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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Jose Vinicio’s ‘Jose Reyes starter kit’; Brandon Jacobs’ huge July

07.28.12 at 3:45 pm ET
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Jose Vinicio went 2-for-4 with a homer, continuing what has been a very impressive year for a player who is in his first full season of pro ball and just turned 19. Though one of the smallest players in all of pro baseball (and with plenty of room to add weight and strength as he continues his physical maturation), he’s hitting .282/.327/.388/.714 with three homers in 61 games this year. He stole his 19th base of the year. And he continues to show really good hands that suggest the ability to stay at shortstop as he moves up. (Of all players in the Sox system, it seems safe to say that Vinicio is the least likely to outgrow the position physically.)

He’s an intriguing player who has impressed those who have seen him. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, in his guest appearance on Down on the Farm this week, said that he was told by a scout that Vinicio has a “Jose Reyes starter kit.”

He’s been using the entire field, he’s shown the ability to drive the ball on occasion when he barrels it and he has the ability to square the ball up that suggests that, if he does gain strength, there could be a very interesting player. That is in keeping with what the Sox saw when they scouted the switch-hitter leading up to their signing him for $1.95 million on the day he turned 16.

“You look at what players currently possess, make that relative to their strength and he was so skinny and weak but still showed bat speed, he showed the ability to move the barrel around the zone and make contact. Because of that, we said he’s got some components to be not strictly a defensive player. He showed us that he was able to hit in games. We thought he was a guy who could hit,” said international scouting director Eddie Romero. “Vinicio always had surprising pop, and he always showed the ability to barrel up against live pitching. As skinny as he was, he used a huge bat and would still square balls up from both sides of the plate.”

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Goldstein will join Down on the Farm to discuss the industry value of Red Sox prospects as potential trade chips. Lars Anderson will also join the program to reflect on the experience of his near-trade to the Athletics a year ago, and on the human dimensions of a minor leaguer’s life inside of a trade rumor. Tune in to WEEI 93.7 FM on Sunday at 8:30 am, or listen online at WEEI.com. The interviews will also be posted in their entirety to weei.com/podcast.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN AT INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

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Scott Atchison, out since July 13 with a forearm injury, made a rehab appearance for Pawtucket, allowing three runs on three hits in the first inning. He struck out two and threw 16 of 22 pitches for strikes.

– Right-hander Daniel Bard initially struggled, walking the first two batters he faced while throwing eight of nine pitches for balls in a stretch, but he bounced back to get a strikeout and a double-play grounder. It was his fourth straight scoreless appearance, though he threw just eight of 18 pitches for strikes, snapping a string of four straight appearances in which the majority of his pitches were strikes. He’s been working fairly consistently with a 93-96 mph fastball in Pawtucket.

Ryan Kalish went 2-for-5, his second multi-hit game since being optioned earlier this month. He also stole a base, and is now 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts in Triple-A this year.

– Left-hander Chris Hernandez, in his second appearance for the PawSox, tossed five shutout innings, allowing four hits (three singles and a double) and two walks while striking out three. With starters Doug Mathis and Brandon Duckworth recently having left the PawSox to sign in Japan, Hernandez could emerge quickly as an option for a spot start at the big league level should the Sox need one. Of the members of the PawSox rotation (Hernandez, Zach Stewart, Nelson Figueroa, Billy Buckner and Tony Pena Jr.), only Stewart is on the 40-man roster.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-1 LOSS, 3-1 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

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Drake Britton continued to get strikeouts in volume, punching out seven in five innings — though it’s worth noting that five of those seven strikeouts were on called third strikes. Still, he got eight swings and misses in his 88-pitch outing, and he now has 15 punchouts in his last two starts (spanning 12 innings). He allowed two runs in five innings, the fourth time in five outings that he’s limited the opponent to two or fewer runs in five or more innings.

Overall, in 10 starts in Double-A, Britton is 2-4 with a 4.64 ERA while striking out 7.9 per nine innings and 4.3 walks per nine. He has 34 strikeouts in 33 innings over his last six starts.

– After going 0-for-4 in the first game, Jackie Bradley Jr. rebounded to go 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles in the nightcap. Bradley has 13 doubles since his promotion to Double-A, the third most in the Eastern League during his time at that level. His 39 combined doubles between Salem and Portland are the most by any minor leaguer this year.

Bryce Brentz went 1-for-3 in the nightcap, his first homer in 13 games, and a reprieve from a difficult July that has seen the outfielder hit .207/.257/.337/.594. Two caveats to his struggles: First, he’s actually striking out at a lower rate this month (21.7 percent of plate appearances) than in any other month. Secondly, he’s been finding other ways to contribute, as evidenced by his four stolen bases this month (he had just one steal in the first three months).

