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Red Sox minor league roundup: Manuel Margot checks all boxes on way to Salem promotion; Matt Barnes’ landmark; Simon Mercedes stays grounded

08.15.14 at 10:17 am ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes threw a career-high eight innings on Thursday for the PawSox. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes threw a career-high eight innings on Thursday for the PawSox. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-1 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES)

(BOX)

— Right-hander Matt Barnes tossed a career-high eight innings, scattering seven singles, walking none and striking out three. After entering the All-Star break with a 5.06 ERA in 15 outings, the 24-year-old has gone 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts since the season resumed, lowering his ERA for the year to 4.12. His strikeout totals have remained relatively modest throughout the run, sitting at 7.0 per nine innings (up a tick from 6.9 per nine prior to the break), but his walk totals have been trimmed from 3.7 per nine innings to 2.8 per nine and hitters are managing just a .161 average against him, down from .297 before the All-Star break.

PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, in this episode of Minor Details, explained that Barnes has been working to remain compact in his delivery, rather than “getting really long and tilting his back,” in an effort to keep his arm in a higher slot with better direction to the plate. Those efforts have been paying off in recent outings for the 2011 first-rounder, with the results to show the improvement.

— Feats of Mookie: Streaking (again). Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He has three multi-hit games in his last four contests to improve his line in 42 games in Pawtucket this year to .339 with a .423 OBP and .509 slugging mark.

— First baseman Travis Shaw was 2-for-4 with his first homer since July 28, his 10th in 69 games since his promotion to Pawtucket. He now has a career-high 21 homers along with 50 extra-base hits through 116 games in Portland and Pawtucket this year, forging a .286/.358/.497 line.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-2 LOSS, 1-0 LOSS VS. AKRON (INDIANS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

— Outfielder Keury De La Cruz continued his strong August run, going 3-for-5 with a homer and a walk in the double header. In 12 games this month, he’s hitting .333/.408/.524 with six walks in 12 games. The walk total is double the number of free passes (3) the 22-year-old had negotiated in 43 games in June and July. He’s now hitting .289/.315/.408 for the year.

— Right-hander Justin Haley, 23, tossed six shutout innings before permitting a solo homer in the seventh for the lone run he allowed. He delivered 6 1/3 innings allowing the one run on six hits and five walks (his second straight five-walk outing after he hadn’t permitted more than three in any of his first 20 starts) while punching out three. Though Haley has walked more (12) than he’s struck out (11) in his three starts since moving up to Portland, and is winless in Double-A, he has a 0.98 ERA at the higher level, with three straight outings of at least six innings and one or no runs.

— Right-hander Luis Diaz had his third straight outing of four or more runs allowed, permitting that number in 5 2/3 innings. He has now given up 13 runs in his last three starts spanning 16 innings, a run in which he’s had nine and seven days off between starts, at a time when he’s blown past previous career innings highs. He is up to 128 1/3 innings this year after not ever throwing more than 101 innings in a season.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 2-1 WIN, 3-1 WIN AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

— Right-hander Simon Mercedes tossed six shutout innings, allowing four hits (all singles), walking two, punching out three and recording eight groundball outs. The six innings matched a season-high for the 22-year-old, who has been a groundball machine this year, with 52.2 percent of balls put in play against him having been on the ground (according to MLBfarm.com). The combination of that groundball rate with his 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and mix of mid-90s velocity with a changeup and curveball suggest that Mercedes has prospect status that exceeds his 3-9 record and 4.64 ERA.

— Outfielder Kendrick Perkins rebounded from a three-strikeout game in the first contest of the double header by launching his first homer in High-A in the nightcap. In 10 games with Salem, the 22-year-old is hitting .194/.242/.323 after posting a strong .296/.353/.473 line in 51 games in Greenville.

— Right-hander Heri Quevedo, in his first start of 2014 in High-A (the level where he spent nearly all of 2013), tossed five scoreless innings with seven punchouts and two walks while allowing five hits. The seven strikeouts matched his highest total in High-A, and fell one short of the career high he had four weeks ago in Lowell.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-0 LOSS AT SAVANNAH (METS)

(BOX)

— Outfielder Manuel Margot extended his hitting streak to 13 games this month by going 1-for-4. He’s hitting .446/.492/.696 in August to boost his season line to .286/.355/.449 with 10 homers and 39 steals. According to multiple industry sources, Margot will be promoted to High-A Salem for the duration of the season.

