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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Bryce Brentz, Jackie Bradley continue tears; Travis Shaw finds power

06.01.12 at 1:03 pm ET
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Initially, it seemed as if it might be 2010 all over again for Bryce Brentz. In April, the 23-year-old seemed overmatched in his first exposure to advanced breaking balls in the upper levels. On April 25, he was hitting .198 with a .244 OBP, .284 slugging mark and .528 OPS while leading the Double-A Eastern League in one category: Strikeouts. In his first 21 games, Brentz punched out 28 times (while walking just five) in 81 at-bats.

At that point, even though Red Sox officials insisted that Brentz was showing a solid approach and waiting back on breaking stuff while driving it to all fields (an approach, they said, that simply wasn’t being rewarded with hits, as hard-hit balls would either get caught or land just foul down either line), it would have been difficult to forecast what was to come.

On Thursday, Brentz made Portland franchise history, becoming the first Sea Dogs player ever to collect five hits in multiple games. Brentz’s 5-for-5 day (which also included three doubles, tying a franchise record) came less than three weeks after another five-hit game, and continued a stretch in which he has been as hot as any player in his league.

Since April 26, Brentz is leading the Eastern League with a .390 average (32 points better than the runner-up in that category), .638 slugging mark and 1.082 OPS (more than 100 points better than the runner-up). His .443 OBP during that span is third best in the league. In those 28 games, he has 16 extra-base hits (five homers and 11 doubles), and in the process, the No. 36 overall pick in the 2010 draft has looked very much like the player who was named Red Sox Co-Offensive Player of the Year (along with Ryan Lavarnway) last season while emerging as one of the top power hitters in both the Single-A South Atlantic League and, after an early season promotion to High-A Salem, the Carolina League.

On the year, Brentz now has an excellent line of .306/.358/.484/.842 with six homers (though, somewhat surprisingly, just 18 RBI). As impressive as those numbers appear, more significant is the fact that the outfielder proved capable of responding quickly and impressively to his early-season adversity.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-0 LOSS VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

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Daisuke Matsuzaka, in his second appearance since a cortisone shot, delivered his second consecutive excellent outing. Though he was touched for a solo homer in 5 1/3 innings, that was one of only two hits he permitted, on a night when he struck out four and did not walk a batter. In two starts since his cortisone injection, Matsuzaka has allowed one run in 10 1/3 innings (0.87 ERA), with opponents hitting .091 against him. In 10 1/3 innings, he’s struck out six and walked one. Overall, in seven rehab starts, Matsuzaka has a 3.53 ERA, 28 strikeouts and eight walks in 35 2/3 innings.

Jose Iglesias remains sidelined by discomfort in his lower back, and the shortstop was in Boston on Thursday to have the condition examined. While a source described the injury as not being a significant one, Iglesias will miss at least a few more games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-2 WIN AT HARRISBURG (NATIONALS)

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Ryan Kalish went 1-for-4 with a double and walk while playing center field in his first game in Portland, the second leg of his rehab assignment as he works his way back from neck and shoulder surgeries. He also made an excellent catch at the wall in center to end the game. Kalish went 4-for-12 in three games with Salem.

– Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson had his second straight multi-hit game and his third in seven contests since a promotion from High-A Salem. Somewhat surprisingly, given that he stole 16 bases without being caught in Salem, Wilkerson has yet to attempt a steal in Portland.

– Right-hander Marco Duarte, a minor league Rule 5 pick of the Red Sox in December, continued his strong performance this year. Though he’s old (25) for the levels at which he’s performed, Duarte — who tossed four scoreless innings for a save on Thursday, and has now tossed seven scoreless frames since his promotion to Portland — has a 0.75 ERA, 21 strikeouts and seven walks in 24 innings (over 11 games) for Salem and Portland this year. He was 12-4 with a 4.94 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 53 walks in 109 1/3 innings last year in the Mexican League.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-2 WIN AT LYNCHBURG (BRAVES)

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Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his remarkable professional debut, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles. He’s now hitting .371 (seventh in all of minor league baseball) with a .491 OBP (tops in the minors), .557 slugging mark and 1.048 OPS (ninth in the minors). He also has 23 extra-base hits (18 doubles, two triples, three homers) in 47 games. His consistency is evident in the fact that his average hasn’t dropped below .349 since April 25, and his OBP has gone no lower than .459.

– First baseman Travis Shaw remains locked in. He went 1-for-3 with a homer and two walks while driving in four runs on Thursday. In his last three games, he is 4-for-8 with three walks, three homers and seven RBI. Thursday’s homer was just his second of the year against a right-hander. Surprisingly, while the left-handed-hitting Shaw has performed well against righties (.300/.403/.467/.869), he’s been even better — by a significant margin — against lefties, with a line of .444/.480/.800/1.280. He has 10 extra-base hits in 50 plate appearances against lefties (20 percent of plate appearances), compared to 13 in 144 plate appearances (9 percent) against righties.

Brandon Workman continued his strong performance in High-A, tossing six shutout innings in which he allowed two hits (both singles), struck out six and walked two. He also recorded seven groundball outs. The 23-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 11 walks in 40 2/3 innings this year. His 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings rank fifth in the Carolina League (min. 40 innings) this season.

Brandon Jacobs returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a hand contusion on May 18. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 13-2 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

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Keury De La Cruz went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. He is tied for fifth in the Eastern League with 26 extra-base hits (in 49 games). His consistency this season has been impressive, as the 20-year-old hit .321/.389/.543/.932 in April and .311/.349/.590/.939 in May.

Read More: brandon jacobs, Brandon Workman, bryce brentz, Daisuke Matsuzaka
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