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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman accelerating through minors; Xander Bogaerts hits ground running; Henry Owens dazzles

06.26.13 at 10:36 am ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman has a 2.16 ERA in Triple-A. (Salem Red Sox)

Right-hander Brandon Workman has a 2.16 ERA in Triple-A. (Salem Red Sox)

Brandon Workman continued to impress in his time in Triple-A. In his fourth start since a promotion from Double-A Portland, Workman gave up two runs in six innings, working around seven hits (five singles, two doubles) while striking out five. He walked just one, his lowest walk total in his four outings in Triple-A. Of his 92 pitches, 58 (63 percent) were strikes, including nine that got swings and misses.

Workman is now four starts into his Triple-A career. He has a 2.16 ERA, 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 innings. He’s delivered three straight quality starts. In other words, he’s making what appears to be a seamless transition to the highest level of the minors, looking very much like the same pitcher who forced his way up to Pawtucket by manhandling Double-A.

One Sox official recently noted that Workman is shortening the interval of his stay at each minor league level as he moves up the ladder. He spent a full year in Single-A Greenville, making 26 starts there, in his pro debut in 2011. He made 20 starts last year in High-A Salem before a late-season promotion to Portland. He made a total of 16 appearances in Portland before getting bumped up to Pawtucket.

That accelerating pace of advancement points to not just the possibility but, increasingly, the likelihood that Workman will be in the big leagues at some point this year.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 16-3 WIN VS. TOLEDO (TIGERS)

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– That’s four homers in 12 games and three in his last five for Xander Bogaerts, who went 2-for-5 on Tuesday. Though hitting just .229, he has a .302 OBP and .479 slugging mark in a dozen games in Pawtucket. Yet manager Gary DiSarcina suggested that it is Bogaerts’ defense that has been most impressive. The 20-year-old has committed a pair of errors at short thus far while turning eight double plays.

“It’s funny: He’s come advertised as more of an offensive shortstop, and what I’ve really liked about him is he’s been a really good defensive shortstop,” DiSarcina told the Providence Journal. “He’s a little bit unconventional. He’s a little bit taller and narrow-based when he fields ground balls. As long as he’s making outs, keep at it.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-6 with a double and his fourth homer of the year. In his last six games, he’s 10-for-28 (.357) with four doubles, a homer and three walks.

– Outfielder Alex Hassan continued to rake. He went 4-for-5, matching a career-high in hits (previously accomplished three times), to improve his line in Triple-A to .438/.500/.719 in nine games. Seven of his 14 hits have been for extra-bases, and he’s rarely striking out (four times in 36 plate appearances). Given that he is on the 40-man roster, while Bradley has positioned himself as the Sox’ outfield option of first resort in case of injury, Hassan has probably reasserted himself as the second player on the call-up list, ahead of teammates like Bryce Brentz and Jeremy Hazelbaker, given his advanced approach and the fact that the team wouldn’t have to make a corresponding move to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster. 

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 0-0 SUSPENDED GAME (2 INNINGS) VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-0 WIN AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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Henry Owens threw a gem on Tuesday, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing only three hits while striking out six and walking one. He earned his sixth victory and third in four starts, improving to 6-2 on the season and remaining perfect in the month of June.

Owens was economical, allowing him to finish seven innings for the first time in his professional career, using no more than 17 pitches in any inning. The outing underscored the progress that Owens has made in what he viewed as perhaps his most important area for development entering the year. In Greenville last year, Owens showed tremendous swing-and-miss stuff but averaged just 4 1/3 innings per outing and often encountered hiccup innings that led to an inflated (4.87) ERA, belying the fact that he would often dominate for all but one inning. This year, he is working deeper into games on a more consistent basis (averaging 5 1/3 innings, with four outings of at least six innings) while preventing innings from getting away from him.

The left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.74 on the season (third in the Carolina League), and has allowed only three earned runs in his last 27 1/3 innings (five starts). Owens has posted a 2.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio, fanning 86 batters (10.7 per nine innings — second in the Carolina League) on the season while allowing 29 walks, and owns a 1.092 WHIP. The impressive start, in which the 20-year-old Owens featured command of his three-pitch mix (fastball, change, curve) and an outstanding changeup, came in front of an audience that included general manager Ben Cherington, who made the trip down south to check out the Salem club.

Brandon Jacobs enjoyed a nice night offensively, going 3-for-5 with three singles and two runs scored. The outfielder, after struggling for most of the first half, is enjoying his best month so far, batting .269/.364/.507 in 20 games this June, and .321/.424/.643 with three home runs over his last eight games. Unsurprisingly, all of Jacobs’ hits on the evening came off of right-handed pitchers; Jacobs is batting .250 against righties, while struggling mightily against lefties, with only five hits in 41 at-bats against southpaws. Jacobs also swiped his ninth base of the season and his third this month. He has been caught four times.

– Catcher Blake Swihart has been heating up as of late, batting .316/.381/.500 over his last 10 games, adding to the hot streak with a 2-for-4 day on Tuesday. Swihart doubled (his fourth in his last six games) and singled while drawing a walk and scoring a run. Swihart has now hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, and has raised his line to .285/.368/.446 through 56 games this season.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-1 WIN VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

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Jose Vinicio went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, continuing a recent run in which the rail-thin 19-year-old has started to show some life at the plate. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-14 with a walk, bringing his season average up to .202 — the first time since May 1 that he’s cracked the Mendoza line.

– Outfielder Felix Sanchez scrapped switch-hitting in the middle of this year, coming to full-time life as a right-handed hitter. The results for one of the fastest players in the Red Sox system have started to get interesting, at least in a very small sample. The 23-year-old went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks on Tuesday, and over his last 18 games between Greenville and Salem, he’s hitting .303/.387/.318 with nine steals (in 11 attempts). Whether the gains are sustainable remains to be seen — particularly given that he’s now an older player for the South Atlantic League — but if he can show some average and on-base ability while sticking to one side of the plate, his speed and defense will allow him to move.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: RAINED OUT AT VERMONT (ATHLETICS)

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-1 WIN VS. GCL ORIOLES

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– Right-hander Keivin Heras, an 18-year-old who had a strong performance (2.03 ERA) last year in the DSL, turned in a solid first outing of the 2013 season in the GCL. He tossed four shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out three.

– Converted catcher Oscar Perez allowed one run in two innings to record his first career save. He also gave up his first career hit and his first career run while notching his first strikeout in four innings.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS VS. DSL MARINERS

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– Though he took the loss, left-hander Dedgar Jimenez submitted another strong outing, allowing one unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out three in four innings. In five starts (20 innings), the 17-year-old has a 1.35 ERA with 18 strikeouts and three walks.

Read More: alex hassan, blake swihart, brandon jacobs, Brandon Workman Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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