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Why You Should Have Cared About Saturday’s Red Sox Game: A Derek Jeter sighting; Joe Kelly’s milestone; Garin Cecchini, Rusney Castillo look at home 09.27.14 at 4:13 pm ET
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Derek Jeter had an infield single in two plate appearances on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter had an infield single in two plate appearances on Saturday. (Getty Images)

The main event is Derek Jeter. All else represents a sideshow in the final weekend of the season, albeit a sideshow of intriguing relevance.

Jeter, in the lineup as the designated hitter, batted twice on Saturday before being pulled, punching out on a 99 mph fastball from Red Sox starter Joe Kelly and then beating out a chopper just to the left of second base for an infield hit, his 164th career safety at Fenway Park. The sight of Jeter pouring everything he had into a sprint from home to first represented a fitting emblem of the player, who now has just one remaining game in his career.

While many who were in attendance will take one of their last opportunities to see Jeter on the field as their lasting memory of the game, there were a number of elements beyond the retiring Yankees shortstop that held more lasting significance for the Red Sox in a 10-4 blowout win over the Yankees. Among them:

– Arguably the most significant development was the image of a thoroughly pounded Masahiro Tanaka exiting the field after pitching a season-low 1 2/3 innings and yielding a season-high seven runs (five earned) on seven hits while throwing just 25 of 50 pitches for strikes. As the Yankees try to make a decision about whether he’s healthy enough to avoid Tommy John surgery, and thus whether he’ll be ready to pitch in 2015, Saturday’s struggle represented a billowing red flag for the pitcher’s status entering next year, and hence the state of the Yankees rotation for next season.

– Tanaka’s counterpart, Joe Kelly, concluded his promising first two months with the Red Sox by delivering arguably his best start with the Sox. He featured a 99 mph fastball in his first inning of work, and was still working at that velocity in the seventh. He also showed a changeup that elicited swings and misses from left-handed hitters while once again getting plenty of outs (eight) on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Derek Jeter, garin cecchini, Joe Kelly, Rusney Castillo
Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes rolling; Garin Cecchini continues annual tradition; Justin Haley dominates; Jonathan Aro on target 09.05.14 at 2:37 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

A brief look at the action in three playoff games among Red Sox affiliates on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-0

(BOX)

– Matt Barnes continued his recent run of Triple-A dominance, logging seven shutout innings in which he gave up three hits (a double and two singles), walked none and punched out six. It marked the sixth time in eight outings that Barnes had pitched into the seventh inning, something he’d done just four times in his first 65 pro games. He threw 65 of 101 pitches (64 percent) for strikes.

In nine starts since the All-Star break including the regular season and Thursday’s outing, Barnes now has a 2.10 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine.

– Garin Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple. It was his first four-hit game of the year; he’s had one game of at least four hits in each of his four pro seasons. In 27 games since Aug. 1, Cecchini is now hitting .352/.424/.524. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: garin cecchini, Justin Haley, keury de la cruz, matt barnes
Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini’s hot August; Carlos Asuaje on fire; Javier Guerra, future breakout candidate 08.28.14 at 11:24 am ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-1 LOSS AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

– With a 2-for-3 night, Garin Cecchini has put togther multi-hit performances in three of his last four games. Cecchini had a couple of singles, a walk and drove in the PawSox’ only run on Wednesday night. He’s now 9-for-20 over a mini-five-game hit streak, and driven in five runs over his last four contests. The third baseman has been hot all month long after struggling at the plate for the better part of the season, hitting .341/.419/.537 in August with 10 doubles after collecting just 11 two-baggers in the previous four months combined.

Jackie Bradley Jr. followed up his three-hit showing on Tuesday with an 0-for-4 night. Since being demoted to Triple-A, the outfielder is hitting .204 with a .220 OBP and a couple of extra-base hits. He’s drawn just a single walk, but his strikeout problems followed him to Pawtucket, where he’s fanned in 12 of 50 at-bats.

