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Red Sox minor league roundup: Making sense of Mookie Betts; Jose Iglesias returns; Franklin Morales sharp; Drake Britton becoming efficient 05.09.13 at 11:58 am ET
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Second baseman Mookie Betts hit his third homer of the year for Greenville on Wednesday. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

The performance of second baseman Mookie Betts with Single-A Greenville this season looks unlike anything else seen in the minors in 2013.

The 2011 high school fifth-rounder, went 2-for-5 with a homer (his third of the year) and double, three walks, a steal and no strikeouts in the double header, in the process continuing his utterly fascinating debut in full-season ball. The 20-year-old is hitting just .184 but with a .390 OBP and .333 slugging mark, along with three homers and six steals, on the season. The disparity between average and OBP is something that has almost never been seen in the annals of major league history.

But Betts is performing as more than just a statistical anomaly. Since April 25, Betts is hitting .233 but with an astonishing .540 OBP (seventh-best in all of the minors in that span — and of the six played ahead of his, none is hitting less than .381) and .433 slugging mark and a minor-league best 20 walks (no one else has more than 14) with just five strikeouts in 50 plate appearances.

Betts is not a physically imposing player. However, though listed at 5-foot-9 and 156 pounds, he has some juice in his bat at times, as became evident when he crushed his homer on Wednesday.

“He’s worth watching,” said one NL talent evaluator. “He’s wiry strong, has got a little bat speed and strength, runs a little bit.”

At a relatively young age (20), Betts demonstrates an advanced approach, excellent knowledge of the strike zone and good bat control (hence the low strikeout rates). The Sox think he’s at his best when staying up the middle and hitting to the opposite field, though the team would also like to see him take some chances with more aggressive swings early in the count when he has good pitches to hit. Even so, Betts has shown consistently good at-bats, making him the most intriguing position prospect on the Greenville team thus far this year.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-1 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES)

(BOX)

Jose Iglesias returned to the PawSox lineup after being pulled in the middle of Saturday’s game for a manager’s decision and then sitting the next three contests. He went 1-for-5, and is now hitting .233/.273/.384 in Triple-A.

Manager John Farrell elaborated on the reasons for Iglesias’ benching on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show on Wednesday: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon snyder, bryce brentz, christian vazquez, cody koback
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
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Matt Barnes punched out 10 for Double-A Portland on Wednesday. (Darrell Snow / Greenville Drive)

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 »

Read More: allen webster, anthony ranaudo, Brandon Workman, cody koback
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Daisuke Matsuzaka and the truth about Tommy John surgery 05.08.12 at 12:00 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka was subdued after 4 2/3 shutout innings in his latest rehab outing on Monday. (AP)

The reality is that Tommy John surgery, more often than not, does not feature a straight line rehab process.

Rich Hill represented the exception, experiencing no setbacks in the roughly 11 months since his surgery to the point where he’s already asserted himself as an important contributor in the Red Sox’ major league bullpen. But the path back is typically different — and more deliberate — particularly for starting pitchers.

And so, it should not come as a complete surprise that Daisuke Matsuzaka has not yet looked like a dominant pitcher in his rehab appearances. There have been interesting signs, such as the fact that he touched as high as 94 mph while pitching in extended spring training, and the fact that he punched out seven in a Double-A rehab start a little more than a week ago. But he remains a work in progress, and not a finished product.

On Monday in Pawtucket, he offered a reminder of that fact. He tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings, but it took the right-hander 87 pitches to get to that stage of the game. he was unable to finish the fifth inning, something that represented a bit of a disappointment.

“I had about four walks and a lot of two-ball, three-ball counts which knocked up my pitch count,” Matsuzaka told reporters (via a translator) in Pawtucket. “I really wanted to throw at least five innings, but it didn’t happen, so I’m not really happy about that.”

While Matsuzaka reported no problems in the neck issue that delayed his latest outing by a few days, he acknowledged that his rebuilt elbow varies on a day-to-day basis. That being the case, he did not exude certainty about whether he might be ready to return to the majors with another couple of starts.

“Overall, my body feels good, so that’s fine, but my elbow, depending on the day — some days it feels better than others. Right now, I’m hoping when I start, it hits the day I’m feeling good,” he told reporters. “Regarding being ready in two more games, it’s hard to say because it’s a step-by-step process, a game-by-game process. I’ll just go see how I pitch my next outing and see how that goes and see where I stand then.”

In many respects, in examining the histories of other Red Sox pitchers who underwent Tommy John, it is remarkable that Matsuzaka — less than a year removed from the repair of his ulnar collateral ligament last June — is in Triple-A. Junichi Tazawa had the procedure performed in April 2010 and did not start a rehab assignment for 13 months. Former Sox pitcher Nick Hagadone (who recorded his first career big league save on Monday) went under the knife in May 2008 and didn’t start pitching in minor league games until June 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex wilson, bryce brentz, chris balcom-miller, cody koback
Red Sox look for upside, athleticism in Rounds 5-10 06.07.11 at 6:05 pm ET
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As the draft began to pick up steam, with picks flying, the Red Sox continued to acquire a diverse set of players in Rounds 5-10. The team nabbed a couple of position players from smaller schools in the Midwest, a pair of fast, toolsy high school position players and a pair of intriguing left-handed pitchers.

5th round (No. 172): Mookie Betts, SS, Overton HS

Betts has a commitment to the University of Tennessee, although that program is in a state of some chaos after their head coach (Todd Raleigh) was fired late in May.He was expected to play second base for the Volunteers, although his speed has created some suggestions that the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder could be an outfielder in the future. Betts is considered extremely athletic, and was a third-team All-State basketball player in Tennessee, as well as the state’s top bowler as a junior. His speed, plate approach and athleticism are all intriguing tools.

Betts told govolsxtra.com that he was undecided about whether to go to college or turn pro.

“I have no clue,” Betts said. “Even though (coach Todd Raleigh and athletic director Mike Hamilton) are gone, I wouldn’t mind one bit going to UT. I just have to find out what I actually want to do.

“I’ve always wanted to play pro ball, but it’s every kid’s dream to go to college and live the college life. I’m just living on a high right now, and when I come back down we can figure it all out and make a decision.”

6th round (No. 202): Miguel Pena, LHP, San Jacinto Junior College Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, cody koback, cody kukuk, miguel pena
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