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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Ryan Kalish and the rehab fast track; Xander Bogaerts shows precocious power; Ryan Lavarnway shows familiar power

06.07.12 at 10:17 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts is putting up power numbers that 19-year-olds almost never post in the Carolina League. (Billy Crowe/Greenville Drive)

For the second time in as many days since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ryan Kalish went deep, bashing another homer to right as part of a 2-for-3 day in which he also singled up the middle and walked while scoring a pair of runs. In those two games, Kalish is 4-for-5 with two homers and four walks, having reached base in eight of nine plate appearances. Over the course of his rehab assignment (now eight games across three levels), Kalish has been as hot as virtually anyone in the system, hitting .385/.529/.769/1.299 with three homers, a double, eight walks and two steals. One can make the case that the eight walks are as impressive as any part of that line, since the natural tendency might have been for Kalish to chase nearly every pitch in sight after missing most of a 13-month span due to surgery-necessitating injuries.

On Wednesday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine broke down the checklist of what a team wants to see from a player in a rehab assignment after he has been sidelined for such a substantial stretch.

“What you want him to do is to face left-handers and right-handers, you want him to be hot, you want him to be not, you want him to come out of being not, see him hitting the ball the other way, pull the ball, run the bases, just a long checklist of making sure he gets it done when you’re out that long,” said Valentine.

That suggests the possibility of a relatively significant stretch in the minors, perhaps even an option to the minor leagues before the expiration of the 30-day window for a rehab assignment. However, there is another potential model that Kalish could follow.

Jed Lowrie missed almost all of 2009 after undergoing early-season wrist surgery and then missed the first half of 2010 due to mono. When he finally began a rehab assignment in July of that year, it seemed almost inevitable that it would be a lengthy one to get him re-acclimated to the full spectrum of playing experiences. Instead, necessity dictated a call-up after just 10 games (six in Lowell, four in Pawtucket), and Lowrie went on to have a tremendous stretch in the big leagues, hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers in 55 games over the second half of that season.

Whether or not Kalish follows such a model remains to be seen. After all, when he was healthy at the beginning of last year, the Red Sox said that they wanted Kalish to have more time in the minors (even after a two-month stint in the majors at the end of 2010) to complete his player development, suggesting that his career may be at a somewhat less advanced stage than was Lowrie’s in 2010. And, as Valentine suggested, there is likely a stretch coming in which Kalish will struggle and have to make the adjustment to shed a slump.

Still, the initial returns offer a reminder that the outfielder — still just 24 — is capable of helping the Red Sox at the major league level this year, and perhaps sooner than anyone anticipated.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

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Ryan Lavarnway went 1-for-4 with a homer, his second in as many days and his fifth of the year. After collecting just five extra-base hits in his first 29 games of the year, Lavarnway now has 10 in his last 16 contests, bringing his slugging percentage up to .449 for the year. During that 16-game stretch, Lavarnway is hitting .350/.418/.617/1.035.

Junichi Tazawa tossed 1 1/3 innings without permitting a hit or run while striking out two and walking two. The “0″ in the hits column represented a departure for the right-hander, who allowed 17 hits in his previous five appearances spanning 9 1/3 innings. Still, Tazawa continues to show interesting developments in his stuff. Specifically, a stadium gun recently had him hitting 97 mph, a number he’d never touched in his career to date. He has 36 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 innings this year.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-5 WIN VS. BOWIE (ORIOLES)

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– For the second time in his last three starts, Stolmy Pimentel endured significant command issues. In four innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits (two doubles, two singles), in no small part because he issued four walks and struck out just one. He threw just 48 of 89 pitches (54 percent) for strikes. That said, after giving up one run in the first (when he walked one) and three in the second (when he walked three), he was able to finish on a positive note by posting zeros in his last two innings.

Oscar Tejeda had his second three-hit game of the season and his first since April 24, going 3-for-5 with a double. He’s putting the ball in play in nearly every at-bat right now, as he’s walked just once and struck out only twice in his last 10 games.

– Catcher Dan Butler homered for the second time in as many games and the third time in five contests. He’s listed his OPS by 118 points in that span, from .610 on May 30 to .728 now.

Bryce Brentz was named Eastern League Player of the Month for May, having hit .388 with a .439 OBP, .633 slugging mark, 1.022 OPS, five homers and 14 extra-base hits in May. On Wednesday, he went 1-for-4 while driving in a pair of runs but also punched out three times, his second straight three-strikeout game.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-1 WIN VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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Xander Bogaerts is starting to impact the ball with some of the same consistency that helped his prospect status skyrocket last year. He went 1-for-4 and blasted a homer to left on Wednesday, continuing a recent run that has seen him amass extra-base hits in bunches. In his last 16 games, 10 of his 20 hits have been for extra-bases — three homers, six doubles and a triple. Since May 22, in fact, all four of the leaders in extra-base hits in the Carolina League are members of Salem’s lineup, as Jackie Bradley Jr. has 11 extra-base hits (all doubles), Travis Shaw has 10 (six homers, four doubles), Bogaerts has 10 and Michael Almanzar has eight (seven homers and a double).

As of now, Bogaerts has a .459 slugging percentage, an extremely impressive mark for a 19-year-old in the Carolina League. In the last 10 years, the only players with such a slugging mark at that age and in that league were Royals prospect Wil Myers (now one of the top prospects in the minors amidst a 2012 campaign in which he’s launched 20 homers in 55 games) in 2010, Braves prospect Jason Heyward in 2009, former Braves prospect Andy Marte (acquired briefly by the Sox, who flipped him for Coco Crisp) in 2003 and Grady Sizemore in 2002.

– Shaw had a bases-loaded, two-out, three-run double in the bottom of the third. He’s made the most of his bases loaded opportunities this year, with a grand slam and two three-run doubles in four such plate appearances. In no small part on the strength of his performance in those situations, he has 41 RBI this year, second in the Carolina League.

– Starter Miguel Celestino had perhaps his best start of the year, tossing six innings in which he allowed only one unearned run on four hits (one double, three singles) and two walks while striking out six. Celestino has tossed six innings in each of his last four starts with a 1.50 ERA in that stretch. On the year, he is 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 16 walks in 57 innings, leveraging his mid-90s four-seam fastball down in the strike zone to get weak contact (as evidenced by his 7-to-2 groundout-to-flyout rate on Wednesday).

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-3 with a walk, but saw his streak of seven straight games with a double come to an end.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 15-5 LOSS AT ROME (BRAVES)

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Keury De La Cruz went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games, a run during which he’s hitting .417 (15-for-36). He also drew a walk, something he’s been doing with increased frequency in recent weeks. In his last 14 games, he has five walks in 68 plate appearances (7.4 percent), up from eight walks in his first 174 plate appearances (4.6 percent) in his first 40 contests this year. On the year, he is hitting .321/.372/.567/.939.

Garin Cecchini went 3-for-5 and stole his 20th base of the year.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 9-2 WIN VS. DSL MARLINS

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– Second baseman Andres Garcia, 18, has staked out an early claim to the title of Venezuelan God of Walks, as he has walked at least twice in each of his four games thus far. He leads the DSL with 10 walks. He also has a .650 OBP through four games.

Read More: bryce brentz, Dan Butler, Jed Lowrie, junichi tazawa
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