Red Sox minor league roundup: The Other Henry in Portland; Daniel Nava’s strikeout woes; William Cuevas dazzles; Manuel Margot maturing
|05.08.14 at 11:44 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-0 LOSS VS. TOLEDO (TIGERS)
– On the one hand, Brandon Workman allowed only four hits and five baserunners in a season-high seven innings of work while striking out five. He blitzed through those seven frames in just 87 pitches (57 strikes — 65 percent). On the other hand, all four of those hits were solo homers. Workman had retired 19 of 21 batters (permitting only one solo homer) through 6 1/3 innings before giving up solo homers to three of the next five batters he faced.
Of course, Workman and the Sox accept that hard contact and homers are an inevitable, occasional byproduct of his aggressive strike-throwing nature. In his minor league career, he’s averaged 0.9 homers per nine innings in part because he is relentless of his usage of the fastball in the zone, resulting in days such as Wednesday where he works deep but does permit some runs. (The four-homer yield was the second of his career.) In five starts in Pawtucket, he has a 5.00 ERA with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings.
– Infielder Ryan Roberts went 2-for-4 with a double for his fourth multi-hit game in his last five games with a plate appearance. He’s 8-for-20 with three doubles in that time, and he’s gone six games without striking out to improve his line to .286/.333/.381.
– Daniel Nava went 0-for-4 with three punchouts, making him 0-for-7 in his last two games. Though his return to the minors had started well, he’s recently hit a bit of a dry spell in which he’s been swinging and missing with notable frequency. He has struck out 15 times in his 11 games in Triple-A — or one out of every three plate appearances.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-3 LOSS AT READING (PHILLIES)
– Outfielder Henry Ramos is amidst a torrid stretch. He went 3-for-3 with a pair of homers, his second career multi-homer contest, and also added a walk. In his last five games, he’s 11-for-19 with two homers, two doubles and a walk, good for a gaudy .579/.600/1.000 line. The eruption has improved the switch-hitter’s line for the year to .327 with a .361 OBP and .460 slugging mark.
At 22, Ramos is still raw in many respects, as evidenced by the fact that he’s walked six times and struck out on 27 occasions. But while not polished, there are plenty of big league tools he demonstrates: Quality defense with the range and arm to play any of the three outfield positions; raw power and raw speed that show up at times in games (albeit inconsistently); periods where he shows signs of developing an approach at the plate and plate discipline.
He’s a player with a lot of attributes that could help him get to the big leagues; as such, there is in fact at least a decent chance that he will one day be a big leaguer. It’s not difficult to see the 2010 fifth-rounder as a player capable of being at least an extra outfielder off the bench, with a chance that — should some of his tools come together in more consistent fashion — he has the potential to be at some point a starting big league outfielder.
That being the case, if Ramos continues to perform this year in Double-A, he could represent an interesting player for this winter’s Rule 5 draft. Given the upside and the fact that he has solid defensive skills that could play up in the short term while the bat lags behind, a team could view Ramos as the sort of upside gamble who might be worth a $50,000 flyer and a big league opportunity.
– Feats of Mookie: Flexing. Mookie Betts led off Wednesday afternoon’s game with a home run, his fifth of the year. He went 1-for-4. The round-tripper gave him 16 extra-base hits — a striking number through 29 games considering that, in his first season in pro ball with Lowell in 2012, he had nine extra-base hits in 71 games. Put another way: Betts has one fewer total bases (76) this year in 138 plate appearances than he did in more than twice as many plate appearances (292) in Lowell.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 2-1 WIN VS. WILMINGTON (ROYALS)
– Right-hander William Cuevas had a dominating start, allowing one hit and walking none in six shutout innings. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before an error gave Wilmington its first baserunner; that was the only man to reach until Cuevas permitted a clean one-out single in the sixth. The 23-year-old has had an up-and-down season in his return to Salem, with a 6.08 ERA, but at the least, he’s shown the strike-throwing ability (1.7 walks and 6.8 strikeouts per nine in 26 2/3 innings) that gives him a shot to move up at some point this year, particularly if his masterful performance on Wednesday can be repeated. Cuevas told Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times that he made a point of working quickly and not overthinking his pitch selection or mechanics; while averaging roughly 12 seconds between pitches, his Mark Buehrle-esque night yielded spectacular results.
– Right-hander Kyle Martin made quick work of the ninth inning, getting three outs with a punchout and two groundouts. The 23-year-old now has 12.6 strikeouts and 1.4 walks per nine innings in his 10 appearances this year, with at least one strikeout in every game in which he’s pitched.
– Utility man Jonathan Roof, who has played third, second, short and left field this year, reached base in all four plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and two walks. The 25-year-old, who was selected by the Red Sox from the Pirates system in the minor league Rule 5 draft this offseason, is hitting .296/.391/.444.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 12-3 WIN VS. GREENSBORO (MARLINS)
– First baseman Jantzen Witte remained a force in the middle of the lineup, amassing his third straight three-hit game while going 3-for-5 with a homer and a double. In six games in May, the 24-year-old has already collected 10 extra-base hits, going 12-for-25 with eight doubles, a triple and a homer. He’s now hitting .365/.444/.615 for the season, ranking in the top four in all three categories.
– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 2-for-4 with a double and steal while continuing to show signs that he’s making progress in keeping his aggressiveness in the batter’s box under control. The 19-year-old hasn’t struck out in four games and he’s whiffed just twice (while walking five times) in his last nine contests. His strikeout rate this year in Greenville is down to 12 percent from 19 percent last year in Lowell. Meanwhile, he now has 10 extra-base hits — or one every 11 plate appearances, up considerably from the rate of one extra-base hit for roughly every 20 plate appearances last year in Lowell. Those statistics suggest a player who is chasing fewer pitches and doing a better job of recognizing those that he can drive. Margot now has a .286/.352/.449 line.
– Second baseman Wendell Rijo went 2-for-5 with a double, and the 18-year-old continues to outperform his age. The 18-year-old is hitting .328/.458/.500 with 10 extra-base hits in 25 games.
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