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Gary DiSarcina: Allen Webster has most dominant potential of Sox’ Triple-A pitching prospects 01.17.14 at 7:41 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster (AP)

As the manager of the Red Sox‘ Triple-A team in Pawtucket in 2013, Gary DiSarcina saw a compelling group of pitchers making its way across the top rung of the minor league ladder. The pitching prospects who stopped in Triple-A for varying durations included right-handers like Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes along with a one-start cameo by left-hander Drake Britton.

Yet when asked to identify the pitcher who has the most big league impact potential, DiSarcina — in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove show — had little trouble identifying one arm that separated himself from the rest.

“When Allen Webster is right, when Allen Webster is finishing his pitches, he was the most impactful, dominant right-hander that we saw,” said DiSarcina. “One of the best matchups that we saw in the International League was (Pirates prospect and 2011 No. 1 overall pick) Gerritt Cole vs. Allen Webster, and Webster beat him, 3-2 or 3-1 — a real tight, low-scoring game. If Allen can put it together and iron out some delivery issues and just finishing his pitches, he’s dominant with the heavy, heavy sinker. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, anthony ranaudo, Brandon Workman, matt barnes
Red Sox prospects Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, Garin Cecchini among scheduled Rookie Development Program participants 01.07.14 at 10:08 am ET
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Garin Cecchini is among the participants in the Red Sox Rookie Development Program. (Salem Red Sox)

Garin Cecchini is among the participants in the Red Sox Rookie Development Program. (Salem Red Sox)

There have been years when the talent at the Red Sox‘ near-annual Rookie Development Program has seemed thin, with the majority of the participants seeming more likely to emerge as fringe rather than core contributors to the major league club. That is not the case this year.

Instead, the group that will convene in Boston for a week — from Jan. 13-18 — features several of the Red Sox’ top prospects, most of whom look like future big league regulars. It is one of the deepest group of Red Sox prospects to participate in the program, which seeks to bring prospects expected to impact the big league club within a 12- to 18-month window to Boston to gain familiarity with major league staffers, Fenway Park and the city of Boston. Of the 11 participants in the program last year, seven — Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Drake BrittonSteven Wright and Brock Holt — played in the big leagues at some point in the year.

According to industry sources, here are the known participants:

LHP Henry Owens — The 6-foot-7 left-hander (ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox system by Baseball America) authored a dominant 2013 season in High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, forging a combined 2.67 ERA with 11.3 strikeouts and 4.5 walks per nine innings in 135 frames. He gets swings and misses in volume with an 89-92 mph fastball that has touched 95 mph, a devastating changeup that ranks as the best in the Sox system and a curveball that looks like a solid average offering. The 21-year-old held opposing hitters to a .177 average, earning him the title of the most unhittable left-hander in the minors in 2013 — a designation underscored by a streak of 19 1/3 consecutive hitless innings at one stretch in Salem.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, blake swihart, christian vazquez, dalier hinojosa
Red Sox to add Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo and Bryce Brentz to 40-man roster 11.20.13 at 7:42 am ET
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Anthony Ranaudo, pictured here with Double-A Portland, will be added to the Red Sox 40-man roster on Wednesday. (DVM Sports)

Anthony Ranaudo, pictured here with Double-A Portland, will be added to the Red Sox 40-man roster on Wednesday. (DVM Sports)

With a Wednesday deadline looming to add players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft, the Red Sox are faced with relatively straightforward decisions. According to a major league source, the team will add outfielder Bryce Brentz (a supplemental first rounder, No. 36 overall, in the 2010 draft out of Middle Tennessee State University), right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (a supplemental first rounder, No. 39 overall, out of Louisiana State University in the same 2010 draft) and third baseman Garin Cecchini (taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of high school, but Rule 5 eligible if not added to the 40-man roster because he was 19 when he signed). The team does not appear likely to add any other players to its 40-man roster at this time.

UPDATE: The Red Sox announced that Brentz, Ranaudo and Cecchini were indeed their only additions to the 40-man roster.

There’s not a lot of mystery surrounding the decisions on any of the three 2010 draftees, given that all three prospects have progressed to the upper levels of the Red Sox farm system while retaining impact potential in the big leagues.

Brentz, 24, played in just 88 games in Triple-A Pawtucket in a year that was truncated by surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He hit .264 with a .312 OBP, .475 slugging mark and 17 homers with the PawSox, adding two more longballs during a rehab assignment in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League to lead all Sox minor leaguers with 19 homers this year. That significant raw power creates at least the possibility of a future as an everyday corner outfielder, even if his low walk rate (5.7 percent) and vulnerability to strikeouts (24.6 percent of plate appearances) suggest a player who may not have a future as an everyday big leaguer. He’s struggled mightily in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .105/.190/.193 in 19 games.

