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Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini heeds mother’s advice; Anthony Ranaudo shutting down everyone (including lefties); Betts being Pedroia-ish

05.13.13 at 10:50 am ET
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Garin Cecchini hit his fifth homer -- a new career high -- on Sunday. (Salem Red Sox)

One day after being hit in the shoulder by a pitch that subsequently glanced off his neck on the ricochet, Garin Cecchini was not only back in the Salem lineup, but continued to build on his breakout year. The third baseman went 2-for-3 with a double and his career-high fifth homer of the year, going deep to the opposite field. The 22-year-old is now hitting .376/.471/.675 with 21 extra-base hits in 31 games.

It seemed appropriate that Cecchini delivered an impressive performance on Mother’s Day, given that his mother, Raissa Cecchini, played (and continues to play) a central role in his baseball development. Raissa Cecchini was the hitting coach at Barbe High School when the Sox prospect played there, and continues to throw him batting practice and hit him grounders in the offseason.

Her influence on Cecchini’s development as a top hitting prospect was far-reaching. The third baseman offered this telling example:

“I remember one time, I rolled over four times to the second baseman. That was probably about the most frustrated I’ve ever been,” Garin Cecchini recalled. “She came in and just said, ‘Hey — you’re alright. You’re just hitting the outside part of the ball.’ The next at-bat, I tried to attack the inside part of the ball and hit a line drive up the middle.

“It’s kind of that calm and collected way that she presents her hitting [knowledge] that just really helps. She stays so calm under pressure, or while you’re frustrated and throwing over four balls in my case. She just said, ‘Nothing is mechanically wrong — you just hit the outside part of the ball.’ It was something so simple,” he added. “It’s unique because something so simple as that, she was so calm in saying that. I respect her so much not just because she’s a loving mom but because she’s helped me so much in the game of baseball.”

In staying inside the ball and driving it out to left, Cecchini undoubtedly did his mother — who preaches on-base percentage before power — proud.

To listen to a podcast with both Garin and Raissa Cecchini, click here.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)

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– Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker continued to show extra-base ability along with the capacity to impact the game on the bases, going 1-for-4 with a double and a pair of steals. The 25-year-old is hitting .290/.355/.486 with 10 extra-base hits (including five homers) and nine steals in 31 games this year. However, he’s also also striking out with increased frequency against Triple-A pitching, with a strikeout for every 3.4 plate appearances — the highest of his career save for his rate of a strikeouts every 3.1 plate appearances when he jumped straight into the pros to full-season ball in Single-A Greenville, bypassing Lowell save for three games there.

– With Ryan Lavarnway in the majors in place of David Ross (on the 7-day DL with a concussion), Dan Butler should get a stretch of regular playing time. He went 1-for-4 with a double on Sunday, and seven of his 12 hits this year have been for extra-bases. In mostly sporadic playing time this year, the 26-year-old is hitting .194/.306/.371 with a pair of homers.

– Right-hander Alfredo Aceves gave up five runs on five hits (homer, double, three singles) and four walk in five innings while striking out five. He labored through 97 pitches (59 strikes). In three starts spanning 18 innings for the PawSox, he has a 3.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts and nine walks.

– Since he rejoined the PawSox on Friday, Brock Holt has started all three games at third base, receiving an apparent crash course at the position intended to give the Sox more depth at a spot where they have something of a shortage of depth. Holt has played four games at third in his career, all this year in Pawtucket. He went 0-for-4 on Sunday, and his hitting .179/.266/.179.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-2 WIN AT NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)

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Anthony Ranaudo continued his overpowering performance in Double-A Portland, firing six shutout innings in which he allowed three hits (all singles) while walking three and striking out five. His numbers through seven starts suggest complete dominance: a 5-1 record (his wins are tied for most in the Eastern League), 1.38 ERA (second in the league), 41 strikeouts (tied for eighth), 4.1 strikeouts per walk, a 0.85 WHIP (first in the Eastern League) and a .172 batting average against (second in the league).

One particularly noteworthy development for the 22-year-old right-hander: He’s dominating lefties. Left-handed hitters have a .163 average, .245 OBP and .256 slugging mark against him with no homers. Perhaps most intriguing: Of the 49 southpaws he’s faced, 17 (34.7 percent) have fanned).

