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Red Sox minor league roundup: After Sunday washouts, Anthony Ranaudo, Daisuke Matsuzaka headline Monday starters

04.23.12 at 9:25 am ET

Just one Red Sox team managed to play on Sunday with rain drenching the East Coast, as Triple-A Pawtucket, High-A Salem and Single-A Greenville were all washed out. Only Double-A Portland managed to squeeze in a game.

That being the case, today will be the far more interesting day in the system, and not just at the affiliate level. For the first time since he suffered a groin strain in late spring training, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will pitch in a game on Monday, this coming in extended spring training. Ranaudo will follow a normal spring training progression in order to build his workload up to five innings before he is ready to head to an affiliate, most likely Double-A Portland, to begin his regular season. Thus, he would appear on pace to start his regular season in roughly mid-May.

While the down time has been a minor disappointment after Ranaudo made all of his starts in his first full pro season in 2011, team officials note that a minor groin injury from which the pitcher has been able to recover fully is no concern. His arm remains healthy, and given the promise that the 2010 supplemental first rounder was showing in spring training (touching 97 mph), there remains considerable anticipation for his coming season.

Ranaudo will not be the only notable Red Sox pitcher of note today. Aaron Cook, in potentially his last start in the minors, is scheduled to start the second game of a doubleheader for Pawtucket, left-hander Chris Hernandez — who has been the most consistently effective minor league starter for the Sox dating to the start of 2011, will be on the mound for Portland and Daisuke Matsuzaka will start his rehab assignment with a start for High-A Salem.

One other extended spring training note: right-hander Noe Ramirez, taken by the Sox in the fourth round of last year’s draft after a standout career at Cal State-Fullerton, would have opened the year at a full-season affiliate (almost certainly Greenville) but for the fact that he had some shoulder fatigue/weakness during spring training (a not uncommon development, particularly for first-year professionals). So, he was shut down for a while but is now building back up towards an assignment with Greenville.


— Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek went 0-for-4 and saw his streak of reaching base in 17 straight games to start the year come to an end.

— Left fielder Oscar Tejeda went 2-for-4, making the 22-year-old the only member of the Portland lineup to record multiple hits. However, both of his hits were singles, continuing an April in which he has just three extra-base hits (all doubles). In the early going, he has been off to something of a ho-hum start, hitting .258/.309/.306/.615, with all of those numbers ranking below league average (.260/.331/.381/.712).

A couple years ago in Salem, Tejeda looked like he had a chance to develop into an intriguing power hitter, particularly given that he played second base. In 2010, he hit .307/.344/.455/.799 in Salem with 48 extra-base hits in his age 20 season. Now, while still young (22), he is no longer among the youngest players in his league since he is repeating at Double-A, he has moved to a position (left field) with significantly different offensive expectations than second base and his numbers have yet to show meaningful improvement from his performance of a year ago, when he hit .249/.297/.339/.636.

It is early in the season and the early-season weather in the Eastern League is rarely conducive to hot starts. That said, this is a year in which Tejeda likely needs to take a significant step forward in order to retain both his prospect status and his 40-man roster spot.

Juan Carlos Linares missed his second straight game due to a strained groin, but he’s feeling better and is expected to return to games within the next few days.


— Not entirely a minor league story, but a couple good looks at the direction of Michael Bowden‘s career. The pitcher talked to Brendan McGair of the Woonsocket Call and noted of his trade to the Cubs, “One door closes and another opens.” Bowden said he was shocked when designated for assignment. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talked to Assistant GM Mike Hazen about what happened in taking Bowden from status as one of the top Red Sox prospects to a player who ultimately was deemed expendable.

Jose Iglesias talked with McGair about his developing hitting approach. “I want to be disciplined,” he said. In his last 10 games, Iglesias is hitting .300 (12-for-40), and while he has just one extra-base hit, his six walks in that stretch have allowed him to have a .404 OBP during the stretch.

— Salem play-by-play man Even Lepler talked to Salem Red Sox manager Rich Gedman about the experience of taking part in the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park.

“I can best describe it as this: I had another feeling like that once. And that was the first time I stepped on Fenway Park as a player. And then to come back 30-something years later, I walked from underneath the garage door in center field to home plate, and I don’€™t feel like my feet ever touched the ground,” Gedman told Lepler. “It was pretty special.”

Good story by Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times on the counsel that first baseman Travis Shaw (hitting .400 with a .431 OBP so far for Salem) receives from his father, former big league closer Jeff Shaw.

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