Red Sox minor league roundup: Manuel Margot keeps putting on a show; Deven Marrero doubling up; Pat Light dominating; Joe Gunkel nasty
|04.12.14 at 11:39 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-4 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Brock Holt, who started at shortstop, continued is torrid start to the season, going 4-for-5 with a double and a homer. He’s hitting .481 (second in the International League) with a .548 OBP (third) and .704 slugging mark (7th), with three walks and just one strikeout thus far.
– Though he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout, outfielder Bryce Brentz also walked twice — the first time in his Triple-A career that he’s accepted multiple walks in a game. Though he’s hitting just .179, Brentz has shown an uncharacteristically patient approach in the early stages of the season, with five walks and six strikeouts in his first 33 plate appearances.
– Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 2-for-4 on a day when all of his plate appearances came against right-handed pitchers. He’s hitting righties at a .455/.520/.500 clip, but he’s 0-for-7 with three strikeouts and no walks against lefties.
– Left-hander Rich Hill had his best outing of the season, tossing a pair of scoreless innings in which the lone baserunner he permitted (on a single) was quickly erased by a caught stealing (with catcher Christian Vazquez doing the honors on the throw to second). Hill struck out two.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-2 WIN VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)
– Shortstop Deven Marrero went 3-for-5 with a double, his fourth two-bagger of the season for Portland — a noteworthy contrast to his season-ending promotion to Double-A a year ago, when he didn’t have a single extra-base hit in 19 games. Power is by no means Marrero’s foremost attribute, but the Red Sox do believe that he possesses the potential to collect extra-base hits as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter who hits the occasional homer. His double to right-center on Friday continued an early-season validation of that belief. To date, Marrero is hitting .370/.393/.519 with the four doubles in seven games.
– Sean Coyle, playing second base, went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. At times when Coyle controls his effort level — something typically reflected by his walks totals — he flashes the skills to be one of the Sox’ best offensive prospects, given his uncanny ability to drive the ball when making contact. But in High-A over the last two seasons, the 22-year-old has been prone to becoming too aggressive. But, for now, he’s off to a solid start in Portland, hitting .320/.393/.480 in his first seven games. He’s reached base in seven of his last 13 plate appearances. Caveat: Coyle got off to an incredibly hot start last April in Salem before cooling considerably (the byproduct of both losing his approach at the plate and injuries — with the two perhaps interrelated), so the measure of his progress will come from a longer-term view. Still, team officials did feel that he was showing a more relaxed approach at the plate in spring training.
– Under-the-radar prospect Mickey Pena allowed one run on five hits (three doubles, two singles) in five innings, walking two and striking out three. The 23-year-old left-hander doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he’s a strike thrower who mixes his four pitches well.
– First baseman Stefan Welch went 2-for-4 and matched a Double-A career-high by driving in five runs, three on a bases-loaded double. The 25-year-old spent parts of the last two years in the Eastern League while a member of the Pirates organization.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-5 LOSS VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)
– Right-hander Justin Haley had a somewhat pedestrian line — five innings with two runs allowed on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts — but all of the hits were singles (three of the groundball variety), and he kept the ball on the ground in noteworthy fashion, with his 15 outs breaking down as the four punchouts, 10 groundball outs and just one flyball. In his first two outings of the year in Salem, the 22-year-old has been a groundball machine, with 22 of his 24 outs coming by groundball (14) or strikeout (8).
– Right-hander Simon Mercedes got shelled, allowing five runs on three hits (including a three-run homer) and two walks while striking out one. On the one hand, his line could have been considerably different had a potential inning-ending double play been converted. On the other hand, after an error on the pivot by second baseman Reed Gragnani allowed a run to score and prolonged the inning, Mercedes failed to limit the damage, giving up a walk, double and homer to the next three hitters, resulting in his five-run yield.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 13-2 WIN VS. KANNAPOLIS (WHITE SOX)
– Right-hander Pat Light had his second straight strong start in Greenville, firing six innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits (all singles) while striking out five, walking none and recording eight groundball outs. He retired the final 10 batters he faced. Light — who never pitched more than five innings in any of his 10 starts with Greenville last year — now has worked back-to-back six-inning starts in which he hasn’t walked anyone. He has 15 strikeouts thus far this year. Light is now a bit old for the level (23), with the pedigree (2012 supplemental first-rounder out of college) to suggest that, now that he quite literally has his legs under him after trying to pitch through a torn hamstring last year, he likely needs to be challenged with an early promotion to a more age-appropriate level this season. Nonetheless, given the contrast between his early dominance this year (2-0, 2.25 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 0 walks in 12 innings) and his struggles in Greenville a year ago (1-4, 8.89 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 14 walks in 28 1/3 innings), the early results offer considerable encouragement for both the pitcher and his organization.
– Right-hander Joe Gunkel, a 2013 18th-rounder, submitted an overpowering outing, retiring all nine batters he faced and striking out seven to earn the save. He elicited 15 swings and misses (13 on his fastball, two on his slider), on a night when Kannapolis’ hitters clearly had little ability to pick up the ball from his hand using his low three-quarters arm slot, a delivery that is somewhat evocative of that of Justin Masterson.
Here’s what he looks like on the mound:
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– Outfielder Manuel Margot continued his dynamic early-season performance, going 2-for-4 with a homer (his third of the season) and a double, later scoring from first on a double to left. The right-handed-hitting 19-year-old is now hitting .296/.345/.667 with four extra-base hits, two walks and three strikeouts in seven games.
– Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin had a double off the center field wall as part of his 2-for-5 night, an unexpected show of power for the slight 20-year-old. The extra-base hit was the first of the season for Lin, who is off to a strong start, with a .417/.484/.458 line.
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