|Red Sox minor league roundup: Alex Hassan streaking; Will Middlebrooks brouhaha; Michael Kopech, Kevin McAvoy make strong early impressions||07.19.14 at 8:53 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Outfielder Alex Hassan homered for the fourth straight game, going 1-for-3 with a walk and his sixth longball of the year. He’s amidst a few impressive streaks, among them, including a 12-game hitting streak and a 21-game streak of games in which he’s reached base via hit or walk. Since rejoining Pawtucket on June 10 following the first big league stint of his career, Hassan is hitting .374/.459/.661 with five homers and 22 extra-base hits in 31 games. He has an extra-base hit in 10 of the last 11 games.
– Outfielder Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings, giving him three hits in the last two rehab games (all against right-handed pitchers). The Red Sox will check in with Victorino on Saturday to see if he’s physically ready for activation from the disabled list.
– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had an eventful rehab game, going 0-for-2 with an almost-three-run-homer that was instead brought back into the park by a leaping outfielder for a sacrifice fly and getting hit by a pitch that nearly incited a brawl. The plunking on the arm was delivered by Esmil Rogers, the same right-hander who ended Middlebrooks’ rookie season in 2012 by breaking his wrist with a fastball. According to the Providence Journal, Middlebrooks slammed his bat to the ground by home plate and expressed his displeasure with what he deemed to be an intentional pitch to Rogers.
‘He didn’t mean to hit me [in 2012],’ Middlebrooks told the Journal. ‘I didn’t agree with tonight just because there was a base open, he missed me and then he hit me. I didn’t agree with that. I thought that was bad baseball. I’m not a guy to charge the mound, especially here. I’m here trying to get my innings up, not trying to fight people. It [ticked] me off, yeah’¦ He should carry himself better than that. Think his emotions just got the better of him.’
– Right-hander Steven Wright allowed three runs on three hits (including a solo homer and double) by the time he’d gotten through just six outs, but the knuckleballer then settled to retire 17 of the last 19 batters he faced, permitting just one more hit (a single) with another batter reaching on an error. Wright totaled eight innings — his third straight outing of eight frames — in which he allowed the three runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He has a streak of five straight starts and seven of eight outings in which he’s worked at least seven innings, and in nine starts on the year, he has a 5-1 record, 2.21 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine, with Triple-A opponents hitting just .188 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Dreams fulfilled, surprises, mistakes, slights: Red Sox players share draft day memories||06.04.14 at 6:21 pm ET|
The 2014 MLB amateur draft begins Thursday. Years after being drafted, members of the Red Sox shared their draft day memories and the excitement of realizing their dreams of playing professionally.
Jonny Gomes: Drafted by Rays in 18th round, 2001
Gomes didn’t have set plans to play baseball in college, let alone expectations of doing it professionally. He had booked a cruise, his first vacation, during the 2001 draft and had no intentions of canceling it following a workout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“I don’t even have a college scholarship. What makes you think I’m going to go professional?” he recalled thinking.
When he returned home from the trip two days after the draft, he was surprised to hear a message on his answering machine saying he had been selected by the Devil Rays. Gomes hadn’t hired an agent – he didn’t think he would be in the position to need one — so he called back to negotiate on his own. The Devil Rays offered an $18,000 signing bonus for the 18th round. Gomes countered with $20,000 and they agreed. (He hired an agent following his first season in the instructional league after learning of bigger deals other players had received. “I said, ‘Huh, I’m way off.’”)
Looking back now, Gomes laughed, “(My draft day memory) is probably a little different than other people, but it was zero.”
It sounds like the plot of a fairy tale: Victorino went to bed one night and woke up a professional baseball player.
OK, let’s explain. Victorino grew up in Hawaii, where there was a six-hour time difference from the draft action. He had been sleeping when he received word he had been selected. It was not a typical phone call, but one he gladly welcomed.
“I was honored,” he said. “I was excited getting that kind of news.”
|Red Sox minor league year in review: Corner infielders||09.25.13 at 4:11 pm ET|
As the major league season wraps up, WEEI.com will also wrap up its minor league coverage of the 2013 campaign by looking at the depth of prospects at the different position groupings in the farm system. Today: Corner infielders. Tuesday: Catchers.
Overview: First and third base are traditionally positions that supply much of a lineup’s thump. More home runs have been hit by first baseman than any other position; third basemen rank third in that category. (Right fielders are second.) Yet the Sox’ minor league system doesn’t have that prototypical masher at those positions, at least not in the upper levels of their farm system.
