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Red Sox minor league roundup: Taking stock of Bryce Brentz’s prospect status; Garin Cecchini stops streaking; Mookie Betts makes it rain; Wendell Rijo and the Sox’ second base stockpile 09.01.13 at 10:44 am ET
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Bryce Brentz leads Triple-A Pawtucket with 17 homers. (Jim Allen/Portland Sea Dogs)

Bryce Brentz leads Triple-A Pawtucket with 17 homers. (Jim Allen/Portland Sea Dogs)

Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 1-for-4 with a double, his second extra-base hit in seven games since returning to Triple-A Pawtucket from the DL. He did, however, strike out twice, giving him nine whiffs (against just one walk) in 22 plate appearances since coming off the DL while recovering from his torn meniscus, with a .143/.182/.333 line since his return to Patwucket, dropping his season line in Triple-A to .263/.312/.477 with 17 homers.

Given that Brentz missed more than a month, the notion that he’s struggled to regain his timing at the plate is not a surprise. It would be misleading to view his current offensive results as a meaningful barometer of his prospect status. That said, the 24-year-old’s pre-injury offensive performance — a .272/.321/.487 line with 16 homers in 75 games — was solid but hardly the stuff that screamed of a future big league regular, particularly given his struggles to get on base.

Though he has a strong arm, his defense in the outfield corners has been spotty this year (he committed a two-base fielding error on Saturday, his eighth of the year). He’s not an impact baserunner. He hits for respectable average but, before his injury, was just a tick below league average in terms of OBP (.328 in the International League).

In other words, barring an improved approach that permits him to have an above-average OBP as a corner outfielder, Brentz’s prospect status is riding on one carrying tool: Power. And unquestionably, he has significant power from the right side of the plate, with his Pawtucket total of 17 homers in 81 games projecting out to 34 in a hypothetical 162 contests. But it’s not epic power that demands a spot as an everyday big league outfielder, at least not yet.

And so, while Brentz is a virtual lock to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason (the power potential is significant enough, and the proximity to the majors close enough, that he’d be snapped up in a heartbeat in the Rule 5 draft), he faces a 2014 season that may represent his most significant. The 2013 campaign was marred by his preseason handgun accident that prevented him from taking part in big league spring training and then the torn meniscus that wiped out much of his second half. Assuming he’s added to the 40-man roster, he’ll finally be assured of an opportunity to make a new first impression in big league camp this year.

There are outfield opportunities in the Sox’ system going forward — Jonny Gomes, for instance, is signed only through 2014, and so Brentz could position himself to inherit the veteran’s role as the right-hander power hitter off the bench. And the Sox system features a distinct lack of players who profile as future outfield regulars, with the best candidate after Jackie Bradley Jr. being Manuel Margot in Short-Season Single-A Lowell), but Brentz will need to do more in 2014 than what he’s done this year in order to assert his merits for such a role.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, bryce brentz, garin cecchini, Justin Haley
Red Sox add Ryan Lavarnway, Quintin Berry, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Snyder as call-ups; Daniel Bard designated for assignment 09.01.13 at 9:43 am ET
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Daniel Bard was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Sunday. (AP)

Daniel Bard was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Sunday. (AP)

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said on WEEI on Sunday morning that the Red Sox have added outfielder Quintin Berry, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and third baseman Brandon Snyder (the latter of whom has been activated off the disabled list). An industry source said that, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Berry, the Red Sox have designated Daniel Bard for assignment.

Berry, acquired last week from the Royals in exchange for right-hander Clayton Mortensen, has hit just .191 with a .309 OBP and .257 slugging mark for three Triple-A teams this year (the affiliates of the Tigers, Royals and most recently, the Red Sox), will serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement off the bench. The 28-year-old is 30-for-34 in stolen base attempts in the minors this year, and he was 21-for-21 in the big leagues in that role for the Tigers last year.

