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Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts unstoppable; Steven Wright dominating; Deven Marrero streaking

06.24.14 at 10:17 am ET
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Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been consistently excellent since joining the PawSox this year. (Kelly O'Connor, PawSox)

Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been consistently excellent since joining the PawSox this year. (Kelly O’Connor, PawSox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN AT SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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– Feats of Mookie: Doing what Mookie does. Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 2-for-4 night and stealing his sixth base since being promoted (he’s been caught two times). He also drew a walk and struck out twice. Just a week ago, Betts’ average in Triple-A had fallen to .267, but he’s hit .389 over his last eight games, boosting his line through 20 games with Pawtucket to .321/.402/.457 in which he’s reached base in every contest. As Red Sox outfielders went a combined 1-for-11 on Monday night in Seattle, Betts’ consistent production at the highest minor league level makes him a viable option to provide an offensive spark to a struggling offense.

Steven Wright earned his second win of the season with seven innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits. He didn’t allow a walk while striking out seven, the third time in five starts he’s punched out seven or more. The knuckleballer is averaging exactly one strikeout per inning since returning to action at the end of May, and owns a 1.80 ERA through five starts and 30 innings. He’s allowed no more than two earned runs in any of his outings this season. Though less heralded than other pitching prospects in the Sox system, the Sox would be comfortable calling up Wright for a spot start based on how he’s throwing.

Will Middlebrooks, on a rehab assignment with the PawSox after suffering a fractured finger, was scratched from the lineup as he experienced swelling in that fractured right index finger. The third baseman is batting .316 with two walks, four strikeouts and no extra-base hits through 19 at-bats during his rehab assignment. He went 2-for-4 as the DH on Sunday.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-2 WIN VS. NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)

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– The Sea Dogs became the first team in affiliated baseball this year to reach 50 wins, reaching that plateau with a remarkable 50-26 record that attests to the depth of prospects that the Sox have in Double-A.

– Shortstop Deven Marrero, on the same day he was named Eastern League Player of the Week, followed up that performance by going 1-for-4 with a homer that cleared the Maine Monster. The 23-year-old has reached base by walk or hit in 20 straight contests, hitting .387/.448/.560 with eight extra-base hits, 10 walks and nine strikeouts in that time to bring his season line to .291/.371/.430. His four homers in 62 games this year match his total from his first two pro seasons, which spanned 168 games.

– Second baseman Sean Coyle went 2-for-4 with an opposite field homer to right-center, his eighth of the year. In 47 games, the 22-year-old now has a .346/.414/.580 line that represents in part a reduced strikeout rate, as he’s gone from whiffing in 29 percent of his plate appeareances last year to 23 percent this season. He also has 10 steals in as many attempts.

– Right-hander Luis Diaz tossed eight innings, scattering seven hits while permitting just one run to improve to 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two Double-A starts. Diaz walked two and struck out four. In 32 outings (31 starts) in 2013 and 2014, the 22-year-old strike-thrower is now 17-7 with a 2.41 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings in 182 2/3 innings.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS)

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– Starter Justin Haley was hit hard by a lineup that included major leaguers Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos, both on rehab assignments with Potomac. The right-hander was tagged for five runs on eight hits in his six innings, including a three-run blast off the bat of Ramos. The five runs represented a season-high for Haley, who had not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his previous six starts. He’s racked up 14 total appearances on the season. Haley owns a 2.50 ERA as a starter and 2.54 ERA overall through 67 1/3 innings this season.

Jantzen Witte clubbed his first double since being promoted to High-A, going 1-for-4 on the evening. He’s now hit safely in four of his five games with Salem,  going 5-for-19 with a double and a triple, drawing a walk and striking out once. Witte earned a promotion after hitting .330 with a .418 OBP and .554 slugging mark in 65 games with the Greenville Drive and being named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team.

– Outfielder Matty Johnson has hit safely in his last four contests, going 2-for-4 with his fourth triple of the season on Monday night. The 26-year-old is hitting .284/.359/.358 through 19 games this month while compiling a .255/.348/.319 line on the season.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 14-6 WIN AT ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)

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– Left-hander Daniel McGrath pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his pro career, allowing one run on four hits (including a seventh-inning solo homer that ended a shutout bid that he carried through six frames) while walking one and punching out five. In seven starts, the 19-year-old Australian has a 3.97 ERA, having held his opponents to two or fewer earned runs in five of his outings while displaying a solid three-pitch mix (fastball, curve, change) and a feel for changing speeds that has helped him to hold opponents to a .190 average.

– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 2-for-5 with a double and a steal, extending his hitting streak to seven games and improving his June line to .304/.381/.446 with seven steals in eight attempts. Perhaps as notable, despite a punchout on Monday, he has more walks (7) than strikeouts (5), suggesting that despite being young for the level as a 19-year-old, he hasn’t been overwhelmed by older opponents’ stuff. For the year, he’s hitting .272 with a .343 OBP and .402 slugging mark (all above average for the league) while ranking second in the South Atlantic League with 24 steals.

– Catcher Jake Romanski went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, adding to a season defined by his steady offensive performances. The 23-year-old out of San Diego State is hitting .307/.335/.406 this year, hitting better than .300 in each month of the season. He drove in five runs on Monday, improving his line with runners in scoring position to .371/.382/.529. Nine of his 16 extra-base hits have come with runners in scoring position.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 11-3 LOSS VS. CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)

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Shane Victorino went 0-for-3 in his return to game action, making him 0-for-9 on his current rehab assignment, and afterwards declared himself “a culprit” for the Red Sox’ struggles this year by virtue of his absence from all but 21 of the team’s games.

– Third baseman Jordan Betts, drafted this month after his senior year at Duke, continued his outstanding start of his pro career. He went 2-for-4 with a double and homer, and in seven games with Lowell, he now has five extra-base hits (three homers and two doubles) with a .286/.310/.679 line, albeit with one walk and nine strikeouts.

– Second rounder Sam Travis went 2-for-4 with a double, his first professional extra-base hit.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS VS. GCL RAYS

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Jose Almonte, an 18-year-old right-hander who spent 2013 with with Dominican Summer League Red Sox, made his first start of the season, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk while punching out five in his four innings of work. While Almonte walked just one, he also hit two batters. The lanky righty posted a 2.50 ERA in 12 starts last season.

Williams Jerez, taken in the second round of the 2011 draft out of high school, made his first pro appearance as a pitcher, absorbing the loss while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in three innings. He struck out two. Reports on Jerez in extended spring training had the right-hander throwing up to 92 mph, throwing strikes and showing some early effort to incorporate secondary pitches.

Jerez spent 2011-13 playing the outfield in the Sox system after showing five-tool potential out of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn. But he struggled to hit professional pitching, forging a .221/.254/.275 line with 12 walks and 69 strikeouts in 93 games in the Rookie Level GCL and with the Lowell Spinners, and he also dealt with a litany of injuries that limited his offensive development. Thus, the decision was made to move him to the mound given his considerable arm strength, and he appeared to embrace the switch based on his performance and work in extended spring training.

Alex McKeon, who was drafted in the 31st round of this year’s draft by the Red Sox, went 1-for-3 with a double in his second professional game. The 21-year-old catcher hit .311 with 10 doubles in his sophomore year with Texas A&M University before being selected in the draft. Prior to attending Texas A&M, McKeon actually spent a year at Northeastern University in Boston.

– Shortstop Jose Vinicio, who is with the GCL Red Sox on a rehab assignment, went 1-for-4 with a single in his third game since coming back from an injury. He is 5-for-10 with a doubles, three walks and two stolen bases so far on his rehab assignment.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-6 WIN (11 INNINGS) AT DSL METS

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– Right fielder Luis Alexander Basabe reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of walks to boost his line to .310/.446/.507 with 19 walks and 18 strikeouts. All eight of the 17-year-old switch-hitter’s extra-base hits have come against righti-handed pitchers; he’s hitting .345/.500/.600 against righties, compared to .188/.250/.188 against lefties.

– Left fielder Jesus Perez, a recently signed 18-year-old who represents a project with some ability and an athletic 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, showed off a strong arm by recording a pair of outfield assists, one at third base and one at home. He also went 1-for-5 with a double, and is now hitting .208/.345/.292 in seven games.

– Requisite Rafael Devers status report: Still playing in the DSL, the 17-year-old went 1-for-5 with a walk. He’s hitting .346/.448/.564, but is in the midst of a modest six-game slump during which he’s 5-for-25 with two walks, six strikeouts and no extra-base hits.

– Though a less prominent prospect than Devers, center fielder Yoan Aybar — another member of the Sox’ international amateur class of 2013 — is off to a very impressive start as well, particularly given that he’s still just 16. With a 2-for-6 game that included a pair of RBIs on Monday, he’s reached base in 10 of his 11 games so far, hitting .302/.362/.419, including .367/.406/.500 against right-handed pitchers.

Read More: deven marrero, sean coyle, williams jerez,
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