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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Michael Almanzar and Xander Bogaerts chase history

07.26.12 at 2:56 pm ET
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A quick look at Wednesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system …

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 WIN AT INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

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Juan Carlos Linares went 3-for-4 and now has seven multi-hit games in his last nine contests. He’s now hitting .390/.424/.623/1.047 in 20 games this month. After hitting .333/.403/.538/.941 while with Double-A Portland, he’s shown little transitional difficulty to the higher level, hitting .333/.374/.514/.888 with the PawSox. The 27-year-old could be impacted by the trade deadline, as he could either represent a player who could help another team or who could fit with the Red Sox if they were to deal a right-handed bat such as (in something of a longshot scenario) Cody Ross.

Alex Wilson threw two more shutout innings, and in 13 2/3 innings this month, the reliever has a 1.98 ERA, 16 strikeouts and seven walks. His groundball rates have been going up steadily this year during his acclimation to the bullpen while his batting average against has been dropping month by month, from .339 in April to .270 in May to .208 in June and now to .196 in July.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-2 WIN VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)

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– Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, his second game of the season in which he’s had multiple extra-base hits. The early returns on his return from the DL to Portland have been positive, as he’s 4-for-12 with three doubles thus far, though it is worth noting that he has also struck out four times.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz had another outfield assist. He’s tied for the organizational lead in outfield assists with 10. Brandon Jacobs shares the organization lead.

Michael Olmsted, in his first appearance in Double-A following his promotion from High-A Salem, tossed two scoreless innings in which he struck out three and walked one. He shows legitimate swing-and-miss stuff with both his mid-90s fastball and slider. The 25-year-old struck out 14.0 per nine innings in Salem.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-1 WIN VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

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Michael Almanzar extended his amazing run of consecutive plate appearances reaching base to 16 before flying out in his fourth and final at-bat (after three hits) on Wednesday.

He went 12-for-12 with a homer, three doubles, three walks and got hit by a pitch. The record for the most consecutive minor league plate appearances reaching base is unknown, but at the big league level, the record is the same 16, set by Ted Williams in 1958.

Salem hitting coach Rich Gedman offered the following reflection on the streak to MILB.com.

“He’s had singles and doubles and home runs,” Gedman said. “He’s hit the ball to left field and right field and center field. … Over the last five games, his focus has been outstanding. Seven or eight of his hits were with two strikes. The streak is one of those things that may never happen again. It puts a smile on your face. It’s an amazing streak.”

For the first time in his career, the 21-year-old third baseman Almanzar is performing at a level that is competitive with — and indeed ahead of — age-appropriate competition. He’s hitting .316 (fourth in the Carolina League) with a .369 OBP (10th), .481 slugging mark (8th) and .849 OPS (8th).

Xander Bogaerts hit his second homer in as many games, a three-run blast for his 14th launch of the year. He has a chance to become the first teenager since Aramis Ramirez in 1997 to hit 20 or more homers in a season in the Carolina League. (Ramirez hit 29 homers as a 19-year-old in 1997.)

Keith Couch threw the first nine-inning complete-game of his career, scattering 10 hits and allowing just one run while striking out four and walking one.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-3 WIN AT ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)

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Garin Cecchini went 3-for-4 with a double and two steals. He now has 35 steals in 38 attempts this year, including 20 in a row dating to mid-May.

Jose Vinicio went 1-for-3, was hit by a pitch and, most notably, stole home. With runners on first and third, the Asheville catcher tried to pick off the runner on first; Vinicio immediately broke for home and the first baseman was caught flat-footed, allowing Vinicio to steal home without a throw. It was the 18th steal of the year for the 19-year-old.

Henry Ramos went 2-for-5 with his seventh homer of the year. The 2010 fifth-rounder has now played roughly the same amount in Greenville this year (89 games, 369 plate appearances) that he had at the same level in 2011 (85 games, 354 plate appearances), making it easy to discern his progress against the level from one year to the next. He hit .262/.299/.383/.682 with five homers, 15 steals and 17 walks last year. This season, the 20-year-old is hitting .261/.335/.397/.732 with seven homers, 11 steals and 34 walks. He remains young and he still demonstrates athleticism and the potential for some speed and power as an outfielder. He’s a bit of a wild card as he repeats in Single-A ball, but the tools are intriguing, particularly given that his baseball background in Puerto Rico was more limited than that of the typical high school draftee.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 3-1 WIN VS. WILLIAMSPORT (PHILLIES)

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Deven Marrero had another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double. In 23 games in July, he’s looked a lot like the player whom the Red Sox thought they were getting when they used their first-round selection on the Arizona State product, hitting .284/.394/.398/.792 with nine extra-base hits (eight doubles and a triple) and seven stolen bases in nine attempts.

Jake Dahlstrand threw 5 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, allowing four hits, walking one and striking out three. The 20-year-old has posted modest numbers in Lowell (1-2, 3.72 ERA, 11 strikeouts and 16 walks in 29 innings), but he’s shown a promising three-pitch mix and the ability to get lots of groundballs, as was the case when he recorded eight groundball outs on Wednesday.

ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 13-4 WIN VS. GCL ORIOLES

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– Right-hander Sergio Gomez, one of the more interesting arms on the GCL Red Sox, tossed five innings and allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out five and walking one. The 18-year-old from Colombia has 30 strikeouts and just six walks in 32 innings, with opponents hitting .216 against him.

– Speedster Jeremias Pineda went 4-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He singled on grounders to left, right (twice) and center, showing a comfort level with putting the ball in play and taking advantage of his speed. He’s hitting .392/.404/.490/.894 as a 21-year-old in the GCL.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS VS. DSL RANGERS

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– Right-hander Kevin Heiras gave up a season-high two runs while taking his first loss of the year, though he permitted just three hits in his five innings of work. In his last three starts, opponents are hitting .122 against him.

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