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Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes sheds trouble with the curve; Sam Travis makes mark in Greenville

08.03.14 at 3:42 pm ET
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For years, the assessment of Matt Barnes has been straightforward: Great fastball that can get swings and misses in the strike zone; changeup that was non-existent in college but has developed into a solid big league average pitch; needs a breaking ball.

But the fact that Barnes hasn’t had a consistent breaking ball in his professional career is not to be confused with the idea that he can’t spin one. And on Saturday, the 24-year-old demonstrated how well he can spin the pitch and what can happen when he can spin it for strikes.

Barnes combined a 97 mph fastball with a devastating 12-to-6 hammer that broke in many instances from above batters’ heads to below their knees. Those two pitches, in combination with a changeup, offered a reminder of Barnes’ ceiling. He fired seven no-hit innings, permitting just one ball out of the infield (a flyball to center to the final batter he faced) while punching out 10, getting five groundouts and getting five infield ground balls. He walked two.

For a night, at least, Barnes showed the best fastball and quite possibly the best curveball of any starting pitching prospect in the Red Sox system. That, in turn, suggests a pitcher who — despite a year in which his first half (perhaps thrown out of whack by a spring training that was thrown off course by a shutdown for shoulder soreness) proved a disappointment — still possesses a very high ceiling, even if the probability of his reaching it looks a bit different now, following a year in which his strikeout rate has dropped sharply, than it did at the beginning of the year.

See Barnes spin it:

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Here’s an incomplete look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox system on Saturday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS (11 INNINGS) VS. COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

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— It took Bryce Brentz one game back in Triple-A to match his total number of hits he had in nine rehab games with Lowell and the GCL Sox. Brentz went 2-for-5 in his return to the PawSox. He’s hitting .236 with a .337 OBP and .429 slugging mark 40 games this year in Pawtucket.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-2 LOSS VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)

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HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-3 WIN AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

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— Right-hander Pat Light was less spectacular than in some recent outings, yet still showed that he’s settled into High-A ball by continuing a run of effective performances in which he kept the game under control. The big right-hander logged 5 2/3 innings, working around nine hits to limit the damage to three runs while walking two and striking out three. He’s now pitched at least five innings in seven straight starts, averaging just under six innings a start with a 2.43 ERA.

— Catcher Carson Blair went 1-for-3 with his ninth homer of the year. The 24-year-old is hitting .260 with a .381 OBP and .472 slugging mark in his first season as the primary catcher at a level. All of those numbers represent career highs.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-2 WIN VS. ROME (BRAVES)

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— Center fielder Manuel Margot went 3-for-4 with his ninth homer of the year, and he reached base three times for the second straight game. The 19-year-old is hitting .266 with a .340 OBP and .419 slugging mark, across-the-board above average numbers despite being young for the level.

— First baseman Sam Travis, the 2014 second-rounder who was promoted to Greenville on Friday, went 3-for-4 with a double in his first game at the level. The 20-year-old — who was immediately installed as the team’s cleanup hitter — is hitting .343/.373/.462 with 11 extra-base hits, showing intriguing power potential while using the whole field.

— Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz carried a shutout into the sixth inning before giving up a solo homer in his final inning of work. Still, the 20-year-old logged six innings in which he permitted just the one run on three hits while walking one and punching out six. He continues to show excellent control: For the season, he’s walked 2.2 per nine innings; in his last 10 starts since the beginning of June, that mark is 1.4 per nine innings, as he has nine walks and 46 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: RAINED OUT

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

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— First-round pick Michael Chavis played his second straight game at third (after working exclusively at his high school position, shortstop, through July). He collected a single and walk in his two at-bats and has now reached base in six straight games and eight of his last nine to improve to .148/.257/.213.

— Right-hander Jake Cosart fired two shutout innings in which he allowed a hit, walked none and punched out three. Through three pro outings, the third-rounder has yet to give up a run in five innings while allowing two hits.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-1 WIN VS. DSL YANKEES

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