|Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster’s command issues, Jose Iglesias readjusts, Garin Cecchini avoids another scare, Sean Coyle slumps, a daily Mookie-ism||05.15.13 at 11:42 am ET|
A brief look at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Shortstop Jose Iglesias went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt in four plate appearances. In seven games since returning to the lineup following a four-game spell in which manager Gary DiSarcina had him sit, Iglesias, 23, is hitting .192/.300/.192. However, DiSarcina told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that more important than the shortstop’s numbers has been his approach to the game since returning to the field.
“One of the great traits he has is his love for the game. Sitting down for a couple days, he realized how much he loves the game, how much he misses playing with that joy,” DiSarcina said. “When he plays free and plays creative, he’s a lot of fun to watch, and I’m sure he has a lot of fun doing it because he has skills other people don’t have.
“The five or six games he’s been back, that’s kind of what we wanted from him. Enjoy yourself. You have an opportunity to go out there and be a leader out there. He’s been doing it.”
– Right-hander Allen Webster, in his first start back in Pawtucket since getting shelled for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in a big league start, worked around issues with his fastball command (which led to both a solo homer and four walks) to allow just one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out five, recorded seven groundball outs and produced 11 swings-and-misses.
While Webster, 23, had enjoyed an eye-opening spring in which he demonstrated an ability to attack the strike zone that ran counter to his minor league career norms, he’s shown some regression during the season. He’s now issued 10 walks in 25 innings, a rate of 3.6 per nine frames, and on Tuesday, he threw strikes on just 53 percent (49 of 92) of his pitches. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox tied for first place after blowout loss to Twins||05.08.13 at 10:52 pm ET|
Allen Webster isn’t ready to be the Red Sox’ savior quite yet.
In his second major league start, Allen Webster was roughed up all over the place in what resulted in a 15-8 Twins victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was the Sox’ sixth loss in their last nine games. They now are tied for first place in the American League East with Baltimore (21-13).
Webster allowed eight runs on six hits, walking three in just 1 2/3 innings. He was followed by Felix Doubront, who proceeded to allow six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The starter threw 54 pitches, while Doubront made 105 pitches in relief.
After the game, Webster was informed he would be returning to Triple-A Pawtucket.
After striking out the first batter of the game, Jamey Carroll, Webster proceeded to issue two walks before Justin Morneau‘s ground-rule double. Trevor Plouffe followed with a sacrifice fly, which was followed by Ryan Doumit‘s two-run homer to give the visitors a 4-0 lead after the first half-inning.
“I can’t say it was just because of some emotion that took him out of his game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Webster. “Right from the start, just the inability to establish a given pitch to a certain area to get a strike when needed. And when he got behind in the count, then he’s obviously at a disadvantage. Against this team, if there isn’t a secondary pitch to command behind in the count, we saw tonight what they can do.”
And even though Jonny Gomes‘ first-inning grand slam and Stephen Drew‘s RBI single gave the Sox a one-run lead heading into the second, the combination of Webster and Doubront teamed to allow seven runs in the second, paving the way for the Minnesota rout.
Doubront is scheduled to make his next start, with Webster heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
“Our plan had been, and still remains, that Felix would take that turn,” Farrell said. “We stated that yesterday. We tried to be as clear as we could with the guys involved, both Allen and Felix, just to get through these two days so there was no confusion if Felix got up last night, or if he didn’t get in was he going to pitch and make that start today. So just from a communication standpoint we tried to be as clear as possible over these two days. But we haven’t come off that initial plan, which is Felix starting the next time through.
“Once again, physically everything checks out. He doesn’t complain or state any tightness or physical limitations. But still, even with stuff might be a little bit reduced for what we’ve known him for, we’ve got to pitch accordingly. That is to still locate. Every time they showed a replay it seemed like a ball found the middle of the plate, even when he was ahead in the count. The finish and the lateness to the stuff is not as sharp as we’ve seen, but that’s the plan right now.”
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• David Ortiz‘ 27-game hit streak came to an end, making him two games shy of reaching Johnny Damon‘s 29-game stretch in 2005. Dom DiMaggio holds the team record, hitting in 34 straight games in 1949. Ortiz finished going 0-for-5, dipping his average from .414 to .381. After the game, the designated hitter spiced things up via Twitter:
End of my hitting streak tonight the season stil going and l hope Dan shaugnessy is a happy man now… Not more 426 enjoy it✌
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) May 9, 2013
• Pedro Ciriaco made his third error in the last two games, whipping a high throw on Josh Willingham‘s ground ball to lead off the seventh inning. Ciriaco was getting the start at third base in place of the injured Will Middlebrooks.