The promotion underscores what has been an impressive developmental year. Margot has shown a fairly complete skill set, with strong center field defense (including a strong arm), a good approach that has netted a 9.0 percent walk rate and a modest 11.9 percent strikeout rate, the ability to impact the baseball for average with some power (35 extra-base hits, including eight in 13 games in August), and the ability to influence the game on the bases (his 39 steals rank 17th in the minors).

His speed/power combination as a teenager is rare. He is one of seven players in all of minor league baseball who has at least 10 homers and 30 steals. No other player in that group is younger than 21. Indeed, the Red Sox have two of the three players who are 21 or younger in all of minor league baseball (Margot and Mookie Betts) to have the 10/30 double (the other is Astros prospect Teoscar Hernandez).

Margot will be the third youngest position player in the Carolina League, with his promotion underscoring the notion that he is one of the top handful of position prospects in the Red Sox system.

— Right-hander Ty Buttrey had his best start of the season, tossing six shutout innings in which he allowed two hits, walked three and punched out six. In four outings since his return from the DL, the 21-year-old has a 3.66 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 19 2/3 innings. Prior to his hand injury, he had an 11.91 ERA with eight strikeouts and eight walks in 11 1/3 innings.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 5-1 LOSS AT BROOKLYN (METS)

(BOX)

— Shortstop Mauricio Dubon had his third multi-hit game of the week, going 2-for-4 to boost his average to .297, eighth in the New York-Penn League. The 20-year-old has a .297/.322/.380 line that suggests the ability to make contact with a line drive stroke that, in tandem with his solid shortstop defense, makes him an intriguing position prospect.

— Center fielder Joseph Monge went 2-for-4 for his first multi-hit game since July 28. The 19-year-old is hitting .280/.345/.320 in 15 games with the Spinners since his promotion from the GCL.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: SUSPENDED (RAIN) AT GCL ORIOLES

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 13-7 WIN AT DSL REDS

(BOX)

Luis Alejandro Basabe, who entered the game with one extra-base hit in 24 games, went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and walk. He now has 23 walks and 20 strikeouts on the year, giving the 17-year-old a .421 OBP despite a .244 average.

— Catcher/third baseman Roldani Baldwin went 2-for-5 with a triple and a walk, boosting his line to .281/.362/.406.

Read More: manuel margot, matt barnes, simon mercedes,

Larry Lucchino on D&C: Tom Werner introduced idea of implementing pitch clock in commissioner presentation

08.15.14 at 10:07 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the commissioner election results, Roger Clemens and the state of the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Major League Baseball owners elected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner of the sport, beating out Red Sox chairman Tom Werner by a final 30-0 vote on the sixth ballot.

“I absolutely thought there was a possibility that Tom could win it,” Lucchino said. “He was not some kind of protest candidate. He was a guy that was there full of ideas. He made, in my opinion, the best presentation of the group and had some real passionate support so I think there was indeed a possibility of him being elected.

“Having said that, it went several ballots. I think the selection that we made, as Tom said very graciously afterwards yesterday, was a very good one. [Manfred] is a very experienced person and I think he benefitted, as the league did, from the process because a lot of the issues and threats to the game, challenges facing us in the future that were articulated by Tom, I think that dialogue will lead to a better game of baseball going forward.”

Manfred has been MLB’s chief operating officer since the end of the 2013 season and has worked in the game full-time since 1998. He becomes the 10th commissioner in the history of the sport.

“Certainly he’s a different person than Bud Selig,” Lucchino said. “As a person with a different temperament, different background, it’s hard to predict specifically what will be different. But his management style will be different, the league office and commissioner’s office will be anchored in New York City. As a witness to the general notion of the debate yesterday, I think Rob will feel a mandate to bring about some change in the way baseball governs itself.

“Tom articulated five challenges facing the game and I think there was general agreement with Rob in several of them. I think you’re going to see a change in the product coming forth; I think you’re going to see a serious drive for a younger and more diverse fan base; I think you’re going to see a more modern approach to technology and a general effort to grow the game.”