“We probably don’t have as much of a corner bat, a profile corner bat type than maybe we’ve had in the past,” said GM Ben Cherington in this recent podcast. “We’ve got some guys who we think can hit, but that may be an area that we don’t have as much of.”
The Sox have long focused on adding up-the-middle athletes to their organization with a chance to impact the game in numerous ways. Aside from Jason Place (first round, 2006) and Bryce Brentz (supplemental first round, 2010), the team hasn’t employed its top picks on players whose defining trait has been power. Aside from Michael Almanzar (2007) and, this year, Rafael Devers, the team has likewise made its most significant international commitments to up-the-middle players instead of corners.
The result is that the strength of the team’s minor league system isn’t found in power-hitting corners. Indeed, it’s telling that the organization’s top corner prospect right now — a very good prospect, it’s worth mentioning — has not yet hit as many as 10 homers in a minor league season. Meanwhile, there is no one in the organization who is ready to step in as an everyday first baseman in 2014, suggesting that the team’s only options are to try to bring back Mike Napoli, shift Will Middlebrooks to first (something that would presumably require the club to feature Xander Bogaerts at third) or hit the trade or free agent market.
Here’s a look at the performance of Red Sox corner infielders throughout the minors this year (skipping both Will Middlebrooks — who does embody the power-hitting third base/corner profile — and the traded Jose Iglesias, since most of their work took place at the big league level, as well as Xander Bogaerts, given that he’s more likely viewed as a shortstop): Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie being Buxton/Springer; Henry Owens joins elite Red Sox pitching prospect pool; Blake Swihart, game-changer||09.02.13 at 8:09 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-0 WIN (5 INNINGS) AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– For the sixth time in 10 Triple-A starts since the beginning of July, knuckleballer Steven Wright did not allow an earned run. The right-hander logged five shutout innings, tossing a complete game (albeit of the rain-shortened variety) while allowing three hits, walking two and striking out two. In his last 10 minor league appearances, Wright now has a 2.04 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 23 walks while permitting just one homer in 61 2/3 innings. He has given up two or fewer walks in five of his last six starts.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts while getting hit by a pitch. In 79 games this year with Triple-A Pawtucket, he’s now hitting .273 with a .373 OBP and .470 slugging percentage — marks that look fairly similar to what he did last year after a mid-year promotion to Double-A Portland, but with more power. In 61 games last year with Portland, Bradley hit .271/.373/.437. While he was not among the Red Sox’ first wave of September call-ups on Sunday, given that both Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury left the contest with injuries, it’s possible that the Sox will choose to give themselves a bit more outfield depth by recalling Bradley.
– Outfielder Alex Hassan, in his first game since August 15 (he’d been on the DL with a broken finger), went 2-for-3 with a walk. Though his playing time has been limited severely by injuries, he’s had a spectacular offensive year when able to play. The 25-year-old is hitting .321/.434/.462. While the Sox’ decision to put Hassan on the 40-man roster last winter came as something of a surprise following a year in which he hit .256/.377/.365 as a 24-year-old in Pawtucket, his performance this year has been sufficiently outstanding that he would stand virtually no chance of clearing waivers if the Sox were to attempt to remove him from the 40-man roster.
– With catcher Ryan Lavarnway moving up to the big leagues, the Red Sox promoted catcher Christian Vazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket after a performance that suggests he deserves mention as one of the top catching prospects in all of the minors. In his age 22 season (Vazquez turned 23 just last month), the 2008 ninth-rounder hit .289 with a .376 OBP and .395 slugging mark while throwing out a whopping (and league-leading) 46.5 percent of attempted base stealers. For all of Vazquez’s exceptional defensive tools, it is necessary to note that he committed 23 passed balls — far and away the highest total in the league, and not just a product of the occasional presence of knuckleballers in Portland — but his potential to be an elite defender who controls the game along with a player capable of showing above-average hit and on-base skills (particularly for his position, where the big league norm this year was a .248 average and .314 OBP) suggests a player who now must be considered a potential everyday catcher by the 2015 season.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-4 LOSS VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)
– It likely wasn’t the final note for which Henry Owens might have hoped with Portland. He suffered his first loss in Double-A, allowing three runs on six hits (five extra-base hits: two homers, three doubles) in 5 2/3 innings. Still.
The left-hander punched out eight and walked one while filling up the strike zone by throwing 67 of 100 pitches for strikes on Sunday. That capped a season-ending, six-start stretch in Portland in which Owens went 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA while racking up 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings (albeit with 4.5 walks per nine). Though he was the third-youngest pitcher in the Eastern League this year, Owens achieved dominant results against older opponents, as evidenced by his .167 opponents’ batting average.
