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Red Sox minor league roundup: Christian Vazquez, potential ‘frontline guy'; Ryan Dent makes a mark on mound; Matt Price dominating 07.13.13 at 12:20 pm ET
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The Sea Dogs lost an outfielder on Friday when Brandon Jacobs was traded to the White Sox for reliever Matt Thornton just a day after Jacobs had been promoted to Double-A. In his final game with the Sox, Jacobs started and went 1-for-2 with a double and a flyout before being pulled in the bottom of the third upon news that he’d been sent elsewhere.

Here’s a look at the rest of Friday’s action in the Red Sox minor league system:



— Coming off his worst start of the season in which he allowed six runs on four hits and two walks while recording only one out, Rubby De La Rosa was hit hard again on Friday, though his line looks a lot better than that from his prior outing. The righty allowed three runs on a season-high seven hits through five innings, walking three and striking out five.

De La Rosa had recorded a three-start scoreless streak back in June, but in three starts since then, owns an 11.88 ERA, allowing 11 runs in 8 1/3 innings. Despite being hit hard, De La Rosa has allowed only one home run in his last 30 1/3 innings. It seems that the 24-year-old struggles the most when facing a lineup for the first time; he’s compiled a 4.96 ERA in the first inning and 4.50 in the second, but has put up a 2.30 ERA from the third inning on without allowing a run in the fifth or sixth inning all season.

De La Rosa did run into some trouble in the fourth inning on Friday though, loading the bases on a single and two walks with two outs before inducing a ground out to escape the jam. He allowed just one single in the fifth while getting two swinging strikeouts, but was up to 87 pitches on the evening. Through 17 starts and 63 2/3 innings this season, De La Rosa owns a 3.53 ERA, striking out 67 while walking 30.

Alex Hassan clubbed his second home run of 2013 to break a 5-5 tie in the seventh inning, sending a 2-2 pitch into the PawSox bullpen in left field. Hassan finished the day 1-for-2 with three RBI while drawing two walks. It was the first home run Hassan hit off a left-hander this season, as the 25-year-old has been more productive against righties (.356/.473/.511, 45 at-bats) than lefties (.286/.359/.514) thus far.

Hassan, who has been expanding his versatility by making starts in right field, left field and at first base this season with Pawtucket, is riding a six-game hit streak and has six RBI over his last four games. It’s clear that Hassan enjoys playing home games at McCoy Stadium this season, where he’s hitting .375/.468/.625 with four doubles and two home runs in 12 games, as opposed to a .275/.383/.400 line on the road. Overall this season, Hassan, who missed the first couple months of the season with a foot injury, is batting .325/.426/.513 with nine doubles and 14 RBI through 80 at-bats, drawing 13 walks while fanning 17 times.

Will Middlebrooks contributed two singles, going 2-for-4 with a run scored while drawing his fourth walk since returning to Pawtucket. The base-on-balls was Middlebrooks’ first in seven games.Through 17 games with Pawtucket since the demotion, Middlebrooks is batting .261/.301/.449 with four home runs, one double, and 16 RBI, drawing four walks while striking out 10 times, though he’s fanned only twice in his last four games.



— Catcher Christian Vazquez was one of the four Sea Dogs to record three hits on the day, going 3-for-7 with three singles, a walk and two RBI on the evening. With the three hits, Vazquez extended his hit streak to six games.

The 22-year-old is heating up again after a brief June swoon in which he hit .217/.247/.319, mashing to the tune of a .346/.393/.385 line in six games in July while hitting .362/.388/.426 over his last 11. Vazquez hasn’t displayed a ton of power this season, with 11 doubles, a triple and four home runs in 238 plate appearances, but has exhibited great plate discipline, walking 29 times with only 31 strikeouts. Vazquez also caught his 34th runner of the season on the basepaths, and has gunned down 48 percent of runners this season, well above the major league average.

“This guy continues to perform. Every time the stage gets higher, this guy brings his game higher. … He’s been unbelievable in his game the last couple years in his game behind the plate,” said Red Sox catching coordinator Chad Epperson. “I watched him a couple years ago. I definitely seeing him turning the page, being a consistent guy in all phases of the game. … He understands now what it takes to be consistent. We’re not talking a backup. We’re talking about a guy with the ability to be a frontline guy. He understands that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, Chad Epperson, christian vazquez, kolbrin vitek
Red Sox name Dana Levangie bullpen coach 02.05.13 at 6:40 pm ET
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On the cusp of spring training, the Red Sox completed their coaching staff by announcing that longtime scout and staff member Dana Levangie will take over as the team’s bullpen coach and catching instructor, replacing Gary Tuck, who informed the team last week that he was retiring.

