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Red Sox minor league roundup: The astounding feats of Mookie Betts; Keury De La Cruz stays hot; Matt Barnes, Daniel McGrath falter; Jake Drehoff shows superb command, Brian Johnson promoted 08.24.13 at 1:57 pm ET
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It was a career night for second baseman Mookie Betts on Friday. The second baseman collected five hits in High-A Salem’s 18-run offensive onslaught, driving in a career-high seven runs with two doubles and not one but two home runs. It was the first multi-homer game for Betts, his first five-hit game and first game with more than three extra-base hits. It was an unbelievable night for Betts, but it’s even more impressive when put into context.

Mookie Betts set career highs in hits, home runs and RBI on Friday night. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts set career highs in hits, home runs and RBI on Friday night. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Betts has amassed nine hits in his last two games, making an out in just two of his 11 plate appearances. He’s driven in nine runs and clubbed five extra-base hits. In his last four games, he’s hitting .667 with three home runs and three doubles. But Betts’ offensive tear extends much farther than his last four games.He’s reached base safely in 21 straight, and is hitting .430/.500/.722 over the life of that streak. Since August 1, Betts has been the hottest hitter in the Carolina League, boasting the highest average (.410), highest OPS (1.165), most RBI (26, eight more than the player ranking second) and home runs (five).

There was certainly an adjustment period for Betts upon his promotion to Salem. After hitting .296/.418/.477 with 24 doubles and eight round trippers in 76 games with Greenville, the 20-year-old scuffled against the more advanced competition at first, hitting just .227 with a .689 OPS through his first 84 plate appearances. Betts still put the bat on the ball plenty, however, striking out only eight times, and displayed decent power with three doubles, two triples and two home runs through those first 21 games.

The amazing thing about Betts’ 2013 campaign is his ability to do well in just about every aspect of the game. He showed the ability to take walks and get on base at a good clip in 2012, posting a .352 OBP and drawing walks in 11 percent of plate appearances while striking out in only 10 percent. That capability certainly hasn’t disappeared this year against older and better competition. In Greenville, it was enhanced. Betts drew 58 walks in 340 plate appearances, or almost 17 percent of his times up to the plate, while striking out only 40 times, which, while representing a small spike (up to 12 percent of plate appearances), was a small sacrifice for the large spike in the number of free passes and power. In Salem, he’s drawn as many walks as he has strikeouts, 17, in 174 plate appearances, or about 10 percent of plate appearances.

His speed is also an important part of his game. Betts was caught stealing for the very first time in 18 attempts earlier this week, but he maintains a 92 percent success rate this season. Although he’s played in 47 more games this season than in 2012, Betts has stolen an impressive number of bags compared to his 20 last season, swiping 35 bases through 118 games.

But it’s obviously Betts’ power that’s turning heads in Salem. And this power seems to have developed out of nowhere this season. Betts slugged only .307 in his time with the Lowell Spinners in 2012, but leads the Salem ballclub with a .565 slugging percentage after leaving Greenville with the highest slugging percentage among those with more than 50 at-bats (.489). After going homer-less in the first 76 games of his career, Betts now has 15 to his credit, along with 33 doubles and four triples this season.

Betts was not regarded as one of the organization’s top 10 prospects this offseason. He even failed to make Baseball America’s top 30 list (he was ranked No. 31). But the second baseman has made himself into a legitimate prospect worthy of attention, not just because of his performance, but the fact that he’s been so impressive throughout the season all while being notably younger than his competition. Betts is thriving in a league in which the average age is 22.4 years old; he doesn’t even turn 21 until October. In the Carolina League, he’s hitting well above many league averages, including batting average (Betts is hitting .331, the league average is around .259), OBP (Betts: .399, league average: .338) and slugging percentage (Betts: .565, league average: .382), while he’s walking slightly more than the league average of 9.5 percent and striking out a whole lot less than the 18.6 percent average among Carolina League hitters.

Maintaining the pace that Betts has hit at recently seems unlikely, but he’s definitely proven that his success in Greenville this season was not a fluke, and that his many talents translate well across levels. The Feats of Mookie have truly been one of the most eye-opening phenomena in the Red Sox system this year

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-1 LOSS AT SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, brian johnson, brock huntzinger, jake drehoff
Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts moves up; Deven Marrero trying to do the same; Drake Britton’s Triple-A debut; Xander Bogaerts is precocious 07.10.13 at 12:38 pm ET
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A brief look at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system, on a day perhaps most noteworthy for the callup of Brandon Workman. For more on Workman, and why one man who coached both him and Justin Masterson sees a number of similarities between the pitchers, click here.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

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Drake Britton

Drake Britton

– While the final line appears unimpressive, left-hander Drake Britton impressed in stretches in his Triple-A debut. The 24-year-old worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the third inning with a pair of punchouts, and held his opponents scoreless through four innings. He ended up giving up five runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he struck out five, walked one and showed an impressive determination to attack the strike zone (59 of 85 pitches for strikes — 69 percent) while getting a lot of swings and misses (14). Lefties were 0-for-2 with one strikeout against Britton.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 and has now reached base in 11 straight games. During the run, he has a .371/.488/.457 line, with marks of .269/.364/.430 in 26 games since his promotion to Triple-A. Given that the league average line in the International League is .259/.334/.397, it would appear that Bogaerts has been performing at an above-average level over his first month in Triple-A, despite being the youngest player in the league. In other words, his offensive transition has met if not exceeded expectations to date.

– Right-hander Brock Huntzinger continued his strong showing in Pawtucket, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He allowed a hit and a walk. The 25-year-old now has a 1.80 ERA with 17 strikeouts and six walks in 15 innings for the PawSox.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 8-6 WIN VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

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Mookie Betts was promoted to High-A Salem on Tuesday. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts was promoted to High-A Salem on Tuesday. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Feats of Mookie: Getting promoted. Mookie Betts went 1-for-4 with a double in his High-A debut. The 20-year-old forced his way to Salem by hitting .296/.418/.477 with 24 doubles and eight homers in 76 games with Greenville. His OBP ranked fourth in the South Atlantic League. The 2011 fifth-rounder was dominant over his final two months with the Drive, hitting .353 with a .451 OBP, .557 slugging mark and 29 extra-base hits over a 53-game stretch that started on May 5. Betts was also successful on 18 of 20 stolen base attempts prior to his promotion.

– Shortstop Deven Marrero went 3-for-5 with a pair of stolen bases, continuing what has been an excellent second half. In 17 games since the All-Star break, the 2012 first-rounder is now hitting .348/.430/.420 with nine walks, eight strikeouts and nine steals in as many attempts. On the year, Marrero is 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts while hitting .274/.351/.355 and playing excellent defense at short. Given that the Sox viewed him as an exceptionally advanced player when they drafted him — even going so far as to invite him to big league camp this year — there would appear a reasonable chance that Marrero could earn a promotion at some point to Double-A Portland.

– Outfielder Brandon Jacobs likewise continued his second-half push towards a possible promotion, going 2-for-4 with a double and driving in three. He’s hitting .310/.412/.563 with 10 extra-base hits (four homers, six doubles) in 19 games since the break. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, brock huntzinger, cody kukuk, deven marrero
Red Sox minor league roundup: Impressive tune-up for Rubby De La Rosa; Bryce Brentz mashing; Sergio Gomez dominates 06.18.13 at 2:09 pm ET
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A brief look at the limited action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-0 WIN AT COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

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Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa earned his first win of 2013 on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa earned his first win of 2013 on Monday. (AP)

– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, back in Pawtucket after a one-day stint in the big leagues on Saturday, earned his first victory of the year, logging 5 1/3 shutout innings while giving up just two hits (one double, one single), striking out five and walking five. Both the five walks and the 5 1/3 innings represented season highs, as did De La Rosa’s 87 pitches (49 strikes; 56 percent).

In his last nine outings, De La Rosa — a candidate to start for the Red Sox in the big leagues on Saturday if Clay Buchholz lands on the DL — now has a 0.97 ERA with opponents in possession of a feeble .163/.283/.236 line against him. In that stretch, De La Rosa has 36 strikeouts and 19 walks in 37 innings.

Bryce Brentz continues to mash. He launched his fourth homer in six games on Monday while going 1-for-3 with his 14th roundtripper; he also got hit by a pitch. The 24-year-old is tied for fourth in the International League in homers and fifth with 49 RBI.

– In his first appearance since a brief big league callup, right-hander Alex Wilson was dominant, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out three in 1 1/3 shutout innings. Wilson now has 12 strikeouts and three walks in 10 2/3 minor league innings.

Brock Huntzinger, in his second appearance since a promotion to the PawSox, retired all six batters he faced, punching out one. The 24-year-old has delivered three perfect innings thus far in Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex wilson, brock huntzinger, bryce brentz, Chris Carpenter
Scout’s take: A look at Red Sox prospects in Arizona Fall League 11.18.12 at 5:07 pm ET
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Bryce Brentz had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. (Jim Allen/Portland Sea Dogs)

The Arizona Fall League season wrapped up on Saturday, with the Peoria Javelinas edging the Salt River Rafters for the AFL title. The championship game came a couple days after the Red Sox prospects playing for the Surprise Saguaros saw their AFL schedule conclude with a 17-14 record, the third-best record in the AFL.

A few Sox prospects had strong showings in the prospect-heavy AFL. With the help of a pro scout who tracked the Red Sox farm system during the regular season and saw Surprise play in the AFL, here’s a look at the Sox performers in that league.

POSITION PLAYERS

Michael Almanzar, 21 years old, 1B/3B (High-A)
92 PAs, .185/.272/.235/.506, 4 2B, 0 HR, 7 BB, 19 K

Almanzar garnered considerable attention as a 16-year-old when he signed with the Sox for a $1.5 million bonus, at the time the largest ever given by the team to an international amateur. He never emerged as a middle-of-the-order power hitting prospect, however, and struggled for most of his first five pro seasons. However, in 2012, he hit .300/.353/.458/.812 in High-A Salem, giving some hope that he might be a candidate for late-bloomer status.

That said, the corner infielder struggled in the AFL. For now, there appears little risk to the Sox that they might lose the corner infielder should they expose him to the Rule 5 draft.

Scout: “He’s gotten better. I’ve seen him for a few years now and he has gotten better. But he’s such a long-limbed guy. And where he’s going to wind up playing … he doesn’t really have the quickness for third base, you put him over at first and I don’t know if he’s going to hit enough. He’s just kind of a tweener who’s got to keep playing, but he has gotten better and shown some improvement. But for me, he’s still a fringe guy.”

Bryce Brentz, 23 years old, OF (Double-A/Triple-A)
71 PAs, .297/.366/.438/.804, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 19 K

Brentz is the Sox’ most advanced power-hitting prospect (if one does not count big leaguers Will Middlebrooks or Ryan Lavarnway in that designation), and could enter into the Sox’ outfield equation as soon as the middle of 2012. He had a solid though unspectacular minor league line (.290/.349/.465/.814 with 17 homers) during the regular season, with his power going down slightly from a 2011 campaign in which he slammed 30 homers in just 115 contests in two levels of A-Ball. However, the fact that Brentz showed a better approach against more advanced pitching represented a meaningful bit of progress for him. Still, he likely will need to make further gains in his approach before he’s big league ready. Brentz struck out in 26.1 percent of his plate appearances in 2012, and 26.8 percent of his trips to the plate in the AFL. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: arizona fall league, brock huntzinger, bryce brentz, chris martin
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Henry Owens finishes strong; Brandon Jacobs and Sean Coyle try to do the same; Jackie Bradley Jr., on-base machine 09.01.12 at 2:51 pm ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens finished the year with 130 strikeouts in just over 100 innings. (Darrell Snow / Greenville Drive)

A brief look at the activity in the Red Sox farm system on Friday . . .

