Red Sox Minor League Roundup: William Cuevas’ record-setting run; Stolmy Pimentel’s dominant denouement; Matt Barnes’ anticlimactic conclusion; Jackie Bradley Jr.’s season over?
|09.02.12 at 10:25 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox’ farm system on Saturday . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-0 WIN VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE
– The PawSox clinched an International League playoff berth with their victory. Manager Arnie Beyeler, writes Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal, deserves considerable credit for the accomplishment.
– Jeremy Hazelbaker went 1-for-4 with a double, and he’s now hit in five straight games after going 0-for-4 in his Triple-A debut.
– Catcher Dan Butler went 2-for-3 with a pair of solo homers. In 21 Triple-A games, he’s hitting .235/.321/.441/.762 with three homers. Overall, in 94 games this year between Portland and Pawtucket, the 25-year-old is hitting .248/.344/.406/.751. If the Sox decide they need a third catcher at some point in September, Butler would be the obvious addition (though the team would have to create a 40-man roster spot to accommodate him).
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-1 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)
–Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel had a dominant final outing of the season, allowing just one hit over six shutout innings while striking out six, walking two and throwing 52 of 78 pitches (67 percent) for strikes. Pimentel allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his last 10 starts with the Sea Dogs this year, going 4-3 with a 3.17 ERA, 45 strikeouts (7.5 per nine innings) and just 19 walks in his last 54 innings.
Pimentel features easy mid-90s velocity. Thanks to delivery improvements, he’s learned to harness that pitch, and has rediscovered the swing-and-miss changeup that he had earlier in his career but that disappeared in his dismal 2011 season. He also now features a slider that has made him particularly effective against right-handers.
The 22-year-old’s year-end numbers in Portland hardly look dominant. He is 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 22 starts, along with 86 strikeouts and 42 walks in 115 2/3 innings. But one Red Sox evaluator compared his year with that of Felix Doubront in 2009, when the left-hander was good but not great in Portland, going 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA while averaging fewer than five innings a start. It was the next year, when he went from Double-A to the majors, that saw Doubront make a leap forward and become an important longer-term consideration for the Sox’ major league roster. Pimentel, who will be entering his last season with minor league options, will almost surely open next year in Triple-A Pawtucket, with a chance to assert himself as ready to contribute in the big leagues for the Sox.
Based on his finish to 2012, it is not outlandish to suggest he is up to the challenge.
– Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. reaggravated his sprained ankle, and is likely to miss the final two games of the season, reports the Portland Press-Herald.
– Shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4, giving him 10 multi-hit games in 21 contests since his promotion to Portland.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 8-1 LOSS VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)
– Matt Barnes worked three innings while allowing one run on two hits, walking one and striking out none before a rain delay concluded his first pro season. Barnes finished the season with a 7-5 record, 3.58 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 25 walks over 93 innings in High-A. After an electrifying start in which he had a 1.37 ERA in his first eight starts in Salem, he had a 5.74 ERA in his last 12 starts of the year. Still, the fact that Barnes struggled while building his workload up to 119 2/3 innings does not come as a surprise given the typical adjustment that pitchers must make to their first full season of pro ball. He still has the ability to miss bats with his fastball, and so if he can improve the consistency of his curveball — potentially a plus-pitch, but one that he spins inconsistently — while continuing to hone a changeup with which he made considerable strides in his professional unveiling, the 2011 draft choice continues to look like a future big league starter.
The development of his secondary stuff will ultimately dictate Barnes’ ceiling. For now, he projects as a likely mid-rotation (No. 3 or No. 4) starter — but such evaluations are fluid, and simply represent a snapshot of where a player sits at a given point in time.
– Brandon Jacobs went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double, giving him a six-game hitting streak that has featured six extra-base hits.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-6 WIN VS. HICKORY (RANGERS)
– Noe Ramirez punched out seven and walked one over 5 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs on five hits, including the 12th homer he permitted in 84 2/3 innings in Greenville. In fact, he gave up homers in each of his last nine starts at the level. In 16 starts for the Drive, Ramirez had a 4.15 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 19 walks.
– Jordan Weems went 3-for-4, his second three-hit game in his last three contests. The 2012 third-round pick has lifted his average above the Mendoza Line to .201 with a .308 OBP (and .238 slugging mark).
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 1-0 LOSS AT CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)
– Right-hander William Cuevas concluded an outstanding season with a dominant outing. He threw six shutout innings, permitting three hits while striking out a season-high nine and walking just one. The effort improved the 21-year-old to 8-2 with a 1.40 ERA, with the ERA representing a single-season record for a Spinners pitcher. Cuevas showed the ability to get swings and misses (8.4 strikeouts per nine innings) while limiting walks (1.7 per nine). Opponents hit just .204 against him. It was an unexpectedly dominant performance by a pitcher who entered the year with no real prospect profile to speak of, but when his velocity ticked up by a few miles an hour in spring training, he started to show the ability to overpower more advanced competition than he’d ever before seen.
The consistency of his work was particularly impressive. Cuevas threw at least five innings in nine of his last 10 outings. In 15 appearances for Lowell, he never allowed more than three runs; in fact, he gave up two or fewer runs in 14 of his 15 appearances, while holding his opponents scoreless in eight appearances.
– Shortstop Deven Marrero, out for the previous four days after being hit on the hand by a pitch, returned to the lineup and went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. The hitless game ended a streak of 15 consecutive contests in which Marrero had reached base.
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