Lavarnway was hitting .250/.346/.350 in 50 games for the PawSox this year. In the big leagues, he’s hitting .283/.323/.383 in 19 games. He gives the Sox a third catcher, offering protection both in case of injury and permitting the Sox in-game flexibility to pinch-hit or pinch-run for any of their catchers (Jarrod Saltalamacchia or David Ross) without leaving themselves in a position of vulnerability.

De La Rosa is in his third stint in the big leagues this year. In five games in the majors, he has a 4.76 ERA with three strikeouts and one walk in 5 2/3 innings. In 24 minor league games, the 24-year-old has a 4.26 ERA with 8.5 strikeouts and 5.4 walks per nine innings. Since being sent down from the Red Sox and working out of the PawSox bullpen in late-August, De La Rosa has allowed two runs in 3 2/3 innings with six walks and two strikeouts in four appearances.

Snyder, 26, is hitting .209/.227/.419 in 21 big league games this year. He’s been on the disabled list since August 8 due to a sore elbow.

Bard, who pitched on Saturday with Lowell (his first appearance outside the Gulf Coast League since May 15), worked a scoreless inning in which he managed to prevent anyone from crossing the plate despite walking four batters. A pickoff at third by catcher Jake Romanski, coupled with a pair of strikeouts (one swinging, one looking), allowed Bard to strand the bases loaded despite the four walks and a wild pitch. But he now has 27 walks and nine strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings in the minors this year, and even at a time when he has an option remaining, it had become clear that the most sensible path for the Red Sox and perhaps for Bard himself was to take him off the major league roster so that he can undertake the necessary work to recreate a foundation upon which he can move his career forward.

If he goes unclaimed, then perhaps that will happen in the Red Sox organization. However, because Bard has an option left, and because he is just two years removed from a three-year run as one of the most dominant relievers in the game, the Red Sox removed him from the 40-man roster with eyes wide open about the possibility that someone might take a flyer on him (either through a waiver claim or in a trade for little return), particularly given how quickly he left behind a year of disastrous command in 2007 to emerge as a dominant bullpen option who was nearing big league readiness in 2008.

Read More: brandon snyder, Daniel Bard, quintin berry, rubby de la rosa
Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo dominates; step forward for Buchholz; Cody Kukuk, player development case study; Myles Smith shows no-hit stuff; 08.31.13 at 8:55 am ET
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Anthony Ranaudo fired four no-hit innings of relief on Friday. (DVM Sports)

Anthony Ranaudo fired four no-hit innings of relief on Friday. (DVM Sports)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– The PawSox clinched a third straight playoff berth when Justin Henry delivered a walkoff single.

– Right-hander Clay Buchholz took a step forward in his latest rehab outing, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings on seven hits while striking out two and walking none. While the seven hits represent a high total, six were singles (the other was a double), five of which were of the groundball variety. According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Buchholz touched 92 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun and was able to throw his full arsenal with full intensity.

“This is the hardest I’ve tried to throw throughout all this stuff,” Buchholz told reporters. “I was able to throw all my pitches with the same effort level and same arm angle. That’s basically the final hump I had to get over as far as not having a second thought in the back of my head.”

His command was still somewhat imprecise, but the outing represented a clear step forward from his first rehab outing, in which he threw 19 of 38 pitches for strikes while lasting just 2/3 of an inning.

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo had his most dominant outing in Triple-A, firing four no-hit innings in which he permitted one walk while punching out five, matching his highest total since getting promoted to the PawSox. Ranaudo continued to attack opposing hitters, as the 23-year-old has walked just seven batters in 30 1/3 innings in Triple-A (2.1 per nine innings) while punching out 6.2 per nine.

Mark Hamilton went 3-for-4 with a double. The 28-year-old is hitting .264/.363/.469  in Pawtucket, including .277/.387/.474 against right-handers.

– Newly acquired outfielder Quintin Berry went 1-for-2 with a single and walk while also reaching by getting hit by a pitch. Perhaps most significantly, he was successful on both of his stolen base attempts, improving to 17-for-19 (89.4 percent) in the International League this year and 30-of-34 (88.2 percent) overall this year in Triple-A.

– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 0-for-4, and he’s made little offensive impact since his return to the minors. He’s hitting .216 with a .268 OBP, and all eight of his hits have been singles. Though he’s walked infrequently (twice in 39 plate appearances), he’s also struck out just five times. Still, there remains considerable head-scratching by evaluators about the disappearance of Lavarnway’s power in the last two years. From 2008-11, 43.7 percent of Lavarnway’s hits went for extra bases. In the last two years, just 30.4 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases.

– Right-hander Alex Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in his first outing since Aug. 5. The Sox re-started his 20-day rehab clock on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox minor league roundup: It’s time to take Daniel Bard off the 40-man roster; Matt Barnes lays a cornerstone for 2014; the ridiculous Mookie Betts; Luis Diaz’s incredible run 08.30.13 at 12:32 pm ET
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Daniel Bard walked five batters on Thursday. (AP)

Daniel Bard walked five batters on Thursday. (AP)

There can be no more illusions.

Daniel Bard‘s latest outing — in which he recorded two outs (one via caught stealing) but walked five and loosed two wild pitches while permitting three stolen bases in a Rookie Level Gulf Coast League contest — offered a bludgeoning hammer of truth. This is where Bard is: Healthy in his return from an abdominal injury, but still exhibiting the same horrific command woes that halted his season in Portland on May 15 (another five-walk outing), this time at the lowest rung of the minor league ladder in the U.S.

There may come a time when Bard is able to overcome his horrific command woes — that have now seen him walk 23 in 14 1/3 innings. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And there can be no secret about that, no more feeling that he’s close to being able to help in the big leagues.

The message has to be clear. The process of rebuilding his career is going to require an acceptance of place. And that begins by making clear where he is.

Bard is a minor leaguer. There is a significant amount of player development in front of him if he is to become a big leaguer again. The time for him to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster is not healthy for him, not healthy for the organization.

The Red Sox will need a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Quintin Berry on Sept. 1. And it should come as no surprise if Bard is taken off the big league roster in order to create that opening.

There is a chance — multiple evaluators of other organizations believe — that another team might take a chance on the 28-year-old, who is still (it is amazing to think) just two years removed from a three-year stretch as one of the top relievers in the big leagues. After all, in 2008, he left behind a year of horrific struggles, found his delivery, saw his stuff become that of an elite reliever and pushed himself to the doorstep of the big leagues. If things once again click for him, there’s a chance he can rebound just as quickly, and other teams might be willing to take a shot that such a thing might happen — particularly given that Bard has an option left next year.

But that’s a risk from which the Sox — and Bard — can’t hide. Right now, the likelihood of him moving forward in his career in the Red Sox organization without a dire change appears remote. For both his own career and for the sake of the Red Sox’ ability to maximize the value of their roster, it’s time to acknowledge that right now, Bard is not a big leaguer. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daniel Bard, deven marrero, juan carlos linares, luis diaz
David Ortiz: ‘Papi’s going to struggle, too’ 08.29.13 at 11:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz went 0-for-4 on Thursday, and is now 0-for-22 with eight strikeouts in his last six games. (AP)

David Ortiz went 0-for-4 on Thursday and now is 0-for-22 with eight strikeouts in his last six games. (AP)

For David Ortiz, the moment marked something of a perfect storm of unlikely futility. Mired amidst one of the worst clusters of games in his storied career — an 0-for-21 stretch that dated to last Monday — Ortiz would have to step to the plate against a pitcher who represents power-sapping Kryptonite to him in Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz (against whom Ortiz was 1-for-18 with 10 strikeouts in his career).

The situation: Game on the line. Red Sox trailing the Orioles, 3-2. Jacoby Ellsbury on third, representing the tying run. Two outs in the eighth inning.

