley Ramirez only began taking ground balls at first base Tuesday, Lovullo said that the discussion to move him there “had been taking place for a period of time.” It wasn’t until Dave Dombrowski joined the organization that those discussions actually came to fruition.

“Dave came on board and thought a little bit more of it and gave his perspective and we just thought once we could move forward and try and figure out what’s best for the Boston Red Sox,” Lovullo said. “We wanted to have this option. We wanted to see what it looks like, we want to get him over there and just get him familiar with the position and see where it leads.

“Part of the equation was to bring Hanley in on that. True to form, Hanley’s on board. He said he’ll do anything to help the ball club move in a good position, and we’ll see where we’re at. Nothing is imminent, there’s no time frame, we just want to get him familiar with it. It also would allow us to get a good look at three of the young outfielders that are very exciting and on the rise, so a lot of reasons for it, what direction it goes has not been determined, but it’s an option that we’d like to have.”

That decision wasn’t Dombrowski’s alone, but Lovullo said he brought it up almost immediately upon his arrival and brought it to the foreground.

“It was one of the first things that he talked about,” he said. “He presented to us, and he wanted to know what we thought about, and he comes into these conversations brand new with an experienced set of eyes. The one thing that he stated was that, from the other side of the dugout, Hanley Ramirez is a very potent offensive force. When he’s swinging the bat well, he’s a middle-of-the-lineup run-producer, and Dave brought that to our attention and said that we have that guy right now, so he kind of threw it on us that he felt strongly that we should take a look over there. And like I said, before Dave came on board, it was a discussion that we would have internally and something that we were kicking around, but with his expertise and new set of eyes, it made it a little bit clearer for all of us.”

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Read More: hanley ramirez, John Farrell, Rusney Castillo, torey lovullo

Buster Olney on M&F: Red Sox ‘need to choose between’ Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval

08.26.15 at 1:52 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday afternoon to talk about Dave Dombrowski and how the Red Sox can approach the coming offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

When Olney first heard that the Red Sox were hiring Dave Dombrowski as their president of baseball operations, he said he was surprised because of the “signals we had gotten from John Henry about Ben Cherington” and how Henry had believed in his general manager’s vision. But Dombrowski allows the Sox to make changes quickly, according to Olney, because he can say that the decisions made prior to his arrival were not his own and so he has legitimate reason to undo or advance them.

One of those alterations could involve Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez‘s roles on the team going forward. Ramirez started taking ground balls at first base before Tuesday’s game against the White Sox, signifying a possible transition to the corner for the former shortstop. Olney said he doesn’t think the Sox can have both Sandoval and Ramirez on the team for next year.

“I think ultimately they need to choose between one of the two guys, and whoever they decide to keep, that should be the first baseman, whether it’s Pablo or whether it’s Hanley,” he said. “I can’t imagine, after what they say this year, that they go into next season knowing that Ortiz is locked in as the DH with both those guys. That would really surprise me based on what I’ve heard from evaluators from other teams.”

It wouldn’t be necessarily easy to move either of them given their contracts, but Olney said the possibility is definitely there.

“There’s always something to do,” he said, “and I’m just riffing off the top of my head here. For example, you’ve got James Shields owed $65 million with the Padres, maybe you call the Padres and say, ‘Look, that’s not working out for you. How about we give you Pablo for him? the money’s close, and we’ll both try to make the best of a bad situation.’ ”

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With Hanley Ramirez at first, Jackie Bradley Jr. getting his big chance

08.26.15 at 12:38 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

CHICAGO — The sight of Hanley Ramirez working out at first base Tuesday made it official: Jackie Bradley Jr. has found his way back.

Just a few years ago, the outfielder had made such an impression that the entirety of the 2013 spring training seemed to revolve around controlling Bradley’s service time. He was perceived as a no-doubt piece of the Red Sox‘ future.

Flash forward to the end of the 2014 season and the narrative had moved 180 degrees.

Bradley ventured into last offseason riding a 1-for-36 clip with the Red Sox, officially leaving him out of the conversation for part of the solution for ’15.

