Red Sox minor league lineup: See Xander Bogaerts leave jaws hanging; Deven Marrero, Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts streaking; a massive presence in the DSL
|08.15.13 at 11:29 am ET|
With the wind blowing in at 14 miles per hour, PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina thought ‘there was no way anyone could hit a home run.’ After all, Xander Bogaerts smoked a line drive to left field in his first at-bat of the day, but despite the solid contact, the ball ended up in the left fielder’s glove and resulted in a line drive double play, with Jackie Bradley Jr. caught about 90 feet off of first base. But in his next at-bat, Bogaerts proved his manager wrong, launching a three-run bomb over the wall in left-center field for his ninth home run in Triple-A.
Bogaerts wasn’t sure the ball had a chance to leave the yard, not with the way the wind had been causing fly balls to die in the outfield. But he knew he got all of it.
‘I watched it a little, but then I saw [Louisville center fielder Billy] Hamilton running and he catches everything. I knew it had a chance, but the wind was blowing in so I wasn’t sure,” said Bogaerts. “I knew I hit it far though.’
‘I had a good view of it, when it got over the dirt, it had a different gear,’ DiSarcina said of the home run. ‘I think if there was no wind, it would have gone off the scoreboard somewhere. I don’t think you can hit a ball better than that, really.’
Here’s the footage of Bogaerts’ ninth home run for Pawtucket:
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The 20-year-old infielder has exhibited impressive power production throughout his career, slugging over .500 in just about every stop through the minor league system. He’s seen a slight dip in his power numbers since being promoted to Triple-A. The home run on Wednesday was Bogaerts’ first in 20 games, though he has hit eight doubles in between the home runs. He’s slugging .476, below his career mark of .493, but his mark far exceeds the league average, which sits around .405. And this is at just 20 years of age, and with only 56 Triple-A games under his belt.
With his 56th game in Pawtucket on Wednesday, Bogaerts has now played the same amount of games in Triple-A as he has in Double-A this season. And while his slugging percentage has seen a minimal drop, he has three more home runs in Pawtucket than he did in Portland this season, while he has just one less double (12 in Double-A, 11 in Triple-A). The difference is in triples. Bogaerts clubbed six triples in just 56 games for the Sea Dogs, an unusually high amount for someone who had just three in 127 games in 2012, and just two in 72 games the year before that. The shortstop has yet to notch a triple with the PawSox.
DiSarcina has been impressed with Bogaerts’ all-around performance since being promoted to Triple-A, but realizes the power potential for Bogaerts represents something special.
‘That’s big-league pop, that’s raw power,’ DiSarcina said of Bogaerts’ longball in Wednesday’s game. ‘That’s what everyone’s excited for with Xander, the ability to hit that far.’
Bogaerts’ power is obviously one of the most important and exciting aspects of his game, but he demonstrated his proficiency in other offensive areas as well on Wednesday. Bogaerts made solid contact in each of his four plate appearances, adding a single and a ground out to the home run and fly out. His fly out in the first was a tough-luck out, a ball that Bogaerts figured ‘on any other day, [would be] a double.’ But his single in his third at-bat was noteworthy not for how hard it was hit, but instead the situation he hit it in. Bogaerts was down two strikes, but protected the plate and lined a chest-high pitch into center.
‘You also mix in a base hit with two strikes, which is as good as the home run in my mind,’ DiSarcina said of Bogaerts’ day at the plate. ‘He was up there fighting, battling, surviving.’
The 20-year-old, who is now in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak and batting .297/.377/.476 in Pawtucket, was also satisfied with his offensive performance on Wednesday. Bogaerts went 3-for-4 in the previous night’s game, but was unsatisfied with how he achieved the results. ‘[Tuesday], I got the two bloopers, but I went home and didn’t feel that good because of the process. Result-wise, it was good with two hits, but I really wanted a line drive,’ said Bogaerts. ‘After the first one today, I knew something was good. I just wanted to barrel up one to make me feel better. I did.’
Bogaerts actually went up to the plate in his third at-bat intending to bunt, showing bunt but taking a strike. The shortstop has not been in many situations where he’s had to drop one down, but that means it’s all the more reason for him to learn.
‘He’s doing it on his own,’ DiSarcina said. ‘He’s starting to figure out that if he does get called up, I think he knows he’s not going to be hitting two, three, four, five in the lineup. He’s going to be down in the order and he’s going to bunt. He wants to get better, he knows he needs to do it. I’d rather see him hit the three-run home run than bunt, but . . . that’s all part of his development.
