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Red Sox minor league roundup: Britton promoted, Workman bounces back, another solid outing for Ranaudo, Owens falters

07.06.13 at 2:21 pm ET

The Red Sox added to their expanding Triple-A depth on Friday with the promotion of starter Drake Britton to Pawtucket. Britton is the second Portland starter to make the move to the PawSox rotation, with Brandon Workman making the jump over a month ago.

Britton’s last Double-A start was a good one, going seven innings without allowing a run while giving up seven hits and three walks, striking out four. This season with Portland, Britton has enjoyed one of his longest stretches of sustained success in his professional career, going 7-6 with a 3.51 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 80 batters while allowing 36 walks. Britton gave up only five home runs in 97 1/3 innings, good for a rate of 0.5 per nine innings.

The 24-year-old has been impressive lately, compiling a 2.68 ERA in his last six starts and 40 1/3 innings pitched, while he’s given up three runs or less in seven of his last 10 starts. He’s held left-handed batters to a .187 average, striking out 30 in only 107 at-bats.

There’s been some discussion as to whether or not Britton is a guy who will stick in the starting rotation, or if his future is ultimately as a reliever. Either way, Britton will continue to start games for Pawtucket for the time being. In a corresponding move, Terry Doyle was sent to Double-A Portland to make room for Britton on the roster.

Here’s a look at what else happened throughout the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:



– Coming off of his worst start in Triple-A in which he allowed four home runs in four innings, Brandon Workman got back on track in a big way on Friday, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five. Workman got himself into a bit of trouble in the first, giving up a triple to lead off the game and walking a batter with one out, but ultimately struck out the side to escape the jam. The right-hander has allowed three runs or less in five of his six starts since being promoted to Triple-A, and the outing was his second scoreless performance for the Paw Sox. Overall for Pawtucket, Workman owns a 2.80 ERA in six games, striking out 34 while walking 13. Workman would get a no-decision despite the impressive start, getting no run support from the Pawtucket offense.

– Reliever Brock Huntzinger took over for Workman with one out in the seventh and held Rochester scoreless for 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit, walking two and striking out four. Huntzinger, who was promoted from Double-A Portland in mid-June, has been very solid out of the bullpen for the PawSox, allowing runs in only two of his nine appearances thus far and posting a 2.03 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. The righty has fanned 14 batters while walking five, and opposing batters are hitting only .174 against him. The 2 2/3 inning-performance was good for Huntzinger’s longest outing in Pawtucket and second-longest of the year.

– Like the rest of the Paw Sox offense, Will Middlebrooks had a quiet day on Friday, going 0-for-3 with a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance. The third baseman also grounded into a double play, grounded to the second baseman, and hit into an 8-4 double play when Jeremy Hazelbaker was doubled off second base on a fly ball to center. Middlebrooks is now batting .297/.350/.649 since returning to the PawSox. He’s drawn three walks and struck out five times, though he hasn’t fanned in his last three games.



Anthony Ranaudo would suffer the same fate as Workman, receiving a no-decision after a solid start thanks to a ninth-inning implosion in which the Rock Cats scored five runs off the Portland bullpen. Ranaudo went seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three. It was the third time in 16 starts this season in which Ranaudo finished seven innings.

Ranaudo got into trouble in the first inning, allowing a lead-off walk and a subsequent single and sacrifice fly to give New Britain a 1-0 lead. The starter did not enjoy a clean inning until the fifth, but got better as the game went on, throwing 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth while walking one in the seventh but striking out pinch-hitter (and highly touted prospect) Miguel Sano to finish his evening. Ranaudo threw 94 pitches with 59 going for strikes. His three strikeouts stand as his lowest total so far this season. In 16 starts and 91 innings this year, Ranaudo owns a 2.67 ERA and 1.044 WHIP, striking out an average of over nine batters per nine innings while walking an average of just over three per nine innings. With Workman and Britton being promoted to Pawtucket, it would make sense for Ranaudo, who has been extremely solid all season, to be next in line for a promotion as well.

“I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is be here and take care of my business,” Ranaudo told the Portland Press-Herald. “Eventually when the Red Sox think I’m ready, I’ll be up there.”

– In what very well could be his final outing before the All-Star Break, Will Latimer, the Portland reliever who was picked for the All-Star team to replace Britton, turned in his worst performance of the season. Latimer gave up five runs, although none of them were earned thanks to a two-out error by third baseman Michael Almanzar that kept the inning alive and allowed a run to score. After that, Latimer, who had already thrown an inning and two-thirds in relief up to that point, then allowed a double (with a throwing error on the play by second baseman Derrik Gibson, allowing the runner to advance to third) and two singles before being lifted for Mike McCarthy. Latimer allowed a total of five runs on six hits in his outing, blowing his second save and taking his fifth loss of the year. Latimer has had only two save opportunities, blowing the save in each of them. Despite this, his ERA, which remained unaffected by the disastrous ninth inning, stands at 2.18 through 33 innings out of the Portland bullpen, though his WHIP has risen to 1.606. Latimer has walked 15 and struck out 32 in 19 appearances.

