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Red Sox minor league notes: More mashing for Middlebrooks, and Jose Iglesias shows a glimpse

04.22.12 at 11:08 am ET
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Jose Iglesias had his first extra-base hit of the year on Saturday. (AP)

There are few pairings in the Red Sox system more interesting than the left side of the infield in Triple-A Pawtucket, where both Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias reside. The two of them promise to collaborate to produce nearly air-tight defense on that side of the diamond whenever their offensive development dictates that they are ready for the majors.

Middlebrooks continues to make an early-season case that his time may not be too distant. If Kevin Youkilis or Adrian Gonzalez is sidelined for any meaningful stretch, it would be hard to imagine the Sox having any reluctance to call up the third baseman who is battering the International League as if wielding a sledgehammer in the batter’s box. Iglesias would present a bit more of a dilemma given the need for continued offensive refinement, though he did have what was arguably his most promising game of 2012 on Saturday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-5 WIN VS. DURHAM (RAYS)

(BOX)

– The eventual shape of the Red Sox bullpen may be determined largely by what happens in Pawtucket in the near future. Rich Hill, after a wildly successful rehab run in Greenville and Salem, continued to his string of appearances with at least two strikeouts, as the left-hander notched a pair of punchouts, one of the swinging variety and one looking, in his inning of work. However, for the first time of his rehab assignment, he also gave up a home run after jumping ahead in the count, 0-2. Still, the homer was by a right-hander; Hill fanned both of the lefties he faced, and so the overall trajectory of his rehab remains extremely promising for him and the Red Sox. Meanwhile, Mark Melancon had his second scoreless outing in as many days, recording four outs while allowing a single and striking out one.

How long will Melancon need in the minors?

“He’ll know. Then we’ll know,” Sox manager Bobby Valentine said on Saturday. “His pitches need to get on a different plane and also get to a different location. He was more aware of what we needed to get done than we could express to him.”

Will Middlebrooks homered in his fourth straight game (a line drive to right field) and now has seven longballs for the year.

Jose Iglesias had the kind of day that he’s rarely had in his professional career, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. In his 14th game of 2012, the double marked his first extra-base hit. It marked just the third time he’s walked and had an extra-base hit in Triple-A, as the 22-year-old had that double twice last season.

– In 17 2/3 innings in the minors spanning three starts this year, right-hander Ross Ohlendorf now has a 3.06 ERA and he has yet to allow a homer. While his strikeout totals are modest (10), he has walked just three.

– The start of Pawtucket’s game is being moved up to 12:30 pm due to the ominous forecast.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-1 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

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– Versatile Ryan Dent added another notch in his belt when he slid over to play first base after Reynaldo Rodriguez left the game due to an ejection. Dent also went 2-for-3 with a walk, and for the year, the 2007 supplemental first rounder is now hitting .286/.382/.393/.775 while playing roughly every other day.

Juan Carlos Linares, who suffered a groin injury on Friday, remained out of the lineup on Saturday.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: RAINED OUT

– The rainout, appropriately enough, occurred on what the Potomac Nationals promoted as “Epic Fail Night.”

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-3 WIN AT AUGUSTA (GIANTS)

– Outfielder Henry Ramos turned 20 last week. When he grew up in Puerto Rico, his primary sport was soccer, a pursuit that developed his athleticism but that left him relatively raw in baseball terms when the Sox drafted him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. That being the case, he enjoyed a somewhat dazzling debut in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League that year, hitting .309/.370/.449/.819 while showing both some power (3 homers, 12 extra-base hits) and speed. Still, it was expected that he would struggle while playing against more experienced players, and so his .262/.299/.383/.682 line last year in Greenville was not viewed as being a struggle along the same lines of a more experienced player coming out of high school. Nor is it surprising that Ramos is repeating at Greenville this year, trying to address the experience gap.

On Saturday, Ramos was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk while driving in two. For the season, he is hitting a still-modest .262/.308/.361/.668, but the switch-hitter has shown at times that he can translate his athletic gifts to the baseball field, something that makes him an intriguing candidate for late-bloomer status.

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