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Red Sox minor league roundup: Power arms Brandon Workman, Allen Webster dominate

04.06.13 at 9:51 am ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman had nine strikeouts for Double-A Portland on Friday (Salem Red Sox)

One of the reasons why the Red Sox suggest that right-hander Brandon Workman has made considerable strides towards being a big league starter is his willingness to stick with a gameplan. Even if, for instance, an opponent hits a two-run homer on a fastball away, the right-hander won’t necessarily be dissuaded from going back to that pitch type and location. He has enough confidence in his full arsenal that he doesn’t rush to start removing pitches or creating a new approach to an opposing lineup if he gets touched for a few runs.

Workman’s first start of the 2013 season underscored the point. After a 1-2-3 first inning in which he struck out two, Workman stumbled in the second, yielding a walk, single, two-run triple and two-run homer in the span of five batters, a head-spinning sequence that resulted in Trenton posting four runs. But Workman reined the game back in, striking out the next two hitters to end the second and retiring the final 11 batters he faced, punctuating his outing by striking out the side in the fifth.

The 24-year-old finished the game with nine punchouts (one shy of his career-high, achieved last year in Salem) while walking just one and allowing three hits. The only baserunners he permitted were in that one hiccup inning in the fifth. Otherwise, he was dominant, primarily on the strength of an overpowering fastball — he hit 96 mph, and got 15 swings and misses with the pitch.

Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald reported that Workman navigated in a tidy 3 minutes, 11 seconds. The fact that his nine strikeouts came with just one walk underscored the notion of Workman as a pitcher who is a somewhat relentless strike thrower, continuing a theme from last year, when he had 5.2 strikeouts per walk.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-4 WIN AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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–Right-hander Allen Webster tossed five shutout innings, allowing two hits (both singles), striking out five and getting five groundball outs. The only fly in the ointment to his evening was control — he walked three batters and threw just 50 of 85 (58.8 percent) of his pitches for strikes. There is no question as to whether Webster’s stuff can be overpowering — with a high-90s sinker that gets groundballs and swings and misses as an accompaniment to both a wipeout changeup and a swing-and-miss slider, his stuff is as good as nearly anyone in the Red Sox organization. How quickly he learns to harness it in the strike zone will determine ultimately what kind of big league impact he will have.

Bryce Brentz clubbed his third double in two games while going 2-for-5 and driving in a pair of runs.

– Right-hander Chris Carpenter allowed a run on three hits, but he also recorded all six of his outs via strikeout in his two innings of work.

– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a double (his second in as many games) and a walk. After striking out in each of his first four plate appearances of the year, he’s recovered to reach base in four of his last six trips to the dish.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)

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Stephen Drew, in his second rehab game with Portland, went 1-for-3 with a double, reached on an error and grounded out. He played seven innings at shortstop, though he saw little action — with Portland’s pitchers combining for 17 strikeouts, he handled just one groundball.

– Right-hander Chris Martin, who made a favorable impression in the Arizona Fall League, where he showed mid-90s velocity and was aggressive throwing strikes, struck out seven in three innings of relief work. It was tied for the second-highest strikeout total of Martin’s career, with his career-high eight strikeout contest having come last year in a four-inning start.

– Third baseman Michael Almanzar went 2-for-4 in his first contest of the season.

– Shortstop Xander Bogaerts singled for his first hit of the season.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 11-1 LOSS AT FREDERICK (ORIOLES)

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– In both 2011 (Single-A Greenville) and 2012 (High-A Salem), Sean Coyle was among the youngest handful of players at his level. He held his own in his first pro season in the South Atlantic League, but against more advanced pitching in 2012 in the Carolina League, he struggled, particularly regarding plate discipline. After walking in 12.9 percent of plate appearances in 2012, he walked with less than half that frequency (6.0 percent) last year in Salem. He made meaningful strides between the first half and second, particularly when it came to making solid contact, but the Sox decided that they wanted to see him improve his strike zone management before moving him up to Double-A this year. And so, Coyle returned to Salem for the start of this year, where he went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk while batting leadoff in Friday’s season opener.

Certainly, if Coyle looks more like the player who had a .362 OBP in Greenville in 2011 than the one who finished with a .316 mark in 2012 in Salem, there’s a chance he could move up to Portland sometime this season, perhaps even in its early phases.

– Outfielder Keury De La Cruz went 1-for-3 with a single and a sac fly that drove in Salem’s only run of the night. He got the start in right field, a position where he played just 12 games (as opposed to 88 in left) last year. He did make an error in right, one of three Salem errors.

– Left-hander Miguel Pena was touched for four runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out one.

Mike Flacco, the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, decided to retire prior to the start of the season. The Red Sox had acquired the first baseman from the Orioles for cash considerations.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-2 WIN VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

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– Right-hander Justin Haley recorded all 11 of his outs via strikeout or groundball, punching out six and getting five groundball outs (one a double play). (For those who note that such a total would typically yield 12 outs — one of Haley’s strikeout victims reached on a wild pitch.) He allowed one unearned run on two hits, though he did permit four walks, helping to elevate his pitch count to the point where he could not make it through four frames.

One can make a case that the big right-hander has the most unusual delivery in the system due to an unusual quirk — after he releases the ball, he licks his hand.

– Right fielder Kendrick Perkins was the only Greenville hitter with multiple hits, tallying a pair of singles in four trips to the plate.

– Though right-hander Jason Garcia is repeating at Greenville to open the year, the 2010 17th rounder is still just 20 — an oddity that is explainable by the fact that he was 17 years old when drafted out of high school. He got off to a strong start to the 2013 season, coming on as a piggyback starter in relief of Haley and firing 5 1/3 innings in which he permitted one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Read More: allen webster, Brandon Workman, Justin Haley, keury de la cruz
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