Ranaudo, who turned 24 in September, went 11-5 with a 2.96 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.0 walks per nine in 140 innings with Double-A Portland and, after an August promotion, Triple-A Pawtucket. The 6-foot-7 right-hander left behind his health struggles of 2013 to turn in a season in which he was at times dominant with a low- to mid-90s fastball and power curve that he complemented with a changeup. His performance earned him spots in the Major League All-Star Futures Game as well as the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. He should represent a big league rotation depth option in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, bryce brentz, garin cecchini, jose vinicio
Red Sox minor league roundup: A championship in Salem; Sean Coyle’s fascinating prospect status; Anthony Ranaudo, workhorse; Matt Price’s bullpen dominance 09.11.13 at 3:15 pm ET
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Sean Coyle was named MVP of the Mills Cup Carolina League championship. (Salem Red Sox)

Sean Coyle was named MVP of the Mills Cup Carolina League championship. (Salem Red Sox)

Sean Coyle closed out his impressive return from a stint on the DL (sore elbow) that rendered him unable to play in the first round of the Carolina League Mills Cup championship, going 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a hit by pitch while driving in four in Salem’s decisive 6-4 triumph to conclude its three-game sweep. Coyle had at least one extra-base hit in each of the three games of the series, going 5-for-12 with three doubles and a triple while driving in seven en route to series MVP honors. The performance was a dazzling display of force — but not a shock.

Coyle showed considerable power this year, with a .537 slugging mark (accumulated both during his 12-game rehab in the Gulf Coast League and Single-A Greenville and in his 51 games (regular season and postseason) in High-A Salem), the highest slugging mark in the Sox system this year. Even though he was repeating the year in High-A Salem, Coyle is still young at 21, and he walked as many times this year (30) in 290 plate appearances as he had in 484 plate appearances in 2012 in Salem, suggesting progress in his approach.

It’s a bit difficult to make sense of Coyle as a prospect. At times, he’s an overaggressive hitter who struggles with his frustrations, strikes out too much and walks too infrequently to look like a future big league regular. Injuries, too, have proven a regular impediment to his development. At other times, he gets on torrid runs that belie his 5-foot-8 frame, showing tremendous power for a middle-of-the-field (second base) position player. And, there are times when he’s proven capable of a disciplined approach at the plate, as when he had a .362 OBP as a 19-year-old in Greenville in 2011 or in stretches to start this season.

Coyle now has more than 700 plate appearances with Salem. The Sox had hoped to move him up to Double-A Portland early in 2013, particularly after he got off to a scorching start, with a .317/.377/.730 line and seven homers in April, but his struggles in May followed by two months on the DL due to a knee injury prevented that promotion from happening. In all likelihood, he’ll open 2014 in Portland, where his aggressiveness will either be exposed or he will develop enough to permit his other skills — power, along with strong baserunning skills (he’s 27-for-27 in stolen base attempts in Salem over the last two years) and smooth defense at second — to better define his prospect status. This was a year that offered tantalizing flashes of promise — few more impressive than his year-ending performance in the championship series. Next year will help to clarify whether those flashes might become something more sustainable, permitting him to build upon his status as the MVP of the championship series in the High-A Carolina League to become viewed as a championship-caliber player in the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, matt price, mookie betts, sean coyle
Red Sox minor league roundup: Bryce Brentz, Sean Coyle keep slugging; Mookie Betts, Manuel Margot keep amazing; Anthony Ranaudo struggles 08.26.13 at 12:40 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

Bryce Brentz returned to Pawtucket and mashed his 17th homer of the Triple-A season on Sunday. (Jim Allen/Portland Sea Dogs)

Bryce Brentz returned to Pawtucket and mashed his 17th homer of the Triple-A season on Sunday. (Jim Allen/Portland Sea Dogs)

Bryce Brentz, less than six weeks removed from surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his knee, made an impactful return to Pawtucket, obliterating a fastball down the middle and driving it well over the fence in center at McCoy Stadium.

When Brentz underwent the procedure, it seemed like an open question whether he would be able to return to the field at all this year. But now, not only has the 24-year-old returned, but he’s done so in a fashion that exceeded what seemed like any reasonable expectations. Between his six games in the GCL on a rehab assignment and his one game back in Pawtucket, Brentz has shown an immediate ability to impact the baseball. After his 1-for-3 day that also included a walk on Sunday, Brentz is now 5-for-20 — with all five of his hits going for extra bases (three homers, two doubles) — and two walks against five strikeouts, good for a line of .250/.318/.800.

