|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson, Cody Kukuk dominate; Trey Ball breakthrough continues; Feats of Mookie||07.26.14 at 1:03 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 10-2 WIN AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)
– Feats of Mookie: Being Mookie. Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a double and walk. The four-hit game was his third of the year and his seventh of the last two years; the contest marked the fifth time that he’s reached base five times in a game. After going 0-for-4 in his first game back in Pawtucket, Betts has a five-game hitting streak in which he’s 10-for-23 with two doubles, a triple and two walks. In 83 minor league games this year, he’s hitting .347 with a .436 OBP and .520 slugging mark.
– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo had yet another strong performance, tossing six shutout innings in which he allowed three hits (a double and two singles) while walking two and punching out four. In 13 starts since May 15, Ranaudo has been among the most effective starters in the minors, going 9-2 with a 1.58 ERA, 7.0 strikeouts per nine and 2.9 walks per nine while holding opponents to a .186 average and averaging just over six innings a start.
Ranaudo is now at 119 1/3 innings this year. Aside from having gotten hit by a pair of line drives this year, he’s looked the part of a durable rotation member. Though his 2012 season was derailed by groin and then shoulder injuries, that now appears to be something of an outlier in his pro career, which has seen Ranaudo deliver 127 innings in 2011, 140 innings in 2013 and now on a pace to assume perhaps 160 innings this year. Combine that with the fact that his execution and understanding of what he’s doing on the mound continue to take strides forward and you have a pitcher who, even without top-of-the-charts stuff, looks like he has at least a solid likelihood of being a valuable contributor to a team — at least an innings-eating back-end starter, with a possible mid-rotation ceiling — for some time to come. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Travis Shaw taking off in Pawtucket; Cody Kukuk figuring things out; Teddy Stankiewicz’s landmark outing||07.21.14 at 12:56 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– First baseman Travis Shaw launched a three-run homer as part of a 1-for-2 game in which he also walked. The 24-year-old is enjoying a standout month that has seen him show his characteristic pitch selection and plate discipline while driving pitches.
After walking just seven times with 41 strikeouts in his first 33 games with the PawSox following his promotion to Triple-A, Shaw has reached base in all 17 games in July while walking nearly as many times (10) as he’s struck out (11). Shaw is now hitting .302/.392/.540 with four homers among his seven extra-base hits this month. Notably, three of his four homers this month have been to the opposite field, an indicator of Shaw’s intriguing ability to stay back on the ball and drive it to the opposite field, traits that have convinced the Sox that he has a made-for-Fenway swing that could allow him to pepper the Green Monster.
Between Portland and Pawtucket, Shaw now has a .288/.365/.503 line with 19 homers — making him one of 24 players in all of minor league baseball to reach that home run total so far this year.
– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings, the ninth time in 12 outings he’s allowed one or no runs. He permitted just three hits (all for extra bases — two doubles and a solo homer) while walking three (his most walks in eight outings) and striking out four. He is tied for the International League lead in wins (11), ranks second in ERA (2.54), eighth in innings (113 1/3) and is tied for fifth in strikeouts.
Despite his across-the-board dominance in Triple-A, one potential hiccup worth noting is that Ranaudo ranks among the most extreme flyball pitchers in the International League, with three fly ball outs for every two groundouts, the second highest such rate among qualifying pitchers in the league. Though he’s allowed just six homers in Triple-A this year, that ratio suggests the possibility of vulnerability to the longball and/or extra-base hits in the big leagues.
– For the first time in his Triple-A career, Mookie Betts did not reach base, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout while playing center field in his first contest since being sent back down to Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell knows do-or-die time is upon his Red Sox: ‘Each [game] has increasing signficance’||07.17.14 at 9:32 pm ET|
John Farrell can read the standings just like everyone else. He knows his team stands 43-52 heading into the final 67 games, 9 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. He can also read a schedule. He knows full well that after this three-game series this weekend with Kansas City, the Red Sox have 13 straight games against three of the four teams ahead of them in the division.
