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Red Sox minor league roundup: Xander Bogaerts heats up; Rubby De La Rosa struggles; Travis Shaw, on-base machine; Mathew Price resurfaces

04.20.13 at 9:33 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa has struggled thus far with Triple-A Pawtucket. (AP)

Catching up on the action in the Red Sox minor league system from Thursday and Friday…

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

Friday: Postponed at Rochester

Thursday: 14-5 loss vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies) – BOX

– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa struggled badly with his fastball command and execution. In two innings, he threw just 24 of 46 pitches for strikes while allowing four runs on two hits and three walks with one strikeout.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for the right-hander with the electric arm who was acquired from the Dodgers in last August’s blockbuster. He continues to work under a limit of approximately 50 pitches per outing; he’s been so inefficient that he has yet to pitch more than 2 1/3 innings. In a combined 6 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 10 runs on seven hits, six walks and three homers while punching out seven.

On the mound, though he’s shown the arm strength to generate 98 mph fastballs and displayed swing-and-miss changeups and curveballs at times, he’s looked like a pitcher without a plan, someone who scatters his pitches either outside of the strike zone or leaves them too much in the middle of it.

“He looks like he’s just throwing out there. He’s got to get to the point where his mindset is more pitching,” manager Gary DiSarcina told the Providence Journal. “You can throw 96 miles an hour, but these guys are going to hit it. He just needs to be a little more efficient with his pitches, be down in the zone a little more and pitch — not just get out there and throw.

“Sometimes, when pitchers get hit, and they get hit hard and somebody turns on their fastball and hits it for a line drive, they feel that machismo to throw it harder, harder, harder. He’ll learn. This is his third outing, and he’s kind of been repeating the same mistakes. It’s time for him to adjust and pitch.

“He just has to go out there and experience what he’s going through right now. He’ll be better for it.”

– Shortstop Jose Iglesias was 2-for-4 with one infield single (a chopper into the hole — something that is becoming, oddly, a signature of his repertoire) and a line drive double to left-center on an 88 mph fastball on Thursday. The resounding impact of the ball off the bat on his double was noteworthy, as was the fact that the ball was driven not to straightaway left but instead on a swing where he stayed towards the middle of the field. Iglesias is 5-for-23 with a double, homer and three walks since heading back to Pawtucket.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Iglesias and PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina will join Down on the Farm this week to discuss managing a player’s expectations when he’s sent down to the minors after a notable run of big league success. The show will air on Sunday from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI and WEEI.com; for complete podcasts of the show, visit weei.com/podcast.

– Outfielder Mitch Maier went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles on Thursday while also showing good range in center field. He’s 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles, a homer and three walks since joining the PawSox after recovering from a wrist injury in spring training. Given Bradley’s struggles, Maier could well be the top Red Sox outfield depth option should a need arise, particularly for a relatively short-term call-up.

Jackie Bradley Jr. joined Pawtucket on Friday. His presence squeezed Juan Carlos Linares off the PawSox roster and into Double-A Portland.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS:

THURSDAY: 17-1 LOSS VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS) – BOX

FRIDAY: 12-1 WIN VS. NEW BRITAIN – BOX

Xander Bogaerts, who had been struggling to start the season, enjoyed his best two games of the season, going 2-for-4 with a double on Thursday and then 3-for-4 with a double and two walks on Friday. He also stole a base in each game.

The contest on Friday marked the sixth time in Bogaerts’ career that he’s reached base five or more times (he reached base six times in one contest last year for High-A Salem), and after not having an extra-base hit in his first 10 games of the year, he now has doubles in three straight contests. In his last four games, he’s 9-for-16 with three doubles, with the 20-year-old’s numbers for the year making a considerable jump in the process to a respectable .281 with a .339 OBP and .333 slugging mark. Also noteworthy: Bogaerts has yet to commit an error at shortstop this year.

– Right-hander Matt Barnes, after throwing a combined 3 1/3 innings in his first two starts, had a breakthrough outing against New Britain on Friday. He allowed one run over six innings while striking out seven and walking one. Of the five hits he permitted, one was a solo homer and the rest were singles. Barnes threw 50 of 75 pitches for strikes, with a dozen swings and misses. It was his first start of as many as six innings since last June 9.

