|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Allen Webster unveiled; the growing significance of Travis Shaw||08.29.12 at 12:37 pm ET|
The Red Sox got their first glimpse of the centerpiece return of their deal with the Dodgers, as right-hander Allen Webster made his first start since the Sox acquired him in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, taking the mound for Double-A Portland against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The three-run yield on six hits (four singles, a double and a triple) and two walks in four innings was less than electrifying. The stuff, however, was sensational.
Webster showed what one talent evaluator at the game considered an “electric” arsenal, with a fastball that he ran up to 96 mph and both a slider and a changeup that he viewed as above average pitches.
Another evaluator at the game was impressed albeit with slightly greater reserve, seeing a fastball that topped out at 96 while sitting at 94-95 mph with plus sink at times. While Webster has made his bones this year by pitching down in the zone, the second evaluator felt that he was pressing a bit in his debut for a new organization, perhaps explaining why he uncharacteristically left the ball up in the zone. The slider worked as a swing-and-miss weapon, while he labeled the pitcher’s changeup “just OK.”
Still, given the mix and the fact that he’s holding his own at an advanced level, a compelling case can be made that Webster immediately vaults to status as the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system.
More on Webster a bit later today. In the meantime, here’s a look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: POSTPONED AT GWINNETT COUNTY (BRAVES)
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-3 WIN (12 INNINGS) AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
– Travis Shaw went 3-for-5 with a homer (his third in Double-A) and a double as well as a walk. Though he’s hitting just .233 in 25 games in Double-A since his mid-year promotion, he’s continued to show a solid plate approach and good command of the strike zone while flashing consistent extra-base power. He’s hitting .233/.358/.467/.824 with three homers and 12 doubles in 25 games.
Several team officials said earlier this year that his approach and made-for-Fenway ability to drive the ball to left-center would put him in the conversation about a potential Red Sox first baseman of the future but for the fact that Adrian Gonzalez had that position locked up through 2018. Gonzalez no longer has that position locked up through 2018. That being the case, while prospects such as Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway are commanding ample attention this year — and rightly so — the trade of Gonzalez suggests that Shaw may be no less significant in addressing a potential area of long-term need for the club.
He’s completing just his first full pro season, and likely wouldn’t enter the mix as a potential member of the Sox roster until 2014. Still, his overall minor league line this year — a .291 average, .400 OBP, .529 slugging mark, .929 OPS, 19 homers, 65 extra-base hits in 124 games — suggests that he has a shot, if the Sox acquire a one-year solution at first base — of giving the team a homegrown answer to what has become a glaring need at the position in a couple of years.
– Xander Bogaerts endured his second straight hitless game with three strikeouts, going 0-for-5 one day after an 0-for-4 contest. He’s now 5-for-32 (.156) in his last eight games.
– Michael Olmsted raced through a scoreless 12th, and in 18 Double-A innings, he still has yet to give up an earned run. However, for the first time in his 12 Double-A outings, he did not strike out a batter. He has 27 strikeouts in 18 innings (13.5 per nine) in Portland.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 1-0 WIN VS. FREDERICK (ORIOLES)
– Brandon Jacobs, ensnared in a deep struggle for most of August, is showing signs of a potentially strong finish. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk on Tuesday, driving in the only run of the game. It was his first game with multiple extra-base hits since July 23. The outfielder is now 4-for-8 with three doubles in his last two games, matching his number of multi-hit games over his previous 27 contests. Despite a tough August in which he seemingly hit a wall, Jacobs has 11 homers and 16 steals this year.
– Right-hander Yeiper Castillo tossed five shutout innings in which he struck out seven, walked none and gave up four hits (all singles). It represented the 23-year-old right-hander’s best start in a month, since he logged seven shutout innings on July 28. The right-hander, who missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury, has seen his stuff come back largely to pre-surgery levels, with a low-90s fastball complemented by a good feel of his secondary mix. He has a 2.96 ERA in 10 starts since a mid-year promotion from Greenville to Salem.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-1 LOSS AT KANNAPOLIS (WHITE SOX)
– Madison Younginer, in his first start for Greenville in nearly three months following a lengthy rehab from an intercostal injury, was beaten up for eight runs (including two homers) in two innings. He allowed a pair of homers. While his rough numbers for the year (1-7, 6.49 ERA) were diminished somewhat by good strikeout and groundball rates earlier in the year, the 21-year-old struck out just one and did not get a groundball out on Tuesday.
– Garin Cecchini went 1-for-3 with a double (his 34th of the year) while Keury De La Cruz held him at bay in the team lead for two-baggers by going 1-for-4 with his 35th double of the season. De La Cruz is tied for the South Atlantic League lead with 62 extra-base hits this year.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 1-0 LOSS VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS)
– Mookie Betts went 1-for-3 with a single. He hasn’t struck out in six games.
– Deven Marrero sat out the game, one day after being hit on the left hand/wrist by a pitch.
ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS TO GCL PIRATES (GAME 1 OF BEST-OF-3 GCL CHAMPIONSHIP)
– Right-hander Sergio Gomez finished his terrific year on something of a down note. The right-hander, who turned 19 last week and was named a GCL postseason All-Star on Monday, was charged with the loss while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. In a reversal of his typical form, he walked one batter and struck out none.
Still, it was a year in which the right-hander showed a consistent ability to compete as a young starter at the lowest levels of the minors. He has what one evaluator described as a lean frame with a very loose arm and good feel for a repeatable delivery — helping to explain his tremendous 5.6:1 strikeout:walk ratio this year. Despite the fact that he’s still developing, Gomez has a fastball that touches the low-90s with a changeup that shows the potential for a plus pitch.
– Fourth-rounder Ty Buttrey worked a pair of scoreless innings with a strikeout. Overall, in his pro debut, the 19-year-old allowed one run in seven innings while striking out six and walking one.
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