Levangie had spent the last seven years as a major league advance scout for the Red Sox. The familiarity with big league hitters that he’s gained in that job represented a considerable attribute for a man who will be charged with overseeing the preparation of relievers as they get ready to enter contests. Indeed, in the press release announcing the hiring of the 43-year-old Levangie, the Sox noted that he will continue to assist in the team’s advance scouting.

‘€œWe are extremely pleased to add Dana to the major league staff,’€ manager John Farrell said in the press release. ‘€œHe has been a valuable asset to the Red Sox in a variety of roles and his vast knowledge of the Major Leagues, particularly the American League, will enable him to make an impact on our staff and with our bullpen.’€

Including his playing career, Levangie has spent 22 years in professional baseball, all of them in the Red Sox organization. He was selected by the team in the 14th round of the 1991 draft and spent parts of six years in the organization, reaching Triple-A for a pair of brief stints. In 1997, he left behind his playing career to become the bullpen catcher in the big leagues for the Sox, a role in which he spent the next eight seasons. In 2005, he moved to pro scouting before joining the advance scouting staff in 2006, a role in which he’s regularly interacted with the big league club.

Levangie emerged from a group of internal candidates that also included minor league catching instructor Chad Epperson and Double-A hitting coach Rich Gedman. His familiarity with big league hitters proved the decisive factor in his selection.

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Chad Epperson, dana levangie, gary tuck, rich gedman
Jason Varitek not a likely candidate to replace Gary Tuck 01.30.13 at 3:06 pm ET
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There will come a time, and it may be in the near future, that former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek can commence his big league coaching career with virtually his pick of jobs. But for now, even though the Red Sox have a newly created need for a bullpen coach and catching instructor on their big league staff with the sudden retirement of Gary Tuck, it does not appear that Varitek is being considered — or even wants to be considered — for a full-time return to uniform, according to a major league source.

Varitek retired because he wanted to spend time with his family, and while the 40-year-old embraced the opportunity to return to the Sox as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, that job seemingly represents the work-life balance that Varitek would like to maintain for now. There’s little question that a coaching future is available to him, but for the present, he’s likely to remain in his role.

That, in turn, means that the Sox must work to find a replacement for Tuck with less than two weeks before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Given that compressed timetable, while the Sox had yet to contact candidates about interviews as of Wednesday afternoon, the team plans to select from an internal pool of candidates already within the organization.

Three stand out as fairly obvious:

Chad Epperson spent the last two years as the Sox’ roving catching instructor, a capacity in which he’s worked with the likes of Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (as well as minor leaguers such as Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart) for years. Last year, when Tuck had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons, Epperson joined the big league staff as his fill-in. He also knows a number of the team’s homegrown pitchers, having coached or managed players like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Ryan Kalish, Felix Doubront and Daniel Nava while they were coming up through the system. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chad Epperson, gary tuck, Jason Varitek, ralph treuel
Trio of backstop prospects catching on 08.27.09 at 6:31 pm ET
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The Red Sox just may have better catching than we thought.

Since acquiring Victor Martinez on July 31, the Sox now have two All-Star catchers who figure to be under Boston’€™s control through the 2010 season. In addition, the team will have some decisions to make regarding George Kottaras, who was placed on the DL on August 1 with with a lower back sprain and has played his last nine games in Pawtucket. Amongst all the bodies in the system, who is the team’s catcher of the future?

‘€œMark Wagner,’€ says a source within the organization with what can only be perceived as the utmost confidence.

Of course, that source within the organization happens to be one Mark Wagner himself, and unfortunately for the 25-year-old, it’€™s not that simple. Looking at the system as a whole, Wagner isn’€™t the only minor-league catcher jumping off the page. In fact, he may not even be Boston’€™s catching prospect. With both Double A Portland’€™s Luis Exposito and High A Salem’€™s Tim Federowicz also making great strides, the spot’€™s future is uncertain to say the least.

In short, Wagner brings to the table great game-calling ability, a plus pop time, a streaky bat, and outstanding confidence. Exposito brings size, outstanding defensive abilities, and a bat that has hit for average (.290 over the last two seasons). Additionally, Exposito brings a level of professionalism uncharacteristic of someone who was suspended for nearly all of the ‘€™07 season for attitude problems. Federowicz, like Wagner, calls an excellent game, has a gun for an arm and has surprised Boston with offensive growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chad Epperson, Daniel Bard, george kottaras, Jason Varitek
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