Red Sox minor league roundup: Will Middlebrooks hopes for a brief stay in Pawtucket; what Mookie Betts says about how a farm system works; Kendrick Perkins impressing; Daniel McGrath strikes out everyone
|06.27.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
Mookie Betts continued his remarkable year by matching career-highs in hits and times on base, going 4-for-4 with a double and a walk. The performance finally pushed his average up over .300 (to .309) with a robust .436 OBP and .513 slugging mark — numbers that are staggering considering that, four weeks into the year, he was hitting .145/.340/.263.
Starting with his other game reaching base five times this year (a 2-for-2 contest in which Betts also took three walks on May 7), the 20-year-old is third among all players on full-season minor league affiliates in average (.391), second in OBP (.489) and even 13th in slugging (.641). He’s tied for sixth in extra-base hits (27) in that span.
In other words, he’s dominated as few others in minor league baseball for the last two months, all while showing the potential to be a very good defensive second baseman, capable of highlight reel plays. At this point, there’s not a lot more to be gained by his continued presence at Single-A Greenville. Clearly, the 2011 fifth-round pick has now handled the challenge of recovering from early-season adversity and demonstrated that he can handle the competition of Single-A.
However, the team won’t promote him until the timing for doing so is right — meaning, until it is assured that Betts would get everyday playing time without compromising the time on the field for the player whom he would be replacing — Sean Coyle. Coyle has struggled since getting off to one of the best starts in the system in April, and more recently, he’s been injured; he’s currently rehabbing at the team’s complex in Fort Myers, getting closer to games but without a timetable for a return.
Given the possibility that the right thing for Coyle will be a return (at least initially) to Salem, the Sox are trying to avoid a playing time bottleneck that would result from having Betts and Coyle at the level. And so, Betts’ ongoing presence in Greenville is a reminder that a player’s performance cannot always dictate what level he plays at and when he gets promoted.
The vast landscape of a team’s farm system features a number of interconnected, moving parts, such that a player like Betts who has performed well enough to get moved up will have to continue to wait for his opportunity to do so.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN VS. TOLEDO (TIGERS)
— Will Middlebrooks was 0-or-3 in his return to Triple-A until the seventh inning, when he kept the PawSox rally alive by smacking a one-out single to center to drive in the go-ahead run. He finished the night 1-for-4, leaving three runners on base.
“I just know it’s not going to last. I know it’s not forever,” Middlebrooks told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, of his assignment to Pawtucket. “It’s a tough patch I’m just going to have to get through.”
Still, Middlebrooks said that he cannot think about the calendar even as he tries to push his way back to the big leagues sooner rather than later.
“I don’t plan on being down here very long,” he told reporters. “I want to come down here and I want to play very well and show them what they want to see.
“When the time’s right, I’ll be back. They can’t put a time on it, and I can’t either.”
— It was a good night for Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been heating up again as of late. The center fielder went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored and aN RBI. When Bradley was optioned back to Pawtucket after his second major league stint, he endured a bit of a cold streak, going 4-for-24. But in his last nine games, he’s hitting .325 with two home runs and six doubles, raising his Triple-A line to .315/.410/.524 through 35 games. Bradley has clubbed 16 doubles, a triple, and four home runs in his limited time with Pawtucket, and has drawn 20 walks while striking out 32 times.
— Outfielder Mitch Maier drove in two of Pawtucket’s five runs on the evening, going 2-for-3 with a double, a single and a walk. When healthy, the 30-year-old Maier has been one of the more productive members of the PawSox lineup, batting .308/.429/.462 through 28 games. He’s 13-for-his-last-37 with eight RBI in his last 10 games. Maier has exhibited a lot of patience at the plate as well, walking almost as many times (22) as he’s struck out (23).
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: RAINED OUT VS. BINGHAMTON
— Despite the off-day, the Sea Dogs enjoyed a well-decorated day. Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo was named to the All-Star Futures Game, while third baseman Garin Cecchini is one of five finalists who can be selected for addition to the U.S. Team via fan voting.
Additionally, four Sea Dogs were named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. Ranaudo (7-2, 2.28 ERA) was also selected for the contest, joined by three teammates: corner infielder Michael Almanzar (hitting .280/.341/.483 with 11 homers and 49 RBI), catcher Christian Vazquez (.224/.335/.360 with four homers and 25 RBI while throwing out an eye-opening 45 percent of runners attempting steals) and left-hander Drake Britton (6-6, 3.74, 7.7 strikeouts per nine, 3.2 walks per nine).