“Obviously, especially when you know what you’re capable of doing as a ballplayer,” he said when asked about his frustration. “And as a young ballplayer you want to make that impression right away. Sometimes everybody has a different path, and this is just the way my path has gone.”

Now, Bradley Jr. is back in the Red Sox’ outfield of the near future, and the guy they paid $88 million for is forced to find a new position (and seems OK with it).

“I think with me at first, we’re going to have a better team on the field, competing every day,” Ramirez said.

“We’ve got a guy [new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] out there, he’s trying to put the best pieces on the field,” Ramirez added. “He was like, ‘If you put this guy over here and put this guy in left field, how would the team look?’ And I was thinking about that, too. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we’re a way better team with me on first and with Jackie and Mookie [Betts] and Casty [Rusney Castillo] on the field.’ Hopefully, we can do it and they can keep doing what they’re doing — playing great outfield and keep hitting, because we’re going to need that.”

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Poll: Should Don Orsillo be replaced on Red Sox broadcasts?

08.26.15 at 12:29 pm ET
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After 15 years as NESN’s play-by-play caller for Red Sox broadcasts, Don Orsillo will not return next season.

Tuesday’s news inspired a wave of support for — but also some criticism of — Orsillo, a New England native who attended Northeastern.

What do you think of the move?

Do you agree with the decision to replace Don Orsillo on NESN Red Sox broadcasts?

  • No (96%)
  • Yes (2%)
  • Don't care (1%)
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Wednesday Red Sox Farm Report: Shawn Haviland tosses 6 scoreless innings in PawSox win; Portland shut out for 15th time this season

08.26.15 at 10:28 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

Shawn Haviland

Shawn Haviland

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (51-80): W, 2-0, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Starter Shawn Haviland earned the win with a six-inning performance. The right-hander allowed five hits and no walks and struck out four. Haviland’€™s last win came on July 4, but he improved to 5-8 with Tuesday’€™s decision and lowered his ERA to 4.16.

— Right-hander Jorge Marban came out of the bullpen in the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk with one strikeout. Righty Noe Ramirez picked up his second save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.

— Pawtucket scored both of its runs in the fourth inning. Catcher Sandy Leon led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second when first baseman Allen Craig also drew a free pass. Leon came around to score on a single by right fielder Chris Marrero, and Craig crossed the plate later in the inning on a single by designated hitter Humberto Quintero.

— The PawSox offense collected just five hits. Third baseman Carlos Rivero went 2-for-4, Marrero finished the day 2-for-4 and Quintero went 1-for-3.

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Read More: Danny Rosenbaum, Kuehl McEachern, Shawn Haviland, Trey Ball

Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Chris Sale

08.26.15 at 8:03 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello will duel with former AL Central foe Chris Sale and the White Sox on Wednesday when the Red Sox close out their three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Porcello will make his first start since hitting the DL on Aug. 2 with a triceps strain. Certainly, he and the Red Sox hope that his time away helped his psyche.

The right-hander has had anything but a smooth season in the wake of signing a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He’s gone 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA, the worst mark among AL starters with more than 100 innings pitched. He’s giving up home runs at the worst rate of his career (1.6 HR/9) and he’s accumulated a -0.6 WAR.

In his last start before heading to the DL on July 29, Porcello was roughed up by the White Sox. He lasted just two innings, giving up 10 hits and six runs before getting the pull from manager John Farrell. Porcello gave up two long balls in the game, his eighth multi-homer start of the season. After the game, he did not have a glowing review of his performance.

“Some of the mechanical issues that I’ve had in the past this year kind of came back tonight,” Porcello said. “You get out there in the heat of the moment and all you’€™re thinking about is competing and doing whatever you can do to get out of that situation.”

“I had a bad game,” Porcello added. “I elevated some pitches, fell behind some guys, [had] a couple walks, put some runners on base [which] put me in some tough spots and I didn’t recover.”

Porcello has had limited success against the White Sox in the past, as he owns a 9-8 record and a 4.32 ERA against Chicago. White Sox hitters have had his number, posting a .357/.390/.593 slash line in his 20 starts against them.

Porcello draws one of the toughest matchups in the game in Sale, who’s picked up right where he left off in 2014, when he went 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA.

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