|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|
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)
– 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 »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: An everyday future for Bryce Brentz?; Drake Britton breaking through; Jackie Bradley streaking||06.12.13 at 11:38 am ET|
Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-4 with a homer, and is now 5-for-9 with a pair of homers and a double in his last two games. The strong performance for the PawSox right fielder continued an intriguing trend for the potential middle-of-the-order power hitter.
First, the homer came against a right-handed pitcher, and indeed, 11 of Brentz’s 12 homers this year have come against righties. On the year, the right-handed Brentz has a very strong line against righties — .285/.328/.529, albeit with a poor walk rate (5.4 percent of plate appearances) and a high but not outrageous strikeout rate (22.4 percent) — while failing to enjoy, to this point, any platoon advantage against lefties (.263/.333/.421, 7.9 percent walk rate, 23. 8 percent strikeout rate).
That’s a noteworthy reversal of Brentz’s performance of a year ago, when in 127 games (all but five in Double-A), he clubbed lefties at a .315/.372/.621 clip with 11 homers while posting a more modest line of .281/.340/.410 with six homers against righties. In 2011, Brentz likewise exhibited a natural platoon advantage against lefties.
Put another way: If Brentz’s gains this year against righties — specifically, the ability to generate more regular power while more or less sustaining the average and on-base numbers he’d shown in 2012 — are real and sustainable, then it would go a long way towards a future as an impactful everyday player in the big leagues. After all, eventually one would expect his numbers against lefties to catch up to and more likely surpass his numbers against righties. If he is a power-hitting threat against pitchers of both handedness, then his ability to impact a lineup on a regular basis would be brought into sharp relief.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS (7 INNINGS), RAINOUT AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 with a double, and he now has one of the more fitful 14 game hitting streaks with Triple-A Pawtucket that one can imagine. The streak began on April 30, when he hit in three straight games before landing on the DL due to biceps tendinitis. After two weeks off, Bradley returned to the PawSox lineup and hit in nine straight games before being called up to the big leagues. He returned to the PawSox lineup after a 10-day hiatus on Sunday, and now has hits in each of his two games back in Triple-A. In addition to the 14-game hitting streak, during which Bradley is hitting .414/.500/.690, the 23-year-old also has a run of doubles in five straight contests. Read the rest of this entry »
|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: 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: Matt Barnes settles in; Jackie Bradley, Garin Cecchini hit the ground running; Bryce Brentz walks off||05.18.13 at 10:30 am ET|
Right-hander Matt Barnes has now settled into a string of consistently solid starts with Double-A Portland. On Friday, he allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings on Friday. (Two of the runs came in his sixth and final inning.) Over his last four starts, he now has a 1.96 ERA with 28 strikeouts and seven walks in 23 innings.
On Friday, he had his best velocity of the season, sitting at 95 mph and reaching 97 mph, all with command down and on the corners. Still, that comes as little surprise given that Barnes was comfortably in the mid-90s with command for most of his first professional season in 2012.
That being the case, his secondary stuff will always be the most significant aspect in determining the pace of his development and his ultimate projection. One evaluator who saw Barnes recently spoke highly of the progress that the right-hander has made with his changeup, which has developed at times into being his primary secondary offering. His curveball has been an effective pitch at times, but he’s made considerable strides in the ability to pull the string on a legitimate changeup since he started his pro career, giving him a pitch capable of keeping hitters from cheating on his powerful fastball.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 with a double and a three-run, walkoff homer with one out in the ninth. He’s starting to heat up, hitting for average, power and driving in runs in bunches. In his last nine games, Brentz is hitting .389/.421/.639 with two homers, five doubles and an RBI per game, bringing his line for the year to .280/.335/.510 with seven homers. He’s tied for fourth in the International League in RBIs with 29, thanks to a .328/.384/.612 line with runners on base (compared to a .237/.293/.421 line with the bases empty).
As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal recently noted, Brentz, 24, is trying to put his offseason gun accident behind him through his play. Though he still hears taunts from fans about the incident, he is trying to bring the focus to what he’s accomplishing on the field.
“Anytime something like that happens, your play is going to get the past behind you,” Brentz told Britton. “For anybody who’s ever done anything in baseball or had an offseason accident, their play is what makes people forget. It’s just bad that I put the organization through that situation, that the fans had to read about it.”
– Jackie Bradley Jr., 23, returned from a stint on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and, serving as the designated hitter, went 1-for-3 with a triple, walk and hit by pitch. The walk was arguably his most impressive plate appearance of the night, an 11-pitch marathon against a left-handed reliever (Ryan Buchter) to lead off the ninth inning and set in motion a three-run, game-winning rally. It was Bradley’s first game in two weeks. He’s now hitting .304/.418/.391 in 12 Triple-A games this year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster’s command issues, Jose Iglesias readjusts, Garin Cecchini avoids another scare, Sean Coyle slumps, a daily Mookie-ism||05.15.13 at 11:42 am ET|
A brief look at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Shortstop Jose Iglesias went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt in four plate appearances. In seven games since returning to the lineup following a four-game spell in which manager Gary DiSarcina had him sit, Iglesias, 23, is hitting .192/.300/.192. However, DiSarcina told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that more important than the shortstop’s numbers has been his approach to the game since returning to the field.
“One of the great traits he has is his love for the game. Sitting down for a couple days, he realized how much he loves the game, how much he misses playing with that joy,” DiSarcina said. “When he plays free and plays creative, he’s a lot of fun to watch, and I’m sure he has a lot of fun doing it because he has skills other people don’t have.
