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Red Sox minor league roundup: Walks, walkoffs for indefensible Mookie Betts; Travis Shaw, Henry Ramos scorching; Matt Barnes shelled

05.23.14 at 11:15 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

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– All six of the opposition’s runs were charged to Matt Barnes, who lasted just three-plus innings while giving up eight hits and three walks while striking out four. Barnes got into trouble right out of the gate, walking the first batter he faced, but rebounded to get back-to-back looking strikeouts. But he’d pay for the leadoff walk, giving up a two-run home run on a 1-0 pitch with two outs in the inning. He’d allow two home runs on the evening.

There was no easy inning for Barnes, who gave up runs in every frame. He gave up four straight singles and a walk without recording an out in the fourth inning before he was pulled with 74 pitches on the night. He issued first-pitch balls to 11 of the 20 batters he faced.

Not only was it Barnes’ shortest outing of the season, it was his worst as well. He set season-high marks in runs, hits and home runs allowed. Barnes had previously been able to complete at least five innings in each of his five starts, and hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing. Additionally, over his last two contests, he’d struck out nine while issuing just two walks. With the rough outing, Barnes’ ERA jumped from 2.89 to 4.35 on the season, and he took his second loss of the year.

Dalier Hinojosa relieved Barnes in the fourth, and limited the damage in impressive fashion, coming in with the bases loaded and subsequently striking out the side. Hinojosa would go on to pitch the fifth inning as well, allowing a walk and a single (and unleashing a wild pitch) before striking out two, while Christian Vazquez picked a runner off third base for the final out of the inning.

Hinojosa has had some ugly outings over the course of the season, but he’s in the midst of a very solid run, allowing just one earned run over his last eight innings (five appearances) while giving up three hits and two walks and striking out 13. The strikeouts have been there for Hinojosa all season, but he’s been racking up a ridiculous amount lately; through his first seven outings, he was averaging just over 7 1/2 strikeouts per nine innings, but that number has jumped to almost 14 1/2 over his last 10 innings of work.

Ryan Lavarnway put together his third three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4, though all of his hits were singles. The 26-year-old’s power outage continues; he’s had just one extra-base hit in his last 15 games, though that hit was a home run. Through 42 games, Lavarnway, who once hit 32 home runs in a season and had posted a slugging mark of .612 back in 2011, has just eight extra-base hits on the season, while his OBP (.362) is actually higher than his slugging percentage (.344).

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

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– Feats of Mookie: Walks and walkoffs. Mookie Betts matched a career-high by reaching base five times, on a day when he made the lone instance of putting a ball in play a memorable one.

After he walked in his first four plate appearances, Betts — after falling behind, 0-2 — drilled a 94 mph fastball down and away into the right field corner for a two-run, walkoff triple, a somewhat remarkable display of plate coverage when behind in the count.

Here’s the triple:

The performance bumped up Betts’ OBP from .440 to .454, and perhaps more significantly, offered an indication of how quickly he’s capable of nipping slumps in Double-A. After a six-game stretch in which Betts went 3-for-21, he’s bounced back by going 3-for-7 with two doubles, a triple and five walks in his last three games. All of that further underscores the notion of Betts as a hitter who displays uncommon maturity and skill at a time when he is still one of the youngest players in the league.

A look at Betts’ spray chart suggests a player for whom an opposite-field is more than an accident.

 

The takeaway: Mookie Betts cannot be stopped.

– First baseman Travis Shaw keeps mashing. The 24-year-old went 1-for-3, crushing his 10th homer (and fourth in his last eight games) and claiming a walk. The 2011 ninth-round pick has shown the same impressive approach that he featured in the Arizona Fall League, driving the ball to all fields (particularly from left-center to the right field line) while driving up pitch counts and getting on base. Shaw now has a .307/.401/.548 line for the season, and he ranks third in the Eastern League in homers and RBIs, and he joins teammate Betts as the only players in the league with an average of at least .300, an OBP in excess of .400 and a slugging mark over .500.

– Outfielder Henry Ramos continued his month-long tear by going 3-for-4. The 22-year-old has seven games of three or more hits in the last four weeks. In his last 28 games, starting with a four-hit contest on April 25, Ramos is hitting a Betts-ish .404 with a .451 OBP, .567 slugging mark, two homers and 11 extra-base hits.

Derrik Gibson, getting regular playing time thanks to Sean Coyle‘s stay on the DL, has been getting on base at a strong clip, reaching by walk or hit in 25 of his 27 games while hitting .313 with a .408 OBP and .337 slugging mark.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-3 LOSS VS. WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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– Right-hander Pat Light threw a career-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits (two doubles and a homer) and two walks. He got groundballs in volume, recording 12 outs by grounder, but he didn’t strike out a batter. After striking out more than a batter an inning to open the season in Greenville, Light has fanned less than one batter for every two innings in Salem.

– Right-hander Kyle Martin gave up a pair of runs on four hits, but he also recorded five of his seven outs by strikeout without walking a batter, bringing his striking strikeout-to-walk rate for the year to 38-to-4 (9.5-to-1) in 28 1/3 innings.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-2 LOSS VS. AUGUSTA (GIANTS)

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– Right-hander Jonathan Aro fired four shutout innings of relief, allowing three hits while punching out five without a walk. He has a 1.29 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks in 28 innings.

– First baseman Jantzen Witte continued to be one of the foremost doubles machines in baseball, going 1-for-4 with his 19th two-bagger of the year (in 41 games).

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