|Franklin Morales on cusp of returning to Red Sox||05.25.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
Franklin Morales is just about ready to return to the Red Sox.
The lefty, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since the beginning of the season with a lower back strain, appears ready to be reinserted into the Red Sox’ bullpen, or be available for a spot start.
According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, it has yet to be determined if Morales will be activated this weekend or receive one more rehab assignment.
Morales has totaled as many as 80 pitches during his rehab stint, which has seen him make five appearances. In 17 innings he has allowed seven runs (6 earned), while totaling a 3.18 ERA.
As for how much time Morales could spend as a reliever and still be considered for a start, Farrell said, “Usually the general rule of thumb is probably two weeks where you could at least insert him back in with some known ability to get 70 pitches, 65-70 pitches. And that’s not taking into account what kind of work he would have had in the interim.”
Right now there would not seem to be a spot for Morales in the starting rotation, with Ryan Dempster still slated to make his next scheduled start Tuesday. That could change due to any postponements and the need for an extra arm due to a doubleheader.
The Red Sox headed into Saturday carrying 13 pitches, with the move to add an additional position player most likely not coming until they decipher what sort of dynamic the inclement weather dictates.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The uniqueness of Mookie Betts; Anthony Ranaudo strong in struggle; Garin Cecchini’s standout year continues||05.19.13 at 11:29 am ET|
Daily Feats of Mookie: Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a homer (his seventh of the year and fifth in his last 11 games) and a walk for Single-A Greenville. During his current 13-game hitting streak, he’s now hitting .429/.533/.837 with 10 extra-base hits (five homers, five doubles). On the year, he’s now hitting .256/.413/.488.
The run remains singularly shocking, since prior to the streak, Betts had shown excellent excellent plate discipline but no real ability to drive the ball. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 25 games this year after collecting nine (with no homers) in 71 games in 2012 with the Lowell Spinners. So, in his last 11 games, with those 10 extra-base hits, he’s nearly matched his total from his previous 97 games as a professional.
The out-of-nowhere power-hitting stretch is even more impressive since it has occurred without Betts selling out his characteristically disciplined approach at all. During his hitting streak, he’s walked 11 times (including once in each of the last four games) and struck out just four times — meaning he has more than twice as many extra-base hits as strikeouts.
Context: Here’s the complete list of players in the minors with at least seven homers and at least as many walks as strikeouts:
Since 2001, the only player in the big leagues with at least seven homers in a season and twice as many walks as strikeouts has been Barry Bonds. The last player to do it who wasn’t Bonds was Mark Grace, who did it in 2000. The people who accomplished the feat in the 1990s: Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, Wade Boggs, Eric Young, Mark Grace, Lenny Dykstra, Frank Thomas.
It remains to be seen what this remarkable run means for Betts. After all, he didn’t hit a home run all of last year. But for now, Betts is performing as a player with a profile that does not currently exist in pro ball, and that few have displayed in the last 25 years.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-3 LOSS VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Franklin Morales yielded three runs while giving up three hits, a pair of homers and walking three in four innings. Despite the walks total, he was aggressive in the strike zone, throwing 43 of 65 pitches (66 percent) for strikes. However, he didn’t have overpowering stuff, as he elicited just four swings and misses in his four innings of work. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell trying to avoid creating ‘uncertainty’ with lineup shuffles||05.15.13 at 7:10 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a period in which productivity has been glaringly absent. The Sox have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last 12 games, with their average of 3.3 runs per game in that span ranking 13th of the 15th teams in the American League.
So how to fix it? Manager John Farrell was asked whether he’d contemplated tinkering with the lineup. While he acknowledged considering the possibility of such a measure, he decided that he’d rather show more faith in a group that roared to one of the best starts in franchise history.
“I have given it some thought. And yet the one thing that I don’t want to create in there is more uncertainty,” said Farrell. “And I think at a time when you could understand if some frustration starts to filter in, I want there to be some stability and some continuity to the work that we’re doing. That includes they understanding that there’s a lot of belief and trust in them as players and we didn’t go to 20-8 at one point with a completely different set of players.
“We’re not going to run from them. I really like our team,” he added. “This is a group that’s talented and going to be very successful.”
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has been a considerable part of the team’s early struggles. He’s hitting just .256 with a .321 OBP and .363 slugging mark. In May, those numbers dip to .200/.290/.255.