One of the biggest ideas Lucchino said Werner presented in his display was the implementation of a pitch clock to help quicken the pace of play, something Manfred told USA Today after his election that he would be open to. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Larry Lucchino,

Jon Lester explains not going to highest bidder, John Henry hug

08.15.14 at 10:02 am ET
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Appearing Friday morning on “The Hill-Man Morning Show” on WAAF, former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester explained the thought process behind his recent comments to the Boston Herald regarding not necessarily taking the highest offer as a free agent in the upcoming offseason.

“The whole point behind that was ‘€¦ The question behind it was, ‘€˜Hey, are you going to be basically wooed by the highest bidder?’€™ My point behind that is that I don’€™t need to go to the highest bidder if that isn’€™t going to make me happy,” he said. “I’€™m not going to just take the highest bid, the money, the most years just because it’€™s in front of you. To me, that’€™s not how I make decisions. I make decisions based on me and my family and is this place ‘€“whether it’€™s Boston or one of the other 29 teams ‘€“ is this place going to be good for me and my family? If that’€™s the case, you leave money on the table for that decision. That being said, it may be the highest bidder you end up going to. But for me you make the informed decision of, ‘€˜Hey, is this place going to make me happy? Is this the right situation for me?’€™ And then you just go from there. If it’€™s the most years and the most money than that’€™s what it is.”

Some other topics discussed by Lester …

Any hard feelings with Red Sox?

“I understood where the starting point was. It wasn’€™t like they offered that and things stopped. The offer was closer to end of spring training so we had a little bit of time to negotiate, we used that time to the best of our ability and just couldn’€™t come up with a deal from there. No, there’€™s no animosity. There’€™s no hatred or anything like that. Those guys didn’€™t get to own the Boston Red Sox by being stupid and just starting at a point where you kind of laugh at them as far as too high or too low. They know what they’€™re doing and that’€™s how they wanted to start negotiations. But there are no hard feelings behind that.”

On comments made by Red Sox that they were going to make aggressive offer

“You can only hope at this point what they say is true, and that they want to be competitive and they want to make an offer and they want me back.”

On the hug with Red Sox principal owner John Henry upon leaving Fenway Park

“A little awkward. It was a weird gig. I was pulling out of the lot, had the truck in drive, went to move and he was just standing next to my car. I didn’€™t know where he came from, didn’€™t see him walk up. He kind of surprised me. So I get out of the truck and I thought he was just coming to shake my hand, and give me a hug and say goodbye. I kind of went in for the hug before he wanted the hug. He pulled me aside. He wanted to talk to me, which I thought was very nice. I appreciate everything he told me. Behind close doors, where there were no photographs or bystanders, we actually shook hands and had kind of a normal hug. But at that time, yeah, it was a little awkward.”

Is his cable still active in his Boston home?

“That is accurate. We’€™re still paying bills at the house”

Friday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Dallas Keuchel

08.15.14 at 9:44 am ET
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The Red Sox will continue their four-game series against the Astros on Friday at Fenway Park, sending Clay Buchholz to the hill against Dallas Keuchel.

Buchholz (5-7, 5.99 ERA) will be looking to find some consistency against Houston, as the right-hander has been hot and cold for most of the season.

While Buchholz did post back-to-back starts in which he allowed seven earned runs over five innings from July 28-Aug. 3, he rebounded in his last outing Saturday against the Angels, allowing three earned runs over eight innings of work while striking out eight. At one point Buchholz retired 11 batters in a row, but in the end Boston was a dealt a 5-4 loss after a grueling 19-inning affair.

“I thought tonight was probably his best outing of the year. He was outstanding. He had a good curveball when he was in fastball counts and slowed some hitters down,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after the game. “He had three distinct pitches tonight and looked like the Clay Buchholz we know.”

Buchholz turned in one of his best outings of the season during his last appearance against the Astros on July 13, tossing a shutout while striking out 12 Houston batters. In two career starts against the Astros, Buchholz is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Astros, Clay buchhholz, Dallas Keuchel, Red Sox

Learning curve: Allen Webster’s in-game adjustments highlight progress

08.15.14 at 6:25 am ET
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Through two innings on Thursday night, Allen Webster‘€™s fourth major league outing of the season looked like it would be another discouraging effort. Though he’€™d allowed just one run, an unearned one at that, he’€™d already tossed 30 pitches with just half of those finding the strike zone.

