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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, potential ‘force’ for Red Sox; Simon Mercedes impresses; new role for Austin Maddox

06.21.13 at 10:52 am ET
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Brandon Workman is pitching like someone who sees something in front of him.

The Red Sox have long loved the makeup of the right-hander, a 2010 second-round draft pick out of the University of Texas. His competitive intensity and his unflinching demeanor in the face of challenges may be unmatched among the team’s top tier of pitching prospects. The early paces of his time in Triple-A Pawtucket have been no different.

Workman threw seven shutout innings on Thursday night, giving up just four hits (three singles and a double) with two walks and five strikeouts. The 24-year-old has now gotten progressively better in each of his three outings in Triple-A, having gone from a 5 2/3 inning, three-run yield to a 6 1/3 inning, two-run (one earned) outing to his seven shutout frames. Right now, he exhibits a powerful 92-94 mph fastball that he can command, a solid big league curveball and a cutter that can make for some uncomfortable at-bats.

And he looks entirely determined to make an impact at the big league level in the near future. That could well come as a starter — the 6-foot-5 Workman looks the part of a workhorse — but at a time when the back-end of the Sox bullpen is in flux, it’s not inconceivable that Workman could be summoned at some point this year to contribute out of the bullpen, a role in which he performed well both at Texas and in the Cape League (where he was a two-time All-Star).

“He’s always been grossly underappreciated,” said one evaluator. “He may well contribute this year, and I wouldn’t be stunned if he became a [Jonathan] Papelbon someday. He can start — he’s got the physicality and the mix — but he’s got the mentality to be a force as a closer.”

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 WIN AT COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

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— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts did not make contact in four plate appearances, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk. In seven games, he’s hitting .192/.276/.308 with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances.

Alex Hassan went 1-for-4 with a double, giving him extra-base hits in five straight contests since joining Pawtucket. He’s hitting .438/.471/.938 in 17 plate appearances.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-2 WIN AT READING (PHILLIES)

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— Catcher Christian Vazquez may be emerging from his offensive funk. The 22-year-old, who entered Thursday in a 5-for-53 rut (.092/.210/.132), clubbed his fourth homer of the year (and first in 16 games) as part of a 2-for-3 night that also featured a walk and three runs batted in. In his last four games, Vazquez is now 5-for-15 with a double, homer and a pair of walks to bring his line up to .233/.350/.380. Given his exceptional defense (hinted at in part by the fact that he’s thrown out 45 percent (28 of 62) of would-be base stealers), his characteristic ability to work deep counts and get on base should be enough to get him to the big leagues at some point, but amidst an inconsistent offensive year at Portland, it remains to be seen whether he can offer enough thump to carve out a spot as a future big league starter.

— Despite some command struggles (four walks), right-hander Keith Couch continued his solid performance in the Portland rotation, delivering six innings with a two-run yield. In three starts since Workman’s promotion, he has a 2.76 ERA with 13 strikeouts and five walks in 16 1/3 innings.

— Third baseman Garin Cecchini is slated to make his Double-A debut on Friday in Trenton.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF-DAY

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 14-1 LOSS VS. HAGERSTOWN (NATIONALS)

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— After a first-half struggle that saw him go 0-5 with an 8.23 ERA and give up 12 homers in 50 1/3 innings as a starter (sometimes in a piggyback role), 2012 third-rounder Austin Maddox made his first appearance of the second half in a traditional relief role. He gave up two runs (both unearned) in an inning of work, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out a batter and getting three groundballs (one of which was misplayed, resulting in the unearned runs).

The Sox had high hopes for Maddox when they took him out of Florida, where he’d been a very successful closer at one of the top college programs in the country. The team thought it would be worth seeing how he performed in a starting role, a responsibility that seemed like it would yield benefits for the development of a pitch mix against both righties and lefties. But his struggles became so pronounced, so early that the organization may have already been forced to reassess how to proceed with his development.

— DH David Chester, coming off a second-place finish in the South Atlantic League’s Home Run Derby at the All-Star game, went 2-for-3 with his 11th homer of the year and a walk. The 24-year-old is tied for 10th in the league in homers.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-5 LOSS (11 INNINGS) VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS)

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— Interesting developments are afoot in the Lowell rotation, which seems to feature more high-ceiling talent than it has in years. Right-hander Simon Mercedes, whose 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame requires little projection to imagine a power pitcher, tossed five shutout innings, allowing three hits (two singles and a double) with a pair of punchouts. He also recorded six outs via groundball.

— Rehabbing right-hander Chris Carpenter tossed a pair of shutout innings in his second appearance with the Spinners.

— Athletic outfielder Forrestt Allday went 2-for-3, and the 22-year-old — an eighth-rounder in this year’s draft — has now reached base in four of his seven plate appearances with the Spinners.

— DH Kevin Mager, signed out of Rollins College as an undrafted free agent last year, went 4-for-5 with a double while driving in a pair of runs.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. DSL ASTROS

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— Right-hander Jose Almonte — a 17-year-old whom the Sox signed out of the Dominican last summer — allowed just one hit in three innings of work, striking out one and walking one. The 6-foot-2 Almonte continues to get groundballs in bulk, having elicited what should have been seven groundball outs (two of which resulted in fielding errors) on Thursday.

— The DSL Sox got their first homer since Opening Day. Pablo Urena became the second member of the team to go deep (joining Franklin Guzman), with the 18-year-old catcher going 1-for-4 with his first professional homer. He also spent last summer in the DSL, hitting .185/.269/.218.

Read More: Brandon Workman, christian vazquez, Jonathan Papelbon, jose almonte
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