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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, strike-throwing machine; pivotal performance for Mookie Betts; Cody Kukuk breaking through; Wendell Rijo ahead of his years 04.22.14 at 10:36 am ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with an infield single and is now 1-for-7 in two rehab games, with a third slated for Tuesday night. Will Middlebrooks was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first rehab game as he recovers from his right calf injury.

– Right-hander Brandon Workman, in his second start for Pawtucket, punched out eight and walked none in five strong innings. He allowed just four hits, though two of those were home runs, resulting in a three-run yield. Between the big leagues and minors this year, Workman has 17 punchouts and two walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and and also negotiated his 10th walk of the month, his most walks in any month since he reached Triple-A at the end of 2012. In his last eight games, he’s 10-for-30 with three walks and three extra-base hits, good for a line of .333 with a .394 OBP and .500 slugging mark, boosting his season line to .227/.329/.364.

– Garin Cecchini continued to be an on-base metronome, going 2-for-4 to improve his season line to .317/.377/.397. It is worth noting that there does appear to be an adjustment to Triple-A pitching that the just-turned-23-year-old is experiencing. He’s walked just five times to date, a 7.2 percent walk rate that is just over half of his pre-2014 14.1 percent walk rate and down even further from his 16.9 percent walk rate of a year ago.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Turning the pivot on a triple play. Mookie Betts found himself in the middle of a 5-4-3 triple play in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Sean Coyle fielded a grounder right at the third base bag, stepped on it and fired to second — with the decision to throw to second after stepping on the bag representing a notable prospect development given that it showed impressive game awareness for a player who is playing a new position this season. The throw was described by Portland manager Billy McMillon to the Portland Press-Herald as being low, but Betts handled it and still managed to turn the pivot, throwing to first baseman Travis Shaw to complete the trick. (Here’s the call of the triple play from Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis, courtesy of the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Brandon Workman, carlos asuaje, cody kukuk
Red Sox minor league roundup: The education of Henry Owens; Sean Coyle, Mookie Betts deliver undersized feats of strength; Cody Kukuk cruises 04.15.14 at 12:58 pm ET
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Sean Coyle slammed his second homer of 2014 for Double-A Portland on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

Sean Coyle slammed his second homer of 2014 for Double-A Portland on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-5 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 3-for-5 with his second homer of the year, a no-doubter to left field in which he stayed back on a breaking ball from left-hander Edgar Ibarra. It’s been an inconsistent start to the 2014 campaign for Brentz, who sandwiched Monday’s 3-for-5 night and a 2-for-5 night with a homer last Thursday around an 0-for-10, three-game stretch. Yet it is worth noting that Brentz negotiated four walks during that three-game hitless streak, and he now has seven walks for the season. Since reaching the upper levels of the minors for the start of the 2012 season, Brentz only has two months in which he’s taken more walks than he has this April — last April, when he walked nine times in Pawtucket, and June 2012, when he walked 15 times with Portland. He’s hitting .195/.313/.366 this year.

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini, who turns 23 on Sunday, went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk. The double ended a stretch of eight straight games without an extra-base hit, while the walk was Cecchini’s first in seven games. On the year, he’s hitting .310/.370/.357 with four walks and eight strikeouts.

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo permitted five runs on eight hits (two triples, a double and five singles) while walking three and striking out five. Through three starts this year in Pawtucket, the 24-year-old has allowed 14 runs (though just 10 earned) in 14 2/3 innings, with 16 strikeouts, eight walks and an opponents’ batting average of .311.

Rich Hill had his second straight outstanding appearance, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed one hit and struck out three. That performance came three days after he likewise tossed two shutout innings while allowing one hit and striking out two. In five games, he has a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and four walks. Opponents are hitting .167 against the 34-year-old, with lefties having gone 1-for-10 against the veteran.

– After a hot start, catcher Christian Vazquez has cooled considerably. After a 1-for-5 game on Monday, the 23-year-old is 4-for-28 with two walks and six strikeouts in his last seven games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-4 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

–Though Sean Coyle has been displaced at second base by the ascendance of Mookie Betts, Feats of Coyle did their own displacing, at least for a day, on Monday. The (mostly) third baseman went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and two steals. Between the 5-foot-8 Coyle and the 5-foot-9 Betts, the Sox have two of the unlikelier-looking impact hitters in the Eastern League. In 10 games, Coyle is hitting .343 with a .410 OBP and .543 slugging mark along with four steals in as many attempts. Though he strikes out with considerable frequency (including this year, when he’s punched out in 28 percent of his plate appearances), he shows the ability to make a considerable impact on the ball when he makes contact. He also is an asset on the bases, as suggested by the fact that he’s now 31-for-31 in steals in High-A and Double-A. When he was at second, he looked like a player with the upside of being a more athletic version of Dan Uggla. Though he’s moved over primarily to third (with occasional games at second when Betts isn’t playing there), the 22-year-old is offering a glimpse of that considerable potential again in his first exposure to Portland.

Coyle cleared the Maine Monster in deep left-center. Here’s a look: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, cody kukuk, henry owens, kevin heller
Red Sox minor league roundup: How long until Henry Owens is in Triple-A?; Manuel Margot breaks out; Salem’s streak ends 04.10.14 at 11:42 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens struck out nine and didn't walk a batter on Wednesday. (Salem Red Sox)

Left-hander Henry Owens struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter in Wednesday’s game. (Salem Red Sox)

In a complete letdown from his previous outing, left-hander Henry Owens did not throw a no-hitter.

However, a case can be made that he was better than he was in his Opening Day no-no, as he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings while allowing six hits (five singles and a double). For the second straight outing, he recorded nine punchouts, but this time, he did not issue a walk. He elicited 13 swings and misses on his changeup alone, and 25 overall among his 83 pitches (59 strikes, a whopping 71 percent rate).

