|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Allen Webster a ‘gnarlier’ Derek Lowe; Keury De La Cruz goes 20/20||09.03.12 at 10:53 am ET|
A brief wrap-up of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-2 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)
– Alex Wilson allowed three runs on two hits and two walks in an inning of work. While he was expected to be big league ready in little time once moved from the rotation to relief (a role in which he pitched in college), after almost a full season in the bullpen in Pawtucket, his work in that capacity has fallen short of the necessary dominance to establish himself as a priority call-up.
He has given up at least one hit in 16 straight appearances, and he’s allowed at least one baserunner in each of his last 23 outings dating to June 23. In 59 innings out of the bullpen, he has a 3.38 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, though he is striking out just over a batter an inning (62 punchouts in 59 innings) and he has held opponents to a .253 average with just two homers. It’s also worth noting that he’s stranded all but five of his 25 inherited runners.
That said, when the switch of Wilson to the bullpen was made, it was expected that the right-hander likely would reach the big leagues sometime in 2012, and likely sooner rather than later. Now, ever with the expansion of rosters in September and with a decision looming this winter about whether to add him to the 40-man roster to protect Wilson from the Rule 5 draft, it remains to be seen whether that happens at all this year.
– Juan Carlos Linares went 1-for-5 in his first game in two weeks. He’d been out since suffering a thumb injury on August 19.
– Bryce Brentz went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and a walk. He’s now 0-for-12 with five strikeouts since his promotion from Double-A Portland.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-0 LOSS VS. READING (PHILLIES)
– Right-hander Allen Webster was roughed up for five runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two. The sinkerballing Webster permitted just his second homer of the year and his first since April 26. He’d gone 100 1/3 innings over 26 appearances without giving up a homer before Sunday.
That said, while Webster allowed eight runs in nine innings in his two starts with Portland since the trade, his stuff ranks among the best for a starting prospect — and arguably the best for a starting prospect — in the Red Sox’ system. He punched out 12 batters in nine innings after the trade, and he continued to get loads of outs on the ground, with a 2-to-1 ratio of groundball outs to flyouts.
Webster has what former pitching coach Chuck Crim — who worked with Webster for each of the last four seasons in the Dodgers’ system — referred to as top-of-the-rotation stuff that is good enough to compete in the majors right now. While Crim said that the 22-year-old still has room to go to increase his consistency with his arsenal (a mid-90s fastball with tremendous sink, a tremendous swing-and-miss changeup that Crim described as a plus-plus offering and both a curveball and slider that Crim said grade in action as plus pitches) — particularly to command his sinker, given that the action of the pitch will often send it dropping like an anvil out of the strike zone — his potential is immense.
“The type of pitcher that he reminds me of probably, but possibly with better secondaries and better stuff, is Derek Lowe. Just imagine Derek Lowe with sharper, harder, gnarlier secondaries,” said Crim. “The sink is insane. Granted, Derek can control that sink and he can start it and end it where he wants to, but that takes years of experience.”
To hear more of Crim’s thoughts on Webster’s stuff and career development, click here to listen to him on a Minor Details podcast.
– Xander Bogaerts collected one of the three Sea Dogs hits, going 1-for-3. He’s now 8-for-15 in his last four games.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)
– Keury De La Cruz punctuated his tremendous year by going 1-for-3 with a solo homer, his first in High-A Salem and his 20th overall this year. With the blast, De La Cruz became the first Red Sox minor leaguer since George Lombard in 2005 to reach 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in the same year. He is one of six minor leaguers this year to reach the 20/20 plateau.
De La Cruz impressed in virtually every facet of the game as a 20-year-old this year. In 121 games between Greenville and Salem, he is hitting .306 with a .349 OBP, .532 slugging mark and .882 OPS with 64 extra-base hits in 121 games. Those numbers are made even more impressive by the fact that De La Cruz has done his damage against both righties and lefties this year. The left-handed-hitting De La Cruz hit .320 with a .392 OBP, .500 slugging mark and .892 OPS against southpaws — hitting for a better average and OBP (but with a lower slugging mark) than against righties.
De La Cruz’s ability to post big numbers against older competition and to succeed against both righties and lefties gives him the statistical profile of a potential everyday outfielder in the big leagues. While his lack of patience — particularly against right-handers, against whom he has a .333 OBP — represents an area of needed improvement, he still showed considerable potential in a 2012 season that represented a considerable step forward.
– Michael Almanzar went 1-for-3 to nudge his average back up to .300 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. In 124 games, the 21-year-old is hitting .300/.353/.458/.812 with 12 homers and 36 doubles. The season represented a considerable step forward for a once-touted prospect who hit .199/.243/.275/.517 with four homers and 22 extra-base hits in 111 games between High-A Salem and, after a demotion, Single-A Greenville.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-4 LOSS VS. HICKORY (RANGERS)
– Garin Cecchini went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, giving him 38 two-baggers for the year. He also swiped third base once, giving him 49 steals in 53 attempts this year. He has extra-base hits in each of his last six games as he wraps up a terrific second half in which he’s hit .327/.420/.458/.878 with 28 steals in 29 attempts over 57 games.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 3-2 LOSS AT CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)
– Right-hander Sergio Gomez, the top starter on the Red Sox’ Rookie Level Gulf Coast League affiliate, got a year-ending start in Lowell, tossing five innings in which he allowed two runs on four hits (one homer) while striking out four and walking just one. Gomez turned 19 on Aug. 24.
– Deven Marrero, serving as DH in his second game back from being hit on the hand by a pitch, went 2-for-4.
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