– First baseman Travis Shaw matched a career high with four walks (in four plate appearances) on Thursday, then reached base three more times on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a walk while driving in three runners on Friday. Shaw is hitting .318 with a .475 OBP and more walks (14) than strikeouts (10) through 13 games. He’s reached base at least once in every game he’s played this year.

Daniel Bard had his first multi-inning outing of the year, tossing two scoreless innings in which he did not give up a hit while striking out one and walking one. Though he issued a leadoff walk in his second inning of work, he immediately found his way back into the strike zone and retired the next three hitters. Though he hasn’t been dominant, Bard now has four straight appearances in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run.

Michael Almanzar went 3-for-5 with his team-leading fourth homer of the season — giving him one more homer than he had in the first half of last season with High-A Salem. The homer came against a left-hander (Blake Martin), continuing Almanzar’s strong start against southpaws. He’s 9-for-18 with three homers and two walks against left-handers, good for a .500 average, .550 OBP and 1.000 slugging mark. The contest snapped a three-game hitless streak in which Almanzar was 0-for-10 but with two walks.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX:

THURSDAY: 8-1 WIN AT LYNCHBURG (BRAVES) – BOX

FRIDAY: POSTPONED AT LYNCHBURG (RAIN)

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 2-for-3 with a double, homer and two walks on Thursday, his first homer of the season. He has six extra-base hits in a dozen games so far this year while assembling a .326/.380/.522 line.

Kyle Stroup logged 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out six. In the process, the right-hander — who missed all of last year after blowing out his ACL in spring training — earned his first win since Sept. 3, 2011, and worked into the sixth inning for the first time since Aug. 15, 2011.

– Right-hander Matt Price, a 2010 eighth-round pick, signed too late to pitch in 2010, required Tommy John surgery that fall that wiped out almost all of his 2011 campaign and did not pitch for an affiliate in 2012 after being hit with a suspension for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. And so, at 23, he is just now getting the opportunity to start his pro career.

His first outing was certainly intriguing, as Price tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings while punching out three. He did not walk a batter and allowed just one hit (a single). The Sox scouted Price with a sinking 93-94 mph fastball and an above-average changeup that graded as perhaps the best of any Sox draftee in the 2010 class that included more heralded pitchers such as Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman and Chris Hernandez. On Thursday, he came into the game with the bases loaded and got a double play grounder. The velocity wasn’t what it had been in the past, but the fact that he threw strikes and worked ahead in the count with a good delivery allowed him to have a strong 2013 debut.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE:

THURSDAY: 13-2 LOSS AT LEXINGTON (ROYALS) – BOX

FRIDAY: 8-0 LOSS AT LEXINGTON – BOX

– Hard-throwing right-hander Francellis Montas allowed a career-high eight runs (though with just four earned) on Thursday, giving up eight hits while walking two in just 3 2/3 innings. He’s been hit around in his last two starts, giving up 12 runs (eight earned) in 6 1/3 innings while issuing six walks and six strikeouts. The ceiling remains impressive given his fastball and the potential for a swing-and-miss slider, but the 20-year-old underscores the notion that, regardless of level, velocity is no guarantee of dominance.

– Left-hander Cody Kukuk allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 innings of work, but his control was a bit of a mess, as he walked four and uncorked four wild pitches. Still, through the first three innings, he managed to limit the damage to just one run on one hit based on his ability to limit the number of hits he yielded, to get swings and misses and to get groundballs.

The 20-year-old, whose pro experience was limited to five relief outings in the Gulf Coast League last year, is holding opponents to a .182 average in the South Atlantic League; he’s been particularly unhittable in his first time through the order, allowing just two hits in 27 at-bats (.074 average) in the first three innings of his three starts this year, albeit with command struggles (eight walks in nine total innings over frames 1-3). Still, his early results suggest a pitcher with intriguing stuff if he can learn to harness it in the strike zone.

– The Drive have been shut out four times thus far this season, including three times in their last six games.

Read More: cody kukuk, francellis montas, garin cecchini, jose iglesias
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