On the year, between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, Owens absorbed a considerable innings boost — he went from 101 2/3 frames in 23 outings last year to 135 in 26 starts this year — but sustained dominance throughout his increased workload. The 21-year-old left-hander held opponents to a .177 average on the year (the second lowest mark among all pitchers with full-season minor league affiliates). He went 11-6 with a 2.67 ERA. He punched out 169 batters (the highest strikeout total by a Sox minor leaguer since Clay Buchholz punched out 171 in 125 innings in 2007). He had a 0.89 WHIP.
There have been few seasons like that among recent Red Sox pitching prospects. The ability to generate swings and misses in such volume has been rare. Indeed, since 2000, Owens is just the sixth Red Sox minor leaguer to punch out at least 150 batters in a season. Here he is in comparison with the other five: Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Impressive showing for Xander Bogaerts at third; Deven Marrero’s solid debut; big day for Travis Shaw; Brian Johnson dominates||08.14.13 at 12:16 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-1 WIN VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)
– Catcher David Ross, whose rehab moved to Pawtucket after a pair of games with Portland, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Tuesday. However, he successfully caught knuckleballer Charlie Haeger for five innings without a passed ball and he also combined with Haeger to gun down burner Billy Hamilton on a stolen base attempt. One observer had Ross with a 1.92 second time on his throw from home to second, and with Haeger having gotten the ball to the plate in 1.17 seconds, Hamilton — who is second this year in the minors with 69 steals — had no shot.
– Xander Bogaerts had his eighth start at third base in 55 games since his promotion from Double-A Portland, and went 3-for-4 (all singles) while also playing a solid defensive game that included a 5-4-3 double play (described by PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina to reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, as “outstanding”) and an impressive play in which he backhanded a ball behind the third base bag and offered a considerable display of arm strength to gun down the runner at first.
Though Bogaerts is learning third base, the undertaking has not impacted his offense adversely. In his eight games at that position, he’s hitting .355/.429/.548 in 35 plate appearances. He’s hitting .270/.349/.425 as a shortstop.
– Outfielder/1B Alex Hassan added to a recent hot stretch, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and two walks in four plate appearances. In his last five games, he’s hitting .467/.619/.467. Interestingly, all eight of his outs during the stretch have come via strikeout. On the year, he’s now hitting .315/.430/.461.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-2 WIN AT ALTOONA (PIRATES)
– In his Double-A debut, Deven Marrero went 2-for-4 with a walk. It was his fourth multi-hit game in his last six contests (with the first three having come with High-A Salem before his promotion), a span in which the 2012 first-rounder is hitting .409/.552/.545. In 86 combined games between the two levels this year, the 22-year-old is now hitting .259/.345/.336 — numbers that are largely in line with the .268/.358/.374 he posted in a 64-game pro debut last year with Lowell. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson’s perfect day; Travis Shaw’s glimpse of a possible Fenway future; Xander Bogaerts, on-base machine||07.28.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 10-0 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– PawSox outfielder Bryce Brentz, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, underwent surgery to repair his right meniscus on July 16 that will likely end his year. Thus would end a bizarre and ultimately disappointing year in which the outfielder showed slugging potential but still showed an inconsistent approach that raises questions about the 24-year-old’s future likelihood of being an everyday big league corner outfielder.
– Shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4 but took a walk, giving him 24 straight games in which he’s reached base. He has 23 walks and 28 strikeouts with Pawtucket. Surprisingly, he’s walking with greater frequency (14.1 percent, compared to 13.5 percent in Double-A) and striking out less often (17.2 percent, as opposed to 19.7 percent in Double-A) than he did in Portland. That ability to demonstrate improved strike zone management against higher level competition will add further fuel to the perception that he is a player who can be challenged by the big leagues — though some team officials continue to caution that Bogaerts would benefit from more development time in Triple-A.
– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The 24-year-old feels that he’s made meaningful strides in his offensive approach, as he explained to Rob Bradford.
– Right now, the best hitter in Pawtucket is Alex Hassan. The 25-year-old went 2-for-4 with a double. He’s reached base in 18 straight games, during which he’s hitting .359/.468/.578 with three homers and five doubles.
