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Red Sox minor league roundup: Breaking down Matt Barnes’ turnaround; Deven Marrero snaps slide; Sean Coyle’s opportunity; Speier streaking

08.21.14 at 12:02 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Wednesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Wednesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-0 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

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— Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his outstanding second half with 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball in which he allowed two hits, walked three and punched out seven. The 24-year-old has allowed two or fewer runs in all six of his second-half starts, pitching at least six innings in all but one of them and pitching into the seventh in four of the six outings. In other words, in his last six outings, he has as many outings of more than six innings (four) as he had in the first 65 games of his professional career, from 2012 through the first half of 2014.

Reports of Barnes’ stuff were positive on Wednesday, consistent with a number of recent evaluations from his second half. He pitched primarily off his fastball — a plus offering that he featured at 92-95 mph and commanded well within the strike zone — while sprinkling in a solid changeup (a major league average offering) and a roughly 80 mph curveball that featured short bite and 12-to-6 shape. One evaluator on hand estimated that he threw about five of 10 curveballs well on the night, suggesting that his first one of the game was usable to steal a strike, and his second one bounced on the grass in front of the dirt at home plate, underscoring the idea that inconsistency remains with the pitch. Still, the curveball showed improvement from previous looks by that evaluator, with a spin and shape that suggested the potential to be a useful third pitch.

Barnes’ fastball remains a standout pitch, still perhaps the best of all of the Sox’ upper levels pitchers. If he complements that with a changeup that grades as average (where it is now) to slightly above, and can get the curveball to the point of being somewhere near average — perhaps even a 45 on the 20-80 scouting scale — there is reason to believe that he has a chance to be a solid starting pitcher in the big leagues, perhaps one with a ceiling above the likes of Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman and, arguably, someone like Allen Webster or even Rubby De La Rosa.

But, the fact that his curveball is still a work in progress, and that he posted a 5.06 ERA with 6.9 strikeouts per nine and 3.7 walks per nine in the first half before his recent six-start run with a 1.63 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine underscores the notion that he’s not as polished as those other four, which explains (along with the fact that all of them are on the 40-man roster this year and Barnes is not) why they’ve seen time in the big leagues this year and Barnes has not.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. In his first three games back in Pawtucket, he’s 2-for-15 with no walks and six strikeouts.

— Shortstop Deven Marrero, after getting a day off on Tuesday, snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a fifth-inning single, and went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on the night. Marrero had gone six games without reaching base by hit or walk. He’s now hitting .226/.278/.308 on the year.

Ryan Roberts, in his second game off the DL, went 2-for-4 with a double and homer. The versatile veteran is hitting .287/.349/.463 with seven homers in 65 games in Triple-A this year. Given both his history of being able to hit big league left-handed pitching as well as the fact that he’s not on a 40-man roster and thus would not have to clear waivers, Roberts represents an interesting complementary trade candidate this month.

Allen Craig, in his second rehab game, played right field and went 1-for-3 while driving in a pair of runs.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-3 WIN AT HARRISBURG (NATIONALS)

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Sean Coyle, out since August 7 with a hamstring injury, went 0-for-4 with a strikeouts. In 86 games this year, he’s hitting .305 with a .380 OBP and .515 slugging mark along with 13 homers and 35 extra-base hits. How he finishes the year could prove pivotal in the 22-year-old’s career path: He’s shown the most sustained offensive production of his career in 2014, but he’s seen his numbers steadily erode since early-July and with two stints on the DL this year, he’s once again raising questions about his ability to withstand the physical toll of being a 5-foot-7 baseball player. If Coyle has a strong finishing kick, he could position himself either to be added to the Red Sox 40-man roster or to be nabbed by another club in the Rule 5 draft this winter. But further injury or struggle could decrease the likelihood that he lands on a big league roster.

— Catcher Carson Blair went 2-for-4 with a double and homer, his second straight multi-hit game with a homer. In nine games since his promotion to Portland, the 24-year-old is hitting .313/.395/.688 with seven extra-base hits, five walks and nine strikeouts.

— Right-hander Justin Haley earned his first Double-A win, tossing 6 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on seven hits, walking two and punching out eight. He also recorded 10 outs on the ground. Though it was his first win since his promotion, the contest marked the first time in his four starts with Portland that Haley allowed more than one run. He’s pitched at least six innings in all four of his starts for the Sea Dogs, forging a 1.82 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 14 walks in 24 2/3 innings.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 9-4 LOSS AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

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— Center fielder Manuel Margot went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to four games but snapping his three-game multi-hit streak. The 19-year-old is hitting .429/.429/.714 in his first five games since his promotion, showing an aggressive approach that has yet to yield a walk but the hand-eye coordination to limit his strikeouts to three in his first 21 plate appearances.

Carlos Asuaje went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, giving him four two-baggers in as many games. The 22-year-old is now hitting .308/.385/.542 with 59 extra-base hits in 115 games so far this year between two levels, with little dropoff since getting to Salem (.318/.365/.542) from Greenville (.305/.391/.542).

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-2 WIN VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

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— First baseman Sam Travis went 2-for-4, mashing his second Greenville homer and adding a double. The 20-year-old continues to have a noteworthy professional debut, in which he’s more than held his own against somewhat more experienced competition in full-season ball. He’s hitting .294/.329/.500 in 17 games with Greenville after posting marks of .333/.364/.448 in Lowell.

— Right-hander Myles Smith had the most dominant outing of his pro career, tossing 5 2/3 innings in which he didn’t allow an earned run (he did yield two unearned runs) while punching out a career-high eight. The 22-year-old permitting two hits and walked three. Prior to Tuesday, Smith hadn’t punched out more than six in a game.

— Center fielder Danny Mars was promoted from Lowell to Greenville coming out of the All-Star break. In his Drive debut, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a steal. The 20-year-old switch-hitter hit .311/.368/.429 with Lowell.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 5-4 WIN VS. CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)

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— Shortstop Mauricio Dubon, fresh off an appearance in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, went 3-for-4 with a double, his second straight three-hit game and third straight multi-hit game. The 20-year-old has boosted his line to .314/.333/.401 on the strength of a scorching August (.412/.396/.490). His average is fourth best in the league.

— Fellow NYPL All-Star Jordan Betts opened the second half by going 3-for-4 with a double and walk. The 22-year-old is hitting .285/.339/.500 with 25 extra-base hits in 53 games. He ranks fifth in the league in slugging.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 6-3 WIN VS. GCL RAYS

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— Left-hander Gabe Speier continued his impressive return from Tommy John surgery, tossing five scoreless innings in which he gave up three hits with no walks while punching out five. In seven games, the 19-year-old has allowed three runs (two earned) in 21 innings for a 0.86 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just one walk. In his last three outings, he’s recorded 13 scoreless innings with 13 punchouts and no walks.

— Second baseman Victor Acosta sustained his recent hot streak by going 2-for-4 with a double. The 18-year-old has brought his season line up to .248/.326/.376 after entering August with a .189/.282/.289 line by getting hits in nine of 10 games.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-0 WIN VS. DSL ROCKIES

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— The DSL Sox claimed the one despite getting just one hit, taking advantage of four walks and three errors.

Read More: gabe speier, matt barnes, sam travis, sean coyle
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