“The five or six games he’s been back, that’s kind of what we wanted from him. Enjoy yourself. You have an opportunity to go out there and be a leader out there. He’s been doing it.”
– Right-hander Allen Webster, in his first start back in Pawtucket since getting shelled for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in a big league start, worked around issues with his fastball command (which led to both a solo homer and four walks) to allow just one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out five, recorded seven groundball outs and produced 11 swings-and-misses.
While Webster, 23, had enjoyed an eye-opening spring in which he demonstrated an ability to attack the strike zone that ran counter to his minor league career norms, he’s shown some regression during the season. He’s now issued 10 walks in 25 innings, a rate of 3.6 per nine frames, and on Tuesday, he threw strikes on just 53 percent (49 of 92) of his pitches. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The Anthony Rizzo void leaves long-term questions at first||05.14.13 at 1:21 pm ET|
Throughout the Red Sox organization, news of the seven-year, $41 million deal between the Cubs and first baseman Anthony Rizzo was cause for considerable celebration. The 23-year-old’s fan base with his former organization remains strong, with ties that run deeper than usual for a player who has left the organization given the connection between the Sox and Rizzo’s family that was formed over the course of his treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008.
Now five years removed from those months of treatments, Rizzo has continued to build upon the considerable promise he showed as a member of the Red Sox organization, when he slammed 25 homers between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2010.
Through 38 games this year, he’s hitting .277 with a .348 OBP, .527 slugging mark and nine homers in 38 games — looking very much like the future middle-of-the-order force that he projected to be when the Sox sent him to the Padres following the 2010 campaign (along with Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Eric Patterson) for Adrian Gonzalez.
The Sox’ opinion of Rizzo — as a person and player — never waned, but with Gonzalez slated to man first base through 2018, there seemed no place for the sweet-swinging left-hander. And so, a potential future middle-of-the-order slugger seemed to represent an acceptable cost of business for a player who was expected to deliver elite production more immediately.
But with Gonzalez now having been spun off to the Dodgers, Rizzo’s absence is felt more acutely in an organization that lacks a clear-cut long-term option at first. Mike Napoli is signed through this year, not beyond. Both Daniel Nava and Mike Carp can play first, and both are under team control for a number of years to come (Nava through 2017, Carp through 2016), but it remains to be seen what the two of them look like over a broader sample of games, and whether either could emerge as an everyday option at a position that requires considerable offensive production.
Put another way: While there’s a chance that the team could turn to any of those three beyond 2013, none of the three current Sox first basemen represents a clear-cut answer at the position for years to come, at least at this point. And beneath them, in the minors, there isn’t a prospect who obviously fits that description, either.
In Triple-A, the Sox have players such as Brandon Snyder and Mark Hamilton who could offer serviceable depth to the big league team, but for whom (at ages 26 and 28, respectively) something more than that seems unlikely.
In Double-A, the team has a pair of players who offer intrigue in Travis Shaw and Michael Almanzar. Shaw displays both plate discipline and an offensive approach that the organization loves, working deep into counts, letting the ball travel, driving pitches to the opposite field in left-center. The 23-year-old has considerable raw power, though it’s translated only sporadically to games. He projects as a more likely source of doubles and solid OBPs than middle-of-the-order slugging. And, at 23, it’s worth noting that he’s the same age as Rizzo, with Shaw hitting .231/.369/.364 in the Eastern League while Rizzo is comfortably enmeshed in the heart of the Cubs lineup in the big leagues.
Also in Double-A, Almanzar (primarily playing third base) is off to the best start of his career, hitting .303/.380/.492 with five homers in 32 games. Still, given that this is the first time in years that the 22-year-old has merited legitimate prospect status, and that he’s a career .249/.301/.366 hitter in the minors, it’s difficult to say that he’ll emerge as the long-term answer at first.
Perhaps there will come a time in 2014 or 2015 when the presence of Xander Bogaerts leads the Sox to feature the impressive 20-year-old and Will Middlebrooks on opposite corners of the diamond, most likely with Bogaerts at third and Middlebrooks at first. Both players have the power profiles for the two corners, though, of course, there’s also a reasonable chance that Bogaerts reaches the big leagues as a shortstop and Middlebrooks stays at third. Further down, with third baseman Garin Cecchini dominating in High-A, in two or three years, there’s potential for further crowding on the corners that could ultimately be resolved by one player moving to first (though in the case of both Cecchini and Bogaerts, there are those who believe that if they are to move from their current positions, they are better suited for the outfield than a different infield position).
At this juncture, none of the players whom the Sox have at first base at any level below Double-A profiles as a future everyday big league first baseman. That could change, but in all likelihood, there’s going to be a gap of some years before the Sox feature a homegrown first baseman. And given Rizzo’s performance to date and age — he’s one year younger than Middlebrooks — it’s more unlikely still that the team has a homegrown amateur who thrusts himself into his offensive class.
The Sox were able to undo the major league component of their fateful offseason of 2010-11, shedding Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and the enormous financial constraints that both presented. And the team acquired high-ceiling prospects in Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa who contribute to the team’s best homegrown pitching outlook in years.
But without Gonzalez, the absence of Rizzo is felt, and likely will continue to be for some time to come.
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday night:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)
– Through Franklin Morales gave up a solo homer, he had an impressive rehab appearance, allowing just the one run on two hits while striking out four and walking none in three innings. He also picked a runner off of first base, got three groundouts (and one flyout) and threw 30 of 48 pitches for strikes (63 percent). Read the rest of this entry »
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