Garin Cecchini did more Garin Cecchini-like things on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a single and a double, his fifth double since being promoted. Cecchini, who was not selected to play in the Futures Game despite being on the final fan vote, is now hitting .375/.500/.542 through 14 games in Double-A, and his .375 average is good for the seventh best in all of minor league baseball. Cecchini also struck out once on the evening, his 13th strikeout in 60 plate appearances with the Sea Dogs.



Henry Owens could be one of the dominoes that falls after Britton’s promotion to Triple-A, with a move to Portland possibly looming in his near-future. But Owens did not appear to help his case with one of his worst outings of the season on Friday. Owens’ control was all over the place, walking five, including two in the first inning, while allowing five runs on six hits through only two innings. It was the second start in a row (and third overall) in which Owens walked five batters.The two inning-start was Owens’ shortest of the season.

Owens threw a total of 73 pitches with only 37 going for strikes. With the bad outing, the 20-year-old’s ERA ballooned from 2.91 to 3.40 through 16 starts on the season. Owens did have three strikeouts on the day, bringing his total to 93 while allowing 39 walks in 79 1/3 innings. The lefty, who had posted a 1.65 ERA in his last six starts before getting lit up on Friday, may still be poised for a promotion at some point soon, given his overall success against the Carolina League this year.

Blake Swihart, who had been hitless in his last four games, had two of Salem’s four hits on the day with two singles in three at-bats. Despite the recent mini-slump, Swihart has enjoyed a solid season at the plate in his first year with Salem, hitting .276/.356/.429 in 62 games with 15 doubles, six triples, and two home runs.

Programming Note: Swihart will join “Down on the Farm” on WEEI on Sunday at 8:30 am.

Manuel Rivera, who was appearing in only his third game for Salem, was the only pitcher who could quiet the Carolina offense. He pitched the last three innings of the game, holding Carolina scoreless and hitless while allowing a walk and striking out four. Rivera began the year in High-A before being sent back to Greenville; however, he was recently recalled, making his first appearance since being brought back to Salem on Friday. Rivera has not allowed a single run in nine games (14 2/3 innings) between Greenville and Salem this season, striking out 12 while walking eight and allowing only seven hits.



Mookie Betts enjoyed his second two-hit day in a row on Friday, reaching base three times with a double, single and a walk. Betts also drove in a run and scored twice. Even with the two multi-hit games, Betts is batting only .194 over his last eight contests, and has not hit a home run since May 24, a drought that’s reached 32 games. However, Betts is still batting .296/.420/.483 with 24 doubles, a triple and eight home runs through 73 games, drawing 57 walks while striking out only 39 times.

– Outfielder Drew Turocy contributed to Greenville’s offensive onslaught with a three-hit day, driving in two and coming just a home run short of the cycle on the day. Turocy has been heating up recently, batting .327/.340/.490 over his last 12 games and hitting safely in all but one of those contests. Turocy is batting .288 with a .337 OBP and 23 doubles and five triples through 66 games with Greenville this season.

Aneury Tavarez also had three hits on the day, bringing his average to .375 over his last nine games. Tavarez reached base four times with a double, two singles and a walk.



Tzu-Wei Lin was the first batter to greet first-overall draft pick Mark Appel to professional baseball, and he did not give him a warm welcome. Lin tripled to center field off of Appel and came around to score on a Manuel Margot ground out. Lin ended the day 2-for-4 with a single in addition to the lead-off triple. The 19-year-old shortstop is batting .316/.394/.456 with four doubles and two triples in 15 games for Lowell, walking eight times while scoring nine runs.

Cleuluis Rondon hit safely in his fifth straight game, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Rondon is 9-for-18 in his last five games, while hitting .289 overall on the season.

Sergio Gomez made his third start of the year for Lowell, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out four. The 19-year-old Colombia native owns a 2.18 ERA through 20 2/3 innings with the Spinners, striking out 24 batters while issuing only two walks, with one of those free passes coming in Friday’s start.



– Third baseman Aneudis Peralta recorded the only multi-hit day for the GCL Red Sox, singling twice for his first two hits of the season.

– 19-year-old Willie Ethington made his third start of the season, throwing three scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and striking out one. Ethington has struck out seven while allowing only one walk in 10 innings so far this year.



— Shortstop Javier Guerra, 17, went 2-for-4 to extend his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 10. He’s hitting .185 but with a .410 OBP during that stretch, a reflection of a 5-for-27 tally but with 10 walks and four strikeouts. It was his third multi-hit game in 10 contests this year.

— Catcher Jhon Nunez, 18, paced his team’s offense with a 3-for-4 day that included a triple, an RBI and three runs scored. Nunez is hitting .260/.348/.364 in 23 games.

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