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Red Sox minor league roundup: Travis Shaw on a tear, Rubby De La Rosa stumbles, more mashing for Bryce Brentz, Mookie Betts slumps

07.03.13 at 2:36 pm ET

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Tuesday:



Rubby De La Rosa went only three innings on Tuesday night, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five and hitting three batters. De La Rosa threw 73 pitches with 43 going for strikes, getting 10 swings and misses.

It was clear that, although he didn’€™t walk a batter in his third straight start, De La Rosa was suffering from control problems from the get-go on Tuesday, hitting the second batter of the game on the first pitch of that at-bat. De La Rosa had to labor in the first inning, using 22 pitches to escape a two-on, no-out jam after allowing a single and hitting a batter. The second inning didn’€™t go any better for the 24-year-old, who left a belt-high pitch in the middle of the plate, resulting in a line drive home run for Adonis Garcia that snapped a streak of 21 straight scoreless innings. He then hit (former Red Sox) Brent Lillibridge and allowed a single and a double before settling down to retire the side, though he did hit another batter with two outs. De La Rosa’€™s best inning was the third, in which he retired the side with two strikeouts and a fly out after allowing a leadoff single.

The outing was De La Rosa’€™s shortest since April 30, and the most earned runs he’€™s allowed since June 2. The home run he allowed to Garcia was the first home run he’€™s given up in four starts. Through 15 starts and 58 1/3 innings on the year, De La Rosa owns a 2.47 ERA, striking out 61 while walking 25. Opposing hitters are batting .191 against De La Rosa.

Based on his overall body of work, De La Rosa was named to the Triple-A International League All-Star game.

Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in two of Pawtucket’€™s four runs, hitting his sixth home run of the season, leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo shot to right. Bradley went 2-for-5 on the day with a single in addition to his home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Bradley had been only 1-for-13 since having his seven-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-5 day on Saturday. The outfielder is batting .300/.387/.529 through 41 games with Pawtucket.

Bryce Brentz smashed his team-leading 16th home run in the bottom of the second inning, a bases-empty shot to right that came on a 1-2 pitch. Brentz drove in his 52nd run, also good for the team lead. With 16 home runs, Brentz is far and away the club’€™s most prominent home run hitter, being the only current Paw Sox member with more than 10 home runs (though Brandon Snyder, currently with the major league club, has 10). In 71 games this season, Brentz is hitting .270/.322/.491 with 14 doubles and a triple, as well as 19 walks in comparison to 73 strikeouts.

— A day after clubbing two home runs, Will Middlebrooks went hitless for the first time since returning to Pawtucket, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He was caught looking both times. The third baseman also flew out to right field and popped out to the first baseman in foul territory. Middlebrooks saw 16 pitches on the day, including a six-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Through six games since being demoted, Middlebrooks is batting .240/.296/.480 with two home runs, two walks and five strikeouts.



Travis Shaw provided the heroics in the second game of the day for Portland, clinching the club’€™s doubleheader sweep with a walk-off home run in the eighth inning, his second home run of the contest. Shaw also sent a deep line drive over the right field wall in the first inning, driving the first pitch he saw from Trenton starter Nik Turley into the stands.

Shaw, who has been hot as of late, reached base in all four of his plate appearances in the nightcap, drawing two walks in addition to the two home runs. He also drew a walk in the first game, but went 0-for-2.

Hitting home runs and drawing walks are two things Shaw has been able to do quite well as of late; the first baseman is batting .379 over his last nine games with four home runs, while he has drawn 10 walks over the same span. Shaw continues to show signs of turning a corner in what had been a disappointing season, raising his slash line to .240/.367/.402 through 76 games for Portland. He once again looks like the player in the Sox system with the greatest likelihood of being a future everyday first baseman.

— Right-hander Keith Couch was credited with the third shutout of his professional career, going seven innings (in a shortened game, due to the doubleheader) while allowing only one run on five hits and striking out eight, tying his career-high for strikeouts in an outing. Couch, who began the year in the bullpen and has made only four starts on the year, got into trouble early, giving up a single and subsequent RBI double to begin the game. It was relatively smooth sailing from there on out, though. Couch didn’€™t allow another hit until the sixth inning, and walked only one batter on the day (he also hit a batter). The right-hander threw 85 pitches in the complete game effort, with 59 going for strikes, and eight of those going for swinging strikes.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I got ambushed [in the first inning],’ ” Couch told the Portland Press-Herald on Tuesday. “From there I just kicked it up another notch. I had to mix pitches early because they were obviously looking for the fastball.’€

The 23-year-old Couch has bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen throughout his professional career, but has seemed to find success in the early going as a starter in Double-A. Since joining the rotation on June 9, Couch has posted a 3-0 record with a 2.31 ERA, striking out 21 and allowing 23 hits in 25 2/3 innings. In a relief role, Couch compiled a 4.78 ERA in 37 2/3 innings pitched for Portland this season.

