Red Sox minor league roundup: An efficient Drake Britton, Allen Webster in line with Lackey/Aceves?
|04.11.13 at 10:27 am ET|
Left-hander Drake Britton showed tremendous stuff after last year’s mid-season promotion to Portland, particularly in his final outings of the season, but there remained a fly in the ointment. He still struggled to achieve the pitch efficiency that will be necessary if he is to make a case for a long-term future as a starter. He was mindful of that element as a focal point for his development entering the year.
“It’s very important, especially very important for me,” said Britton earlier this year. “We’re all human. We’re all going to make mistakes. But it’s all about minimizing those mistakes and being efficient with your pitches. That’s going to take me longer into the outings. That’s something, working on my delivery all offseason and working on conditioning and staying in shape, all that put together, if I can just put together what I did starting last year, that’s going to put me in the best position to be more pitch efficient, take me to the sixth, seventh, hopefully eighth, maybe complete game.”
On Thursday, Britton had an outing unlike perhaps any other that he’s had in the minors. He sailed through six innings in just 66 pitches, throwing a gaudy 74 percent (49) for strikes while punching out four and, for the third time in his Double-A career, not giving up a walk. He gave up four hits (all singles) and elicited seven swings and misses while showing the ability to throw strikes with his complete mix.
Unquestionably, the 23-year-old is under somewhat heightened scrutiny this year, both because of the notoriety he gained due to an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence in spring training and because, as a player on the 40-man roster for a second year, he must build on his 2012 campaign in Portland (3.72 ERA, 76 strikeouts, 38 walks in 84 2/3 innings) and show that he is nearing big league readiness if he wants to remain in the organization’s plans. Still, his talent remains considerable, and while his year started in regrettable fashion in Fort Myers, he still has an opportunity to leave a vastly different impression by season’s end. Outings such as his start of Wednesday underscore the point.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: SUSPENDED (RAIN) AFTER TWO INNINGS AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– Right-hander Allen Webster threw just 18 of 32 pitches for strikes, but still managed to avoid walking any batters while striking out four and getting plenty of swings and misses in his outing. One intriguing element of the Red Sox’ decision to push back Felix Doubront and have Alfredo Aceves start on Thursday: It would make it easier to slot Webster into the rotation in the Aceves/John Lackey spot down the road. Had the Sox kept Doubront on his turn (starting on Thursday) and slotted Aceves into the rotation on Friday, Webster would have been two days off of the Aceves/Lackey spot in the rotation.
– Though it didn’t count, Bryce Brentz collected the lone PawSox hit. The safety would have extended his hitting streak to seven games.
– DH David Ortiz will join the PawSox starting on Thursday at McCoy Stadium.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-2 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)
– After going 0-for-11 in his first four games, catcher Christian Vazquez went 2-for-3 with a double and homer while gunning down two of three attempted base stealers. Opposing base stealers are now 4-for-10 against him this year.
– Michael Almanzar saw his streak of four straight multi-hit games come to an end, going 0-for-3 with a walk.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-2 WIN AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS)
– First baseman David Renfroe had a career day, going 4-for-4 (the first four-hit game of his pro career) while smashing his first two extra-base hits of the year — a double and a homer.
– Third baseman Garin Cecchini had his fourth straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs. After going 0-for-7 in his first two contests, he’s 10-for-16 with a pair of doubles in his last four games. This is the second time that Cecchini has had a run of four straight games with multiple hits, matching a career-long run he had last year in Greenville. However, the 21-year-old is finding stolen bases harder to come by this year than last — he was caught stealing for the second time in five attempts in High-A. He has already matched the most caught stealings he had in any month last year in Greenville.
– Left-hander Miguel Pena cruised through five innings in which he permitted two runs on five hits (four singles and a double) while getting swings and misses (he punched out the side in the first), get groundballs (he recorded eight outs via groundball) and attack the strike zone (no walks). Though rarely discussed in a Red Sox farm system that now appears fairly deep in arms, Pena’s pitch mix and willingness to come after opposing hitters suggests a pitcher who, if he stays healthy, looks like a future big leaguer.
– Right-hander Heri Quevedo falls into an unusual class of prospect. The Sox signed him this winter as a 22-year-old out of the Dominican, an age at which most international amateurs would have already spent several years in pro ball. As a right-hander with mid-90s velocity, given his age, the team decided to make an aggressive assignment with him for his pro debut, sending him to High-A. After a rough professional debut (7 runs, 6 earned, in 2 1/3 innings, albeit with 5 strikeouts) last week, he rebounded with a strong performance in relief of Pena on Wednesday. He tossed four innings, permitting just one hit while walking three and punching out five.
– It is unclear whether or not Salem had to play in wet pants. This hilarious image is provided by Sea Dogs play-by-play man Evan Lepler.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-5 WIN AT HICKORY (RANGERS)
– Second baseman Mookie Betts hit the first homer of his professional career as part of a 2-for-4 day in which he also doubled and walked. Betts, who had just nine extra-base hits with Lowell last year, had the first game of his career in which he had multiple extra-base hits. Obviously, power isn’t a central part of his game. Still, Betts is a prospect thanks to a sound plate approach with good hand-eye coordination (he has four walks and two strikeouts in five games this year) and athleticism on the bases and in the field. Last year, he and Daniel Nava were the only two Red Sox minor leaguers in Lowell or above who had more walks than strikeouts with 100 or more plate appearances.
– Right-hander Jason Garcia, who has been in a piggyback starter’s role, had his second straight game in which he got swings and misses in volume. In five relief innings, he punched out eight batters, seven swinging, while giving up four hits (three singles and a double), walking one and permitting three runs. The eight strikeouts matched a career high. In two outings this year, the 20-year-old now has 15 punchouts in 10 1/3 innings pitched. Perhaps as notably, after walking 67 in 115 1/3 innings in Greenville last year, Garcia has issued just three free passes so far this year.
– Shortstop Jose Vinicio went 1-for-3 with his first walk of the year. He was also hit by a pitch, thus reaching base three times for the second straight game.
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