Buster Olney of ESPN spoke with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the potential for protective caps for pitchers after the Jays’ J.A. Happ took a line drive to the head Tuesday, the state of the Red Sox pitching, and the constant suspicion that players are using performance-enhancing drugs if their performance improves.
In the wake of Happ’s injury, the discussion about requiring protective headgear for pitchers has come up again. Olney noted some of the issues that would make it hard to implement such a rule, including the effect it would have on pitchers’ mechanics and the players’ general resistance to change.
“The number of instances of this happening is actually on the increase, according to research that Willie [Weinbaum, of ESPN] has done,” Olney said. “Major League Baseball, for good reason, is concerned, because the 60 feet, 6 inches is not going to change. What Willie has found is that they’re having a difficult time coming up with a lined cap, and if you go beyond a lined cap — maybe even with a lined cap I think you’re going to get the initial response from a lot of players, which is, I don’t know if I want to wear that, that looks kind of weird. When David Wright wore that oversized helmet, there was definitely that old-school pushback on style.
“In 2007, Mike Coolbaugh, who was a coach in the minor leagues, was killed by a line drive, and after that Major League Baseball basically made a rule saying all the base coaches have to wear a helmet. And initially there was pushback on that, and now we don’t even notice. I think when you’re talking about pitchers going out there wearing some kind of a cage, like cricket batters, I think that we are a long, long way from players ever agreeing to do something like that. And hopefully it doesn’t take some terrible accident where they’re taking that more seriously.”
Olney said headgear for pitchers likely would have to be implemented first at the youth level.
“Any type of change would have to literally take place with kids who are learning how to throw the ball,” he said. “It’s not only a style component, but let’s pick out someone older, say, Ryan Dempster. Let’s say MLB said we want to have head protection on a pitcher. There’s a mechanical issue there, too. The way you use your hands, you draw your hands over your head, and suddenly you have some kind of headgear device — that would not be something that could be embraced overnight by anybody, no matter what the risk was. It would literally alter how these guys would have to throw the baseball. If in fact there are changes, and the velocity keeps accelerating and we get more and more of these kinds of things, it’s only natural that his conversation’s going to take place. It would have to first take place in Little League.”
The Red Sox will get another look at Allen Webster as he takes Felix Doubront‘s place in the rotation on Wednesday. Pedro Hernandez will start the third game of the series for the Twins.
Doubront is heading to the bullpen to replace the injured Joel Hanrahan, while Webster, one of the Sox’ most promising pitching prospects, will make his second major league start.
The 23-year-old Webster impressed in his first outing in Boston on April 21, striking out five Royals over six innings. He averaged 95 mph with his fastball, at times throwing it as hard as 98 mph. He also used his offspeed pitches confidently, mixing in his curveball and changeup with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs.
Webster allowed three runs, two earned, in that start. Both earned runs came via solo homers in the fifth inning, to Alex Gordon and George Kottaras.
Over 20 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket this year, Webster has 26 strikeouts and six walks. He’s started four games and posted a 2.70 ERA. Control was something of a problem for him in the past, as he averaged more than four walks per nine innings in 24 minor league starts last year. Through the first five weeks of this season, though, he seems to have put those issues behind him.
Hernandez has done a little of everything for the Twins this year. He’s made three starts along with two relief appearances — one in long relief when Vance Worley lasted only one inning against the Mets on April 12, the other when he pitched the ninth inning of an 8-5 loss to the Marlins.
The 24-year-old Hernandez has a 3.92 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP through 20 2/3 innings. Last year, he pitched just one game for the White Sox, which happened to be against the Red Sox on July 18.
In that game, Hernandez lasted four innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits, three of which were home runs. Cody Ross homered off him twice, and Adrian Gonzalez went deep once.
NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning, following Tuesday night’s 6-1 loss to the Twins. The Red Sox have lost four of their last five games and are dealing with a rash of injuries, including two suffered in Tuesday night’s game that Remy called “just one of those lousy, ugly nights at Fenway.”
“It started down in Texas when they ran into the pitching they did with the Rangers, and the Rangers were playing very good baseball that weekend,” Remy said. “So you lose three games down there, you come back home and you get whacked with all these injuries. It reminds me a little of the last couple of years with all the injuries. You hope that that doesn’t happen again.
