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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Xander Bogaerts’ power show; Drake Britton dominates; Noe Ramirez perfect in debut

06.11.12 at 10:44 am ET
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Drake Britton has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless innings in Portland. (Jon Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Bryce Harper‘s first visit to Fenway Park was a dazzling display by a player who is performing like a once-in-a-generation talent. The Red Sox don’t have a comparable player in their system. Nor does anyone else in baseball.

But the Red Sox do have a player who, at 19, is emerging as a tremendous prospect in his own right. Xander Bogaerts is the second-youngest position player in the High-A Carolina League, a level where the average position player is over 22 years old. Yet the shortstop is revealing few signs of his youth on the playing field.

On Sunday, he went 3-for-3 with a single, double, homer and walk. On the year, he is hitting .292 with a .360 OBP, .489 slugging mark, .848 OPS, eight homers and 25 extra-base hits, ranking among the league’s top 10 in the last four of those categories.

There was a time earlier this year in High-A when he had to adjust to the more sophisticated pitch mixes of the Carolina League pitchers, and during which he seemed like he was desperate to start blasting homers in a fashion comparable to the one in which he made his mark last year in Single-A Greenville, where he had 16 homers in 72 games last season.

But now he’s find his comfort zone, resulting in a dominant stretch against players who are considerably older and more experienced than him. In 22 games since May 22, Bogaerts leads the Carolina League — a level that features ballparks in which home runs are notoriously difficult to come by — with 13 (five homers, seven doubles, a triple). During that spell, he’s hitting .329 with a .376 OBP, .633 slugging mark and 1.009 OPS.

A case can be made, based on Bogaerts’ performance and age, that no one in the Red Sox farm system (including Salem teammates Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr., who have been nothing short of amazing this year) has as high a ceiling as Bogaerts.

For more on Bogaerts’ prospect status — including an explanation about how chicken pox nearly prevented him from being a Red Sox, and why his name is being mentioned in the same breath as Hanley Ramirezclick here.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)

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Justin Germano dominated in a complete-game victory. In nine innings, he scattered three hits (one a solo homer) while striking out two and walking four. For the year, Germano is now 7-3 with a 2.56 ERA, and opponents have hit just .216 against him. He’s struck out 47 while walking just nine batters (1.04 per nine innings). With Aaron Cook working his way back to health in Fort Myers, where he recently tossed two innings, and Daniel Bard trying to regain his form in Pawtucket, Germano looms as the best Red Sox starting depth option in Triple-A. If the team needs a spot start, Germano and big league reliever Franklin Morales would appear to be the most likely candidates to get the assignment.

Mauro Gomez went 2-for-4 with a double, and he is now tied for the International League lead in doubles with 18 while ranking second in extra-base hits with 32. The 27-year-old is hitting .292/.342/.584/.927.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-3 LOSS VS. RICHMOND (GIANTS)

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– In contrast to his first Double-A start, Drake Britton did give up hits — allowing three — but he also dropped his walks total from six to two and he boosted his punchouts from two to five. Britton now has tossed 10 1/3 scoreless innings in two starts with Portland, and opposing hitters are 3-for-36 (.083) against a left-hander who features a fastball that sits at 92-93 mph but touches as high as 96, a 12-to-6 curve for strikes, a slider that is either a chase pitch against right-handers or a pitch to lock up lefties and a changeup.

“Drake has worked really hard for a long time now, trying to find the right rhythm and the right comfort on the mound,” said farm director Ben Crockett. “He was able to take that step forward after a couple of early struggles, and allow that to translate. More than anything, he’s shown the consistency of pounding the strike zone. The stuff has been there throughout.”

Britton walked 5.1 batters per nine innings last year. While his 4.4 walks per nine this season between High-A Salem and Portland represent a still-high total, Crockett suggests that there has been an obvious difference in the pitcher’s willingness to attack the strike zone, and the fact that his walks have been the product of misses around the zone rather than simple misfires in which he hasn’t been anywhere near the plate, as was the case at times last year.

Jeremy Hazelbaker went 2-for-4 with a walk, and has reached base in 12 straight games in which he had an at-bat. During that span, he is hitting .319/.407/.638/1.046 with four homers, four walks and four steals. He was hitting .223/.297/.308/.604 at the start of the run; he now has a season line of .249/.327/.395/.722.

Bryce Brentz went 2-for-4 with his first multi-hit game in six contests.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-2 WIN AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS)

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– Right-hander Brandon Workman had another excellent outing, working six innings in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits (all singles). He walked none and struck out five. In 10 starts for Salem, Workman has pitched at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in exactly half (five) of his starts. In his last three outings, he has a 1.59 ERA, 15 strikeouts and four walks without having allowed allowed a homer.

Brandon Jacobs hit his third homer in the season, continuing a recent run in which he’s shown an uptick in his extra-base hits. In his last 12 games, he has six extra-base hits, including a pair of homers. While he struggled out of the gate this year, Jacobs has shown steady improvement in his plate approach as the year has progressed. In his last 28 games dating to the final days of April, the outfielder is hitting .318/.356/.473/.829.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, marking the ninth time this year that he’s reached base four or more times in a game. After 60 games, he’s hitting .377/.489/.561/1.050.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-3 LOSS AT HICKORY (RANGERS)

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Noe Ramirez, a fourth-round draft pick by the Red Sox a year ago, seemed like a player with a chance to progress quickly through the farm system based on his outstanding performance for Cal State-Fullerton and with Team USA. But he had some weakness in his shoulder this spring, and so the Sox shut him down — thus delaying the start of his year — while waiting for him to get in shape prior to an assignment. On Sunday, the right-hander (who features a low-90s fastball and a dominating changeup that was taught to him by Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays) delivered a remarkable professional debut, tossing five perfect innings with five strikeouts.

He required just 54 pitches to sail through the outing, getting swings and misses on his fastball and changeup (five of 13 of which resulted in swings and misses).

Blake Swihart went 2-for-4 with a double. Since May 15, the 2010 first-rounder is hitting .347 with a .402 OBP, .556 slugging mark and .958 OPS.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: OFF

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