However, as manager John Farrell noted after the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win, Webster “did bend — but he didn’€™t break.”

Thursday night showed evidence of a pitcher who is growing and learning. Instead of continuing the pattern, Webster was able to adjust in the midst of the game. He threw 15 balls through the first two innings, but just 14 through the next four. He was hurt by a leadoff walk in the fourth, allowing a home run to the next batter, but he managed to get into a rhythm and last six solid innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits while issuing three walks. His line may not signal a particularly impressive outing, but coupled with his last start (in which he lasted into the seventh inning for the first time in his major league career while allowing just two runs), Webster is showing signs of progress.

The Red Sox spent 40 minutes racking up runs in the bottom of the sixth, which ultimately factored into the decision to go to the bullpen despite the fact that Webster had only thrown 85 pitches and had settled into a groove, facing the minimum from the first out of the fourth to the last out of the sixth.

“I thought [Webster] got on a little bit of a roll, and then the long inning, it felt like it was time to get him out of there and stay on a positive note for him,” Farrell said. Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Offense backs strong outing from Allen Webster

08.14.14 at 10:40 pm ET
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Joe Castiglione, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciparra and Pedro Martinez were recognized on the night of their entry into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. (Getty Images)

Joe Castiglione, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciparra and Pedro Martinez were recognized on the night of their entry into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. (Getty Images)

It didn’t look like Allen Webster would be long for Thursday’s game.

The righty struggled to stay in the zone in the second, issuing back-to-back walks in an eight-pitch span to begin the second. Though he allowed only one unearned run through the first two innings of his outing, he didn’t have his command. Of the first 24 pitches that were not put in play Webster threw on the evening, only nine went for strikes. Three consecutive hits in the third brought in another run.

But, whereas that sort of start has often been a formula for disaster for Webster in the past, this time, the 24-year-old proved able to adjust en route to a 9-4 win over the Astros.

Following a leadoff walk to Jon Singleton and a subsequent two-run blast off the bat of Matt Dominguez, Webster actually settled in quite nicely to finish off his outing, retiring the side in order to end the fourth and facing the minimum through the next two innings, allowing just a single.

After tossing 15 balls over the course of the first two innings, Webster threw just 14 through his remaining four frames and ended up throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strikes on the evening. That efficiency permitted him, for the first time in his big league career, to deliver a second straight quality start, as Webster logged six innings in which he allowed three earned runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out a pair.

Eventually, Webster got all the run support he would need. Though the Red Sox offense was unable to generate much offense through the first five innings, they put a seven-spot on the board in the sixth with contributions from just about everyone in the lineup. With the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, every member of the starting nine reached either by hit or walk, while seven of the nine reached base at least once during the Red Sox‘ rally in the sixth.

The Red Sox have now won four straight games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Rich Sauveur on Minor Details: ‘I can see [Henry Owens] being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox’

08.14.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Rich Sauveur joined WEEI.com’€™s Alex Speier on the Minor Details podcast to discuss his first impressions of Henry Owens with the PawSox and the large influx of plus pitching in the organization. To listen to the interview, go to the WEEI podcast audio on demand page.

Owens, Boston’€™s top pitching prospect, has impressed at the Triple-A level, posting a 1-0 record with a 3.09 ERA and 14 strikeouts in two starts (11 2/3 innings). Owens was particularly dominant in his first outing Aug. 4 against Columbus, holding the Clippers to two hits and no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings while recording nine punchouts.

“Well, being actually the first time I’ve seen him throw, yes, I’ve seen him throw a couple times down in spring training, but to actually see him up here pitching for me was pretty exciting. … Obviously, by the outcome, striking out the side in the first inning, and seeing the poise on the mound was just outstanding. This kid is 22 years old, and again, striking out the side on three plus pitches — the fastball and the curveball and the changeup — it was an outstanding time for me,” Sauveur said.

Sauveur added that both Owens’€™ confidence on the hill and his impressive repertoire of pitches make it easy for him to project the southpaw as a top-of-the-line starter in the major leagues.

