|Red Sox minor league roundup: Making sense of Francellis Montas, Jose Iglesias debuts at third, Bryce Brentz being Bone Buhner?||05.22.13 at 10:24 am ET|
What to make of the hardest throwing pitcher in the Red Sox system, at a time when he’s beginning to string together some dominant starts?
Francellis Montas has long had a reputation that preceded him. Even before he pitched in the States, word started to circulate about the teenager who could reach triple-digits with his fastball. Still, in his first couple seasons in pro ball, he struggled to harness his power, as evidenced by the fact that he walked 30 (the same number that he struck out) in 34 1/3 innings in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and 2011.
Last year, however, he took a considerable step forward while spending most of the year in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. He struck out 41 and walked just 12 in 40 2/3 innings.
This year, despite a 1-4 record and 5.08 ERA, he’s been even better than that while facing more age-appropriate competition in the Single-A South Atlantic League. The 20-year-old Montas continued what has been a string of eye-opening starts by tossing five innings in which he permitted just one run on one hit (a solo homer), walked one and struck out eight.
On the year, Montas now has 49 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 39 innings. His 11.3 strikeouts per nine rank 18th in all of minor league baseball. Of the 17 players who are ahead of him on the list, only one (19-year-old Tyler Glasnow) is younger. Of the 58 players with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings (or more) this year, his rate of 4.9 strikeouts per walk ranks sixth. So, he’s in a somewhat elite class when it comes to having power stuff (a fastball that, as a starter, sits in the mid- to high-90s, along with a slider that has made considerable progress to become a wipeout pitch) while having the willingness to attack the strike zone with it.
And Tuesday continued what has been an increasingly impressive stretch for the right-hander. In his last five starts, he’s punched out 31 and walked just four in 23 innings (12.1 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine) with a 3.13 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ eye-opening progress; Michael Almanzar’s year as a prospect; Daniel Bard remains resolute; Mookie Betts remains astonishing||05.17.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Though Henry Owens gave up a season-high eight hits (seven singles, one double), he showed an impressive ability to weave through and around a host of baserunners to limit his opposition to one run in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none while throwing strikes with an impressive 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent), and he got a ton of groundballs — resulting in eight groundball outs.
Owens has been outstanding in all but one of his eight starts this year, and he’s shown development in two areas that represented focal areas entering the year. First, he’s getting groundballs at a much higher rate this year than he did last year in Single-A Greenville. A year ago, he was a somewhat extreme flyball pitcher, recording just 0.59 groundouts per flyout. This year, he’s doubled the rate of groundouts per flyout, with 1.19 outs on the ground per air out. Secondly, he continues to show a consistent ability to attack the strike zone. He has permitted two or fewer walks in seven of his eight starts, and gave up only three in the other outing. Hence, after walking 4.2 per nine last year, he’s trimmed that rate to 2.9 per nine this season — a reduction of roughly 30 percent. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to get swings and misses in volume thanks to a big-league-quality three-pitch mix (four- and two-seam fastball, changeup, curve), averaging 10.9 punchouts per nine.
In short: There’s a reason why the 20-year-old will receive considerable hype as one of the better pitching prospects in the game if he sustains what he’s done to date this year.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up just one unearned run on one hit in four innings of work. He had command difficulties (throwing just 36 of 71 pitches for strikes and walking a season-high four), but nonetheless punched in with his fifth straight outing (spanning 18 innings) without allowing an earned run. In that time, he has 22 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents are hitting .145 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias take their walks, Mookie Betts is unstoppable, Brian Johnson gets a ‘W’||05.11.13 at 12:50 pm ET|
A brief look at Friday’s action in the Red Sox minor league system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 WIN AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)
– Though Jose Iglesias went 0-for-2, he drew a pair of walks — the first time all year that he’s drawn multiple free passes in a game. He had gone 17 straight games without drawing a walk before Friday. His on-base percentage now sits at .287.
– Right-hander Graham Godfrey, acquired from the A’s this offseason in a trade from offseason nomad Sandy Rosario, delivered his most impressive outing to date for the PawSox. He gave up just two hits in six shutout innings while walking two and striking out five. The 28-year-old, who has been working mostly in piggyback starting duty, is now 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA.
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a double. The 25-year-old is sixth in the International League with a .417 OBP.
– Brock Holt, who had been on call in Boston in case Will Middlebrooks had to go on the DL (something that likely would have resulted in Pedro Ciriaco starting at third, with Holt serving as the utility backup man), rejoined the PawSox in Charlotte and went 0-for-4 while playing third base.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-4 WIN, 6-0 LOSS AT NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)
– Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-3 in the first game, bringing his nine-game hitting streak to an end, then collected one of Portland’s two hits in the second game, going 1-for-2 with a single and HBP. The 20-year-old has now reached base in 20 consecutive games dating to April 11. In that time, he’s hitting .313/.400/.530, with his .930 OPS ranking sixth in the Eastern League during that time — an impressive feat over a full month given that he is the youngest position player in the league.
Bogaerts has also left behind questions that may have loomed entering the year about whether he would be too aggressive against advanced pitching. During his current stretch of games, he’s walked 11 times in 96 plate appearances — 10 more than he walked in 97 plate appearances in Portland at the end of last year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Reins loosening on Rubby De La Rosa; Ks pile up for Brandon Workman; Jackie Bradley Jr. sidelined||05.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET|
A brief look at Sunday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS VS. DURHAM (RAYS)
– A quartet of Rays pitchers, led by seven innings from pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, combined to throw the first nine-inning no-hitter against the PawSox since 1994, when right-hander Jose Lima went the distance in doing so.
