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Red Sox minor league roundup: Why Blake Swihart looks increasingly like an elite prospect; Allen Webster finds consistency; Jamie Callahan gets on track; Jantzen Witte, doubles machine 07.22.14 at 12:21 pm ET
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Blake Swihart reached base three times on Monday. (365digitalphotography.com)

Blake Swihart reached base three times on Monday. (365digitalphotography.com)

A brief look at the happenings in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Regaining a foothold. Mookie Betts, one day after he failed to get on base for the first time in 24 Triple-A games, went 2-for-5 with a double. The two-bagger came against left-hander Aaron Laffey, improving Betts’ line against southpaws in Triple-A to .379/.438/.517.

– Right-hander Allen Webster allowed three runs on six hits (one double) and a walk in seven innings, striking out three and getting 10 groundball outs. In what has become an increasingly common development, Webster threw a high percentage of pitches (64 of 95, 67 percent) for strikes, permitting him to work efficiently. A year ago, Webster averaged exactly five innings per start in Pawtucket (in 21 starts), going 8-4 with a 3.60 ERA. This year, he’s striking out fewer batters (7.4 per nine innings) but is getting more early-count grounders, in the process forging a better ERA (3.10) while averaging just under six innings per start (118 innings in 20 starts). A year ago, he worked into the seventh inning just twice; this year, in one fewer start to date in Pawtucket, he’s worked into the seventh six times.

– Outfielder Corey Brown had the game-winning homer in the ninth inning, his 14th homer of the year coming against the team with whom he’d spent the previous three years. Brown, hitting .223/.291/.432 overall this year, has enjoyed a strong month of July, hitting .333/.388/.667 with four homers in 12 games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-4 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

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– Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base. The walks offer growing evidence of Swihart’s ongoing development in Double-A, as he’s shown improvements in his strike zone management and on-base skills as the season has progressed. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, blake swihart, jamie callahan, jantzen witte
Red Sox minor league roundup: The asterisk in Sean Coyle’s breakout; Allen Webster’s consistency; Daniel McGrath impressing 07.04.14 at 5:25 pm ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster continued a season in which he's rarely allowed more than three runs. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster continued a season in which he’s rarely allowed more than three runs. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday…

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX)

– Allen Webster was slightly wild but very effective on Thursday, going 5 1/3 innings while allowing just one run on two hits, though he walked three and hit a batter. He fanned six. The only damage against Webster came in the form of a home run, the eighth he’s allowed this season. Webster, who has held lefties to a .209/.258/.301 line while righties have hit .251/.348/408 against him, had his work cut out for him against a Rochester lineup that featured eight right-handed hitters.

Three of Webster’s six strikeouts were swinging, and he recorded eight swinging strikes on the night. According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, four of Webster’s punchouts came on his slider. Aside from the solo home run, Webster cruised through five, but ran into trouble in the sixth when he walked the leadoff man and hit the following batter. He induced a fly ball out before being lifted.

Webster has allowed more than three earned runs in just one start this season, and has allowed two or fewer in 14 of his 18 outings. Through 104 innings of work this season, Webster owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.212 WHIP, striking out an average of 7.5 batters per nine innings.

Christian Vazquez continues to heat up at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Over his last 14 games, the PawSox catcher is hitting .319 with three doubles and a pair of home runs while drawing walks in 15 percent of plate appearances. Since the beginning of June, Vazquez has produced steadily, hitting .298 with a .368 OBP in 24 games. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, daniel mcgrath, sean coyle,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster dominates; Blake Swihart now Sox’ top position prospect; Cody Kukuk’s disappointment; Sam Travis goes deep 06.28.14 at 12:24 pm ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster dominated for 7 2/3 innings on Friday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster dominated for 7 2/3 innings on Friday. (AP)

Feats of Mookie: Getting the call.

It’s time for Mookie Betts.

According to industry sources, the Red Sox will promote the 21-year-old to the big leagues on Saturday to make his debut against the Yankees in New York. In his final game with Triple-A Pawtucket preceding his callup, Betts continued to show noteworthy plate discipline, working a pair of walks in four plate appearances (though he went 0-for-2). He reached base in all 23 games since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .322 with a .425 OBP and .444 slugging mark.

Here’s a look at some of the attributes that have put him on the fast track to the big leagues. That Betts is in this position comes as a surprise to the player himself, who expected, when he signed his first pro contract, that he would never see light of day in the big leagues.