— After Couch gave up a run in the first, Tony Thomas would supply the starter and the Sea Dogs with all the offense they’€™d need, sending a two-run home run over the wall in left-center with two outs in the bottom of the inning. It was the third straight game Thomas homered in, though he would go 1-for-4 with a single in the second game of the doubleheader. Thomas battled Trenton starter Sean Black after the pitcher had walked Garin Cecchini with two outs, and Thomas sent the seventh pitch of the at-bat out of the park for his 10th long ball of the season. The second baseman/left fielder has now hit safely in his last four games, and has gone 14-for-45 (.311) with four home runs, three doubles, and 14 RBI in his last 11 games. Thomas is batting .242/.305/.451 through 74 games this season, and ranks second on the Sea Dogs with 51 RBI.

–       Reliever Noe Ramirez made his Double-A debut in the second game of the twin bill, and was immediately thrown into a high-pressure situation. Ramirez entered the game with two runners on and nobody out in the fifth inning. But Ramirez gets a lot of ground balls, an ability that came in handy in the situation.

He was able to induce a double play and a ground out to escape the jam unscathed. Ramirez was almost perfect through three innings of work, with his only blemish coming in the form of a lead-off solo home run off the bat of Tyler Austin in the seventh inning. Unfortunately, that home run, which was the first the reliever has allowed this year, tied the game at six.

But otherwise, Ramirez’€™s debut was impressive; he threw 40 pitches through three innings of work, striking out two. Ramirez posted a 2.11 ERA in 47 innings and 21 appearances in High-A this season, striking out 44 while walking nine. He’€™d gone five scoreless outings (8 2/3 innings) before being promoted to Double-A.

Ryan Dent’€™s first home run of the season came at a crucial time. It looked like Trenton would escape from two walks to lead off the sixth inning after reliever Tommy Kahnle struck out the next two batters, but Dent made him pay, hitting a three-run jack on the first pitch of the at-bat, giving the Sea Dogs a one-run lead. Dent, who has bounced between Double-A and Triple-A all year, has hit .271/.377/.356 with three extra-base hits through 59 at-bats with Portland. The three RBI on the day brought his Double-A total to nine on the season.



— Right-hander Kyle Kraus, 23, worked five shutout innings of relief, punching out four and walking none. In 18 innings in Salem, he has 12 punchouts and just two walks, following a 29-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate in Greenville.

— Outfielder Brandon Jacobs went 2-for-4 with a double, and while he’s been somewhat inconsistent in the second half, he’s showing clear signs of more regular impact in the batter’s box. The 22-year-old has a solid .277/.358/.511 line with three homers and two doubles in 12 games since the All-Star break.

— Right-hander Kyle Stroup was charged with the loss after giving up one run in one inning, though his removal from the start was a product not of his performance but instead of a rain delay.



— Lexington starter Daniel Stumpf threw a seven-inning no-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader.

— Right-hander Francellis Montas had his best start in more than a month, logging a season-high six innings while allowing one run on six hits (the damage coming on a solo homer). He walked four — matching his season-high for walks — but struck out six. The outing marked the first time since May 21 that the hard-throwing 20-year-old had permitted two or fewer runs.

Mookie Betts is now in his most pronounced slump of the season. After failing to reach base in seven plate appearances on Tuesday, he’s now gone three straight games without reaching base for the first time all year, going 0-for-11 in that spell. Over his last six games, he’s 2-for-23 with three walks and seven strikeouts.



— Imposing right-hander Simon Mercedes continued to impress, tossing six shutout innings while allowing two hits and two walks and punching out three batters. He has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings spanning three starts, though somewhat surprisingly given his power stuff, he has just five strikeouts against six walks.

—  Outfielder Aaron King went 3-for-7 with a double and a homer in the doubleheader — a performance that might not have been noteworthy for a 24-year-old but for his unusual career path. King was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by the Giants as a pitcher. In five years in San Francisco’s system, he went 12-12 with a 4.51 ERA and more than a strikeout an inning, spending nearly all of his pro career at different A-ball affiliates save for a three-game stint in Triple-A last year that preceded his release by the Giants. He moved to the outfield in indy ball this year, and the Sox acquired him earlier this year; he’s now trying to advance as a late-starting outfielder.

Cleuluis Rondon, 19, went 4-for-6 with a double in the doubleheader, recording a pair of hits in each contest. The switch-hitter is 4-for-9 this year against lefties.



Alex Speier contributed to this report.

Read More: aaron king, brandon jacobs, bryce brentz, francellis montas
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