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who’d been subject to an approximate 50-pitch limit through the first month of the season, will have the reins loosen a little bit starting with his Monday outing against the Gwinnett Braves. According to the Pawtucket Times, De La Rosa will be permitted to throw around 70-75 pitches.
The Sox created workload restrictions on the 24-year-old in deference to the fact that a) this is his first healthy full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2011 and b) he’s never thrown more than 110 innings in a season in his pro career.
Still, after De La Rosa tossed three scoreless innings in each of his last two starts — most notably, a three-inning, five-strikeout, one-walk effort in his last turn of the rotation — the Sox felt it was time to start to get the young right-hander stretched out.
“Ultimately you want to protect his arm because of the surgery he had,” PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Times. “Rubby’s going to tell us when it’s time to stretch him out and he’s been telling us with his performance over the last outing or two. Sooner or later, you’ve got to release the reins.”
In five starts, De La Rosa has a 7.11 ERA with 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 12 2/3 innings.
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 0-for-2 but drew a pair of walks, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 17 to start the year. The 25-year-old has 12 walks and nine strikeouts as part of a .317/.429/.500 line.
– Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, in his first appearance since tossing four scoreless innings on April 30, made his eighth straight scoreless appearance, tossing a clean inning in which he got three groundball outs. He has a 0.52 ERA in 17 1/3 innings this year, and lefties are 2-for-22 (.091) against him.
– Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who sat out of the last two games, could land on the seven-day DL due to a biceps injury. In 11 Triple-A games, Bradley is hitting .302/.400/.349. He’d been restricted to DH duties in recent days.
– Jose Iglesias was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game due to what manager Gary DiSarcina described to reporters as a “manager’s decision,” the same term applied by DiSarcina on Sunday to explain why the 23-year-old shortstop was not in the PawSox lineup. Read the rest of this entry »
|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 »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman’s ordinary meets extraordinary; Rubby De La Rosa dazzles; Garin Cecchini closes out spectacular month||05.01.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The accomplishment was extraordinary. Through six innings, Brandon Workman retired all 18 batters he faced, simply overpowering his opponents with Double-A Reading.
Yet the thing that was most extraordinary about Workman’s run of perfection — which ended with a leadoff double in the seventh inning — was the fact that it represented a continuation of rather than an aberration from what he’d already been doing this year. He wasn’t doing anything that he hadn’t done in virtually every other outing this year, and most of his trips to the mound dating back to last season in High-A Salem.
He was aggressive in the strike zone with his fastball (which sat at 93 mph and topped out at 95) and cutter, threw a bunch of first-pitch strikes (16 of 23 hitters) and mowed through 11 plate appearances in three pitches or fewer. Workman’s blunt, strike-throwing approach — he threw strikes with 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent) — netted 15 swings and misses.
Impressively, after spending the full game in the windup, he bounced back from the leadoff double in the seventh by punching out the next two hitters, before finally faltering by allowing a walk and run-scoring double that ended his outing after 6 2/3 innings in which he permitted one run on the two hits and a walk while striking out six.
So, aside from the fact that there were 18 straight batters retired out of the gate, the outing looked very much like what the 24-year-old has been doing all season for Double-A Portland. On the year, Workman is now 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA and an eye-catching 34-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate in 29 2/3 innings. He’s worked at least five innings in all five of his appearances, while pitching at least six frames in three of his five outings, with his strike-throwing approach permitting him to work reliably deep into games, in part because of how he attacks the strike zone, in part because he exhibits such tremendous intensity and focus while looming as an imposing, 6-foot-5 physical presence on the mound.
“Since last year when he came up, he comes right after hitters,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “The thing with him is, you watch him, you can see he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Sometimes, you’ll see him throw a ball and think, ‘OK, they’re getting to him.’ Then, all of a sudden, he’s pitching in the sixth or seventh inning. The opposing club has to be scratching its head thinking, ‘I thought this guy was going to self-destruct on the mound.’ But he’s so competitive and so fiery. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, strike-throwing machine; Ryan Lavarnway goes deep; the unhittable Terry Doyle||04.18.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– DH David Ortiz went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He’s now 3-for-15 with three singles, four strikeouts and no walks in his five-game rehab assignment. He is in the lineup for Thursday’s matinee game.
– Right-hander Terry Doyle is off to a tremendous start with the PawSox. He continued that on Wednesday by tossing seven innings and allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six and walking one. In three starts spanning 18 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just five hits while holding opponents to a mind-blowing .088 average. He has 16 punchouts and seven walks — including just two in his last 12 innings. The 27-year-old BC alum has positioned himself where, if the Red Sox need an early-season callup, he and Allen Webster would be the likely top choices (though Webster has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster).
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a solo homer, clearing the fences for the first time this year. In the early going, Lavarnway is hitting for average and getting on base at an excellent clip, hitting .323 with a .421 OBP and .484 slugging mark in eight games.
– Brandon Snyder continued his hot start, going 2-for-3 with a double and his third homer of the season. The first baseman, who signed with the Sox just before the start of the season after requesting and being granted his release from the Rangers, is hitting .359 with a .444 OBP and .718 slugging mark.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 1-0 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)
– Brandon Workman continued his excellent start, logging seven shutout innings in which he permitted just four hits (all singles), walked none and struck out nine. He got 13 swings and misses — seven on his fastball, three each on his cutter and curve — while throwing 70 percent (49 of 70) of his offerings for strikes to sail through one of the more efficient outings imaginable given how many strikeouts he generated. Through three starts, Workman has a ridiculous 25-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate. Through three starts, the 24-year-old is third in the minors in strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .169 against him. Of the impressive group of starters in the Portland rotation (which also includes Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Drake Britton), Workman is clearly the most advanced, and the most likely to assert himself as a candidate to impact the Sox big league pitching staff in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
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