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Red Sox minor league roundup: The uniqueness of Mookie Betts; Anthony Ranaudo strong in struggle; Garin Cecchini’s standout year continues

05.19.13 at 11:29 am ET
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Daily Feats of Mookie: Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a homer (his seventh of the year and fifth in his last 11 games) and a walk for Single-A Greenville. During his current 13-game hitting streak, he’s now hitting .429/.533/.837 with 10 extra-base hits (five homers, five doubles). On the year, he’s now hitting .256/.413/.488.

The run remains singularly shocking, since prior to the streak, Betts had shown excellent excellent plate discipline but no real ability to drive the ball. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 25 games this year after collecting nine (with no homers) in 71 games in 2012 with the Lowell Spinners. So, in his last 11 games, with those 10 extra-base hits, he’s nearly matched his total from his previous 97 games as a professional.

The out-of-nowhere power-hitting stretch is even more impressive since it has occurred without Betts selling out his characteristically disciplined approach at all. During his hitting streak, he’s walked 11 times (including once in each of the last four games) and struck out just four times — meaning he has more than twice as many extra-base hits as strikeouts.

Context: Here’s the complete list of players in the minors with at least seven homers and at least as many walks as strikeouts:

Since 2001, the only player in the big leagues with at least seven homers in a season and twice as many walks as strikeouts has been Barry Bonds. The last player to do it who wasn’t Bonds was Mark Grace, who did it in 2000. The people who accomplished the feat in the 1990s: Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, Wade Boggs, Eric Young, Mark Grace, Lenny Dykstra, Frank Thomas.

It remains to be seen what this remarkable run means for Betts. After all, he didn’t hit a home run all of last year. But for now, Betts is performing as a player with a profile that does not currently exist in pro ball, and that few have displayed in the last 25 years.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-3 LOSS VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

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Franklin Morales yielded three runs while giving up three hits, a pair of homers and walking three in four innings. Despite the walks total, he was aggressive in the strike zone, throwing 43 of 65 pitches (66 percent) for strikes. However, he didn’t have overpowering stuff, as he elicited just four swings and misses in his four innings of work.

Andrew Bailey threw 14 of 17 pitches for strikes in his rehab tuneup, giving up a run (a solo homer) while striking out two and walking none in his inning of work. According to Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal (via twitter), Bailey’s fastball was 93-94 mph. He remains in line for activation from the DL on Monday in Chicago.

— After he showed some extra-base pop early in the year, Jose Iglesias has done so infrequently in the month of May, when all seven of his hits have been singles. After a .242/.288/.419 line in April, he’s hitting .163/.250/.163 in May after going 0-for-3 on Saturday. Since returning from the three games in which manager Gary DiSarcina elected not to have him start earlier this month, Iglesias has shown improved patience (5 walks in his last 10 games, compared to 3 in his first 19) but little offensive production, hitting .162/.262/.162 in 10 games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 10-7 (WALKOFF) WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

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Anthony Ranaudo lasted just four innings (a season-low) on a day when he endured a relative struggle with his control. He threw just 48 of 85 pitches (56 percent) for strikes while matching a season-high with three walks. Still, even in what one could classify as his worst start of they year, he still gave up just three hits — all singles — and his opponents had little solid contact against him. He also proved capable of overpowering his opponent once again, punching out five while getting 14 swings and misses (16 percent of his offerings).

Though Ranaudo has walked six batters in 10 innings over his last two outings, his willingness to attack the strike zone while angling the ball to the bottom of the zone has been an eye-opener this year. The 23-year-old has struck out 46 (9.6 per nine innings) and walked 13 (2.7 per nine) in 43 innings. In eight starts, he’s 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA.

Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5 with a double for his fourth game of at least three hits this year. The double came against a left-hander, with Bogaerts possessing impressively balanced stats against pitchers of both handedness. He’s hitting .295/.376/.432 against righties, and .271/.352/.438 against southpaws.

— Catcher Matt Spring went 2-for-5 with a pair of homers while driving in six, including four on a game-winning, walkoff grand slam in the bottom of the ninth. Spring told reporters that it was his first professional walkoff homer. The 28-year-old now has five homers along with a .286/.333/.667 line.

Tony Thomas, who has been moved from second base to left field this year, had a standout game, going 4-for-5 with his fifth homer of the year. The 26-year-old is leading the Eastern League in doubles (14) and extra-base hits (23). He’s hitting .283/.327/.520 on the year.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. FREDERICK (ORIOLES)

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— Shortstop Deven Marrero went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, giving him 11 extra-base hits in 19 games this year — more than halfway to the 19 extra-base hits he accumulated in 64 games with the Lowell Spinners last summer in his pro debut. Both of the doubles came against right-handers, improving the shortstop’s line to .222/.288/.315 against righties, compared to marks of .368/.478/.684 against lefties.

— Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 2-for-4 with a walk. He’s now reached base in 24 of his last 25 games (including 10 straight) dating to April 18. During the run, he’s leading the minors with a .536 OBP, ranks second in average (.420), third in slugging (.784) and is tied for sixth in extra-base hits (19). On the year, he’s hitting .382/.477/.664.

— Though he went 0-for-2, second baseman Sean Coyle, 21, continued to show improved at-bat management, drawing a pair of walks. He’s now reached base multiple times in each of the last three games, going 5-for-11 with three walks, a departure from a six-game stretch in which he went 0-for-26 with three walks.

— Right-hander Matt Price struck out five in three shutout innings, earning his first professional win in the process. In his last three appearances, Price has now thrown six shutout innings while punching out eight and walking none. On the season, the 23-year-old has now logged 17 innings in which he’s struck out 16 and walked just four with a 4.76 ERA.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 10-8 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

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— Left-hander Cody Kukuk had a rough outing, recording just two outs while giving up one hit and five walks. He threw just 16 of 43 pitches for strikes before getting pulled in the middle of the first. Though the 20-year-old has shown some of the potential that convinced the Sox to sign the 2011 seventh-rounder to an $800,000 bonus, demonstrating an ability to miss bats (7.5 strikeouts per nine) and get bad contact (.180 average against, one homer). However, his control issues have been considerable, as he’s walked more (26) than he’s struck out (25) in 30 innings this season.

— Right-hander Madison Younginer threw 2 1/3 shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out two. In his last three outings, the hard-throwing 22-year-old has logged 5 1/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.

— Outfielder Aneury Tavarez, 21, went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-19 (.368) with four extra-base hits (three doubles and a homer).

Read More: Andrew Bailey, aneury tavarez, anthony ranaudo, cody kukuk
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