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Red Sox minor league roundup: Bradley Jr. activated, Middlebrooks makes his case, Owens racks up the strikeouts, Feats of Mookie returns, Sean Coyle mashes

08.10.13 at 12:44 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Tuesday:

Left-hander Henry Owens threw six no-hit innings for High-A Salem on Wednesday. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Left-hander Henry Owens has struck out 19 batters in 10 innings since being promoted to Double-A. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

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- Jackie Bradley Jr. made his return from the disabled list on Friday, serving as the desginated hitter and going 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, striking out twice. Bradley landed on the DL back on July 31 (remember the panic and speculation on the 30th when he was pulled from the game?) with right elbow inflammation, irritating the elbow after making a throw to the infield. The outfielder had been slumping prior to his trip to the DL, batting .171 in his last 11 games, albeit with eight walks in 51 plate appearances. Overall, Bradley is hitting .274/.375/.481 in 59 Triple-A games this season.

- The Red Sox aren’t getting a whole lot of production out of the third base position lately. This month, the combination of Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder have gone a combined 3-for-30 (.100). But Will Middlebrooks is making a case for himself, trying to assert himself ahead of Xander Bogaerts as the club’s first choice for a call-up. Middlebrooks didn’t have a spectacular day at the plate on Friday, striking out looking twice (one time on three pitches) and grounding into a double play. But he came through when it counted, knocking in a run with a two-out single. Middlebrooks has been very productive when it comes to such situations; in Pawtucket this season, he’s batting .310/.396/.643 with runners on and two outs, and .333/.419/.704 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Middlebrooks has driven in 28 runs in his 39 games since returning to Pawtucket, which is good for sixth in the International League in that time frame.

Middlebrooks has really been heating up lately, hitting safely in eight straight games and batting .333/361/.545 with two home runs, a double and five RBI over the life of the streak. That streak raises Middlebrooks’ line to .264/.314/.447 since being sent back to Triple-A. Middlebrooks has made three straight starts at third base, and has gotten the start in the field in nine of his last 10 games, serving as the DH once.

Anthony Ranaudo‘s second start in Triple-A didn’t go quite as smoothly as his first, but then again, his four-hit, six-inning shutout performance in his Pawtucket debut is hard to top. Ranaudo went five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw 89 pitches with 56 going for strikes. Ranaudo had the most trouble in his first and last innings; he gave up three hits that led to two runs in the first inning, while pitching to four batters in the sixth, all of whom reached. Despite giving up eight hits, the right-hander wasn’t hit particularly hard, allowing only singles and no extra-base hits. Ranaudo is now 1-1 with the PawSox, posting a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings so far.

- After a brief bump in the road after returning from his appendix surgery, reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith seems to be getting back to his lights-out ways in Pawtucket. Rowland-Smith relieved Ranaudo in the sixth inning, using just five pitches to record three quick outs and strand a runner. The left-hander has posted a 83 percent left-on-base rate this season, well above his career average of 71 percent. In his two innings on Friday, Rowland-Smith allowed just one single while striking out one. Aside from a 1 1/3 inning, three run outing back on August 1, Rowland-Smith has been just as good since returning from the DL as he was before he went on it. In 29 appearances and 48 2/3 innings this season, Rowland-Smith has posted a 1.48 ERA (the best of any pitcher in Pawtucket) and 1.007 WHIP.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-7 WIN VS. BOWIE (ORIOLES)

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- He’s only been in the Eastern League for a week, but in that week, Henry Owens leads the league in strikeouts with 19 in only 10 innings. Owens was impressive again in his second start for Portland, going four innings and allowing two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. The BaySox got to Owens in the third inning and tagged him for two runs, including a solo home run, but otherwise Owens looked dominant. The only problem was his efficiency; Owens threw 90 pitches total in only four innings, and while he struck out the side in the fourth inning (while also walking a batter), he took 32 pitches to do so. The lefty threw 56 of his pitches for strikes, with 12 of those coming as swinging strikes. In two starts and 10 innings in Double-A, Owens has allowed only two runs (a 1.80 ERA) and has racked up more than twice as many strikeouts as hits allowed.