It’s do-or-die time.
“Given where we are right now, yes,” Farrell said, confirming the characterization of this as the make-or-break part of the season. “That’s not to add pressure. That’s to say there’s some additional significance when you play the teams ahead of you. After we get through Kansas City, we’ve got the next 13 [games] or four consecutive series of teams ahead of us. Sixty-seven games remaining, each one has increasing significance as we go.”
After three with the Royals, the Red Sox have four in Toronto, followed by three on the road against the Rays. They come home for three against the Jays and three against the Yankees, overlapping the July 31 trade deadline. Did Farrell feel like he got a break to mentally prepare for the upcoming grind?
“Yeah for about a day-and-a-half, and now I’m ready to get going for [Friday],” Farrell said of his shortened All-Star break due to managing the AL All-Stars to a 5-3 win in Minneapolis.
“I think the four days gives guys a chance to mentally and physically take a break and get away from the game a little bit. [Xander Bogaerts] has been going at it pretty hard, not only in terms of what he’s been working on pregame but with every focus to be brought into the game, and he’s played regularly as well. We’ve given him a couple of days here and there, but I think the break mentally and physically was needed for him, and quite frankly, for a number of guys.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: How scouts view Anthony Ranaudo; Christian Vazquez feels he’s ready; Blake Swihart, Manuel Margot punctuate impressive June||07.01.14 at 12:13 pm ET|
A year ago at this time, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo was receiving accolades for a Double-A breakthrough that had netted him a spot in the All-Star Futures Game. By the start of July, he’d made 15 starts, going 8-2 with a 2.68 ERA. Opponents were hitting under .200 against him, he was striking out just over a batter an inning and just over three batters for every walk, looking like the player who had been the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization from the time that he signed after being drafted in 2010 through spring training of 2012 (before the emergence of 2011 draftees like Henry Owens and Matt Barnes, or the breakthrough by fellow 2010 draftee Brandon Workman).
This year, though receiving less attention in Triple-A (at a time when Owens was named to the Futures Game and looms as the clear top pitching prospect in the Sox system), Ranaudo’s results have been even more impressive. The 6-foot-7 right-hander continued a run of dominance unmatched in his career on Monday, pouring in seven shutout innings while giving up three hits (two doubles and a single), walking two and punching out five. There was some hard contact that resulted in outs, but by and large, Ranaudo continued a nearly seven-week run of putting up zeros.
Monday marked the fifth time in nine starts that he did not allow a run in a start. During that run, he’s 6-2 with a 1.13 ERA (the third best ERA in the minors over that time) while holding opponents to a .173 average. His strikeout totals have been largely modest (7.1 per nine during the stretch, 7.6 per nine on the year), but he’s been increasingly aggressive throwing strikes (3.1 walks per nine during the run, compared to 5.2 walks per nine in his first eight starts — and 1.7 walks per nine in his last five starts) and he’s been more consistently down in the strike zone with a fastball that has typically been around 92 mph but getting up to 93 or 94 mph within outings. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts betrays no weaknesses; Travis Shaw goes off; Anthony Ranaudo cruising||06.26.14 at 11:35 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 16-5 WIN VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)
– First baseman Travis Shaw had a mammoth game, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a homer along with a walk while driving in five. The extra-base hits were all intriguing in their own ways — both doubles came against lefties (Shaw’s first extra-base hits in Triple-A against southpaws) while the homer, Shaw’s third in Pawtucket, came against a position player in Cord Phelps. The game snapped an 0-for-12 stretch and elevated his line to .266/.305/.413.
– Feats of Mookie: Betraying no weaknesses.
Mookie Betts reached base four times in six plate appearances, going 3-for-5 with three singles and a walk. It wasn’t his most dazzling game — two of the hits were of the infield variety (and probably should have been outs), and one was a broken-bat 12-hopper up the middle. Still, Betts showed excellent speed getting out of the box to earn the infield singles, and he also made an impressive play in center field in which he got a great break on a pop-up to shallow center and came streaking in to catch the ball on the run, continuing the positive early impressions of his work in center.
