Red Sox minor league roundup: It’s time to take Daniel Bard off the 40-man roster; Matt Barnes lays a cornerstone for 2014; the ridiculous Mookie Betts; Luis Diaz’s incredible run
|08.30.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
There can be no more illusions.
Daniel Bard‘s latest outing — in which he recorded two outs (one via caught stealing) but walked five and loosed two wild pitches while permitting three stolen bases in a Rookie Level Gulf Coast League contest — offered a bludgeoning hammer of truth. This is where Bard is: Healthy in his return from an abdominal injury, but still exhibiting the same horrific command woes that halted his season in Portland on May 15 (another five-walk outing), this time at the lowest rung of the minor league ladder in the U.S.
There may come a time when Bard is able to overcome his horrific command woes — that have now seen him walk 23 in 14 1/3 innings. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And there can be no secret about that, no more feeling that he’s close to being able to help in the big leagues.
The message has to be clear. The process of rebuilding his career is going to require an acceptance of place. And that begins by making clear where he is.
Bard is a minor leaguer. There is a significant amount of player development in front of him if he is to become a big leaguer again. The time for him to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster is not healthy for him, not healthy for the organization.
The Red Sox will need a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Quintin Berry on Sept. 1. And it should come as no surprise if Bard is taken off the big league roster in order to create that opening.
There is a chance — multiple evaluators of other organizations believe — that another team might take a chance on the 28-year-old, who is still (it is amazing to think) just two years removed from a three-year stretch as one of the top relievers in the big leagues. After all, in 2008, he left behind a year of horrific struggles, found his delivery, saw his stuff become that of an elite reliever and pushed himself to the doorstep of the big leagues. If things once again click for him, there’s a chance he can rebound just as quickly, and other teams might be willing to take a shot that such a thing might happen — particularly given that Bard has an option left next year.
But that’s a risk from which the Sox — and Bard — can’t hide. Right now, the likelihood of him moving forward in his career in the Red Sox organization without a dire change appears remote. For both his own career and for the sake of the Red Sox’ ability to maximize the value of their roster, it’s time to acknowledge that right now, Bard is not a big leaguer.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-0 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
— Matt Barnes turned in one of his most impressive performances of the year in his Triple-A debut, logging 5 2/3 shutout innings while permitting just three hits, walking two and punching out seven. His fastball, according to Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times, was up to 96 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun, and an evaluator at the game said that Barnes featured the best curveball he’d seen from the pitcher he’d seen from him — a pitch that flashed as a big league average offering that had more depth than he’d seen previously, permitting him to work with three pitches with efficiency (86 pitches to record 17 outs) that he’d rarely exhibited this season.
The timing couldn’t be much better for the right-hander. It had been admittedly an up-and-down year for the 2011 first-rounder in Portland, where Barnes was 5-10 with a 4.33 ERA even as he led the Eastern League with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He averaged fewer than five innings a start in Double-A. There were elements of his season — particularly that strikeout rate — that could have offered the pitcher building blocks for next year. But to conclude his regular season by showing the ability to shut down a lineup of players one step from the big leagues permits the hard-throwing right-hander something more tangible as he looks to build towards what team officials view as a bright future as a big league starter.
— Right-hander Anthony Carter recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth, tying a PawSox franchise record with his 24th save. Carter, a 27-year-old, starter poorly, allowing 12 runs and seven walks in his first 8 1/3 innings, with a horrific six-run yield on April 18. But since then, Carter — who features a mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss slider — has gotten his command under control, and has been dominant as a result. In his last 44 games spanning 54 2/3 innings, Carter has a 1.98 ERA with 68 punchouts and just 16 walks.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-3 WIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
— J.C. Linares had a huge night, going 4-for-5 (his first four-hit showing of the season) with two doubles and a triple, driving in a pair of runs on the evening. It’s just more of the same from Linares, who has been on fire over the last week or so, batting an absurd .486/.538/.886 with 12 RBI, three doubles, a triple and three home runs in his last eight contests. The outfielder has been able to boost his overall line with Portland to a solid .270/.350/.435 through 77 games.
“He’s been fun to watch,” teammate Shannon Wilkerson told the Portland Press-Herald of his fellow outfielder. “He’s really coming around and holding down the four-spot in the order. And it’s perfect timing. He’s coming up big when we need him.”