Steven Wright was hit hard, lasting six innings but allowing five runs on 12 hits (which represents a season-high, and the first time he’s permitted double-digit hits in an outing) and two walks while fanning four. It’s the second outing in a row and third time in his last five starts in which Wright has allowed five earned runs. He owns a 5.56 ERA over his last five starts compared to a 2.37 mark through his first 10 outings of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carlos asuaje, garin cecchini, javier guerra, kevin mcavoy
Red Sox minor league weekend roundup: Garin Cecchini’s redemption; Brian Johnson keeps riding prospect helium; Trey Ball gets back on track; Steady Teddy Stankiewicz, innings eater; Billy McMillon keeps winning 08.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET
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A not-so-brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

7-3 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES), 15-2 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS), 10-6 LOSS (WALKOFF, 12 INNINGS) AT BUFFALO

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini‘s 4-for-9 weekend, which also featured a pair of walks, continued a season-transforming August stretch. The 23-year-old once again is once again showing the swing and approach that earned him a reputation as one of the top pure hitters in the minors entering this season. In 19 games in August, he’s hitting .329 with a .413 OBP and .529 slugging mark, with his 10 extra-base hits are his most in any month since he had 15 in April 2013 with High-A Salem.

Cecchini’s season totals remain disappointing. After hitting .322 with a minor league-leading .443 OBP and .471 mark with 94 walks and 86 strikeouts last year in High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, he’s hitting .257/.336/.367 with 41 walks and 89 punchouts in Pawtucket this year. Yet evaluators remain largely convinced that his ability to stay back and stay inside the ball hasn’t disappeared, that he fell out of his approach for a longer-than-expected stretch from May through July but that the basis of a successful big league hitter remain in place.

“He’s starting to show better balance, he’s staying back a little more. He was starting to get a little bit out in front when things weren’t going his way. Now we’re starting to see him stay with his legs a little more, stay with his base,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles noted last week. “Watching him, we just have to remember what kind of player we have here. All our guys go through this. It’s not a surprise when the younger players, the league makes the adjustment, and then it’s up to them to make the adjustments to the league whenever that happens. Seeing him get off to the hot start, obviously people are aware of him. When he’s in the lineup, no matter where you put him, they’re going to be aware of him and his ability at the plate. He’s handled it well, he’s starting to come out of it and get back to what we saw early on this year.”

His timetable may have been altered. Had Cecchini been enjoying anything like his 2013 campaign in Pawtucket, he likely would be getting a lengthy look in the big leagues during this Red Sox period of evaluation. Instead, he’s figuring things out in Triple-A, trying to position himself to be a contributor sometime in the middle of 2015.

With Xander Bogaerts on the DL, it’s Carlos Rivero — whose positional skills include the ability to play shortstop as well as third base and left field, as opposed to Cecchini, who just plays third and left for now — who received the big league callup. But Cecchini is in a place this month where he’s starting to put his game back in order, where his big league future is once again coming more prominently into view than his Triple-A struggles.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-6 on Sunday, closing out a 3-for-16 weekend in which he did not walk and struck out four times. So far, since being sent down to Triple-A, he’s 7-for-35 with no walks and 10 strikeouts en route to a .200/.200/.286 line. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian johnson, garin cecchini, keury de la cruz, teddy stankiewicz
Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini getting hot; Manuel Margot sailing in Salem; Ryan Lavarnway, Keury De La Cruz streaking; Portland punches postseason ticket 08.20.14 at 12:13 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles (one to the opposite field in left, one to center), a flyout to left, a groundout to second and a strikeout. He’s now 2-for-10 since joining the PawSox, though with some positive signs based on the willingness to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo rolled through six shutout innings, working around seven hits (all singles) while walking just one and punching out four. He threw 62 of 94 (66 percent) of his pitches for strikes while improving to 14-4 with a 2.46 ERA, looking like a reliable provider of solid innings in the process. Between Pawtucket and the big leagues, Ranaudo has logged at least six innings in each of his last six starts, something he’s done in 14 of 25 overall starts this year.

Scouts still suggest that the 24-year-old’s mix is solid rather than overpowering, with a 7.0 strikeouts per nine rate and somewhat stark fly ball tendencies (of the pitches put in play against him, just 38 percent have been on the ground), but Ranaudo has made considerable strides in the execution of his craft to the point that he looks at the least like a solid option for a No. 4 or No. 5 big league starter who has now proven over a two-year span that he can stay healthy. Ranaudo is up to 143 2/3 innings this year, and he’s shown no signs of diminished stuff into August.

Garin Cecchini, playing third base, went 2-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s hitting .405/.436/.703 with two homers and five doubles, a run that suggests that he’s reclaimed something akin to his typical swing and results at the plate. The timing is particularly noteworthy given that Will Middlebrooks had to leave Tuesday’s big league game with tightness in his right hamstring. Also of note: Manager Kevin Boles said that Cecchini, who has added left field to his third base duties this season, has also been taking fly balls in right, though for now, he’s not expected to play right field in games over the rest of this year.

Ryan Lavarnway has reached base in all eight of his plate appearances in his last two games. He went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a pair of walks on Tuesday, after going 1-for-1 with a single and three walks on Monday. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-10 with six walks, elevating his line for the year to .286/.393/.360 in Pawtucket.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-4 WIN AT HARRISBURG (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, garin cecchini, keury de la cruz, ryan lavarnway
Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz heat up; Manuel Margot hits ground running in Salem; Teddy Stankiewicz emerging 08.18.14 at 12:40 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini is in the middle of an eight-game hitting streak. (WEEI.com)

Garin Cecchini is in the middle of an eight-game hitting streak. (WEEI.com)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Another triumphant trio. Mookie Betts went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, the 14th time in 99 minor league games and the seventh time in 45 contests in Pawtucket that he’s had at least three hits, and the fifth time (and third this month) that he’s had two doubles in a game this year. In 45 games in Pawtucket, he’s hitting .335/.417/.503 with 19 extra-base hits, 26 walks and 30 strikeouts; over the full minor league season, the 21-year-old is hitting .346/.431/.529 with 61 walks, 50 strikeouts, 33 steals and 46 extra-base hits.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-4 with a homer, giving him 10 longballs in just 51 games this year in Pawtucket. The 25-year-old has been producing since his return to Pawtucket following roughly two and a half months on the sidelines (and rehab assignments) while rehabbing a hamstring injury. In 12 August games, he’s hitting .286/.345/.571 with four homers. That uptick in production has coincided with a somewhat more aggressive approach at the plate that has been characteristic of Brentz throughout his career; Brentz has walked 7.3 percent of the time since returning from the DL, after walking in 12.7 percent of plate appearances prior to the injury. Of course, he was also struggling to a .230/.335/.430 line in April and May.

– The good news for Garin Cecchini: He launched his seventh homer of the year, matching (in 101 games) his home run output from 2013 (from 129 games between High-A and Double-A). The bad news: He struck out twice and now has 86 strikeouts, matching his total from a year ago.

Those season numbers aside, Cecchini looks like he’s amidst his best offensive run of the year. He has an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .394/.429/.697 with two homers, four doubles, two walks and seven strikeouts. In the process, he’s lifted his season line to .250/.323/.354. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, garin cecchini, manuel margot, mookie betts
Red Sox minor league roundup: Michael Chavis getting hot; Carlos Asuaje’s monster day; Garin Cecchini rediscovers his approach 08.14.14 at 10:43 am ET
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Outfielder Manuel Margot is amidst a torrid August stretch. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot is amidst a torrid August stretch. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES)

(BOX)

– Left-hander Edwin Escobar had his third straight solid outing since the Red Sox acquired him from the Giants. The 22-year-old matched a season-high by tossing seven innings (the fifth time this year he’s done so, but the first with Pawtucket), allowing two runs on five hits, walking one and punching out six. Escobar recovered from giving up a homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first to limit the damage the rest of the way. Through three starts following the trade, Escobar has allowed four runs while walking four and striking out 16 in 19 innings.

– Feats of Mookie: Arm strength. Mookie Betts, playing center field, recorded his third outfield assist of the season (two in center, one in right) by gunning down a runner at the plate who was trying to advance from third on a fly ball. Though there were questions about how Betts’ arm might play in the outfield following his transition in May from second base, the 21-year-old has shown enough with his throws — roughly average arm strength in center — to sustain the idea that he has the tools to handle himself well in center, particularly as he increases his database of experiences.

– Garin Cecchini went 1-for-2 with a single, walk and sacrifice. He’s 10-for-21 with a homer, three doubles and a walk during the run. Whereas Cecchini had seemed as if he might be cheating a bit to stay on fastballs with velocity, and in the process pulling a bunch of groundballs while getting out too quickly on his front side, he’s been showing an improved ability in recent days to stay back and inside the ball to permit it to travel. The result has been not only better pitch recognition and fewer swings and misses but also more of the characteristic ability he’s shown throughout his pro career to impact the ball to all fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carlos asuaje, garin cecchini, manuel margot, michael chavis
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