|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|
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 »
|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|
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)
– 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 »
|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|
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 »
|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|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Thursday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 WIN VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)
– 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 »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo and the player development machine; Garin Cecchini shows survival skills amidst slump; Dan Butler is unstoppable||08.05.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
It’s not supposed to work this way. Even top prospects are supposed to fall on their faces every now and again when exposed to more advanced levels of competition.
The opposite is happening this year for the Red Sox. Consider:
– Brandon Workman was impressive in Double-A, dominant in Triple-A and outstanding in three big league spot starts.
– Drake Britton forged his way from Double-A to Triple-A, made one start, got promoted to the big leagues where he has delivered nine shutout innings in his on-the-fly conversion to the bullpen.
– Xander Bogaerts followed his tremendous showing in Double-A with an almost equally outrageous performance to date (given his status as the youngest player in the International League) in Triple-A, putting him on the doorstep to the big leagues.
– Garin Cecchini led the Carolina League in hitting and OBP to force his promotion to Double-A Portland, where he has continued — despite a recent cold spell — to hit for average (.294) while showing tremendous on-base skill (.409 OBP).
– Henry Owens, after a standout run for Salem in his age 20 season, made his Double-A debut on Saturday, tossing six shutout innings and punching out 11.
And finally, there was Anthony Ranaudo. The 23-year-old right-hander made his Triple-A debut on Sunday an impressive one, allowing four hits (all singles) in six shutout innings while punching out five and walking none. He threw 65 percent (56 of 86) of his pitches for strikes, running his fastball up to 94 mph while averaging 92 mph on the pitch, showing good command of the offering while also once again demonstrating a swing-and-miss curveball.
Player development doesn’t typically work this way. More often, at least some prospects will get thrown while moving up the ladder. There have been at least some examples this year of players in the Red Sox system to whom that’s happened — Allen Webster‘s struggles between the big leagues and Triple-A over the last few months come prominently to mind — but that instance seems like the exception. Instead, the organization’s top prospects have responded impressively to the challenge of moving up to handle more advanced competition, an indicator of considerable strength in the upper levels of the farm system that has the potential to sustain the Sox’ blueprint of a contender built upon homegrown depth for years to come.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-1 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Xander Bogaerts rebounded from his 0-for-5 night on Saturday to go 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. He has five multi-hit contests in his last eight games, bringing his line in 47 Triple-A games to .282/.378/.477. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo’s promotion one year in the making; Travis Shaw shows pop; Blake Swihart pushes through the wall||08.03.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
The promotion to Triple-A for right-hander Anthony Ranaudo had seemed a long time in coming given his early season dominance in Double-A Portland. But when the move up to Pawtucket finally arrived after 19 starts in which the 23-year-old went 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA, 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.3 walks per nine, its significance was nonetheless hard to overlook.
After all, a year ago at this time, it was becoming apparent that Ranaudo’s year in Double-A had reached a premature dead end. He’d been shut down due to shoulder woes, having concluded a dismal year in which he made just nine starts, posted a 6.69 ERA and walked the same number of batters that he struck out (27). As he dealt with a groin issue and then his shoulder injury, his velocity fluctuated, sometimes unable to crack 90 mph, leaving scouts scratching their heads and wondering why Ranaudo was characterized as a prospect.
This year, the 6-foot-7 right-hander — despite a bit of a downturn in his performance in his final weeks in Portland — raised no such questions. He showed the ability to work comfortably in the low- to mid-90s, bumping the upper-90s with his swing-and-miss fastball and power curve as well as a changeup that he incorporated to positive effect at times. Through most of the first three months of the season, he demonstrated tremendous command of the offering, overmatching opponents. He has taken a consider step forward, for the first time as a professional resembling the pitcher whom the Sox thought they were getting based on his dominance as a college sophomore at LSU and his standout performance on the Cape in the summer of 2010, after the Sox jumped at the chance to get him in the supplemental first round following a junior year struggle at LSU.
For Ranaudo, it has been a year of accomplishments — the Eastern League All-Star game, the All-Star Futures Game, the promotion to the brink of the big leagues — made sweeter by virtue of what he went through a year ago.
“It’s just totally different,” Ranaudo explained last month of the contrast between 2012 and 2013. “Last year, during in-game stuff, I was worried about what I had to do to try to create more velocity. Obviously it was down. I was worried about my mechanics. I was worried about my health. This year, I’m able to go out, know that I’m healthy, know that my mechanics are good because I’ve gotten the repetitions, know my velocity is there, that I can just go out there, throw, compete and focus on in-game situations — the things I need to focus on as far as runners on base, things like that, that I wasn’t necessarily able to focus on last year.”
This year, the focus has been in the right place, with Ranaudo being rewarded as a result.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS (15 INNINGS) VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES) Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox pregame notes: Team hopes momentum continues to build in wake of walk-offs||08.02.13 at 5:58 pm ET|
Like most who saw Thursday’s incredible come-from-behind 8-7 win over Seattle, some of the Red Sox woke up Friday morning still in awe that they had pulled off the improbable victory.
“There was a time this morning just sitting around having a cup of coffee when you think, ‘I still can’t believe we won last night,’” said manager John Farrell.
Farrell quickly added that perhaps he shouldn’t be so surprised.
“I think we might be getting to the point where, personally, I think about the guys in our clubhouse and I can’t say they’re not capable of meeting any challenge that comes their way,” Farrell said.
The natural reaction following the last two games — the Red Sox won in walk-off fashion on Wednesday as well — would be to put that excitement in the past and turn the page to Friday’s series-opener against a Diamondbacks team with which they have little familiarity.
Although they will do that to an extent, Mike Napoli noted that it’s OK for the excitement to carry over.
“I don’t think it’ll ever go away, especially with this ballclub,” said the Sox first baseman. “We all care about each other and we’re all happy for each other.”
Farrell said wins like these last two, which were the Red Sox’ 10th and 11th walk-off victories of the season, can create a bit of a snowball effect as the season goes on.
“To what extent I don’t know, but there is an effect, and I think it’s a cumulative one given the number of late-inning wins we’ve had here,” Farrell said. “Our dugout was very loose last night. There wasn’t added pressure. It was a matter of one guy at a time putting together the best at bat he could. People always want to say, ‘What can this mean going forward?’ I think it’s a continued growth that we have as a team.”
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