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-3 WIN VS. LYNCHBURG (BRAVES)

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Brandon Jacobs continued his tremendous month of July, going 1-for-2 with a homer and two walks. The homer was his 10th of the year, his fourth of July and his ninth since June 1. He’s hitting .315/.384/.517/.901 in July, and his nine walks are easily his most in any month since he’s been in High-A, suggesting that a) he is adjusting to the quality of pitching at a higher level and b) he can do considerable damage when controlling the strike zone.

His homer came against a lefty, continuing a season in which he has dominated southpaws (.402/.473/.707/1.180 with six of his 10 homers) while struggling against righties (.246/.296/.363/.659).

Sean Coyle went 2-for-4 with a double, his sixth multi-hit game in his last eight contests. He’s now hitting .333/.365/.491/.856 in 29 games since the All-Star Game, a dramatic departure from a first half in which he struggled to a .211/.285/.343/.628 line.

The Sox were worried that in the first half, he was pressing too much, resulting in an undisciplined approach that led to strikeouts in volume. But the diminutive second baseman with surprising pop told Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times that he tries to deal with frustration by looking for ways in which to impact the game.

“It’s a tough game,” he said. “If you let it beat you up, it will. If you’re frustrated, you could come in and you could throw stuff, you could sulk on the bench or you could change your attitude. But if I’m frustrated, I’m going to run out a ball harder. I’m going to go out and play defense harder.”

Michael Almanzar went 0-for-4, ending an 11-game hitting streak during which he hit .524/.615/.905/1.520 with four homers, four doubles and eight walks.

– First baseman Travis Shaw left the game after being hit by a pitch in the right hand in his first at-bat. The injury is just a contusion, and so he’s considered day-to-day.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-4 WIN AT GREENSBORO (MARLINS)

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Henry Owens managed to grind through a game in which he did not overpower opponents. For just the second time this year, he had fewer strikeouts than innings pitched and he matched a season high by giving up four walks, but the 20-year-old left-hander navigated through six innings (matching a season high) while limiting his opponent to three runs. Though he struck out just three batters (tied for his lowest strikeout total of the season), he also got 10 outs via groundball.

Owens is now 10-4 with a 5.24 ERA this year. He has 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, still the highest strikeout rate in the minors by anyone with at least 80 innings pitched. His combination of stuff and feel for pitching at a very young age (he’s in his first full pro season, one year removed from high school) with an incredibly unusual frame gives Owens a ceiling as high as that of anyone in the Red Sox system, leading to some thought that he could be the top prospect in the Red Sox system.

Keury De La Cruz went 2-for-5, his third straight game with that line.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 7-0 WIN VS. WILLIAMSPORT (PHILLIES)

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– To date, Justin Haley has submitted the most dominant performance by any Red Sox draftee in the team’s 2012 class. The big, physical, 6-foot-5 right-hander threw three shutout innings, allowing one hit, walking none and striking out six. In his last five outings, he’s thrown 12 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. On the year, he has 17 strikeouts and eight walks in 14 1/3 innings; opponents are hitting .089 against him.

William Cuevas is emerging as one of the biggest surprises among Red Sox minor league pitchers. The 21-year-old allowed three hits in six shutout innings on on Friday, walking one and striking out six. He’s 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA and now has 42 strikeouts and 10 walks in 44 innings this year, and his velocity — fairly pedestrian last year in the Dominican Summer League and GCL, where he worked in the high-80s and occasionally low-90s — has gone up to the point where he’s now sitting in the low-90s and has touched 94 mph regularly and even given the team a few 95s.

“He’s really put together a pretty impressive season,” said Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “He’s really come on. … I wouldn’t have necessarily projected him to be in the rotation with Lowell at the start of extended [spring training], but he did a great job in extended, the velocity has slowly ticked up a little bit and he’s refined his breaking ball and changeup. He’s got three weapons. … He’s gotten swing and miss on his breaking ball and has a changeup he can throw. It’s definitely a pleasant surprise.”

ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 4-1 LOSS TO GCL TWINS

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Jeremias Pineda went 3-for-4 with a double and steal on Saturday, improving his hitting streak to 15 games and improving his average for the season to .411.

J.B. Wendelken gave up his first run this year, though he struck out two more batters without a walk, and now has 14 punchouts without a walk in 10 2/3 innings.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-1 WIN AT DSL PIRATES

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– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 0-for-3, but still managed to impact the game, drawing a walk, getting hit by a pitch and stealing three bases. The three steals matched a season high for Margot, who has 23 steals in 27 attempts this year. He is tied for third in the DSL in steals.

Read More: brandon jacobs, bryce brentz, chris hernandez, Daniel Bard
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