Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Xander Bogaerts could enter elite company, and Brandon Workman is off to a fast start
|05.03.12 at 6:39 pm ET|
With Will Middlebrooks now in the major leagues, the top position playing prospect in the Red Sox system is now almost certainly a 19-year-old in Salem who is playing at a level well beyond his years.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 LOSS AT TOLEDO (TIGERS)
— Ross Ohlendorf had his worst outing of the season, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks in three innings while giving up his first homer of the year. He struck out four and, after walking one batter in each of his first four starts, issued three free passes.
— Mark Melancon retired all six batters he faced, getting three strikeouts and three groundball outs, and he has now tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings since being optioned with all of his outs coming either via punchout or grounder.
— Ryan Lavarnway is in a bit of an offensive funk, going 1-for-14 with six strikeouts and no walks in his last four games. On the year, he is now hitting .247 with a .359 OBP, .351 slugging mark and .709 OPS, though his 13 walks and 17 strikeouts suggest that he is still having largely competitive at-bats.
— Lars Anderson, sent back down to the minors on Wednesday, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first game back in Triple-A. He has struck out at least once in each of his last nine minor league games, and his line has sunk to .237/.338/.373/.711.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-3 LOSS VS. TRENTON
— Chris Balcom-Miller turned in one of his best starts of the year, striking out a season-high five and getting eight groundball outs in five innings while allowing two earned runs. The right-hander is among the more difficult sorts of pitchers to evaluate based on ERA, since as an extreme groundball pitcher, he is highly dependent upon the performance of the infield defense behind him. Balcom-Miller is second in all of Double-A and first in the Eastern League in groundout-to-flyout ratio. As such, it is difficult to judge him solely by his ERA of 6.20. That said, it is also notable that Balcom-Miller has given up four homers in his five starts, suggesting inconsistency with his power sinker.
— Kolbrin Vitek went 2-for-5 with a double, his second straight multi-hit game. After notching five extra-base hits in his first 23 games, he has two in his past two contests.
— Ronald Bermudez went 1-for-3 with a double and walk, and is now hitting .333/.360/.521/.881 in 14 games this year.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 2-1 WIN AT WILMINGTON (ROYALS)
— Right-hander Brandon Workman continued his outstanding start, tossing six innings and allowing one run on three hits while punching out six and walking none. In his last two starts, he’s allowed one run in 12 innings while striking out 10 and without issuing a single walk. The 20-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his three starts this year.
— In three years playing college ball at the University of South Carolina, Jackie Bradley Jr. never stole more than eight bases in a season. On Wednesday in Salem, he stole his ninth and 10th bags of the year in just his 23rd game. How to explain it?
“Let me go ahead and clear that up,” Bradley said by phone this week. “Our coach at South Carolina is a gorilla ball player who didn’t let us steal. Now that I finally have the green light, I can steal. I get the rep about having average speed, but some of the fastest guys don’t have baseball instincts. It’s about instincts and being quick.”
— Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4, but the one hit was a double to right-center that scored the only Salem runs of the game in a 2-1 win. His season to date has been little short of extraordinary.
The highly touted shortstop has reached base in 20 straight games, the longest run in the Carolina League. At 19 years old — an age when he would be young for Single-A Greenville, let alone High-A Salem — he is hitting .287/.361/.506/.867 with three homers and 12 extra-base hits in 23 games. The season is young, and so those numbers could take a beating at some point, but right now, Bogaerts looks like he could add his name to the short list of prospects who had an OPS of .800 or better in the Carolina League at age 19 or younger. Since 2000, just five players (Royals prospect Wil Myers in 2010, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman of the Braves in 2009, Andy Marte (then of the Braves) in 2003, Grady Sizemore of the Indians in 2002) have accomplished the feat.
Of those, Myers still ranks as a top prospect, and he is currently killing the Double-A Texas League at age 21. Heyward and Freeman were Rookie of the Year runners-up in 2010 and 2011 with the Braves. Sizemore is a three-time All-Star. Only Marte did not emerge from such lofty status as a top prospect.
In other words, if Bogaerts demonstrates over the full course of the year that his early-season success is not a mirage, then precedent suggests that there is a very good chance that he will be an impact player at a very young age.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-2 LOSS VS. LEXINGTON (ASTROS)
— Jose Vinicio went 1-for-3 with a triple, his first extra-base hit in a dozen games.
— Of the 11 members of the Drive with 50 or more plate appearances, just two are at league average or better in both on-base percentage (.338) and slugging (.380): Keury De La Cruz (.383, .529) and Boss Moanaroa (.410, .385).
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