Here’s a look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 LOSS VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Allen Webster has been consistent for much of the year, but the spectacular stuff that he flashed at times in 2013 and the ability to dominate an opponent completely had rarely been in evidence. Against that backdrop, the 24-year-old’s performance on Friday was noteworthy.

In one of his finest outings in the Red Sox system, Webster allowed two runs on five hits (four singles and a double) while striking out nine and walking none in 7 2/3 innings. He needed just 99 pitches (68 strikes) to blitz through the outing, the second-longest of his season and the third-longest of his two seasons in Pawtucket. The start marked the first time this year that he hadn’t issued a walk while matching a season-high in strikeouts. He elicited a whopping 18 swings and misses, while also getting bad contact, as evidenced by the fact that he recorded 10 outs on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, blake swihart, cody kukuk, mookie betts
Red Sox minor league roundup: Looking beyond Trey Ball’s struggles; Allen Webster finds consistency; Rafael Devers is unstoppable 06.10.14 at 1:51 pm ET
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Left-hander Trey Ball pitched into the sixth inning of Monday's game for Single-A Greenville. (Greenville Drive/Darrell Snow)

Left-hander Trey Ball pitched into the sixth inning of Monday’s game for Single-A Greenville. (Greenville Drive/Darrell Snow)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS (6 INNINGS) VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Allen Webster delivered his third straight quality start, allowing three runs on four hits (including a homer and two doubles) while walking three and striking out eight in six innings. Webster has now worked eight, six and six innings in his last three starts, with 19 punchouts and seven walks along with a 2.25 ERA. After starting the year with relatively low strikeout totals, Webster has shown a return of his swing-and-miss stuff in recent outings, with 36 punchouts in his last 35 2/3 frames over six starts.

Though Webster’s strikeout rate is down from last year (from 9.9 strikeouts per nine to 7.0), and his walk rate has dipped only slightly from 3.7 per nine innings a year ago to 3.6 per nine this year, the 24-year-old’s sharp decline in hit batters (from 16 in 105 innings last year to just two in 79 2/3 innings this year) attests to improved consistency and execution with his fastball, permitting him to do a better job of game management, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal attested (in very lyrical fashion).

– Feats of Mookie: Leading. Joon Lee explains how Mookie Betts is using his basketball background to help him in the transition to center field. Betts went 0-for-2 with a walk. He’s reached base in all seven of his Triple-A games, with six walks and three strikeouts.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS AT FREDERICK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– Though Reed Gragnani saw his six-game hitting streak come to an end, he walked three times (while going 0-for-1). In his last 10 games, he has an astonishing 12 walks and four strikeouts en route to a .371 average and .532 OBP and .600 slugging mark in that span. The 23-year-old now leads the Carolina League with a .337 average while his .433 OBP ranks second in the league.

– Right-hander William Cuevas logged a season-best seven innings in which he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits (including a homer) and a walk while striking out three. Though he is just 2-6 with a 5.09 ERA, the 23-year-old has 7.6 strikeouts and just 2.0 walks per nine this year.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-2 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– On the surface, Trey Ball‘s performance in his first full pro season suggests a struggle. With a five-run yield in 5 1/3 innings on Monday, the 2013 first-rounder now has a 7.12 ERA in eight starts during which he has punched out 5.6 batters per nine and walked 4.2 batters per nine innings. He gave up two homers, and has now been taken deep four times in his 30 1/3 innings of work. Opponents in the South Atlantic League are hitting .351 against the 19-year-old. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, rafael devers, Trey Ball,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ dominance creates promotion dilemma; Mookie Betts blasts off in Triple-A; Allen Webster staying on track; Jamie Callahan struggles 06.05.14 at 11:55 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens threw a career-high eight shutout innings on Wednesday. (365DigitalPhotography.com)

Left-hander Henry Owens threw a career-high eight shutout innings on Wednesday. (365DigitalPhotography.com)

The Feats of Mookie have made it to Pawtucket — and it seems very likely that the Feets of Henry will soon be reunited with them.

Left-hander Henry Owens, possessor of size 17 feet qua flippers, continued a breakthrough stretch in Double-A Portland. The 21-year-old, almost exactly three years after being taken by the Red Sox in the supplemental first round of the draft, delivered a career-high eight innings of shutout ball in which he permitted just two hits (both singles), struck out two, punched out six (with 15 swings and misses on his fastball and changeup) and recorded 14 outs via groundball. His fastball angle and execution down in the strike zone were little short of dazzling (on a night when he topped out at 93 mph and averaged 90 mph), complemented by a characteristically nasty changeup and a smattering of curveballs.

