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Red Sox minor league roundup: Versatility and the fast track for Mookie Betts; Travis Shaw’s rampage; below-the-radar pitching prospects emerging

05.22.14 at 9:49 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: OFF DAY

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-1 WIN, 6-5 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

Feats of Mookie: A return to normalcy (more or less). Mookie Betts went 2-for-6 with a pair of doubles, got hit by a pitch and walked in the doubleheader. He was in centerfield for both contests, having played just one game at second base since his center field unveiling on Sunday. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that Betts likely will see time in the outfield corners as well going forward.

“He’s played centerfield so far, he’ll probably see some action in both of the corners at some point also. This is a pretty natural thing to do,” said Cherington. “He’s always run out to the outfield every day during [batting practice]. He’s very athletic. It comes very natural to him. That’€™s another way, when you get to the upper levels of the system, we try to  increase the options and increase the flexibility. For the time being, you’ll see him split time between the outfield and second base.”

The fact that the Sox are giving Betts what appears to be a crash course in the outfield rather than more deliberate exposure is at the least intriguing given the depths of the team’s outfield struggles. While it would be difficult to presume that Betts could reach the big leagues by the end of the season — particularly given that he doesn’t *have* to be added to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting him from the Rule 5 draft until after the 2015 season — it would also be a mistake to rule out completely the possibility that his rapid ascent through the system could see him finish the year in Boston. Betts is now hitting .368/.440/.575 with six homers, 16 doubles, 23 walks, 14 strikeouts and 19 steals.

— Right-hander Keith Couch continued his masterful season, pitching a seven-inning complete game in which he scattered nine hits (seven singles, two doubles), walked one, punched out two and induced three double plays while permitting just one run. In nine starts, Couch is 6-0 with a 2.39 ERA, 6.8 strikeouts per nine, just 1.9 walks per nine and no homers allowed while getting tons of groundballs. He is rarely discussed among Red Sox prospects but he’s showing the consistent execution of a future big leaguer.

— First baseman Travis Shaw went 3-for-6 with a homer (his ninth) and a pair of walks in the doubleheader. The Sox wanted to see Shaw excel on a sustained basis in Double-A before moving up to Pawtucket; they’re seeing just that. Though he got off to a woeful start, hitting just .114 with no extra-base hits through his first 10 games, he’s been a force since that time, hitting .359/.431/.648 with nine homers and 18 extra-base hits in his last 33 games. During that stretch, he is second in the Eastern League in average, third in OBP and first in slugging.

— Left-hander Robby Scott pitched three scoreless innings in the nightcap in which he allowed two hits, no walks and struck out three for the win. He has a 0.70 ERA on the season, and has been scored upon in just one of his 11 outings.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-2 WIN, 4-1 LOSS VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

— Right-hander Justin Haley turned in a six-inning, three-run, eight-hit, two-strikeout performance after turning in seven shutout innings in his prior start. The eight hits were the highest number allowed by Haley in an appearance this season. The 23-year-old sports a 2.21 ERA with a .234 batting average against so far this season. While Haley has often been on the back end of piggyback starts, thus limiting his innings in several outings, he’s been outstanding the four times that he’s taken the ball for the start of games, averaging six innings per outing with a 1.88 ERA, 21 strikeouts and five walks in 24 innings.

As he did last year in Greenville, Haley is showing the ability to get swings and misses and groundballs. But in contrast to a year ago, he’s also living in the strike zone. Haley is averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings this year — down from 5.3 per nine in 2013.

— Right-hander Luis Diaz continued his recent run of strong starts, logging six innings and permitting two runs while walking one and punching out a season-high seven for the win in the first game of the doubleheader. The 22-year-old has pitched at least six innings while allowing exactly two runs in each of his last three starts, good for a 2.84 ERA. He’s punched out 17 and walked just one over 19 innings in that span. On the year, Diaz has a 5-3 record and 3.50 ERA, showing a willingness to throw strikes (2.5 walks per nine) that is in keeping with his dominant performance in Greenville and Salem a year ago, when he walked 2.1 batters per nine while forging a 1.96 ERA in 101 innings.

— Second baseman Reed Gragnani went 0-for-6 in the doubleheader, and he’s now hitless in his last three games, with the 24-year-old reaching base just once in those contests. So far in 2014, Gragnani has hit .331 with five doubles, four triples and 22 RBI with a .408 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY

Read More: Justin Haley, Keith Couch, mookie betts, travis shaw
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