“The initial reads that he makes, the speed that he has as far as closing speed on the ball have been terrific,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “The initial test that he’s had here has been a pretty good impression. He’s been engaged with the corner outfielders, done a nice job that way. He studies. But you can’t go wrong with an athlete like him.
“He’s going to be a much better defender two years from now or a year from now. That’s just gaining experience. But the initial start of what we’re seeing, he’s done some things that are pretty advanced.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Finishing touches: Anthony Ranaudo hopes tweaked mechanics, new pitch position him for breakthrough||06.14.14 at 10:30 am ET|
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Two weeks ago during a bullpen session, Anthony Ranaudo decided that something needed to change. The righty felt that his fastball command was not as consistent as it could be.
While the tall righty has been among the most consistent pitchers for Triple-A Pawtucket so far this season, he thought he could be even better. Ranaudo, who sports a 2.79 ERA with a 1.296 WHIP, 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings, always felt more confident throwing his fastball out of the stretch than he did out of the windup.
PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur began to brainstorm with Ranaudo about what the two could do to improve the 24-year-old’s control over his four-seamer. After some discussion, Sauveur and Ranaudo concocted a solution to the righty’s concerns.
The two decided to make Ranaudo’s windup simpler by having it more closely resemble the righty’s motion out of the stretch.
“It’s always a small adjustment that seems to make things go,” Sauveur said. “Moving him in a forward direction, it doesn’t need to be something big and that’s what it was with him. He’s done a nice job. He’s always working very hard. He knows when he’s not happy. He’s frustrated because he knows that command is not where it wants to be and he’s always looking to get better.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Ready or not, here comes Stephen Drew; Anthony Ranaudo’s command struggles; progress for well-rounded prospects Deven Marrero, Manuel Margot||06.02.14 at 11:29 am ET|
Ready or not, here comes Stephen Drew.
In his final scheduled game of his minor league assignment, Drew went 1-for-3 with a double, a pop-up and a line out to first. It was the first game of his seven-game assignment in which he didn’t punch out. Drew went 2-for-13 with a double, a walk and five strikeouts in Pawtucket and 5-for-21 with a pair of walks and nine strikeouts in 23 plate appearances overall, a .238/.304/.381 line.
Given that his long free agent purgatory has Drew nearly three months worth of games behind his competitors, it’s safe to suggest that he’s still regaining his competitive timing and rhythm. In that vein, there are similarities to a similar situation that the Red Sox faced in last April, when Drew — after being sidelined in spring training by a concussion — went 2-for-13 in a rehab assignment before displacing a hitter who was enjoying a hot streak in Jose Iglesias.
Just as was the case last year, when questions arose about whether the Sox had made a mistake in signing Drew given the early success of Iglesias, there is a public dialogue about the merits of having Drew return at a time when Brock Holt has been a catalyst for the Sox. But ultimately in 2013, the decision to sign Drew and give the Red Sox roster depth proved one of the most important that the Sox made in the 2012-13 offseason.
The presence of Drew, Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks gave the Sox depth on the left side of the infield that permitted them to have answers during first-half injuries and slumps by Drew and Iglesias. It bought time for Middlebrooks to redevelop his offensive approach in Triple-A when he struggled, and it gave the Sox an opportunity to give Xander Bogaerts time to finish his minor league development in a fashion that left him not only ready to compete offensively in the big leagues but also to develop at third base — something that proved crucial in positioning the Sox to enjoy the fruits of the superprospect in the postseason en route to a championship. And ultimately, by the time Bogaerts was close to ready, because the Sox had Drew, they could afford to use Iglesias to swing a deal that addressed both short- and longer-term rotation needs with the acquisition of Jake Peavy.
In other words, from the perspective of a major league front office: Depth is good. Options are good. Roster flexibility is good. Trade chips are good.
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