Through the first 58 outings and two-plus years of his pro career, Owens had never posted back-to-back outings of more than six innings. He’s now done so in three straight starts, with Wednesday’s eight-inning effort following consecutive seven-inning efforts. During that time, Owens has walked just five batters during 22 scoreless innings, a drastic departure from the three-start command struggle that preceded it in which Owens issued 14 free passes in 15 2/3 innings.

Owens has achieved new heights in his pitch efficiency and strike throwing. On Wednesday, he found the strike zone with 73 of his career-high 107 pitches (68 percent). He’s compromised his strikeouts (he’s struck out 17 in his 22-inning scoreless run) but he’s addressed the walks issues that had permeated his earlier outings this year while eliciting terrible contact on a consistent basis. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, henry owens, jamie callahan, mookie betts
Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster dominates; Sean Coyle streaking; Brian Johnson mixing 05.31.14 at 8:48 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster delivered eight dominant innings on Friday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster delivered eight dominant innings on Friday. (AP)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-2 WIN AT NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Allen Webster, bypassed by Rubby De La Rosa for a spot in the Red Sox rotation while Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list, responded with one of his most dominant outings in Pawtucket. He delivered eight innings — his longest outing this year and tied for his longest start with the PawSox during a tenure that dates to last year — while allowing one run on three hits (a single, double and solo homer) while punching out seven and walking one. The one walk matched a season low, but continued a stretch in which Webster has been doing a better job of forcing opponents to put the ball in play. In his last eight starts spanning 47 2/3 innings, he’s averaging 2.6 walks per nine innings (along with 7.4 strikeouts per nine).

– First baseman Travis Shaw has reached base in each of his first five games since a promotion to Pawtucket, and on Friday, he had his first multi-hit game and first extra-base hit in Triple-A, going 2-for-5 with a double. The 24-year-old is hitting .263/.300/.368 in his 20 plate appearances in Triple-A, though his one walk and six strikeouts hint at the adjustment to a new level by a player who had 29 walks and 23 strikeouts in Double-A prior to his promotion this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, brian johnson, sean coyle,
Rubby De La Rosa to start for Clay Buchholz 05.30.14 at 12:23 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa will start for the Red Sox on Saturday. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa will start for the Red Sox on Saturday. (AP)

With the Red Sox in need of a starter while Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa will get the summons from Triple-A Pawtucket, manager John Farrell announced.

De La Rosa has been inconsistent in Triple-A this year. He opened the season with absolute dominance, a 1.19 ERA through four starts in which he seemingly punched out or got a groundout from every batter he faced. Then, he struggled over his next four starts, forging a 5.95 ERA while walking 16 in 19 2/3 innings. However, in his two most recent starts, he bounced back with a 1.64 ERA with 13 strikeouts, three walks and tons of groundballs in 11 innings.

The decision to call up De La Rosa over Allen Webster, Farrell said, was based on “the recommendation of the staff in Pawtucket. You look at their numbers overall on the course of the year, they’€™re pretty similar. The last [two] starts for Rubby have been strong. And that was pretty much the deciding factor.’€

While Saturday will mark De La Rosa’s first start with the Red Sox, he’s worked in a big league rotation before. In 2011 with the Dodgers, he was 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA, 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.9 walks per nine innings in 10 starts before he blew out his elbow, resulting in Tommy John surgery.

Amidst the four-start season-opening stretch, De La Rosa — who struggled at times in 2013 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery he underwent in late-2011 — suggested that he was throwing the ball better this year than he was in that promising big league unveiling.

“I’ve been working on keeping my ball down, throwing strikes, working with my off-speeds, mix it up a little bit, making the hitter confused. It’s worked. I’m happy with the results — a lot of groundballs,” said De La Rosa. “I made a lot of adjustments this year compared to last year. This year, I feel like my arm is completely loose. I feel I can get through my pitches, throw the ball anywhere.

“Right now, I feel better [than in 2011],” he added. “In 2011, I kept the fastball up. Right now, I feel like anything I want — if I want the fastball down, I can do it. In 2011, I felt good. All that year was great. But my feeling this year, I feel more positive, more healthy.

“I feel good. I feel ready. There’s no more [concern] about my arm,” said De La Rosa. “I feel prepared for that moment [in the big leagues]. I feel like how I felt before. My arm feels 100 percent. I feel good in my body, mentally, physically. I feel good for that moment. Right now, I feel 200 percent. I feel like everything is going in the right spot.”

Read More: allen webster, Clay Buchholz, rubby de la rosa,
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