— Wilkerson also had a good night, leading off the game with his fourth home run of the season. It’s been a good month for Wilkerson, his best of the season following a rough June and July. In 26 games in August, the outfielder is batting .320/.408/.476, working 14 walks in 121 plate appearances and clubbing nine doubles, two triples and a home run. The round-tripper to kick off the game ended Wilkerson’s long home run drought; his last longball came all the way back on June 1, 70 games and 258 at-bats ago. Wilkerson’s four home runs match his total from a year ago, while he’s one double short of his 2012 total of 24. The 25-year-old has compiled a .242/.322/.347 line in his first full year with Portland.
— Shortstop Deven Marrero reached base twice with a single and a walk, coming around to score once. Marrero also swiped two bases in the same game for the first time with the Sea Dogs. Marerro has been running often in the past few games, reaching base with five hits and four walks and stealing five times in his last five games. He’s yet to be caught in Double-A, and overall has a 93 percent success rate in 29 attempts this season. Marrero may be showing off his speed with Portland, but he’s yet to club an extra-base hit with 15 singles in 16 gamed in Double-A after hitting 20 doubles and two home runs in 85 games with Salem.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-1 WIN VS. FREDERICK (ORIOLES)
— Salem clinched a playoff berth, winning the second-half title in the Carolina League’s Southern Division. It’s Salem’s first playoff berth since 2009.
— Right-hander Luis Diaz had his second straight dominant outing since his promotion to Salem, tossing seven shutout innings in which he gave up five hits with two walks while punching out six. Diaz is having a striking season that will have to force an assessment of his emergent prospect status. In 17 outings with Greenville and Salem, he has a 1.96 ERA with 94 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 106 innings. Since June 25, in 12 starts, Diaz has a 0.97 ERA — the best mark among any pitcher at a full-season minor league affiliate in that time. At 21, he’s not extremely young, but he is younger than the league average age, and with the ability to command a fastball that has sat comfortably in the low-90s, he’s clearly put himself on the map as someone to monitor going forward.
— Daily Feats of Mookie: Mookie Betts had two hits and a walk. The 20-year-old’s remarkable line in Salem is now .326/.405/.531 with more extra-base hits (19), walks (23) and steals (19) than strikeouts (17).
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 3-1 WIN VS. CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)
— Teddy Stankiewicz continued his run of dominant performances to kick off his professional career, throwing three hitless innings and allowing just a walk while striking out three. Five of the righty’s eight outings have been scoreless showings, and he’s allowed just 12 hits in his 16 2/3 innings of work. The 19-year-old has fanned 13 batters while walking only two and hitting one, and has managed to hold opposing hitters to a .194/.231/.258 line, giving up just four extra-base hits (all of them doubles). Stankiewicz has been extremely impressive through his first eight professional outings, posting a 1.08 ERA and 0.840 WHIP.
— Right-hander Mario Alcantara was also very good in relief of Stankiewicz, tossing four innings and allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks while fanning five. The 20-year-old has had an up-and-down season, but seems to have leveled out in recent piggyback starts (working in four or five inning spurts in relief of starters who are still being stretched out), with a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings since entering out of the bullpen. Alcantara has had iffy command all season, walking an average of four per nine innings while striking out just over seven per nine, while opposing hitters have compiled a .264/.361/.343 line against Alcantara, who has a 3.86 ERA in 56 innings this season, which is a new career-high for him.
— Catcher Danny Bethea had two hits in the game, both doubles, and came around to score one of Lowell’s three runs. Bethea has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games and in six straight, with a .385/.435/.513 line over those 11 games. Bethea struggled in his brief time with the GCL this season, but since being promoted to Lowell, the 23-year-old has hit to the tune of .318/.398/.398 through 25 games. He’s been a big run producer for the Spinners, driving in 17 with four doubles and a home run.
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 WIN AT GCL RAYS
— Nick Longhi, a 30th round selection out of high school who was signed away from LSU, flashed the power potential that led the Sox to him, going 1-for-3 with a walk and launching his first professional homer. Longhi just turned 18 earlier in August.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 14-2 LOSS AT DSL RANGERS (TRAIL BEST-OF-THREE DSL PLAYOFF SERIES, 1-0)
— Luis Alexander Basabe had his third straight playoff game of reaching base multiple times, as the 16-year-old went 1-for-2 with a walk and two steals.
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