“Going on one start, I can say that I see this guy being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox. … [His] poise on the mound is ridiculous,” Sauveur said. “€œThis kid reminds me of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. I mean, just a goofball in the clubhouse and having a good time, and when he steps between those two wide lines that go down each side of the field, it’s game on. … Talking about his stuff, the fastball velocity was decent, the command was outstanding … and then he showed two plus pitches. … Of course, if this kid strikes out nine guys in a Triple-A game, something is going on.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Anthony Ranau, henry owens, minor details, Rich Sauveur

Rob Manfred beats out Tom Werner for MLB Commissioner post

08.14.14 at 8:52 pm ET
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Major League Baseball owners elected Rob Manfred to become the 10th commission in the history of the sport, with the current MLB Chief Operating Officer set to succeed Bud Selig in January. While Manfred was ultimately elected by a final 30-0 vote, it was not until the sixth ballot of the sport’s team owners that he beat out Red Sox chairman Tom Werner for the post.

From The Associated Press:

One baseball executive who attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because details of the 4 1/2-hour session were not be divulged, said Manfred was elected on approximately the sixth ballot. The initial vote was 20-10 for Manfred, three short of the required three-quarters majority.

His total increased to 21 on the second and 22 on the third. While teams put written ballots into envelopes, keeping their choices secret, from team official speeches it was evident that Tampa Bay’s Stuart Sternberg and Milwaukee’s Mark Attanasio likely switched, the person said.

Manfred’s total dropped to 20, then increased to 22 before a dinner break. He got the needed 23rd vote on the next, apparently from Washington. Owners then made the final vote unanimous. The person said it appeared Arizona, Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland and Toronto had been the final holdouts.

For more on the election process, click here. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: mlb commissioner, Rob Manfred, Tom Werner,

Red Sox pregame notes: Alex Wilson back up; Brandon Workman to return to rotation

08.14.14 at 7:40 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo has won both of his big league starts. His reward on both occasions? An immediate demotion back to Triple-A.

Ranaudo, who claimed a victory with six innings in the Sox’ 5-4 win in Cincinnati on Wednesday, was optioned to the PawSox following the contest. In his place, the Red Sox recalled right-hander Alex Wilson, who has a 3.38 ERA in three big league games (and four call-ups) this year, with righties having gone just 1-for-10 against him. Wilson has a 4.35 ERA in Pawtucket, including a 2.33 mark over his last 19 1/3 innings.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

— With Ranaudo being sent down, Brandon Workman is slated to rejoin the Red Sox rotation after having his Wednesday start skipped in favor of his fellow member of the draft class of 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox-Astros series preview

08.14.14 at 7:12 pm ET
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For seemingly the first time all season, the Red Sox will return to Fenway Park riding the momentum of a successful road trip.

After posting a 5-3 record during an eight-game stretch away from home, Boston will open up an 11-game homestand with a four-game series against the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox have found themselves on a bit of a roll, winning four out of their last five games.

“Yeah, it was nice, a winning road trip,” said first baseman Mike Napoli, who clobbered a two-run homer in the fifth helped Boston to a 5-4 victory over the Reds Wednesday. “We’re playing better baseball. I feel like there were a couple games we could’ve came away with, too. We’re playing better baseball, the young guys are learning and we’re playing the game the right way. That’s what we need.”

The Astros -€“- sitting at 50 wins on the year — will be looking to match their victory total from last season during their series against Boston. Houston finished the 2013 campaign with a 51-101 record.

Houston will be getting some reinforcements in the outfield, as center fielder Dexter Fowler played his first game in six weeks Wednesday after suffering a back injury June 26.

“Whenever you are athletic and have three guys in the outfield capable of playing center field, we’re improved — cutting balls off, getting to them in the air,” said Houston manager Bo Porter after Houston’€™s 3-1 loss to the Twins Wednesday. “You got a glimpse of that today.”

The Astros are 4-6 over their last 10 games and 1-2 against Boston this season.

Here are the probable pitchers for the four-game series.

Thursday: Allen Webster (2-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.14 ERA)

Friday: Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.99 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.07 ERA)

Saturday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-4, 3.21 ERA) vs. Brad Peacock (3-8, 5.25 ERA)

Sunday: Joe Kelly (0-0, 2.08 ERA) vs. Colin McHugh (5-9, 3.08 ERA)

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Astros, Chris Carter, Red Sox, rubby de la rosa
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