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 12-3 WIN AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)
— Keury De La Cruz continues to be a run-producing machine. His 2-for-5 day including a double in two plate appearances with runners in scoring position. On the year, the 21-year-old now has 53 RBI in 74 games thanks to a robust .337/.366/.510 mark with runners in scoring position (compared to a .238/.277/.369 line with the bases empty). He is tied for the Carolina League lead in RBI.
— Deven Marrero went 2-for-4 with a double and walk, extending his hitting streak to six games, with multiple hits in five of those contests. The 22-year-old is hitting .462/.500/.538 during that stretch.
— Right-hander Noe Ramirez continues to look dominant as a reliever. The 23-year-old recorded 1 1/3 shutout innings with two strikeouts (allowing one hit), and has recorded 9 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen with nine strikeouts and two walks in that stretch. On the year, he has a 2.11 ERA in 47 innings with 44 strikeouts and just nine walks; he hasn’t allowed a homer. Those results, and the consistency that has yielded them, suggest a pitcher with a shot at moving up to Double-A Portland before the end of the year.
— Left-hander Mickey Pena logged his second straight strong start, allowing one run on four hits (a single, a homer and two doubles) with three walks and three strikeouts.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-5 WIN VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)
— Shortstop Jose Vinicio continued to show improvement at the dish, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. It was the slight 19-year-old’s second straight game with two doubles, continuing his most promising (one might also suggest his first promising) stretch of the year. He now has a five-game hitting streak in which he’s 10-for-18 with four doubles, a walk and just two strikeouts. While that stretch has improved his line to just .212/.263/.295 for the year, it’s not too late for Vinicio to salvage his year with a strong second half, something that could position him to advance to High-A Salem by next season, when he would still be one of the youngest players at the level (20).
— For the first time since May 21, right-hander Francellis Montas logged as many as five innings. The hard-throwing 20-year-old allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits, walking out two and striking out five. While his 6.41 ERA and nine homers in 60 1/3 innings represent concerns, his 70-to-22 strikeout-to-walk rate (with 10.4 punchouts per nine) continues to offer some suggestion of potential as a future big league arm.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 9-4 LOSS AT TRI-CITY (ASTROS)
— Outfielder Kendrick Perkins — who spent last year in Lowell — continues to be one of the most impressive early-season performers for the Spinners. The 21-year-old went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, improving to .360/.467/.480 in his first seven games. The 2010 sixth-rounder also spent last year in Lowell, hitting .223/.314/.358 in 42 games before a season-ending concussion, performing well enough to garner a season-opening assignment to Greenville this year. But he was sent to extended spring training after just seven games in which he hit .174/.240/.217.
In his return to Lowell, however, observers suggest he’s looked like a completely different player from the one who struggled for much of last year in the New York-Penn League, demonstrating increased confidence and comfort while making obvious strides in his strike zone management. He walked 17 times and struck out 60 times last year in Lowell; so far this year, he has five walks against just eight strikeouts.
— Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. It was his second multi-hit game of the year, and the 19-year-old Spinners leadoff hitter now also has five walks and just one strikeout through seven games.
— Rehabbing right-hander Chris Carpenter gave up a run and a hit but struck out three in his inning of work. He has six punchouts and one walk in 5 1/3 innings of work with the Spinners.
ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 1-0 WIN VS. GCL RAYS
— Left-hander Daniel McGrath submitted his second straight dominant outing, tossing five shutout innings in which he gave up two hits, walked one and struck out eight. In two starts, the 18-year-old has given up one run in 10 innings (0.90 ERA) while punching out 14 and walking one.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 9-4 WIN AT DSL MARINERS
— Third baseman Victor Acosta continued his strong start, going 2-for-4 with a pair of homers (his second and third) and a walk. Acosta’s three homers are one more than the rest of the 17-year-old’s teammates have combined to hit. He is now hitting .257/.381/.457.
— Right-hander Jose Almonte, 17, tossed five innings in which he gave up a pair of unearned runs while striking out six and walking one. In 18 innings, Almonte — the pitcher who received the biggest signing bonus ($610,000) from the Sox during last year’s international amateur signing period — has a 1.00 ERA with 18 strikeouts and seven walks.
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