– Right-hander Brandon Lyon had his best outing since signing a minor league contract with the Sox, tossing a pair of shutout innings while giving up a hit and striking out a batter.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-2 WIN VS. HARRISBURG (NATIONALS)
– In the Futures at Fenway game, Travis Shaw got to showcase the swing that Sox officials have long believed is well-tailored for Fenway Park — albeit in somewhat unexpected fashion. A first baseman who, at his best, exhibits a tremendous ability to let the ball travel deep and then drive it from gap to gap had a landmark game in what has been a challenging month and season, going 3-for-4 with a single, double and homer. Shaw is hitting .226/.343/.408 this season, but he’s still shown power (13) and the ability to work walks (60) even through his season-long struggle. In July, he’s hitting just .183 with a .272 OBP, but he’s turned up the power, going deep six times in 22 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Progress for Allen Webster; Alex Hassan raking; Xander Bogaerts streaking; Jamie Callahan dominates; Sean Coyle returns||07.27.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– Allen Webster, five days removed from a mess of a start (1 1/3 innings, 7 runs, 5 walks) that had the Sox wondering if they might have to alter his routine to recalibrate his fastball command, took a step in the right direction on Friday. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out four.
His command wasn’t exactly pinpoint — he walked three and hit a batter — but in contrast to his prior outing, he was able to self-correct when his command went astray and thus was able to do enough to harness his stuff in the strike zone to offer reminders of his vast potential. He threw his first five pitches of the game for balls, then gathered himself to straighten out his fastball and start the game with 4 1/3 no-hit innings. He again lost his command for a stretch in the late fourth and fifth innings, but after he gave up two runs on three singles in the fifth, he restored order to pitch a perfect sixth to conclude his night.
It was easily Webster’s best outing since being sent back down to Triple-A. He is 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA, 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 12 innings since moving back down to Pawtucket.
– Like Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been struggling since being sent down. He went 0-for-4 on Friday (his first game since being sent down in which he failed to reach base), and in nine games since his recall, he’s hitting .179/.273/.359, dropping his season totals to .277/.372/.500. His OBP is at its lowest point since April 27.
– Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout to extend his streak of consecutive games on base to 23. He has nearly as many walks (22) as strikeouts (27) in 38 Triple-A games.
– Outfielder Alex Hassan continued his torrid stretch, going 3-for-4 with a double and a homer. Since he started his season in Pawtucket on June 14, Hassan is tied for eighth in the International League in average (.333), second in OBP (.441), eighth in slugging (.542) and fourth in OPS (.982).
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-5 LOSS VS. HARRISBURG (NATIONALS)
– With a single, walk and RBI, Garin Cecchini extended his hit streak to eight games, marking his longest streak since being promoted and his second-longest of the season (his longest was 11 games). During the life of the streak, the third baseman is batting .364/.382/.424 with one walk, two doubles and five RBI. Cecchini’s walk on Friday was actually his first in eight games, an unusually long stretch for the 22-year-old, who despite striking out 25 times and drawing 18 walks in 32 games with Portland, still has drawn two more walks than he has strikeouts on the season between Portland and High-A Salem. Cecchini is batting .336 with a .421 OBP for Portland, and while he doesn’t have enough at-bats in Double-A to count as a qualifier, his OBP is lower than just two qualifiers in the Eastern League.
– Second baseman Derrik Gibson had the only multi-hit effort of the day for Portland, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Prior to Friday, the 23-year-old had hit only .136 in his last nine games, though he had drawn six walks and one of his three hits in that span was a home run. Gibson has compiled a .243/.337/.343 line through 60 games for Portland this season.
– Shortstop Heiker Meneses went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk, coming around to score two of Portland’s five runs on the day. In his last seven contests, Meneses is batting .348/.400/.436 with two doubles and two RBI. The 22-year-old has collected 13 doubles, four triples, and three home runs on the season, and is batting .270/.329/.375 through 81 games for Portland.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS (16 INNINGS) AT FREDERICK (ORIOLES)
– Mike Augliera started what became the longest game in the Carolina League this season, throwing seven innings of shutout, two-hit ball, walking one and striking out one. For the right-hander, it was his third scoreless outing of the season, and longest start since his last shutout, in which he went eight innings back on July 4. Augliera has been solid all season for Salem, posting a 4.33 ERA and 6-6 record in 20 starts, striking out 59 and walking 29 in 106 innings.
– Henry Ramos finished the day without a hit, going 0-for-6 with a walk. The outfielder is batting only .125 over his last nine games, but three of his four hits went for extra bases, and he’s drawn seven walks in that span. Over his last six games, Ramos has only one hit in 22 at-bats, drawing four walks (two intentional) and getting hit by a pitch while striking out six times. Ramos, who was hitting .278/354/.454 before the slump, has fallen to .264/.347/.438 through 98 games on the season.