Certainly, Ranaudo has been dominant against righties as well (.176/.235/.300, 24.5 percent strikeout rate, three homers allowed in 98 plate appearances), but it’s hard to argue that the numbers aren’t more dazzling against hitters who should enjoy a platoon advantage against him.

It’s not isolated to just this year, either. Last year, while righties tattooed him at a .326/.417/.488 clip, Ranaudo limited lefties to a .220/.368/.356 line; he struck out 11.7 percent of the righties he faced and 19.5 percent of lefties. The same reverse splits prevailed in both Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem in 2011.

What about his stuff permits him to achieve such impressive results against lefties? The 6-foot-7 right-hander appears to do an excellent job of angling his fastball inside against lefties and then getting them to chase his curveball down and in.

That Ranaudo has been so successful against lefties is a meaningful indicator of an ability to profile as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He appears to have the stuff to beat hitters from both side of the plate, meaning that his impact on the game need not be limited to brief, leveraged stints out of the bullpen. Right now, given what he’s doing as a 23-year-old in Double-A (an age appropriate level), the 2010 supplemental first-rounder looks very much like a pitcher who can enter the big league starting depth equation by next year, if not this one.

– First baseman Travis Shaw went 2-for-4 with a triple. His first Double-A three-bagger came against a lefty; the left-handed hitting Shaw continues to perform well against southpaws. He has a .265/.403/.347 line against lefties, having walked the same number of times that he’s struck out against them (12 each).

– Catcher Matt Spring had a career game, going 4-for-4 with a double and homer. The 28-year-old, who has 561 games of pro experience, claimed his first career four-hit game.

– Shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-3 with a walk, reaching base in his 22nd straight game. He’s hitting .296/.382/.452.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

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– Shortstop Deven Marrero returned to the lineup for the first time since April 22, following a nearly three-week stint on the DL for a hamstring injury. The 2012 first-rounder went 1-for-4, with a line of .291/.391/.436 in 15 games.

– Outfielder Keury De La Cruz jumped on a first pitch and crushed it out to right field in the first inning for a two-run homer. De La Cruz quite likely possesses the most aggressive first-pitch swing in the Red Sox system, one on which he often appears to be coming out of his shoes, and it remained on ongoing fascinating to see how far the ball would travel if he ever made contact on a first pitch in spring training.  On Sunday, the answer became apparent when he went deep. He went 2-for-4 with his third homer of the year, and is now hitting .237/.279/.412.

– Second baseman Sean Coyle went 0-for-5, and is now 0-for-19 with two walks and seven strikeouts in his last five games. Though the 21-year-old continues to lead the league with nine homers, his average has plummeted to .242 with a .294 OBP … and a robust .586 slugging mark.

– Outfielder Brandon Jacobs is offering some indications of heating up. He went 1-for-3 with a double and walk, and he’s reached base multiple times in each of his last three games, going 4-for-11 with a double, two homers and two walks — albeit with five strikeouts.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 10-6 LOSS VS. AUGUSTA (GIANTS)

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– The Red Sox (unofficially) lead the world in undersized second baseman with surprising pop. Dustin Pedroia, of course, has a 21-homer season and three-homer game on his resume, belying his 5-foot-8 stature. Coyle has nine homers this year, and the Sox felt he had 20-30 homer potential in the big leagues when they drafted him, despite the fact that he stands just 5-foot-7. And now, Mookie Betts is joining them. The 20-year-old launched his fifth homer of the year and third in six games on Sunday, his only hit in a 1-for-5 game. He’s now hitting .229/.397/.429, with 10 of his 24 hits this year having gone for extra bases.

All five of Betts’ homers have come against righties. The right-handed hitter owns a .269/.448/.526 against righties, compared to .111/.226/.148 against lefties.

– Right-hander Pat Light, a supplemental first-rounder last year, got roughed up for eight runs on nine hits (including two homers) in just 3 1/3 innings. He walked three (matching a season high) and struck out three. In 21 innings this year, he’s given up three homers — the same number he permitted in 2012 in 101 1/3 innings for Monmouth.

One talent evaluator who saw him recently was surprised that opponents were getting such good swings against the 22-year-old, and suggested that the absence of a legitimate breaking ball at this early stage in his career has allowed opponents to hit him hard. Opponents are hitting .326 against him, and Light has permitted 21 runs (18 earned) in 21 innings with Greenville.

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