The key for Bogaerts now is to see as much game action and as many unique situations as possible. DiSarcina talked about the importance of reps, noting that to just work on ‘fundamentals is really counterproductive’ for the prospect, and that ‘what he needs is to play, to be out there every day, he needs to be put in situations where there’s pressure, where there’s decisions to be made, whether it’s on the bases or at the plate or in the field.’
Bogaerts has certainly proven that he’s made yet another smooth transition to a higher level, and that his development is progressing as well as the Red Sox could hope.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)
— David Ross went 0-for-2 with a walk and caught seven innings in Wednesday’s game, making progress in his rehab from a concussion. DiSarcina thought that Ross got stronger as the afternoon went on.
‘I think he was a little sluggish at the beginning, because it was a noon game after the night game but he felt good as the game went on,’ the manager said.
Ross will get the day off on Thursday after catching two days in a row, and he will catch the full nine innings on Friday and Saturday before being reevaluated by the club on Sunday. The catcher is eligible to return from the 60-day DL on August 18.
— Making his third start in a row for the PawSox, Clayton Mortensen was extremely effective through six innings, by far his longest outing of the season, allowing only one run on six hits and two walks while striking out three. With the Pawtucket bullpen full of fresh arms, Mortensen is being stretched out to fill a spot in the starting rotation, and has been very solid in his three outings so far, giving up three earned runs in 14 innings as a starter.
‘We got him up to 79 [pitches], which is stretching him out 20 more than his last [start]‘, DiSarcina said. ‘He was a little bit gassed after his last start, but he’s been effective. I mean, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to get guys out. But we don’t want to wear him out.’
Mortensen has appeared in 12 games for the PawSox since being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, posting a 3.52 ERA in 30 2/3 innings, walking 15 batters and striking out 29.
— Brayan Villarreal, acquired from the Tigers in the trade that landed Jake Peavy while sending Jose Iglesias to Detroit and other lower-levels prospects to the White Sox, was activated from the disabled list and made his first appearance for the PawSox, going one inning and giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one. Villarreal, who throws hard but can become the victim of control problems, was touching 97 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.
DiSarcina referred to Villarreal as a ‘power arm’ and an ‘exciting arm,’ noting that he has ‘an explosive fastball.’ PawSox hitters and coaches have seen plenty of Villarreal, facing the righty in his time with the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate. Villarreal struggled mightily in a brief stint in the majors this season, but had compiled a 3.15 ERA in 34 1/3 innings with the Mud Hens before being dealt, striking out an average of almost 11 batters per nine innings. However, his command problems were notable, walking 26 batters, or an average of just under seven per nine innings.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-5 LOSS (12 INNINGS) AT ALTOONA (PIRATES)
— Shortstop Deven Marrero had his second multi-hit game in as many games, going 3-for-4 with three singles, a strikeout and two sac flies. The 22-year-old is now 5-for-8 with a walk and strikeout in his first two contests since being promoted, and in his last seven games (including his final five in High-A Salem), he has five multi-hit games, going 12-for-26 with a homer, seven walks and three steals, producing a .462/.543/.577 line in the process.
— Catcher Christian Vazquez went 2-for-6, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, during which the 22-year-old (who turns 23 next week) is hitting .413/.431/.457. He’s reached base in 20 straight games, hitting .373/.417/.440 in that time. At a position where offense is rare and at an age that remains young for the level, Vazquez’s offensive year merits attention. He’s hitting .282 (17th in the Eastern League) with a .364 OBP (14th). Though he’s slugging just .388 and has a modest five homers, Vazquez has shown enough offense — in conjunction with his exceptional defensive tools — that he’s pushing himself into the conversation as one of the better position prospects in the Red Sox organization.
— Second baseman Derrik Gibson, 23, is quietly putting together one of his best offensive stretches in years. The 2008 second-rounder went 3-for-5 with a walk and a steal on Wednesday. It was his sixth game of three or more hits since July 5, and during that stretch, he’s hitting .316 with a .420 OBP and .453 slugging mark to boost his season-long line to .254/.348/.357 in 73 games. With Heiker Meneses having been promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket and no immediate plans for the Sox to promote Sean Coyle from High-A, this may be Gibson’s best opportunity to reassert some of the prospect status that he displayed as an athletic middle infielder with defensive tools, speed and plate discipline in 2009 with Lowell.