The Sox recognize that Ellsbury is a singularly impactful member of their roster when he reaches base. But he’s been doing that so rarely that it seemed reasonable to ask Farrell if he might consider moving from his familiar spot as a leadoff hitter.
“Certainly there’s a track record in which to refer to. I know he’s working diligently to get back on track, particularly his timing at the plate,” said Farrell. “I do know this — when he does get on base, it changes our entire [complexion] — not only to start or lead off a game, but throughout the course of a given game, when he’s on base. Whether or not he’s in the leadoff spot, that’s one time. That’s the first at-bat. After that, I don’t want to say that we’re not creating opportunities for ourselves, but, to me, the more glaring thing is how we’ve created those opportunities and yet the ball hasn’t fallen our way.” 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 »
|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|
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)
– 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.
|Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino set to return, Daniel Bard struggles||05.02.13 at 8:45 pm ET|
The Red Sox had said all along that they were comfortable keeping Shane Victorino off the disabled list so long as, by the end of the current three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, it looked as if he was nearing a return from his lower back strain. Mission accomplished.
Victorino took full batting practice on the field prior to Thursday’s game, and not only will he be available to play against the Rangers in the upcoming weekend series in Texas, but he’ll also be available as a bench option in the series finale against the Blue Jays.
“He tried to talk his way into the lineup today, but we’re holding him out,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “He’s available tonight, so if a game situation calls for it, he is available. Everything points towards him being back in the lineup tomorrow.
“It’ll be better news as long as we don’t have recurrence, which is why we’re taking the extra day just to be that much more cautious, but he’s done a tremendous job for us in all phases of the game,” Farrell added. “In his absence, though, we’ve gotten very good production from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes, and it’s provided additional at-bats to those two guys to get some regular playing time and get back in the flow of things. Coming out of spring training, it’s been sporadic work. I always try to look at the silver lining in it. But getting Shane back will be a boost for us.”
Victorino, who has been out of the lineup for seven games since suffering his injury against the A’s last Wednesday, is hitting .292 with a .358 OBP and .319 slugging mark.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, strike-throwing machine; Ryan Lavarnway goes deep; the unhittable Terry Doyle||04.18.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– DH David Ortiz went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He’s now 3-for-15 with three singles, four strikeouts and no walks in his five-game rehab assignment. He is in the lineup for Thursday’s matinee game.
– Right-hander Terry Doyle is off to a tremendous start with the PawSox. He continued that on Wednesday by tossing seven innings and allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six and walking one. In three starts spanning 18 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just five hits while holding opponents to a mind-blowing .088 average. He has 16 punchouts and seven walks — including just two in his last 12 innings. The 27-year-old BC alum has positioned himself where, if the Red Sox need an early-season callup, he and Allen Webster would be the likely top choices (though Webster has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster).
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a solo homer, clearing the fences for the first time this year. In the early going, Lavarnway is hitting for average and getting on base at an excellent clip, hitting .323 with a .421 OBP and .484 slugging mark in eight games.
– Brandon Snyder continued his hot start, going 2-for-3 with a double and his third homer of the season. The first baseman, who signed with the Sox just before the start of the season after requesting and being granted his release from the Rangers, is hitting .359 with a .444 OBP and .718 slugging mark.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 1-0 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)
– Brandon Workman continued his excellent start, logging seven shutout innings in which he permitted just four hits (all singles), walked none and struck out nine. He got 13 swings and misses — seven on his fastball, three each on his cutter and curve — while throwing 70 percent (49 of 70) of his offerings for strikes to sail through one of the more efficient outings imaginable given how many strikeouts he generated. Through three starts, Workman has a ridiculous 25-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate. Through three starts, the 24-year-old is third in the minors in strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .169 against him. Of the impressive group of starters in the Portland rotation (which also includes Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Drake Britton), Workman is clearly the most advanced, and the most likely to assert himself as a candidate to impact the Sox big league pitching staff in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
- Weekly Notes: Iglesias and Aceves promoted
- Cup of Coffee: Affiliates sweep, Natoli and Almanzar ignite Portland
- Red Sox recall Iglesias, Aceves; place Victorino, Middlebrooks on DL
- Cup of Coffee: Morales sharp in rehab outing as Sea Dogs roll
- Red Sox ink veteran lefty Rafael Perez to minor league deal
- Cup of Coffee: Vazquez nearly hits for cycle in Portland’s walk-off win
- Players of the Week, May 13-19: Mookie Betts and Matt Price
- Cup of Coffee: Montas strikes out eight in Greenville loss
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #34
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket