|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman’s Triple-A debut; Bryce Brentz keeps slugging; Xander Bogaerts is unstoppable; Keury De La Cruz’s impatience||06.10.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Right-hander Brandon Workman claimed the win in his Triple-A unveiling, scattering eight hits (seven singles and a homer) over 5 2/3 innings while giving up three runs, walking three and striking out four. He threw 60 percent (59 of 98) of his pitches for strikes, his lowest strike percentage of the season (Workman threw an impressive 68 percent of pitches for strikes in Double-A prior to his promotion), something that underscores the notion that pitch efficiency becomes more challenging at the most advanced levels. Still, it was a solid debut that featured eight swings and misses, offering a foundation.
“It wasn’t my best start. I could’ve been a lot sharper,” Workman told MILB.com. “But this was a good way to start out here, something to build on and keep working from.”
Indeed, the fact that Workman worked into the sixth on a day when he did not have his best stuff underscores the reasons why the Red Sox felt comfortable having him advance to Pawtucket after 16 outings in Portland in 2012 and 2013.
“Brandon has pitched well all year, showing us an extended period of consistent performance and affirming our belief that he is ready for the next level,” Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett wrote in an email after Workman was promoted. “His fastball command has been excellent and the cutter and curveball have been even more effectively involved. After a few challenging and grinding outings with positive results, he hasn’t relented with several dominant outings in a row.”
– Bryce Brentz had his first three-hit game since the season opener, going 3-for-5 with a double and his 11th homer of the season. He continues a streaky season that has seen him endure fits and starts (prior to going 4-for-7 in his last two games, he was 4-for-28) over his previous six contests, but that has continued to suggest a player with an ability to one day be a middle-of-the-order run producer. His 11 homers rank are tied for ninth in the International League, while his 44 RBI are tied for fourth.
– Will Middlebrooks, in the fifth game of his rehab assignment, went 1-for-5 with a single and a walk. He’s hitting .294/.429/.647 with two homers, four walks and three strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: For Garin Cecchini, a question of approach for Red Sox long-term; Brock Holt squeezing Pedro Ciriaco?; Mookie Betts, All-Star; Jose Almonte’s impressive unveiling||06.04.13 at 11:30 am ET|
The Salem Red Sox played a doubleheader on Monday night, during which third baseman Garin Cecchini stepped to the plate seven times. He reached base in all seven of them — collecting two singles and three walks, getting hit by a pitch and reaching on an error. In the process, he managed to push his absurd on-base percentage up from .469 to .481.
One can make a compelling case that Cecchini has been the foremost on-base machine in all of the minors this year. His .481 OBP ranks second in all of the minors, trailing only Dartmouth product Joe Sclanfani, who is benefiting from playing in the zero-gravity launching pad that is High-A Lancaster’s home in the California League — an offensive environment so distorted that the Red Sox felt compelled to buy a minor league affiliate in Salem in order to never have to play there again after spending the 2007-08 seasons there. Cecchini, meanwhile, is playing in a home park in Salem that typically rewards pitchers far more than hitters.
Cecchini’s standout season to date signals what could become a fascinating long-term issue. The Red Sox this offseason redoubled their commitment to building a lineup predicated on plate discipline, grinding at-bats, high walk rates … all of which are traits possessed by Cecchini. His standout season at third comes at a time when Will Middlebrooks has continued to exhibit considerable raw power but has endured a struggle to sustain a solid average or on-base percentage. It’s in Middlebrooks’ DNA to have an aggressive approach that results in significant power; it is in Cecchini’s to work counts, be patient, take walks.
“His power is going to come. We know that. We always tell Garin, don’t worry about your power. And you know, the Red Sox are telling him that,” explained Raissa Cecchini, Garin Cecchini’s mother and high school hitting coach. “But the deal is this — you’ve got to get on base. You’ve got to find a way to get on base and help your team win. That’s what we tell him. Get hit by the pitch, walk — because most of the time, if Garin walks or gets on base, he’s going to steal second and he’ll probably steal third. Find a way to help your team win.”
At some point this year — likely after the Carolina League All-Star break later this month — the Sox will promote Cecchini to Double-A Portland. Sometime this offseason, the Sox will add him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. And so while there is not an immediate crossroads, the time is coming closer when the Sox may have a choice to make between two very different types of offensive third basemen in Middlebrooks and Cecchini.
Of course, the team could work around an either/or with a position change for one or (if Xander Bogaerts ever ends up moving to third base) both. Cecchini is viewed as having the potential to move to the outfield, while Middlebrooks could certainly be moved across the diamond to first if the need arose. Still, given the contrast between the two players and the fact that there are no current plans to move either, the discussion is a fascinating one that gets to the heart of what the Red Sox value in terms of offensive approach.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 LOSS (11 INNINGS) VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Jose Iglesias is not the only threat to Pedro Ciriaco‘s Red Sox tenure. Brock Holt‘s tremendous offensive run in Pawtucket continued on Monday, with the utility man going 3-for-5. In 18 games since May 15, Holt is hitting .446/.513/.508. With Iglesias in the big leagues, Holt’s last 11 games have come at shortstop, but he’s also seen plenty of time at second while also playing in four games at third base this year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Familiar formula for Xander Bogaerts; Jackie Bradley continues tear; Rubby De La Rosa finds efficiency||05.28.13 at 10:14 am ET|
Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, continuing a year with Double-A Portland in which he’s shown the patience (23 walks, .360 OBP) that was absent in his Sea Dogs debut at the end of 2012 but without the power that he exhibited as a 19-year-old in the Eastern League. Right now, Bogaerts’ line is .273/.360/.413 with two homers and 15 extra-base hits in 42 games.
For a player who is 20 years old, those marks are all excellent given that in a league where the average age of position players is 24, the average line is .258/.337/.391. So, Bogaerts has been an above average across-the-board performer in terms of his slash line while facing advanced pitching even though he’s the youngest position player in the Eastern League.
Still, given his power show in Portland last year — he had 15 extra-base hits (the same number he has at the level this year) in 23 games, including five homers — Bogaerts’ year hasn’t captured the imagination in the same fashion that his Portland unveiling did last year (this despite the fact that his .360 OBP is better than was his .351 mark of a year ago). However, it would be a mistake to look past what he’s doing.
After all, a year ago, Bogaerts had essentially the same start to his season while with High-A Salem. Through last May 27, he’d played 43 games with a line of .274/.343/.427, four homers and 15 extra-base hits in 43 games. To summarize:
Through May 27, 2013: .273/.360/.413, 2 HR, 15 XBH, 42 games
Through May 27, 2012: .274/.343/.427, 4 HR, 15 XBH, 43 games
It wasn’t until June that Bogaerts emerged as one of the most dominant players in the Carolina League. Beginning of May 28, in his remaining 61 games in High-A, Bogaerts (at age 19) hit .323/.403/.564 with 11 homers and 30 extra-base hits to force his way to Portland. He seemingly spent the first couple months of last year gaining a comfort zone with his approach at an advanced level before spending the warmer months of the season dominating it. It remains to be seen whether he follows a similar pattern this year in Portland, but certainly, the parallels between his performance in early 2012 and early 2013 are noteworthy.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-1 WIN AT INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s tear continued. He went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and walk, extending a number of tremendous streaks. The 23-year-old now has:
- An 11-game hitting streak dating to April 30, during which he’s hitting .455/.547/.750.
- A six-game streak of multi-hit games, during which he’s hitting .480/.552/.880 with a pair of homers.
- A four-game streak in which he’s reached base three times in each contest, with a .500/.600/.875.
Bradley’s impact on Monday wasn’t limited to his offense. He also recorded a pair of outfield assists (while making his second straight start in left field), throwing out one player at second and one at third. Still, given that his offensive struggles featured so prominently during his major league stint, it is his tremendous performance at the plate that offers the most prominent evidence that he could be poised to make a big league impact again soon.
On the year, Bradley now is hitting .360/.461/.547 with two homers and nine extra-base hits in 19 games. Interestingly, that line syncs up fairly closely to the one he posted at the start of 2012 while thrusting himself into top prospect status in High-A Salem, when the outfielder hit .359/.480/.526 in 67 games before his promotion. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: Jon Lester delivers more of the same (in a good way) in latest outing||03.06.13 at 7:25 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The pitcher looks familiar.
Once again, Jon Lester gave off the same impression he had consistently delivered prior to the 2012 season, tossing four solid innings against the Pirates Wednesday at JetBlue Park. The Red Sox may have come away with a 9-3 loss to Pittsburgh, but it was the starter’s one-run, two-hit performance that proved most important.
“Good four innings of work today,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I thought he used his curveball a little bit more today than he had in the previous two outings, part by design, part by some of the situations that arose. He might not have been as sharp as the last time out, but still 52 pitches in four innings, a good day of work for him.”
Lester has now pitched nine innings (3 outings), just the one run on three hits, striking out six and walking four.
“From each work session, to what he’s able to do inside the game,” Farrell said of Lester. “I think today showed the ability to make some adjustments from pitch to pitch even with the back to back walks in the one inning. I think he’s more in tune with his delivery mechanics that allows him to make those adjustments.”
- Brock Holt got his first-ever taste of playing first base as a professional Wednesday, handling the position well. The 24-year-old (who still has options) went 0-for-2 with a walk and is now 5-for-20 (.25o) with two walks.
Prior to this season, Holt — who came over to the Red Sox in their trade with Pittsburgh for Joel Hanrahan — had only played second base and shortstop in pro ball.
“Through the work that he’s done in early work, he’s shown the ability to adjust to different angles and different reads,” Farrell said. “You’ve got to the long hop, short hop that’s going to become more readily executed at that position. He’s a good athlete and he’s shown a lot of good aptitude.”
There was also some talk of Holt playing some outfield, although Farrell explained that is on the back-burner while the Texas native works at third.
- A couple of pitchers who have created some buzz in camp — Steven Wright and Rubby De La Rosa — experienced tough outings against the Pirates.
Wright allowed five runs on five hits and three walks over two innings, while De La Rosa followed up with a two-inning, three-run outing.
“If you look at the bigger picture he’s at the early stages of trying to perfect this pitch, one which is an imperfect pitch,” Farrell said of the knuckleballer, Wright. “That will be a constant pursuit. With Wake being here and the amount they can converse back and forth … but at the same time, he’s got to learn that pitching in between the lines and not just on the side. That’s part of his development.”
|How Red Sox view Joel Hanrahan, Brock Holt||12.26.12 at 1:56 pm ET|
In Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt, the Red Sox acquired a pitcher whom they consider an elite closer along with a middle infielder with a nice range of skills who serves as a solid complementary/depth option for the major league roster.
Hanrahan, 31, was an All-Star closer for the Pirates in the last two years, during which he recorded 76 saves (in 84 attempts, good for a 90.4 percent success rate) with a 2.24 ERA. During that time, opponents had just a .205 batting average against the right-hander, including a .187 mark in 2012.
While his walk rate spiked from 2.1 per nine innings in 2011 to 5.4 in 2012, the Sox — who scouted the right-hander heavily in September — did not see diminished stuff. His fastball remained a 96 mph offering, and his slider remained a wipeout pitch, capable of getting swings and misses in volume. Hanrahan did struggle with both command and results in the final month of the season, the Sox felt that hi struggles reflected the fact that he was pitching in uncompetitive situations, both because the Pirates had spiraled rapidly out of contention and because Hanrahan was pitching primarily in non-save situations, much as was the case when Jonathan Papelbon pitched in non-save situations.
In a best-case scenario for the Sox, Hanrahan gives the team an elite closer who can help the team to create a deep bullpen, with Hanrahan the closer behind setup men Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara (and, if he is not traded, Alfredo Aceves), along with left-handed options Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow, along with a wild card in Daniel Bard.
While the Sox had a relative wealth of talented arms last year, the absence and then struggles of Bailey and the inconsistency of Aceves resulted in a number of Sox losses in the late innings. The team was just 35 of 57 in save opportunities, a poor 61 percent conversion rate.
While Hanrahan is eligible for free agency after 2013, if he performs at an elite level, the Sox would consider making him a one-year qualifying offer either to bring him back to Boston on a short-term deal or in order to secure a draft pick if he signed elsewhere. (However, the limited market this winter for free agent Rafael Soriano — caused in no small part by the fact that he would cost a signing team a draft pick — serves as a cautionary tale for the idea of draft pick compensation.)
- Cup of Coffee: Shaw, Haeger help Sea Dogs earn split
- Players of the Week, June 10-16: Keury De La Cruz and Anthony Ranaudo
- Red Sox reportedly sign 12th-rounder Jake Drehoff
- Wendelken added to South Atlantic League All-Stars
- Red Sox reportedly sign Bryan Hudson, Jantzen Witte
- Cup of Coffee: Spinners open season with 15-strikeout gem
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: A-Ball hitters
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #39.1: Mellen's Excellent Adventure
- 2013 Annual Drive - Help Keep SoxProspects Free!
- Cup of Coffee: Wright's bounce-back start lifts Pawtucket