- Reliever  Noe Ramirez was charged with a blown save when he allowed an inherited runner to score, but he also received his first Double-A win, going 2 1/3 innings and allowing two hits while striking out two. No runs were charged to Ramirez. Since being promoted from High-A, Ramirez hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was in High-A, but has been solid nonetheless, posting a 3.27 ERA and 1.045 WHIP in 10 appearances (22 innings) with the Sea Dogs, closing out five games for them and earning two saves. The 23-year-old righty is averaging over nine strikeouts per nine innings with Portland, which is one batter more than his average with Salem this season.

Derrik Gibson had a huge day at the plate, going 4-for-4 (his first four-hit showing of the season) with three doubles and a single, driving in three runs and scoring twice. The impressive performance may be what Gibson needs to break out of an ugly slump in which he’s batting just .185 in his last nine games, although he has drawn five walks in that span. The three doubles adds to Gibson’s total of 14 in 70 games this season, and the four-hit day raises his line on the year to .255/.349/.365.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-4 WIN VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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- Feats of Mookie: It’s back! Mookie Betts had an impressive day at the plate on Friday, going 1-for-2 with a home run (his third since being promoted), a two-run shot with two outs in the inning. Betts also reached base twice more with two walks, and stole his 12th base. Betts has yet to be gunned down on the basepaths since joining Salem.

The power Betts showcased in Greenville this season has followed him to Salem, at least somewhat. Though he does have three home runs and two triples, Betts has only four doubles (compared to 24 in Greenville, but obviously the sample size in High-A is much smaller for Betts). He’s slugging .429 as compared to .477 in Single-A. But it’s his on-base numbers that have seen a more dramatic drop-off since the promotion; the second baseman’s OBP has fallen from .418 in Greenville to .339 in Salem. But while Betts hasn’t been walking as often, he also hasn’t been striking out more than he did at a lower level. If anything, he’s striking out slightly less. The 20-year-old’s transition to a higher level hasn’t been a failure by any means; Betts is still hitting .255/.339/.429 in 28 games, with an OPS higher than many of Salem’s regulars.

- Center fielder Henry Ramos contributed two doubles and a RBI in Salem’s offensive onslaught, going 2-for-6 with a run scored and two strikeouts. Ramos has really been struggling as of late, batting just .141/.263/.234 with five extra-base hits in his last 16 games. He actually doubled his number of two-baggers in the last 16 games with two doubles on Friday. In 108 games this season, Ramos has compiled a .256/.341/.424 line, knocking in 50 runs with 12 home runs, 19 doubles and five triples, though he’s gone 64 at-bats without a home run.

Deven Marrero notched two hits for the third time in his last three games, going 2-for-4 with two singles, a walk, and a RBI. He also swiped his 21st base. Marrero has showed great speed, stealing at a 91% success rate and ranking first on the Salem club in stolen bags. The shortstop seems to be getting hot after batting just .103 in seven games prior to his streak of three multi-hit games. The 22-year-old is batting .258/.343/.329 in 83 games this season.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 14-1 WIN AT ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)

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- Second baseman Sean Coyle  continues to work his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him for almost two months, and had one of his best days of the season at the plate on Friday. Coyle went 4-for-5 with a walk and drove in four runs while scoring four times, clubbing two doubles and a two-out, three-run home run out of the leadoff spot. The three-run blast was Coyle’s first home run in four games with Greenville, and his second since returning to game action. Although it’s a small sample size of only four games, Coyle is batting .389/.421/.667 in 19 plate appearances with the Drive. Since returning, the 21-year-old is batting .263/.349/.474 with four walks and 11 strikeouts in 10 games between the GCL and single-A.

- Justin Haley set a new career high in strikeouts after tying his career-high in his last outing, fanning nine hitters in his seven innings of work on Friday. Haley was dominant, allowing only five hits and a run. He didn’t walk anyone, but did launch three wild pitches. The sole run he allowed came in the form of an inside-the-park home run.

