|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo learn through adversity; Jackie Bradley Jr. upstages Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury||07.05.12 at 4:18 pm ET|
In the major leagues, a downturn in performance has few silver linings. The goal is to win; struggles are antithetical to that outcome. The focus is on the short term.
That is not the case in the minors, particularly near the start of a player’s professional career. Player development people will often insist that the most productive time in a player’s advance through the minors occurs not when he is dominating at a level, but instead when he is challenged by it. In that sense, though teams find it difficult to watch a player amidst struggles, they nonetheless welcome such periods as growth opportunities.
After all, it is better for a player to learn to struggle in the minors — and thus have a foundation with which to learn how to deal with inevitable challenges at the big league level — than to suffer failure for the first time under the glaring spotlight in the majors. When Clay Buchholz struggled in the majors in 2008, resulting in a demotion to Double-A by the end of the year, it was the first time that he’d ever faced adversity as a pitcher. And so it was difficult for him to slam the brakes on a downward spiral.
That being the case, the idea that Matt Barnes is dealing with a downturn is far from the end of the world for the Sox. Instead, it represents an important part of the learning process of a professional pitcher.
On Tuesday, Barnes gave up a career-high six runs in 3 2/3 innings while permitting six hits and two walks. He struck out three. In his last three outings, Barnes has given up 14 runs (15.12 ERA), walked five and struck out six in 8 1/3 innings. That is almost double the eight runs he’d allowed in his previous 13 starts combined, in which he’d forged a minor-league-best 0.99 ERA.
For the Sox, these struggles represent a positive. The goal of assigning a player to a level is to put him in a place where the competition forces him to make adjustments in order to achieve success. The Carolina League is currently challenging Barnes in a way that will teach him how to recover from adversity. There will be lessons from this time that will help him as he continues to move up the ladder.
Here is a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system from Tuesday and Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 LOSS ON TUESDAY VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS), 7-4 WIN ON WEDNESDAY VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS)
– Scott Podsednik went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in his rehab assignment while also getting caught stealing. In four games, he went 2-for-13 with three walks and four strikeouts. He is expected to be activated for Friday’s game against the Yankees.
– Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks on Wednesday, boosting his OBP to .402, tied for fourth in the International League. He ranks second in average (.315), 11th in slugging (.472) and 10th in OPS (.874).
– Juan Carlos Linares followed up a 3-for-4 performance that included a double and an RBI on Tuesday with a 2-for-4 game with a walk on Wednesday.
– Jose Iglesias went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts on Tuesday and then sat out of Wednesday’s contest. In six games since returning from his lower back strain, he’s now 3-for-25 (.120) with no walks and five strikeouts.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-3 LOSS ON TUESDAY VS. TRENTON (YANKEES), 11-10 LOSS ON WEDNESDAY AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
– Carl Crawford went 1-for-2 with a single, two walks and a stolen base in his first game in Double-A on Tuesday (seeing 22 pitches in four plate appearances), then followed that up by going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles to right, a fly out to left and a 1-6-3 double play up the middle. The outfielder said that he was encouraged by the opportunity to regain his timing while facing pitchers who could throw consistently in the strike zone.
– Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-5 with a single and a strikeout in his first Double-A game of his rehab tour on Wednesday. He discussed his rehab with Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis.
– While Ellsbury and Crawford have been the headliners for Portland while there on rehab, Jackie Bradley Jr. did his best to steal the show. While serving as designated hitter in deference to the need by the two major league outfielders to get time in the field, Bradley went 4-for-6 with a double and a steal on Wednesday. It was his first four-hit game in Double-A following four games of at least four hits with Salem, prior to his promotion.
Through 15 Double-A games, Bradley is hitting .377/.443/.492/.935 with six extra-base hits and three steals in five attempts. Given that he Ellsbury in many ways represents the closest prospect comparable to Bradley from the Red Sox system in the last decade (both are center fielders who entered the Sox system after prominent college careers, both moved up to Double-A after dominating in the High-A Carolina League for half a season), it is interesting to examine Bradley’s early performance compared to Ellsbury’s. In his first 15 Double-A games in 2006, Ellsbury hit .367/.406/.433/.840 with four extra-base hits and seven steals in nine attempts.
– Anthony Ranaudo, one outing removed from a very promising start in which he allowed two runs in five innings, was hit around in three innings of work. He gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits (including a double and homer) while walking one. He did not strike out a batter, and his fastball velocity was regularly 88-90 mph.
