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Red Sox minor league roundup: Daniel Bard alarming performance; Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes dominate; Henry Owens roughed up; Garin Cecchini gets a scare; Francellis Montas is striking out everyone (and walking no one)

05.12.13 at 10:15 am ET

Alarm bells should be sounding in Portland.

Daniel Bard appeared so close to a return to form at times this spring. While there would be moments when he’d lose the strike zone, he showed the ability to make corrections — sometimes after a batter or two, sometimes after a pitch or two — on the fly, and his stuff was considerably better than it had been for almost all of 2012. The same held true when he started the year in Double-A Portland, where Bard’s delivery was getting locked in to the point where the Sox called him up in late-April.

He had one good outing and then one very bad one in the big leagues. No problem, it seemed. Go back down to Double-A, build on the good, taste the big leagues and have that as a reminder of a goal that wasn’t more than an arm’s length away.

But since being sent back down to Portland, it hasn’t worked like that. Instead, Bard has endured a succession of disastrous outings, the latest (and perhaps worst) of which took place on Saturday night.

He entered the game for the start of the sixth and issued four walks while uncorking a pair of wild pitches. He did record two outs, but ultimately had to be pulled after throwing just eight or 29 pitches for strikes. It was Bard’s fourth straight outing since getting sent back down to Portland in which he failed to throw more than 50 percent of his offerings for strikes:

April 30: 2/3 IP, 9 of 18 strikes (50 percent)

May 2: 1/3 IP, 4 of 15 strikes (27 percent)

May 6: 1 IP, 8 of 17 strikes (47 percent)

May 10: 2/3 IP, 8 of 29 strikes (28 percent)

Overall, that’s a 37 percent strike rate since Bard returned to Portland — a horrific number, worse than his control struggles last year in Triple-A. The fact that the Sox opted to promote Jose De La Torre on Friday, rather than considering a reliever already 0n the 40-man roster in Bard, speaks volumes about his uncertain place in the organization.



Rubby De La Rosa is continuing to show flashes of dominance. The right-hander allowed just one hit in four shutout innings while punching out a season-high seven batters and walking two. In his last four games, he’s thrown 14 shutout innings, permitting just eight hits while striking out 19 and walking four. He threw a season-high 71 pitches, with 46 of those (65 percent) yielding strikes and seven resulting in swings and misses. And De La Rosa finished with a flourish, punching out the final four batters he faced.

— Left-hander Chris Hernandez, 24, has taken well to his move to the role of reliever/piggyback starter. Hernandez followed De La Rosa into the game and permitted just one hit in five shutout innings, punching out five and walking none. After he walked 11 batters in 23 2/3 innings as a starter, the 2010 seventh-rounder has permitted just two free passes in 11 innings out of the bullpen with a 1.64 ERA.

— The hottest hitter in the Red Sox system in the last week? That would be DH/first baseman/left fielder Mark Hamilton. Hamilton was 2-for-4 with a pair of impressive homers on Saturday, both of which cleared a 30-foot-high fence in Charlotte, one in right, one in right-center. In his last six games, the 28-year-old — who possesses raw power that stacks up with anyone in the Red Sox system — has four homers, seven extra-base hits, 10 RBI and a line of .409/.481/1.091. For the year, he’s now hitting .278/.390/.546 in 29 games.

— Outfielder Bryce Brentz has a four-game hitting streak in which he’s 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, a homer and a walk. He was 2-for-4 with a double on Saturday.



— Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his roll, allowing one run (on a solo homer) in five innings while striking out seven and walking three. In his last three starts, he’s given up just two runs in 17 innings (1.06 ERA) while striking out 21 and walking six. After an uneven start to the year, the 22-year-old right-hander is now 3-1 with a 4.65 ERA with 11.0 strikeouts per nine and 3.5 walks per nine. He’s still showing power stuff, as evidenced by the fact that 13 of his 94 pitches on Saturday elicited a swing and miss.

Xander Bogaerts has now reached base in 21 straight games. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, bringing his season line to .304/.386/.464.



— Left-hander Henry Owens was roughed up (Roughned up?) for the first time this year, allowing eight runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked two and allowed three homers (to Roughned Odor, Kellin Deglan and Royce Bollinger) — though one was an inside-the-park, two-run homer that resulted from center fielder Henry Ramos losing the ball in the sky. It marked the first time this year that Owens permitted more than two earned runs or four hits (he gave up five) in an outing.

— Third baseman Garin Cecchini was drilled by a high-and-tight fastball that gave Salem a considerable scare. As described by Evan Lepler, the Salem play-by-play man:

“He lay stationary on the ground for a few moments before pushing himself up and walking off under his own power. After the game, Cecchini said he felt fine and hoped to play on Sunday.”

Cecchini with 1-for-3. He and his mother, Raissa Cecchini, joined Down on the Farm for a special Mother’s Day edition show. To listen to the complete interviews with both of them, click here.

— Outfielder Brandon Jacobs went 2-for-5 with a pair of homers, his third and fourth of the year. It was his first career multi-homer game, and gave him his first real offensive highlight of what has been a challenging return to High-A Salem. It was Jacobs’ fourth multi-hit game of the year. However, he also had a bit of a defensive miscue, as a potentially catchable slicing flyball into the left field corner in the bottom of the ninth bounced off his glove to send Salem to a walkoff loss.

— Right-hander Noe Ramirez, moved to the bullpen this year, had his most dominant outing of the season. He followed Owens with 3 2/3 innings of relief, striking out six, walking none and allowing three hits. Ramirez now has a 2.66 ERA with 20 strikeouts and five walks in 20 1/3 innings.



— First baseman David Chester punctuated a terrific game with a ninth-inning walkoff homer. Chester went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and his seventh homer of the year. The 24-year-old has gone deep in each of his last three games, going 6-for-12 with three doubles, three homers, nine RBI and a walk in that time.

— Right-hander Francellis Montas was sharp in three innings, allowing one run on two hits (a solo homer) while punching out six and walking one. He was lifted after three innings due to a 57-minute rain delay. The 20-year-old right-hander is starting to put together a series of starts in which he’s showing the ability to garner overpowering strikeout numbers. In his last four starts, he has 25 strikeouts and one walk in 17 innings — spectacular numbers that suggest considerable potential. While he’s been homer prone (5 in 29 innings, contributing to a 5.90 ERA), his 38 strikeouts and seven walks in 29 frames on the year suggest a pitcher whose mid- to high-90s fastball and sharp slider have a chance to make him very good.

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