Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts betrays no weaknesses; Travis Shaw goes off; Anthony Ranaudo cruising
|06.26.14 at 11:35 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 16-5 WIN VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)
— First baseman Travis Shaw had a mammoth game, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a homer along with a walk while driving in five. The extra-base hits were all intriguing in their own ways — both doubles came against lefties (Shaw’s first extra-base hits in Triple-A against southpaws) while the homer, Shaw’s third in Pawtucket, came against a position player in Cord Phelps. The game snapped an 0-for-12 stretch and elevated his line to .266/.305/.413.
— Feats of Mookie: Betraying no weaknesses.
Mookie Betts reached base four times in six plate appearances, going 3-for-5 with three singles and a walk. It wasn’t his most dazzling game — two of the hits were of the infield variety (and probably should have been outs), and one was a broken-bat 12-hopper up the middle. Still, Betts showed excellent speed getting out of the box to earn the infield singles, and he also made an impressive play in center field in which he got a great break on a pop-up to shallow center and came streaking in to catch the ball on the run, continuing the positive early impressions of his work in center.
“The initial reads that he makes, the speed that he has as far as closing speed on the ball have been terrific,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “The initial test that he’s had here has been a pretty good impression. He’s been engaged with the corner outfielders, done a nice job that way. He studies. But you can’t go wrong with an athlete like him.
“He’s going to be a much better defender two years from now or a year from now. That’s just gaining experience. But the initial start of what we’re seeing, he’s done some things that are pretty advanced.”
The overall body of work he’s amassed in Triple-A remains extraordinary. In 21 games since his promotion from Double-A, the 21-year-old has reached base at least once in all of them. He’s hitting .337 with a .418 OBP, .465 slugging percentage, 12 walks, 13 strikeouts, six steals and six extra-base hits. He’s not driving the ball with the same frequency that he did in Portland (where he had 27 extra-base hits in 54 games), but he’s spraying line drives all over the place while showing outstanding plate discipline.
“I just think he’s a quick study, a quick learner. I really do,” said Boles. “He gets the information that’s on paper, takes what he needs. The one thing he’s done really well is he’s not trying to digest everything. The outside influence, the attention, he’s able to block that out and just play. … With that, from an offensive standpoint, very athletic at the plate, quality lower half, above-average hand speed and he has plate coverage. I think once he knows how pitchers are going to try to exploit him, his weaknesses — if he has any; at this point we haven’t seen that — he’s studying. He knows what guys are trying to do and he makes his adjustments. It’s pretty impressive.”
And with the news that Shane Victorino will be slowed in his rehab after suffering back stiffness on Tuesday, the Sox’ need for a right-handed bat remains acute.
As of Wednesday night, the Sox still didn’t appear to have plans to call him up for the forthcoming series against the Yankees. But regardless of whether or not the organization chooses to open the door for the 21-year-old, he is knocking on it very authoritatively.
— Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo didn’t have his most overpowering stuff, but he threw strikes with his fastball (which sat at 90-92 mph and touched 93-94) and curveball while mixing in his slider, working to both sides of the plate in a way that limited hard contact. He gave up just two hits — a double to the wall in center on which Mookie Betts might have had a play and an infield single — with the double and a liner off the back of Ranaudo’s leg representing the only truly hard hit balls against the 6-foot-7 right-hander. Ranaudo walked one, continuing a four-start stretch in which he’s had excellent control (four walks in 24 2/3 innings) and outstanding results (1.11 ERA).
In 16 starts, Ranaudo is now 8-4 with a 2.54 ERA, 7.7 strikeouts per nine and 4.1 walks per nine (a number that he’s brought down considerably in the last two weeks) while limiting opponents to a .208 batting average. Through the same number of starts in his breakthrough 2013 campaign, the 2010 supplemental first-rounder was 8-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts per nine and 3.2 walks per nine while holding opponents to a .194 average.
On a night when Pawtucket had a number of long innings, Ranaudo was pulled after five innings — in part as a precaution after his liner off the leg, though he was fine and stayed in the game after getting stung. (Indeed, he was able to finish the 1-3 play.) He threw 52 of 76 pitches (68 percent) for strikes.
