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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Casey Kelly’s dominant big league debut, Stolmy Pimentel’s intrigue, Xander Bogaerts’ tough day, Jeremy Hazelbaker’s promotion, Deven Marrero’s injury

08.28.12 at 10:09 am ET
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Blast from the past: Former Red Sox first-rounder Casey Kelly made his big league debut for the Padres, firing six shutout innings against the Braves. He allowed just three hits (a double and two singles) while walking two and striking out four. Here is the gamer on Kelly’s MLB debut.

Kelly, of course, was the centerpiece of the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox from the Padres. The Sox took him with their first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in the 2008 draft, signed him to a $3 million bonus (still the biggest ever given to the Sox by a draftee) and now, four years later, he’s seemingly become what the Red Sox anticipated he would be.

He had a remarkable 39-to-3 strikeout-to-walk rate in 37 2/3 innings over eight minor league games this year (he was limited to that number by a forearm injury), and on Monday, his ability to throw strikes and get swings and misses with three pitches (a fastball that topped out at 95 mph, a curveball and a changeup) was on display. He worked efficiently through the Braves lineup, requiring just 87 pitches to mow through six frames, and never requiring more than 17 pitches in a single inning.

The Sox always felt that Kelly’s stuff and athleticism gave him a chance to be an above-average starting pitcher in the big leagues, with the ceiling, perhaps, of a No. 2 starter. His path through the minor league wasn’t a straight shot — he dominated in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem in 2009, struggled in Double-A Portland as a 20-year-old in 2010, had a good-not-great season in Double-A San Antonio after being traded to the Padres in 2011 and then took a considerable step forward this yer — but the talent was always apparent.

There’s been some conjecture that the Red Sox might have walked away from Gonzalez’s contract for nothing — especially given the Dodgers’ willingness to take on the deals of Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett as well — but the fact that the team had to give up on a prize like Kelly, along with a potential All-Star first-baseman in Anthony Rizzo and a toolsy former first-rounder in Reymond Fuentes (albeit one who has struggled severely this year in Double-A) might have made that difficult. Parting with onerous contracts was, of course, a welcome development for the Sox, but had the team not been able to find some high-upside arms in Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa — pitchers who, in some respects, are at similar career stages to Kelly — a deal might have been difficult to swallow.

A quick look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday . . .

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES)

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– Rehabbing lefty Rich Hill retired all three batters he faced in relief, his fourth straight scoreless appearance in Pawtucket. He retired the last two batters of the eighth and then, for the first time in his rehab assignment, returned to the mound for part of a second inning, retiring Lyle Overbay to start the ninth. Though he did not get any swings and misses, Hill elicited two groundballs in his inning of work. He’s allowed just one baserunner in his four Triple-A outings, striking out three and walking none.

– Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker brought his quest for a 20/20 season to a new destination. The toolsy outfielder, who has averaged 16 homers and 48 steals over his three full pro seasons in the Sox organization, was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket for Monday’s game after spending the better part of two seasons in Double-A Portland. Hazelbaker, who hit .273/.338/.479/.818 with 19 homers and 33 steals in 114 games in Portland this year, went 0-for-4 in his Triple-A debut. The outfielder, who turned 25 earlier this month, is at an interesting career crossroads, as he becomes eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft this offseason if the Sox do not add him to the 40-man roster. While he has been somewhat streaky during his minor league career, the fact that he combines speed, raw power and athleticism could make him an interesting target if he’s unprotected.

Hazelbaker, a fourth-round selection by the Sox in the 2009 draft, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his Triple-A debut.

– Catcher Dan Butler hit his first Triple-A homer, going deep off of Braves pitcher Jair Jurrgens, as part of a 1-for-2 day that also included a walk. In 17 games since his promotion from Portland, Butler is hitting .200/.286/.327/.613.

Chris Carpenter recorded the final two outs of the game to extend his streak of scoreless appearances to 11 straight games. He has a 0.61 ERA in 15 Triple-A appearances with 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 14 2/3 innings.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-1 LOSS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)

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– Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel allowed four runs (but just two earned) over six innings, permitting eight hits (six singles, two doubles) while striking out five and walking one. However, the outing showed an extended stretch of dominance. After Pimentel gave up a single and double to the first two batters he faced, he settled to record 15 outs over the next 15 batters he faced (erasing the two who reached on double play balls). The three-run sixth then featured an error and two singles on infield grounders and another groundball into the outfield.

Bryce Brentz extended his hitting streak to seven games by going 1-for-4. However, his streak of six straight multi-hit games — in which he went 15-for-28, earning Eastern League Player of the Week honors — was snapped.

Xander Bogaerts had a tough day, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and committing an error (his third in 17 Double-A games). In his last seven games in Portland, Bogaerts is 5-for-27 (.185) with two homers, a double and a walk. In 17 games since his promotion, he has just one walk and 14 strikeouts — though it’s worth noting that prior to Monday’s game, he hadn’t struck out in any of the previous four games.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF

This article does an interesting job of placing the performance of outfielder Keury De La Cruz this year in the context of other outfielders to go through the Red Sox system in recent years.

– We mentioned this recently, but in case you hadn’t seen it … this was a really cool thing that happened recently at Fluor Field.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 3-2 WIN VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS)

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– Second baseman Mookie Betts went 2-for-3 with a double (his seventh extra-base hit of the year), a walk and two stolen bases, increasing his total to 18 in 22 attempts this year. In 63 games, Betts has 25 walks and 25 strikeouts. The 19-year-old is hitting .273/.345/.304/.649 while showing a combination of speed, on-base skills and good defensive tools at second.

Deven Marrero was hit by a pitch on the wrist in his first at-bat and removed from the game, but X-rays were negative, and so he is considered day-to-day.

William Cuevas allowed two runs in five innings, striking out three and walking none to earn the victory. The solid line was actually one of the least impressive of his extremely impressive year. The 21-year-old is third in the New York-Penn League in ERA (1.51), third in inning (71 1/3), tied for first in wins (8), third in strikeouts (63 — a rate of 7.9 per nine innings) while walking just 1.8 per nine innings and sixth in the league in WHIP (0.93). Cuevas has allowed more than two runs in just one of his 14 outings. He’s pitched at least five innings in eight of his last nine appearances.

ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: OFF

– The GCL Sox begin a best-of-three series with the GCL Pirates in the GCL Championship Series starting on Tuesday.

– Right-hander Sergio Gomez was named a GCL All-Star. Gomez went 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA, 56 strikeouts and 10 walks in 57 1/3 innings. Among those with at least 40 innings pitched, the 18-year-old right-hander ranked fifth in strikeouts per nine (8.8), second in strikeout-to-walk rate (5.6-to-1) and seventh in ERA (2.83). The strike-throwing Gomez walked one or no batters in 10 of his 12 contests.

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