Haley has been a strikeout machine in his last couple starts, totaling 17 strikeouts in his last 13 innings. Four of the last six outs he recorded on Friday came by way of the strikeout. He threw almost nothing but strikes, tossing 87 pitches with 66 going for strikes, while 21% of those strikes were swings and misses. The 22-year-old righty has been extremely consistent for Greenville all season, but especially in his last 15 starts. Dating back to May 14, Haley has posted a 2.52 ERA, while oposing batters are hitting just .216 against him. He’s struck out 75 batters in his last 78 2/3 innings, but has also allowed 40 walks.

- Shortstop Dreily Guerrero blasted his first home run of the season and his first since 2010 in the DSL on Friday, driving in a run and scoring three times. He also reached base with a single and a walk. Guerrero, 22, has struggled mightily in his second year with Greenville, hitting only .162/.237/.222.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 5-4 LOSS AT STATEN ISLAND (YANKEES)

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- Starter Corey Littrell was less than sharp on Friday, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings and receiving the first loss (actually, the first decision) of his professional career. Littrell did strike out the side in the second inning, however. The 21-year-old fifth round pick in this year’s draft has been impressive overall in his first minor league appearances, with a 2.30 ERA in seven starts (15 2/3 innings). He gave up multiple runs in an outing for the first time on Friday. The left-hander is averaging almost 10 strikeouts per nine innings, while he’s walked close to five batters per nine.

- Brayan Villarreal made his second appearance in a rehab stint with Lowell, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out two. Villarreal, who is working his way back from a thumb injury that has sidelined him since July 12, has gone 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Spinners.

- Third baseman Carlos Asuaje had gone hitless in five straight games (14 plate appearances) prior to a 2-for-4 day on Friday. He also drove in a run and drew a walk. The slump caused Asuaje’s line to fall from .250/.382/.375 to .230/.361/.333 through 30 games this season. But despite the lack of offensive production, Asuaje has still managed to get on base often, and has drawn 18 walks compared to only 15 strikeouts in 110 plate appearances this season.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 WIN AT GCL TWINS

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- First-round draft pick Trey Ball made his third start for the GCL Sox, allowing two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out one in an inning and two thirds. Ball has given up five runs (though only three earned) in his 4 1/3 innings thus far.

-Second baseman Wendell Rijo continues to excel in the GCL, going 2-for-4 with a double, his 12th of the year. Rijo was stuck in a funk for nine games, but has gone 5-for-9 with three extra-base hits and three RBI in his last three contests. The 17-year-old is batting an impressive .287/.385/.391 with 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in 33 games this season.

- 19-year-old lefty Randy Perez was strong in relief, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings while giving up just three hits and a walk. He earned the win, his second of the season. Perez has been solid in his nine appearances this season (seven starts, two relief outings), with a 2.31 ERA and 0.949 WHIP in 39 innings.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-0 WIN VS. DSL ASTROS

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- Pitching was the story for the DSL Red Sox in their 2-0 victory. Strong performances from starter Daniel Gonzalez, Samir El Halaby, and Victor Ramirez led to the shutout win. Gonzalez threw six innings of three-hit ball in his first start, striking out seven batters, which sets a new-career high for the righty. Gonzalez has been dominant all season in relief, notching three saves for the Sox and posting a 1.14 ERA in a total of 39 1/3 innings this season.

El Halaby continues to be nothing short of lights-out, throwing two innings in relief while allowing a hit and a walk. The 18-year-old has allowed just one earned run in 22 innings, giving him a 0.41 ERA.

Ramirez closed things out with a near-perfect inning of work; he allowed one hit, but struck out the side. Ramirez also has compiled a tiny ERA in his time in the DSL this season, allowing two earned runs in 24 2/3 innings (a 0.73 ERA) while striking out 23 batters and walking only six.

- Left fielder Raiwinson Lameda continued his hot streak with a 3-for-4 day on Friday, reaching base with two singles and his third triple of the season. Though he’s batting a modest .233/.291/.312 on the season, Lameda, 17, has put up a .361/.378/.472 line in his last 10 games. Lameda also swiped his sixth base of the season, although he’s been caught five times.

- Shortstop Javier Guerra had one of the two RBI on the day, going 2-for-3 with a double. Guerra has been on fire recently, batting .406 with a .441 OBP over his last nine games with two doubles and three RBI. The 17-year-old is hitting .241/.356/.288 with eight doubles in 48 games this season.

 

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