|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Henry Owens finishes strong; Brandon Jacobs and Sean Coyle try to do the same; Jackie Bradley Jr., on-base machine||09.01.12 at 2:51 pm ET|
A brief look at the activity in the Red Sox farm system on Friday . . .
Programming Note: Down on the Farm will air on Sunday morning from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com. Chuck Crim, pitching coach at Double-A Chattanooga, will join to discuss newly acquired Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster, while Keith Law of ESPN will join to break down the complete package of prospects received by the Red Sox and their implications for the Red Sox farm system.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)
– Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker went 3-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases, his first two bags in Triple-A. Hazelbaker now has 35 steals (in 46 attempts) in 119 combined games at Double-A and Triple-A this year, along with 19 homers and 48 extra-base hits.
– Left-hander Chris Hernandez allowed three runs on seven hits including two homers — the first time in eight starts in Pawtucket in which he permitted multiple homers. Still, he managed to work six or more innings for the fourth straight start and, for the seventh time in eight outings, he limited his opponent to three or fewer runs. He has a 3.59 ERA in Pawtucket, and he’s positioning himself to be a potential starting depth option for the Red Sox as soon as next season.
– Right-hander Brock Huntzinger, in his Triple-A debut, tossed two scoreless innings and punched out four. Multiple Red Sox officials felt that Huntzinger showed considerable promise after his mid-year move from the rotation to the bullpen in Double-A Portland, where he went 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 55 1/3 relief innings. Opponents hit just .181 against the right-hander. Huntzinger will head to the Arizona Fall League.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 13-6 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)
– Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-2 with a double and three walks. The hit was his first in three games since returning from an ankle injury, but he’s reached base in eight of 13 plate appearances thanks to five walks and two hit by pitches. Among minor leaguers with at least 400 plate appearances this year, Bradley ranks fifth with a .431 combined OBP between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
– Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a double while driving in three. With runners in scoring position, in 25 plate appearances since his promotion to Double-A, he’s hitting .375/.360/.708/1.068 with two homers and two doubles.
– Michael Olmsted allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth, recording all three outs by punchouts. His Double-A line since a late-July promotion: 13 games, 19 innings, 0.00 ERA, 6 walks, 30 strikeouts.
HIGH-A SALEM: 5-4 LOSS VS. FREDERICK (ORIOLES)
– Brandon Jacobs went 1-for-4 with his second homer in as many games — the first time all season that he’s hit homers in back-to-back days. With just a few games left on the schedule, Jacobs has now produced a five-game hitting streak most notable for the power he’s featured. He’s 7-for-20 (.350) with three doubles and two homers. He’s bumped up his line to .253/.322/.411/.732. That’s roughly in line with the Carolina League average of .258/.328/.391/.719.
While Jacobs’ year-ending totals won’t scream of an elite prospect, particularly in comparison to his excellent season in Single-A Greenville, there are a few things worth keeping in mind that would suggest he’s a better prospect than those raw numbers suggest: 1) He’s 21, hardly a baby but younger than the league average; 2) Like Will Middlebrooks, he was a two-sport athlete as an amateur who didn’t play baseball on a year-round basis (most notably, his summer playing experience was limited); 3) He continues to display raw power and speed; 4) He’s started playing some center field, having patrolled that position for the last seven games, suggesting there’s the potential for versatility to increase his value considerably; and 5) His numbers likely suffered due to a wrist injury early in the season.
– Sean Coyle went 2-for-4 with a steal, giving the 20-year-old 15 steals without being caught this season. His line is close to that of his close friend Jacobs (.252/.321/.396/.717), and like Jacobs, his season should be taken in the context of both his age (Coyle was among the youngest handful of position players in the Carolina League for much of the year) and the fact that he made an adjustment between the first half and second half to the point where he went from being overmatched (.211/.285/.343/.628) to thriving (.308/.368/.467/.835).
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-2 WIN VS. HICKORY (RANGERS)
– In his final start of 2012, Henry Owens delivered perhaps his best outing in almost two months. He worked five shutout innings, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out four. Owens, who posted incredible strikeout numbers throughout the year, pitched more to contact in his final few starts. After striking out at least a batter an inning in 18 of his first 20 outings, he fell short of that mark in each of his last three starts, punching out 13 in 15 innings — whether by design to become more pitch efficient (something he’d made a goal in the first half) or because his gas tank was depleted at the end of his first full pro season. Either way, the stretch was also notable for the fact that he logged at least five innings in three straight games with a 2.40 ERA over that season-ending stretch.
On the year, Owens (who turned 20 in July) went 12-5 with a 4.87 ERA, striking out 130 in 101 2/3 innings (11.5 strikeouts per nine innings — most by any pitcher in the minors with at least 100 innings; Wilmer Font, who has thrown 97 2/3 innings, would be ahead of Owens with 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings), walking 47 and allowing 10 homers. Over a full season in Single-A, he showed the ability to get swings and misses with his fastball and changeup and, at times, his curveball, displaying both stuff and feel for his craft that suggests considerable upside.
– Chase for 50 Update: Garin Cecchini went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a steal. He has 48 stolen bases. He also concluded a month of August that was as good as any he had this season, hitting .316/.422/.434/.866 with a dozen steals.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 2-1 LOSS AT CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)
– Right-hander Pat Light, a supplemental first-round pick by the Sox, had a strong final outing of the year. The Sox took a pitcher whom they felt might have the best fastball in the draft, with high-90s velocity that got a ton of mis-hits rather than swings and misses, a form that came into play in his outing on Friday. Light pitched three shutout innings, permitting just one hit, striking out one, walking none and getting six groundball outs. In 11 games, he struck out 26 and walked just five in 27 1/3 innings while touching as high as 99 mph on the mound.
– Mookie Betts walked two more times (and stole a base) to finish August with 20 walks and just 12 strikeouts in 29 games. The 19-year-old hit .255/.377/.316/.693 for the month.
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