Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie can dunk; a hiccup for Henry Owens; the Greenville unveiling of Trey Ball upstaged by an offensive explosion
|04.28.14 at 11:51 am ET|
A brief look at Sunday’s action in the Red Sox minor league system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-7 LOSS AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
— Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up multiple runs for the first time this season, but even as he permitted six runs (four earned), he allowed just four hits (three doubles and a single) in five innings while punching out four and getting seven groundouts (it should have been eight, but an error was committed on one of them). He walked a season-high three batters. Despite the less-than-stellar results on Sunday, De La Rosa has a 2.28 ERA and a 25-to-7 strikeout-to-walk rate in 27 2/3 innings this year, and he remains Pawtucket’s most consistent starter should a need emerge in the Red Sox rotation.
— Outfielder Daniel Nava went 2-for-5 with a homer in his third game in Pawtucket. In his first weekend in Triple-A, Nava went 3-for-11 with a pair of walks, four strikeouts, a homer and a steal.
— Outfielder Bryce Brentz — a player who typically accumulates extra-base hits in bunches — is heating up. He has collected hits in each of the last nine games in which he’s had a plate appearance and reached base in each of the last 14 contests in which he’s stepped to the dish. He went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and hit by pitch on Sunday to improve to .364/.405/.545 in his last nine games. For the season, he’s hitting .259/.347/.412.
— First baseman/catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a double, his second straight game with multiple hits and an extra-base hit. He’s hitting .267/.364/.349, and in characteristic fashion, he’s walking (10) in roughly the same volume as he’s striking out (11) through 99 plate appearances.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-5 LOSS VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)
— Left-hander Henry Owens suffered through his worst results as a pitcher in Double-A, permitting six runs (the most he’s allowed since his promotion to Double-A, and tied for the second-most runs he’s allowed in his career) on a career-high nine hits with three walks and four punchouts. Owens, who opened the year by permitting just two walks in his first 12 2/3 innings (in which he didn’t give up a run), has now yielded 10 free passes in his last 16 frames spanning three starts, during which he has a 6.75 ERA.
— Feats of Mookie: Elevating. Mookie Betts went 1-for-5 with a double to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He’s reached base in each of his 19 games in Portland this year, giving him a 49-game stretch of consecutive games reaching base at least once dating to last year in Salem. Betts did strike out once on Sunday, giving him more strikeouts (8) than walks (7) through his first 19 games this year. Still, he’s hitting .405/.441/.643 for the year.
Betts going 1-for-5 with an extra-base hit isn’t all that interesting. This defensive play from Sunday is:
Danny Watkins, who was in charge of the scouting process of Betts at Overton High School in Tennessee, likely wasn’t surprised by such a play based on what he saw from the 5-foot-9 Betts in a high school basketball game.
“He got the ball on the left wing, made a move to the right, went baseline. I’m thinking, ‘OK, he’s going to lay this ball in,’ and he goes up and dunks it,” Watkins recalled. “It was really eye-opening for me. I’ve always felt like that was the moment that solidified my feelings towards him as an athlete.”
— Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson is a bit old to be considered a prospect (the 25-year-old was drafted in 2009), but he has shown enough throughout his career as a hitter, base runner and defender (he plays all three outfield positions) that it’s not far-fetched for him to maintain his big league aspirations. Since going 0-for-3 on Opening Day, he’s reached base in 18 straight games, with Sunday’s 2-for-4 performance extending his hitting streak to eight games, improving his season line to .333/.388/.458 with four steals in five attempts.
— Right-hander Luis Diaz allowed five earned runs, matching the number he’d permitted in his previous 10 starts dating to last season when he was in Greenville. Diaz had a 0.82 ERA during the 10-start run. But he got hammered for seven hits (three doubles, a homer and three singles) on Sunday while permitting six runs (five earned), striking out four and walking four.
— Aneury Tavarez, 22, continued his intriguing early-season performance, going 2-for-4 with a double to improve his early-season line to .289/.341/.658 with seven extra-base hits after 10 games.
— For the third time this year, right-hander J.B. Wendelken beat the team that drafted him out of Middle Georgia Community College in the 13th round in 2012. Wendelken, traded to the White Sox in the three-way deal that shipped Jake Peavy to the Red Sox and Jose Iglesias to the Tigers, has a 4.13 ERA and a 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk rate in 28 1/3 innings in five starts for Winston-Salem this year. He’d worked exclusively out of the bullpen with the Sox.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 21-6 WIN VS. LEXINGTON (ROYALS)
— The Drive set a franchise record for runs scored. Somewhat remarkably, they did so without benefit of a single home run.
— Left-hander Trey Ball, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, made his 2014 debut for Greenville, picked up the win by limiting the damage during his outing to a three-run second inning. Though he permitted nine hits, five were on groundballs, and Ball generally proved capable of keeping the ball down as he recorded six outs via groundout. He strukc out two and walked one, throwing an impressive 49 of 73 pitches (67 percent) for strikes, working at 89-93 mph (averaging 90 mph), showing a good feel for his changeup and, perhaps most impressively, bouncing back from the potential frustrations of his second-inning hiccup to shut down the opposition for the next three frames.
— Catcher Jake Romanski led the offensive explosion by going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and driving in five. The 23-year-old is hitting .319/.351/.435 with four walks and six strikeouts to date.
— First baseman Jantzen Witte reached base six times, going 3-for-4 with three walks and a double while driving in four. Witte, 24, has reached base in his last 18 games in which he’s had a plate appearance, and he’s now hitting .338/.425/.521.
— Versatile Carlos Asuaje continued his early-season run atop the South Atlantic League leaderboards by going 2-for-3 with a double and three walks. He has 14 walks and 11 strikeouts with 13 extra-base hits in 19 games, and he’s shown the ability to play multiple positions in the infield (second and third) and to play in the outfield (though he committed an error in left field on Sunday).
He now leads the league in average (.379) and OBP (.500) while ranking second in slugging (.652). The left-handed hitter has done almost all of his damage against righties, posting a stunning line of .400/.522/.727 against right-handed pitchers, with all of his extra-base hits coming against pitchers of the opposite handedness. The 2013 11th rounder showed the ability to control the strike zone and get on base in his pro debut last year in Lowell, hitting .269 with a .366 OBP and .368 slugging mark while walking 27 times and striking out 33 times.
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