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Red Sox minor league roundup: As Felix Doubront falters, Allen Webster dominates; epic homer for Xander Bogaerts; Garin Cecchini, hottest hitter in minors?

05.04.13 at 7:46 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster has 26 strikeouts in 20 Triple-A innings this year. (AP)

On a day where Felix Doubront struggled badly in the big leagues and showed diminished velocity that manager John Farrell acknowledged to be “a little bit of a concern,” it was difficult to overlook what was happening in Triple-A.

Right-hander Allen Webster had a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up just one run on two hits and no walks in six innings. It was his seventh career outing with nine or more punchouts, his first above Double-A. Webster now has 26 strikeouts (11.7 per nine innings) and six walks (2.7 per nine) in 20 Triple-A innings this year, continuing to cement the impression that he’s implemented a couple of adjustments successfully to allow him to attack the strike zone with relative efficiency — a trait that eluded Doubront on Friday night, and that indeed has eluded him for much of his time in a big league rotation.

On his 94 pitches on Friday night, Webster got 16 swings and misses, with plenty evidently in the tank at the end. Webster struck out the side in his sixth and final frame (requiring just 12 pitches to do so), and he allowed baserunners in just one of six innings he pitched. The fact that he’s pitching on Doubront’s day in the rotation suggests that it would be straightforward to slot the young right-hander into the big leagues should the “little bit of concern” about the left-hander warrant a spell on the sidelines.

Here’s a look at Webster’s nine strikeouts:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:4-1 WIN VS. DURHAM (RAYS)

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– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer (his second of the year), a walk and a sac fly. In 15 games, he’s now hitting .333/.435/.519 with more walks (10) than strikeouts (9).

– Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker‘s bunt single extended his hitting streak to 10 games, during which he’s hitting .394/.459/.545 with four steals.

Jose Iglesias, playing his first game since Tuesday (when he was hit by a pitch on the wrist), went 0-for-4.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-4 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)

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Xander Bogaerts hit an epic homer in Portland, unloading on a shot to center that cleared 24 feet of signage that stand approximately 400 feet from the plate. A couple of eye-witness accounts suggested that he probably hit the ball about 450 feet. After not homering in his first 21 games of the year, Bogaerts has now gone deep in each of his last two contests, with his first homer coming to the opposite field (right-center) on Thursday and his second clearing the fence in center. The two homers point to the all-fields power that has established Bogaerts, at an incredibly young age (at 20, he’s the youngest position player in the Eastern League) as such a fascinating talent. In his last 14 games, Bogaerts is now hitting .397/.470/.672 with nine extra-base hits (two homers, three triples, four doubles).

– Though left-hander Drake Britton matched a season-high by walking three, he actually threw an impressive 68 percent (64 of 94) of his pitches for strikes. He gave up four runs in six frames while striking out five and walking three. On the year, the 23-year-old now has a 4.75 ERA with 30 strikeouts against 11 walks in 30 1/3 innings.

Chris Martin pitched a scoreless ninth to extend his string of scoreless appearances to 10. He’s logged 17 2/3 innings this year without allowing a run while striking out 21 (10.7 per nine) with five walks while holding opponents to a .140 average. In his last five games, Martin has allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 innings.

Travis Shaw went 0-for-4, failing to reach base for the first time this year. He’d reached via hit, walk or HBP in each of the first 24 contests of the year. Shaw is now 0-for-14 (with three walks) in his last four games.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-1 LOSS AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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– Outfielder Brandon Jacobs went deep in his second at-bat, his second homer of the year, to snap an 0-for-18 stretch. While his year has been largely disappointing to date (.184/.284/.333), it’s worth noting that more than half (nine of 16) of his hits have been for extra bases, suggesting that the thunder in his bat that is his hallmark as a prospect remains present, if dormant.

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk, giving him 13 straight games in which he’s reached base multiple times. During that stretch, he’s been as hot as anyone in the minor leagues, with a .468 average (second in all of the minors since April 18), .590 OBP (third in the minors since that date), .915 slugging mark (first by a considerable margin) and 1.505 OPS (again, 1st by a lot). Over the 13-game run, he has 14 walks, 12 extra-base hits (three homers, three triples, six doubles) and just seven strikeouts.

– Starter William Cuevas was hit hard, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in three innings on Friday. He did not strike out a batter and walked one. In five starts spanning 20 2/3 innings, Cuevas has allowed 18 earned runs (7.84 ERA) — six more than he permitted in 77 1/3 frames last summer with the Lowell Spinners.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 11-4 LOSS AT ROME (BRAVES)

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– Left-hander Brian Johnson, a 2012 first-round pick, made his most impressive start to date. He tossed five shutout innings, allowing just two hits (both singles) and a walk while striking out a season-high six. Through four starts this year, he now has a 2.30 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. He also has nine walks, though four of those came in one outing where he struggled with his command.

– Right-hander Austin Maddox, a 2012 second-round pick who was Johnson’s teammate at Florida, continued his early-season struggles, yielding six runs (five earned) in two innings while walking two and striking out two. Maddox has now given up four homers in his 19 2/3 innings en route to an unsightly 10.07 ERA.

Read More: allen webster, austin maddox, brandon jacobs, brian johnson
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