Red Sox minor league roundup: Chris Martin, the next Daniel Nava story?; the unstoppable Mookie Betts; Dan Butler, big leaguer-to-be; Madison Younginer re-emerges
|09.09.13 at 12:49 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday, which yielded a pair of playoff wins:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 WIN VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS); WIN BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 3-2, TO ADVANCE TO GOVERNOR’S CUP FINALS
— Right-hander Chris Martin inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth inning, and managed to work out of it in the game’s pivotal sequence and then added another pair of scoreless innings in what proved the game’s most pivotal stretch. Martin punched out Chris Parmalee and then negotiated a flyout by Aaron Hicks, both former first-rounders who played in the majors at times in 2013.
Martin went on to fire two additional no-hit innings, finishing the day with 4 1/3 innings in which his only blemish was one walk. He struck out two.
The 27-year-old Martin does not fit the traditional profile of a relief prospect, but that is because he doesn’t really fit any profile of a professional baseball player. Drafted both out of high school by the Tigers (27th round) in 2004 and again after his freshman year at McLellan (Texas) Community College by the Rockies (21st round) in 2005, he declined to sign both times, but then shoulder woes — which required surgery — as a sophomore appeared to effectively end his career. Martin went five years without pitching.
But he decided to play in a local league, and discovered that, with restored health, he was in a different league than the players he was competing against, and so he went the indy league route and signed with Grand Prairie in 2010. He dominated, resulting in an invite to try out for the Red Sox. Martin did so and made a formidable impression, given his 6-foot-7 frame and ability to dial up a mid-90s fastball. The Sox gave him a chance, and three years into his pro career, Martin has made the most of it, showing the ability to get swings and misses with his fastball and slider while pounding the strike zone. Last fall, he tightened his slider in the Arizona Fall League and the result has been stretches of considerable dominance this year.
Including his 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs, Martin has a 2.93 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 1/3 innings since his early-season promotion to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland, where he dominated (21 scoreless innings, 27 strikeouts and 6 walks) at the start of the year. He’s closing out the year in dominant fashion in Triple-A, with a run of 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings (and counting) for the PawSox, with 14 strikeouts and just two walks in the run.
The right-hander has put himself in position to go from obscurity to an improbable part of the Red Sox’ big league relief depth equation. Because he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft until after the 2014 season, he hasn’t been in such a position yet, but as next season unfolds, Martin may well get his opportunity to follow in the footsteps of fellow former indy leaguer Daniel Nava with an improbable story of odds-defying success.
(Martin’s story was first explored at some length by Even Lepler in this excellent writeup.)
— Scouts of four different organizations in recent weeks have characterized Dan Butler, 26, as a big league ready catcher, base on his ability to handle a pitching staff and his impressive offensive showing in 2013, his first year in some time in which he got an extended opportunity to be the primary catching option at a level. Butler was 2-for-4 on Sunday and 4-for-11 with a double in the series, on top of a year where he hit .262/.350/.479 with 14 homers. Given that he’s already on the 40-man roster and that the opportunity to expose catchers to the big league setting (and the advance preparation work for series) is particularly valuable, the overall performance has positioned Butler to be a likely Red Sox call-up once Pawtucket’s season concludes.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-0 WIN AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, 2-0
— Right-hander Mike Augliera was dazzling, continuing Salem’s outrageous run of pitching in the postseason (0.95 ERA in 38 innings) by scattering six hits (all singles) in 6 2/3 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. The seven punchouts matched a season high for the 23-year-old, who is in his first full pro season after being taken by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2012 draft as a senior out of Binghamton. Augliera has logged 147 innings in his pro debut, forging a 4.04 ERA while showing a tremendous ability to get groundballs and keep the ball in the park. He’s allowed just one homer in his last 72 innings dating to June 29. He also has permitted just 2.4 walks per nine.
— Right-hander Madison Younginer continued to show signs that he’s acclimating to life in the bullpen. He fired 2 1/3 perfect innings of relief, striking out two, and the 22-year-old (a 2009 ninth-rounder who received bonus in line with a supplemental first-rounder) has 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 1/3 innings along with a 1.42 ERA since returning from the DL in late-July. Younginer has been one of the hardest throwers in the Sox system for some time. If he is able to throw strikes, he’ll continue moving up the ladder.
— Feats of Mookie: Making it look easy. Mookie Betts went 3-for-4 and is now 6-for-13 with a double and two walks in the playoffs, good for a .462/.563/.538 line. He’s reached base in 34 straight games for Salem since Aug. 2, with a .423 average, .500 OBP and .642 slugging mark while walking 18 times and striking out 10 times.
— Sean Coyle is closing out the year on a positive note, having gone 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk in his second game back from the DL. He’s 3-for-9 with two of Salem’s six extra-base hits in the postseason.
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