“Everything is fine. Probably just a little dead arm from finally getting back on a five-day routine,” Ranaudo told the Portland Press-Herald.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-3 LOSS ON TUESDAY AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS), 12-3 WIN ON WEDNESDAY AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)
– Catcher Christian Vazquez continued his recent strong performance, going 1-for-2 with a double and two walks on Tuesday and then following that with another two hits (including a double) in six at-bats on Wednesday. In his last nine games, he’s hitting .371/.450/.686/1.136 with five doubles and two homers.
– Brandon Workman had a bend-don’t-break outing on Wednesday in which he allowed nine hits (eight singles and a homer) in six innings while limiting the damage to three runs. He struck out four and walked none.
– Brandon Jacobs went 2-for-4 with a walk for his fourth multi-hit game in his last six contests.
– Sean Coyle went 3-for-5 on Wednesday for his third three-hit game in 12 second-half contests, matching his total from 62 games in the first half.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 3-2 LOSS ON TUESDAY AT CHARLESTON (YANKEES), 13-6 LOSS ON WEDNESDAY VS. ROME (BRAVES)
– Keury De La Cruz went 1-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday, his first longball since May 28, ending a drought of 19 games. Interestingly, though he hadn’t been clearing the fences, De La Cruz remained a force over the course of the five-week power outage. Since May 29 (his first of those 19 games without a homer), he’s hitting .386/.426/.557/.982.
– Garin Cecchini went 0-for-4 on Wednesday to snap an 11-game hitting streak.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 7-2 LOSS ON TUESDAY VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS), 11-5 LOSS ON WEDNESDAY AT AUBURN (NATIONALS)
– Kendrick Perkins went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Tuesday but took an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Wednesday, consistent with a season in which he has been one of the most intriguing position prospects for Lowell while submitting performances of the all-or-nothing variety. For the season, the 20-year-old (whose average snuck over .300 with Tuesday’s game but then dropped back below on Wednesday) is hitting .283/.377/.500/.877.
– Mike Augliera, taken by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Binghamton University, submitted an outstanding performance in his second pro game on Tuesday. In two innings, he allowed one hit (a single) while striking out four and walking none.
– Through Francisco Taveras is considered to have fringy stuff, the right-hander had another strong outing, tossing five shutout innings on Tuesday in which he gave up a pair of hits (both singles), walked two and struck out four. For the season, he now has a 1.69 ERA.
– Greg Larson, a hulking, 6-foot-8 right-hander with a mid-80s fastball, tossed 2 2/3 shutout innings on Wednesday, striking out four. The big reliever out of the University of Florida does not have the stuff to light up radar guns, but he put up consistently excellent numbers in the SEC before the Sox took him in the 18th round of the 2012 draft.
– First-rounder Deven Marrero went 1-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday, but in his last six games, he’s just 2-for-26 with a pair of walks.
ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS AT GCL ORIOLES ON TUESDAY, 4-3 LOSS VS. GCL RAYS ON WEDNESDAY, 6-4 WIN ON WEDNESDAY AT GCL RAYS
– At 20 years old, outfielder Jesus Loya is older than many of his GCL teammates. Nonetheless, in a league where offense is scarce, he’s hitting. He has at least one hit in all seven contests in which he’s played this year, with a .458/.458/.542/1.000 line in that time.
– Shortstop Cleuluis Rondon, 18, went 3-for-3 with a double on Wednesday.
– It was natural to expect that Shaq Thompson, a player who had invested most of his sports energy growing up into a football career that turned him into one of the top college recruits in the country, would struggle while transitioning from part-time high school baseball player to his pro career. Even so, after five games, the outfielder with incredible tools has yet to put a ball in play. He’s 0-for-16 with 16 strikeouts and three walks.
– Frank Montas allowed two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out five on Tuesday. In three starts, the flamethrower has 10 punchouts and three walks.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 6-2 WIN AT DSL PIRATES ON TUESDAY, 11-2 LOSS VS. DSL PIRATES ON WEDNESDAY
– Keiven Heras continued to be the the standout Red Sox pitcher in the DSL, allowing one unearned run in six innings on Tuesday to improve to 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA. He has just 13 strikeouts — not entirely surprising given that he features just mid-80s fastball velocity — but he’s shown command that is advanced for the level, resulting not just in six walks in 29 innings, but also a .173 batting average against.
– The Red Sox have added a few players in recent weeks who will likely see action in the DSL this summer. For a breakdown on those players, click here.
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