— First baseman Travis Shaw went 2-for-6 with a triple, his second straight multi-hit game following a stretch of 13 straight contests without a multi-hit game.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-4 WIN (10 INNINGS) AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)
— Right-hander Mike Augliera has underscored the traits in the second half that led the Sox to tab him with a fifth-round selection as a senior out of Binghamton last year, foremost, getting lots of groundballs and throwing plenty of strikes. The 23-year-old tossed 6 1/3 innings while allowing just one run on three hits (a double and two singles) and a walk while punching out four while garnering 11 groundball outs.
Augliera has logged at least six innings in four straight outings with a 1.71 ERA, 10 strikeouts and four walks in 26 1/3 innings over that span. He hasn’t given up a homer in any of his last nine starts, while his 1.69 groundouts per air out on the year rank third in the Carolina League, in a season where he has a 4.02 ERA.
— Second baseman Mookie Betts went 2-for-5, giving him eight straight games of reaching base multiple times. In 33 games since his promotion to High-A Salem, Betts is hitting .283/.360/.458 with 14 walks and 15 strikeouts.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 14-1 LOSS AT AUGUSTA (GIANTS)
— Few players in the Red Sox system show such a drastic separation of prospect ceiling and floor than left-hander Cody Kukuk. The left-hander has tremendous stuff that opposing hitters can rarely do anything against (.189 batting average against, 94 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings), and so when he’s in the strike zone, he’s typically dominant, with a mid-rotation starter’s ceiling. But his control lapses are extreme to an extreme, making it difficult to forecast what kind of development path lies in front of the very talented 20-year-old.
Kukuk couldn’t find the strike zone on Wednesday, issuing six walks that, in conjunction with four hits (three singles and a double), resulted in a yield of six runs in just 2 1/3 innings. It was Kukuk’s sixth outing (in 23 games) in which he walked five or more batters this year.
— Left-hander Jack McGeary had a dominant outing, allowing one hit and one walk in two shutout innings while striking out five. In seven games with Greenville, the 24-year-old Boston native has a 2.84 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks in 12 2/3 innings, though all four of the runs he’s allowed and four of the walks came in one outing.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-1 WIN VS. VERMONT (ATHLETICS)
— Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, the Sox’ second-round pick in this year’s draft, allowed one unearned run in two innings, permitting three hits. He neither walked nor struck out a batter. In five games spanning nine innings, the 19-year-old has allowed one earned run and has yet to walk a batter, though in three of his five outings, he hasn’t struck out anyone.
— Right-hander Mario Alcantara tossed five shutout innings, allowing one hit while walking four and striking out two. The 20-year-old has had an up-and-down campaign this year with Lowell, with Wednesday marking his fourth outing of five shutout innings, outings that are interwoven with three in which he’s yielded six or more runs.
— Outfielder Forrestt Allday went 1-for-3 with a double, two walks and two strikeouts. The four plate appearances without contact represent the continuation of something of a pattern for the 22-year-old, who has 22 walks and strikeouts in 24 games while hitting .273 with an impressive .443 OBP. The double marked his fourth extra-base hit of the season.
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-0 LOSS VS. GCL ORIOLES
— Right-hander Jalen Williams, taken by the Sox in the 16th round this year, made his pro debut with a scoreless inning in which he yielded one hit.
— Left-hander Randy Perez allowed two runs in four innings, but continued to be a groundball-producing machine. He produced eight groundball outs, improving his groundball-to-air out rate to 2.52-to-1, tops in the Gulf Coast League.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 9-0 WIN VS. DSL MARINERS
— Colossal left-hander Dedgar Jimenez continued his dominating run through the DSL. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound 17-year-old delivered six shutout innings, punching out six while allowing three hits and two walks. He has three straight starts of six innings, having allowed one earned run over those 18 innings while punching out 15 and walking four. In 12 starts, Jimenez has a 1.26 ERA (fifth best in the DSL) with 8.4 punchouts and just 1.4 walks per nine and a 0.88 ERA.
— Third baseman Victor Acosta went 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs, improving to .250/.325/.385 — strong marks given that he plays on a field that is one of the more offense-suppressing environments in the DSL.
Alex Speier contributed to this report.
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