— Second baseman Ryan Roberts had his second straight three-hit game, going 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of homers. The 33-year-old has been playing very well since the beginning of May, with a .301/.349/.490 line in 40 games, and he’s hitting .300/.338/.617 with three homers and 12 extra-base hits in 65 plate appearances against lefties.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: RAINED OUT VS. NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-1 WIN VS. CAROLINA (INDIANS)
— Left-hander Corey Littrell had a strong outing, tossing six innings in which he allowed one run while scattering seven hits (six singles and a double) and punching out five. The 22-year-old has endured considerable inconsistency this year, but in his last three starts, he has a 2.60 ERA in 17 1/3 innings with 14 punchouts and four walks.
— First baseman Jantzen Witte continued his solid early transition to High-A, extending his hitting streak to five games by going 2-for-4 with a double. In six contests with Salem, the 24-year-old is hitting .304/.320/.478 with two doubles, a triple, one walk and one strikeout.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 11-4 LOSS AT ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)
— Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz was hit hard, allowing six runs on 10 hits (including five doubles and a homer) in five innings while walking one and striking out four. The 20-year-old entered the contest having gone 13 innings without permitting an earned run in his prior two starts. The home run snapped a stretch of 69 innings without getting taken deep; Stankiewicz permitted two longballs in his first start of the year on April 6 and had allowed none following that until the fifth inning of Wednesday’s contest. The homer was hit by a left-handed hitter; lefties are hitting .317/.366/.455 against Stankiewicz, while righties have a season line of .232/.287/.335.
— Outfielder Manuel Margot went 1-for-4 with a triple, extending his hitting streak to nine games and giving him four extra-base hits in a three-game stretch. He now has eight extra-base hits in June, a month in which he’s hitting .313/.380/.547 with seven walks, six strikeouts and seven steals in 17 games.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-4 WIN VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS)
— The Spinners honored former top Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland by retiring the No. 25 that he wore while playing for Lowell in a spectacular 2009 campaign. Nick Canelas has the story of a once-remarkable prospect who is no less remarkable in his post-playing career.
— Nick Longhi, making his second straight start at first base after opening the year with nine contests as a corner outfielder, went 2-for-4 with his fourth double and fifth extra-base hit of the young season. The 18-year-old is hitting .324/.333/.486 so far in Lowell.
— Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went 2-for-4, and the 19-year-old has now reached base in all 11 games in which he’s played so far this year. He’s hitting .289/.340/.378 with four walks and three strikeouts.
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 7-0 WIN VS. GCL RAYS
— Third baseman Victor Acosta, who had a head-turning eight homers in the DSL last year, went deep for the first time this year, hitting a grand slam as part of a 3-for-4 game that also included two doubles. The 18-year-old had entered the game 0-for-11 with two walks and two strikeouts.
— Left-hander Dedgar Jimenez tossed five shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while punching out two. The 18-year-old recorded 10 groundouts and only two balls were hit to outfielders against him (both singles).
— Rehabbing shortstop Jose Vinicio went 1-for-2 with a triple and two walks. In five rehab games in the GCL, he has seven walks — more than half as many as the 12 he negotiated in 107 games in Single-A Greenville in 2013.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-1 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. DSL NATIONALS
— Rafael Devers Watch: Still in the DSL, and starting to heat up again. Devers went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a strikeout. The 17-year-old improved to .357 with a .462 OBP and .583 slugging mark with 10 extra-base hits, 17 walks and 15 strikeouts through 22 games.
— Outfielder Yoan Aybar had his third multi-hit game in his last five contests, going 2-for-4. The 16-year-old left-handed hitter is hitting .294/.345/.392 with five doubles in 13 games. His athleticism has not yet translated to base stealing prowess, however — Aybar got caught stealing, and is now 1-for-5 in stolen base attempts this year.
— Jhonathan Diaz, a 17-year-old left-hander, worked into the sixth inning for the first time, throwing 5 1/3 shutout innings in which he allowed three hits and three walks while striking out four. The three walks were seemingly uncharacteristic — Diaz entered the game having issued just two free passes in his first 17 innings. On the year, he has a 2.01 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 22 1/3 innings spanning five starts.
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