“So, they’re going to have find a way to fight their way through this. We don’t know how bad [David] Ross is yet, and we don’t know how bad [Will] Middlebrooks is yet. Certainly you know that the closers are going to be on the DL for a while. So, they’re going to have to figure a way to fight their way through this. … You hate to see the injuries pop up, because they’ve been playing so good. I’m so sick of injuries over the last couple of of years. It’s ridiculous.”
The Red Sox offense has hit a rough stretch, culminating with only a meaningless ninth-inning run in Tuesday’s loss.
“You’re going to run into situations like you did down in Texas. That’s just going to happen, where you get their top three starters, and their top three starters, not one of them has an off game,” Remy said. “You’re going to run into situations like that through the course of the season. It’s going to happen two, three, four times a year. But you’ve got to be able to regroup after that. And they did bounce back to get the win in the first game [vs. the Twins], a come-from-behind win here at Fenway. But then they went into a funk again last night.
“But I do think they have enough offense. I think there are guys that haven’t swung the bat yet that are going to swing the bat well — Middlebrooks one of those guys. [Stephen] Drew‘s starting to come around a little bit. If you can get the bottom of the lineup to swing the bat and be productive, they’re very strong at the top. You’ve got a pretty tough one through nine there. Do they have enough? Yes, I do think they do have enough.
“They’ve got to continue to pitch, though, the way they have been. There’ll be a slight drop-off in that I’m sure. There has to be. You can’t keep it that pace all season long — or you can, you’re going to win a Cy Young Award. But the fact is, I think as the season moves on I think the offense is going to click a little bit better. Because they haven’t really clicked one through nine yet.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: As Felix Doubront falters, Allen Webster dominates; epic homer for Xander Bogaerts; Garin Cecchini, hottest hitter in minors?||05.04.13 at 7:46 am ET|
On a day where Felix Doubront struggled badly in the big leagues and showed diminished velocity that manager John Farrell acknowledged to be “a little bit of a concern,” it was difficult to overlook what was happening in Triple-A.
Right-hander Allen Webster had a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up just one run on two hits and no walks in six innings. It was his seventh career outing with nine or more punchouts, his first above Double-A. Webster now has 26 strikeouts (11.7 per nine innings) and six walks (2.7 per nine) in 20 Triple-A innings this year, continuing to cement the impression that he’s implemented a couple of adjustments successfully to allow him to attack the strike zone with relative efficiency — a trait that eluded Doubront on Friday night, and that indeed has eluded him for much of his time in a big league rotation.
On his 94 pitches on Friday night, Webster got 16 swings and misses, with plenty evidently in the tank at the end. Webster struck out the side in his sixth and final frame (requiring just 12 pitches to do so), and he allowed baserunners in just one of six innings he pitched. The fact that he’s pitching on Doubront’s day in the rotation suggests that it would be straightforward to slot the young right-hander into the big leagues should the “little bit of concern” about the left-hander warrant a spell on the sidelines.
Here’s a look at Webster’s nine strikeouts:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:4-1 WIN VS. DURHAM (RAYS)
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox depth equation; the amazing Cecchini; Cody Kukuk’s step forward||05.02.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Prospect rankings are funny things, sometimes possessing dubious value. After all, the exercise of affixing a numerical hierarchy to a group of prospects typically accomplishes little more than taking a snapshot of a single moment in time, glossing over the reality that player development is a dynamic, ever-changing process — sort of like a picture of a group of 10-year-olds featuring one kid who towers over the rest, but who will become the shortest one in her class by the time she turns 12.
But, viewed in the broader context of the shifts in rankings, rather than the rankings themselves, such exercises can be fascinating, and say quite a bit about not just players but an entire organization. Case in point: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox.
On Wednesday morning, one major league talent evaluator was thinking aloud about Barnes’ place in the Sox’ pitching order. Prior to spring training, most prospect rating lists had Barnes ranked at the top of the Sox’ crop of minor league arms; an occasional dissenter deemed Barnes the second best pitcher in the Sox system, behind only Allen Webster.
Now? One month into the 2013 season? The evaluator noted that if the Sox’ minor league pitchers were re-ranked, a compelling argument could be made that Barnes was the sixth best pitching prospect in the system, behind (in some order) Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo, all of whom have shown the ability to dominate this year with more complete pitch mixes than Barnes currently possesses. The conclusion?
“If Matt Barnes is your sixth-best pitching prospect,” the evaluator noted, “then your system is in pretty interesting shape.” Read the rest of this entry »
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