What to do? Pinch-hit? Try to exploit an exaggerated infield shift that had third baseman Manny Machado standing in shallow right field, and no one at short, by bunting?

No and no.

“He’s obviously working through some things right now. [But] there was no thought of a pinch-hit or try to take away from what his strengths are,” said manager John Farrell. “We’ve seen many, many times against left-handers where he stayed inside the ball, either ground ball up the middle or line drive to right-center field, and he’s just going through a spell right now where he’s working to get out of it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox pregame notes: David Ortiz slumping but not injured; Sox open to waiver trade upgrade; Xander Bogaerts’ future position 08.29.13 at 6:19 pm ET
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David Ortiz is 0-for-18 since last Monday. (AP)

David Ortiz is 0-for-18 since last Monday. (AP)

For David Ortiz, this qualifies as an epic slump. He has gone hitless since August 18, making five starts in which he’s worn an oh-fer — matching the most consecutive starts without a hit he’s ever had in his career, and representing the longest such rut he’s endured since an 0-for-17 stretch over five starts in 2008. He is 0-for-18 in 20 plate appearances (the other two plate appearances yielding an intentional walk and a sac fly).

He still leads the Sox in every significant offensive category. Ortiz is hitting .313 with 24 homers and 79 RBI, along with a .393 OBP and .563 slugging mark.For the year, he has been one of the elite hitters in the game, a fact reflected by his 18 intentional walks .

So what gives with the slump?

“He’s gotten some pitches that he’s missed,” noted manager John Farrell. “At times, he might get a little pull-conscious where he’s pulling off the ball at times and making the swing a little bit long. He’s going through some early work on the field right now to address some of those situations. It’s more than anything maybe getting a little bit overaggressive at times. We’ve all seen when he’s been at his best is when he’s driving the ball to left-center field. I know he’s working to get back to that right now.”

The slump coincides with the start of the Sox’ trip to the West Coast, during which Ortiz spent time playing first base. He did at one point exit a game last Wednesday due to tightness in his lower back — a condition, it is worth noting. But Farrell — who noted that Ortiz was available all weekend — said that the offensive struggles were not a byproduct of any physical ailment.

“As far as the low back affecting the swing, he’s not indicated anything along those lines,” said Ortiz.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Control woes recur for Daniel Bard in Gulf Coast League 08.29.13 at 6:12 pm ET
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On Monday, right-hander Daniel Bard appeared to take a step forward by throwing a shutout inning in his first appearance since May 15, working around a walk, a hit and an error to navigate the frame. But on Thursday, the right-hander endured the same kind of command woes that characterized his final outings in Double-A Portland before he was shut down by Portland in mid-May (and eventually landed on the disabled list with an abdominal strain).

Bard was credited with recording two outs — though one came when the catcher caught a runner stealing — in a session that was nothing short of dreadful. He walked five batters, allowed three steals and uncorked two wild pitches. Ultimately, he was charged with two runs. For the season, Bard now has walked 23 batters and struck out seven in 14 1/3 minor league innings.

Manager John Farrell – who said that he has had “a couple conversations” with Bard this summer in an effort that he characterized as “more than anything checking in and seeing what frame of mind he’s in with what he’s been dealing with” — had not encountered the reports from Bard’s most recent outing in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, having instead heard back after his shutout inning on Monday in which the right-hander topped out at 93 mph.

“Velocity isn’t where he was when he was here for a brief time during spring training, and the fact that he’s on the mound is one step. The power that needs to come from just being inactive and the consistency to execution, that’s still a work in progress right now,” said Farrell. “For the majority of the time that he was down, it was kind of open-ended [what the goal of his rehab would be]. One, we didn’t know when he’d get back to throwing bullpens. Two, we didn’t know when he’d get back in games. And then, from this point forward, how much time remains or opportunities exist to gain some consistency, to gain some confidence more than anything, and did he become another option for us. And right now, that’s still in question.”

However, based on Thursday’s outing, the likelihood that Bard could see time again in the major leagues this year would appear remote.

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