Programming Note: Down on the Farm will air on Sunday morning from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com. Chuck Crim, pitching coach at Double-A Chattanooga, will join to discuss newly acquired Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster, while Keith Law of ESPN will join to break down the complete package of prospects received by the Red Sox and their implications for the Red Sox farm system.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker went 3-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases, his first two bags in Triple-A. Hazelbaker now has 35 steals (in 46 attempts) in 119 combined games at Double-A and Triple-A this year, along with 19 homers and 48 extra-base hits.

– Left-hander Chris Hernandez allowed three runs on seven hits including two homers — the first time in eight starts in Pawtucket in which he permitted multiple homers. Still, he managed to work six or more innings for the fourth straight start and, for the seventh time in eight outings, he limited his opponent to three or fewer runs. He has a 3.59 ERA in Pawtucket, and he’s positioning himself to be a potential starting depth option for the Red Sox as soon as next season.

– Right-hander Brock Huntzinger, in his Triple-A debut, tossed two scoreless innings and punched out four. Multiple Red Sox officials felt that Huntzinger showed considerable promise after his mid-year move from the rotation to the bullpen in Double-A Portland, where he went 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 55 1/3 relief innings. Opponents hit just .181 against the right-hander. Huntzinger will head to the Arizona Fall League.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 13-6 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)

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Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-2 with a double and three walks. The hit was his first in three games since returning from an ankle injury, but he’s reached base in eight of 13 plate appearances thanks to five walks and two hit by pitches. Among minor leaguers with at least 400 plate appearances this year, Bradley ranks fifth with a .431 combined OBP between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.

Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a double while driving in three. With runners in scoring position, in 25 plate appearances since his promotion to Double-A, he’s hitting .375/.360/.708/1.068 with two homers and two doubles. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, brock huntzinger, chris hernandez, garin cecchini
Five Sox prospects named to Carolina League All-Star game 06.10.10 at 4:24 pm ET
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Five members of the Salem Red Sox were named to represent the High-A Carolina League. They are:

–RHP Brock Huntzinger (5-3, 3.14) — Huntzinger, a 2007 third-rounder, has held opponents to a .229 average, despite having only 31 strikeouts against 24 walks in 63 innings

–RHP Alex Wilson (2-1, 3.40) — Wilson was taken as a second-rounder in the 2009 draft. Opponents are hitting .212 against him (an excellent mark, even if short of the astounding .085 mark to which he held opponents at Lowell last year), and he has a 50-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55 innings.

–C Ryan Lavarnway (.296/.393/.534) — Lavarnway led all Sox minor leaguers in homers a year ago with 21 bombs at Single-A Greenville, and he is once again pacing the organization’s power hitters this year with 13 homers.

–2B Oscar Tejeda (.324/.339/.518) — Tejeda has enjoyed a startling jump forward this year, driving the ball with more authority than ever before in his minor league career. The 20-year-old has already hit eight homers in 222 at-bats, matching his total from over 1,000 at-bats in the first three years of his minor league career.

–3B Will Middlebrooks (.299/.377/.456) — Though Middlebrooks has cooled in recent weeks, he, like Tejeda, has shown dramatic improvement this year. The 2007 sixth-rounder has shown dramatic improvement in his at-bats in High-A Salem, and while he has only four homers (thanks to a line drive swing), Sox officials believe that his size and bat speed will make him one of the better power-hitting prospects in the system.

For more on Lavarnway, Middlebrooks and Tejeda, click here.

For more on Wilson, click here.

Read More: alex wilson, brock huntzinger, oscar tejeda, ryan lavarnway
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