– Right-hander Nate Striz gave Salem three innings of scoreless, hitless relief, allowing only one baserunner on a hit by pitch from the 11th to 14th innings. The 24-year-old has gone 8 1/3 scoreless innings in his last five appearances for Salem (there’s a brief trip up to Portland in the middle, in which he allowed two runs in three innings), giving up only one hit and one walk in those five games. Striz has finished out 21 games for Salem, recording six saves and posting a 3.14 ERA in 29 appearances. He’s walked 16 batters while striking out 42, and hasn’t allowed a single home run. In fact, keeping the ball in the ballpark is one of Striz’s strong suits; he’s given up only seven home runs in 174 1/3 innings in four professional seasons.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-6 LOSS AT LAKEWOOD (PHILLIES)
– Outfielder Kendrick Perkins had his second straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a double and a steal. The 21-year-old went 2-for-5 on Thursday to snap an 0-for-15 stretch since returning to Greenville from Lowell.
– Shortstop Jose Vinicio went 2-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases. The 20-year-old switch-hitter has now stolen 13 straight bases without getting caught since the beginning of June. Between his speed and defense, he has the secondary skills to be an interesting player, but it remains to be seen whether the undersized middle shortstop will hit enough to propel himself to the big leagues. He’s hitting .222/.260/.288 with 12 walks and 80 strikeouts in 83 games.
– Francellis Montas had a better-than-the-line-score outing in which he gave up five runs on five hits (three singles, two doubles) while getting five strikeouts and five groundball outs. The power pitcher’s control was flawed (four walks), but the groundballs and the fact that he didn’t give up any homers (an area of concern earlier in the year) for the fourth straight outing suggest that the 20-year-old was able to use his pitch mix to avoid hard contact.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 6-0 WIN, 3-2 LOSS AT CONNECTICUT DEFENDERS
– Right-hander Jamie Callahan, a second-round pick in 2012, had a dazzling outing, allowing just one hit, walking none and striking out eight in six shutout innings. Callahan showed an 89-95 mph fastball and elicited 11 swings and misses in his outing. The innings and strikeouts both represented a season- and career-high for the 18-year-old, who had once previously made a start this year in which he gave up one hit (in his first start of the year, he worked five shutout innings).
As an 18-year-old — the youngest pitcher in the New York-Penn League — Callahan is holding his own. Despite a 4.55 ERA, he has a solid 23-to-9 strikeout-to-walk rate in 27 2/3 innings, showing a willingness and ability to attack the strike zone.
– Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin went 2-for-4 in the first game but then went 0-for-4 with three punchouts in the nightcap. Given his advanced feel for the strike zone and bat-to-ball skills, he’s amidst a somewhat surprising rough patch, having struck out 15 times (against three walks) in his last 10 games. Prior to that, he had 14 walks and 16 strikeouts in the first 22 games of the season. The 19-year-old is hitting .250/.338/.339.
– Outfielder Forrestt Allday went 3-for-8 with a walk and two steals in the doubleheader. He’s reached base in all 10 of his professional games since joining the Sox as an eighth-round selection in this year’s draft, amassing a .313/.488/.406 line that has offered early validation to the Sox’ impression of him as a player with considerable on-base abilities.
– Left-hander Daniel McGrath yielded two runs on five hits (four singles and a double) in 3 2/3 innings, though he struck out five and walked one. In two starts with Lowell since his promotion from the GCL, he has nine punchouts and one walk in 9 2/3 innings.
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 7-3 WIN AT GCL TWINS
– Sean Coyle, playing for the first time since May 29 (he’s been on the DL for High-A Salem with a knee injury), went 1-for-3.
– Outfielder Bryan Hudson snapped a four-game, 13 plate appearance stretch in which he hadn’t reached base by going 3-for-4 with a walk. Despite his recent slump, he’s hitting .277/.400/.354 in his pro debut.
– Wendell Rijo, 17, went 1-for-3 with a single and has now reached base in 15 straight games, a stretch during which he’s hitting .404/.500/.577.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS AT DSL ATHLETICS
– Left-hander Luis Ramos pitched a season-high six innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out four and walking none. Ramos has a 27-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate in 43 innings spanning nine starts. He has a 1.88 ERA and has yet to give up a homer. Opposing lefties are just 2-for-23 against him.
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