|Red Sox minor league roundup: So, about Andrew Miller’s rehab …||04.20.12 at 9:35 am ET|
The good news for Andrew Miller was that he tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out three. He came into a game in the middle of an inning (the fifth, to be exact), and after walking the first batter he faced, he settled to strike out the next hitter. He then got through a scoreless sixth before returning to the mound for the seventh, when he gave up a leadoff double, with the runner stranded by reliever Will Inman.
But … Miller walked four and allowed that double, and he required 50 pitches to record his four outs. Just 20 of those pitches were strikes. To put that in context, since 2000, there have been just 10 instances of a major league pitcher throwing 50 or more pitches while throwing strikes at a rate of 40 percent or less.
Miller has made four rehab appearances in Pawtucket (4 1/3 innings, four runs, nine strikeouts, nine walks) and two more in Greenville (two shutout innings, three strikeouts, no walks). Sox manager Bobby Valentine said on Wednesday that the team wanted to see Miller have “at least one other good performance in Triple-A,” hoping that he would build on an appearance on Monday in which he struck out the side, before getting activated from the disabled list. Whether Thursday qualified is in the eye of the beholder, though with a Yankees lineup that features Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, the Sox could certainly benefit from having a wealth of left-handed options.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 11-7 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Alex Wilson was roughed up for six runs on eight hits and two walks in just 3 2/3 innings while allowing his first homer of the season. He struck out six.
In three starts, Wilson now has 16 strikeouts and four walks in 13 2/3 innings. Interestingly, he has an 11/0 strikeout/walk ratio against righties as compared to a 5/4 rate against lefties, with righties hitting .226 against him and lefties at .480.
– Will Middlebrooks continued his torrid stretch, going 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBI. In his last six games, he is now hitting .423 with four homers and 13 RBI.
– Outfielder Alex Hassan had three doubles in five plate appearances. Since going 0-for-17 to start the year, he is 8-for-20 (.400) in his last five games, and on the strength of 10 walks, he has a .383 OBP despite a .216 batting average.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-0 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS)
– Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek went 1-for-4 with a double and has now reached base in all 15 games this season.
– Outfielder Juan Carlos Linares went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks (making him the only Portland player to reach base multiple times on Thursday), and the 27-year-old — who has reached base in 14 straight games — is now hitting .380/.475/.620/1.095.
– Bryce Brentz went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and has 21 whiffs in 62 plate appearances this year.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-4 LOSS AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS)
– Travis Shaw went 4-for-5 with a double, and he is now hitting .420/.453/.580/1.033 for the year. He has shown the Sox a lot of what led them to draft him in the ninth round a year ago. He has an advanced approach at the plate, with good strike zone recognition and an understanding of which pitches he can make solid contact on. However, as someone whose future position may be first base (he has also played some third for Salem), power potential will play a significant role in his advancement, and as consistently good as his at-bats have been this year, he has yet to homer. That said, he fits the mold of players whom the Sox often like in their system, namely hitters with advanced plate approaches and a chance to develop power down the road. Amidst the widely held notion that power is the last tool to develop, the chances of seeing it emerge as a usable, consistent attribute are greater for a player who has a sound approach to start with.
– As a 19-year-old in High-A who ranks among the youngest players at his level, Xander Bogaerts continues to hold his own. The shortstop went 2-for-5 with a double, and is now hitting .300/.375/.480/.855 this year. He currently has an eight-game hitting streak.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. celebrated his 22nd birthday with his third straight multi-hit game, delivering a pair of doubles in four plate appearances. During his current seven-game hitting streak, he is 12-for-26 (.462).
– Right-hander Brandon Workman will make his first start of the 2012 season for Salem tonight.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-8 LOSS VS. AUGUSTA (GIANTS)
– Third baseman Garin Cecchini, who turns 21 today, had his second three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-5 with a double and steal (thus improving to 8/8 this year in stolen base attempts). He has reached base 14 times during his current six-game hitting streak.
– Keury De La Cruz went 3-for-5 with a double and triple. The 21-year-old has shown intriguing pop, having led the Gulf Coast League in total bases in 2010. So far this year, he’s hitting .286/.352/.469/.821. The left-handed hitter is hitting .314/.314/.571/.886 against right-handed pitchers, showing power but without any walks. Against lefties, he has yet to collect an extra-base hit but has four walks, leading to a line of .214/.421/.214/.635. After playing primarily center field to this point in his career, he’s played the two outfield corners this year in Greenville.
– Kevin Goldstein‘s incredible minor league coverage at Baseball Prospectus is usually available via subscription, and it is usually worth it. This edition of “What Scouts Are Saying,” with some really interesting observations about the curious and interesting start of left-hander Henry Owens‘ career.
– Greenville right-hander Madison Younginer was a high school star in South Carolina, not far from Fluor Field, where he will play his home games for the Drive this year. Playing close to home in the early stages of a pro career can be a mixed bag. Struggles often feel magnified by their visibility; normal periods of failure and growth can become weightier. Some players end up being better for it, others (including Jason Place, the 2006 first-rounder who had a rough pro debut in Greenville) find the weight exceedingly challenging. That will make Younginer’s season interesting, as every one of his starts will be a newsworthy event in his hometown (evidence: a story on yesterday’s three-inning, four-run yield).
- Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com offers scouting reports on several members of the Portland Sea Dogs, with some particularly noteworthy observations on the defense of Vitek and Oscar Tejeda. The Sox have spoken extremely highly of the defensive strides made by Vitek at third base (a position he did not start playing until he turned pro); Mellen suggests that he still does not look at home at the position.
However, so long as he continues to show progress at the position, the Sox plan to keep him at third for the immediate future, feeling that he has the defensive tools to find success there.
“Range-wise, he’s got some quick twitch. He’ll be fine there. It’s putting himself in a good consistent position to be catch the ball and able to throw, at a position where you don’t have a lot of time to size up the ball as you might in the middle of the field,” farm director Ben Crockett said during the offseason. “With any player, I’d never rule anything out. But right now, at this point we see him as a third baseman.”
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