“You want to end your season on a good note, healthy,” PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Providence Journal. “He’s ready to do that.”

Sunday was a step in that direction, as Brentz crushed his 17th homer in Pawtucket this year and his 19th overall, continuing to show well above-average power: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, bryce brentz, chris hernandez, jake romanski
Red Sox minor league roundup: Two years later, taking stock of Red Sox’ 2011 draft class; Mookie Betts raises the roof; Anthony Ranaudo rolling in Pawtucket 08.21.13 at 11:54 am ET
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Mookie Betts has shown a mix of speed and home run potential rarely seen at second base. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts has shown a mix of speed and home run potential rarely seen at second base. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

It’s a dangerous thing to forecast the impact of a draft several years down the road. The twists of player development are too unpredictable to say that a draft class is franchise-transforming until it actually becomes franchise transformative.

The Red Sox’ 2006 draft offers a dramatic case in point. That one featured a wave of prospects whom the Red Sox thought had a chance to load the system for some years. Even when it become clear that the top pick from that draft, Jason Place, almost certainly would not pan out, the crop of players that entered the system that year — first-rounder Daniel Bard, second-rounder Justin Masterson, ninth-rounder Ryan Kalish, 17th-round selection Josh Reddick, 18th-round pick Lars Anderson — were all, at various point, among the top Red Sox prospects, players who looked like they would become Red Sox centerpieces for years. Though Bard, Masterson, Kalish and Reddick all did produce considerable impact for the Sox at one point or another, however, it proved far more fleeting than expected.

Even so, while it takes years to determine the ultimate impact of a draft class — at least five, often more — there’s a lot of information available about the potential of a draft class after the signees’ initial couple of seasons as professionals. And right now, the Red Sox’ 2011 draft looks like it has a chance to meet that standard of being a transformative one.

The team had four of the top 40 picks in that year’s draft. With those selections, they tabbed Matt Barnes (who still projects as a big league starter despite an up-and-down season in Portland), Blake Swihart (emerging as one of the top catching prospects in the minors), Henry Owens (now the team’s top pitching prospect, a 6-foot-7 left-hander who has been unhittable) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (who profiles as a Red Sox lineup fixture for years starting in 2014).

That would have been enough to define a draft class with outrageous upside. But the 2011 crop ran deeper.

Fifth-rounder Mookie Betts is making a surprising claim to status as one of the top Red Sox position playing prospects. The 20-year-old forced his way from Single-A Greenville to High-A Salem this year, and with a 3-for-5 night that included a homer and a triple, the second baseman is now hitting .297 with a .403 OBP, .481 slugging mark, 13 homers, 47 extra-base hits and 35 steals in 37 attempts between his two levels this year. No one else in the Sox system this year has matched his across-the-board impact. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, cody kukuk, jackie bradley jr., miguel pena
Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo throws strikes; Mickey Pena, sleeper prospect; Mookie Betts, streaking prospect; Kendrick Perkins finds his groove; Simon Mercedes revs up the K machine 08.16.13 at 11:56 am ET
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Left-hander Miguel Pena has been dominant over the last month. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Left-hander Miguel Pena has been dominant over the last month. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 WIN VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, in his third Triple-A start and his first in Pawtucket, worked around a flood of hits (nine — seven singles and two triples) to limit his opponents to one run in 5 2/3 innings. He punched out three and didn’t issue a walk, continuing to display the impressive willingness to attack the strike zone that has characterized his first three Triple-A starts. In 16 2/3 innings, Ranaudo now has 11 strikeouts and two walks along with a 2.70 ERA.

Xander Bogaerts, starting at shortstop, went 1-for-3 while also receiving an intentional walk. The intentional free pass snapped a nine-game stretch without a walk. However, he’s also emerging from a slump, as Bogaerts is now 6-for-11 in his last three games.

– Right-hander Chris Martin had one of his best outings of the year, retiring all six batters he faced while recording four strikeouts. In his last two outings, the 27-year-old with the unconventional career path (he was essentially out of the game for five years before joining an indy league team in 2010) has allowed one hit, no walks and struck out seven in four scoreless innings. On the year, he has a 3.68 ERA but with 44 strikeouts and just nine walks in 44 innings since his promotion to Triple-A in May. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Justin Haley, Kendrick Perkins, mickey pena
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