A few milestones and notable takeaways from the performance:

1) The 6 2/3 innings matched his longest outing in Double-A.

2) This marked the fifth start of his career, and first of more than five innings, in which he didn’t permit a walk.

3) The nine strikeouts were tied for the fifth most of his career

Owens’ line in Double-A in his first two starts: 12 2/3 innings, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 18 strikeouts (12.8 per nine innings), 2 walks (1.4 per nine innings), opponents line of .140/.178/.163.

Owens’ line in 8 total starts in Double-A between this year and last: 43 innings, 5-1, 1.26 ERA, 64 strikeouts (13.4 per nine innings), 17 walks (3.6 per nine innings), opponent’s line of .159/.253/.258.

All of this will start the drumbeat: When will it be time for the Red Sox to move Owens up to Triple-A to challenge him? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: henry owens, manuel margot, salem red sox,
Red Sox minor league roundup: A new season — and a search for the next Mookie Betts — begins 04.04.14 at 10:09 am ET
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Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

A year ago, the idea of Mookie Betts going 4-for-4 with a homer would have bordered on inconceivable. The second baseman had never hit a home run in his previous professional season in Lowell; for that matter, he’d never hit one in high school. He looked like he might be able to deliver the offense — hitting for some average, drawing some walks — of a solid big league utility option.

And then 2013 happened, with Betts emerging as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system. He vaulted from a ranking as Baseball America’s No. 31 Sox prospect after the 2012 to its No. 7 prospect after the 2013 season on the strength of a dynamic year in which he hit .314 with a .417 OBP, .506 slugging mark, 15 homers and 38 steals (in 42 attempts) — one of the most impactful all-around seasons of anyone in the minors. And so, when the 21-year-old Betts went 4-for-4 while leading off the game with a homer in his debut for Double-A Portland, the performance on Thursday came as validation rather than a shock. Such has been the nature of his prospect ascent.

It is unlikely that anyone in the Red Sox system in 2014 will experience as dramatic a rise as Betts experienced a year ago. Players almost never go in one year from looking like a potential utility player to having the look of a potential big league All-Star. Nonetheless, one of the fascinations of the beginning of every year is the sense of possibility with prospects, the idea that tools and/or performance may come together for various players in a fashion that launches them into a different prospect stratosphere.

So who are some Red Sox minor league candidates to make a considerable jump in prospect status in 2014? Based on both observations on the back fields during spring training in Fort Myers and conversations with numerous evaluators, here are some candidates, listed in approximate order of consensus regarding their breakout candidacy:

POSITION PLAYERS Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webstetr, brian johnson, cody kukuk, deven marrero
Red Sox top pitching prospect Henry Owens unhittable … again 04.03.14 at 11:35 pm ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens  (WEEI.com)

Left-hander Henry Owens (WEEI.com)

Left-hander Henry Owens tossed six no-hit innings for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, a continuation of the form that characterized his dominant 2013 season that earned him the title of Most Unhittable Left-hander in the Minors (in this offseason Minor Details podcast with Jim Callis of MLB.com).

Owens, pitching against the Reading Fightin Phils, punched out nine, walked two and recorded four outs via groundball in his rain-shortened, complete-game no-hitter. He threw 86 pitches, with 69 percent of those finding the strike zone, with 19 of those offerings (12 fastballs, seven changeups) resulting in swings and misses. According to Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis, Owens’ fastball registered at 90-92 mph on the scoreboard.

The fact that Owens didn’t allow a hit was something less than shocking. After all, the 21-year-old had three starts in 2013 — two in High-A Salem and one after his August promotion to Double-A — in which he didn’t give up a hit. Indeed, Owens reeled off a 19 1/3 inning no-hit streak while holding opponents to a paltry .177 batting average against, the lowest among all qualifying minor leaguers.

The left-hander — who was a non-roster invitee to big league spring training, where he went 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in two outings spanning 4 1/3 innings — is the consensus top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system coming off a year in which he finished second in the minors with 169 strikeouts. Thursday’s outing will do nothing to diminish that status.

Portland beat Reading, 5-0, in the rain-shortened affair, with second baseman Mookie Betts making his Double-A debut by going 4-for-4 with a homer. More on the opening day for the Red Sox minor league system will be found in Friday morning’s minor league roundup.

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Red Sox minor league affiliate roster analysis: Double-A Portland Sea Dogs 04.01.14 at 10:16 am ET
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The Sea Dogs roster:

Pitchers

Mike Augliera

Miguel Celestino

Keith Couch

Mike McCarthy

Michael Olmsted

Matty Ott

Henry Owens

Miguel Pena

Noe Ramirez

Nate Reed

Robby Scott

Sergio Valdez

Catchers

Mike Brenly

Matt Spring

Blake Swihart

Infielders

Mookie Betts

Sean Coyle

Derrik Gibson

Deven Marrero

Carlos Rivero

Travis Shaw

Stefan Welch

Outfielders Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, deven marrero, henry owens, mookie betts
Red Sox score late, edge Northeastern, Grady Sizemore (2 flyouts) 02.27.14 at 3:01 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore flew out in his first two spring training at-bats while Brandon Workman threw a pair of scoreless innings to start the game as the Red Sox scored four in the bottom of the sixth to come from behind and beat Northeastern, 5-2, Thursday afternoon in the spring training opener at JetBlue Park.

“Everything felt good,” said Sizemore, who has battled back and knee injuries that had kept him out of baseball since 2011. “I didn’t feel like I was forcing anything, the body felt fine and I was happy with that.”

Sizemore was asked about making a push to make the team in camp.

“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “For me, it’s more of a physical thing, and just kind of getting back into baseball shape and getting conditioned. I think if I’m healthy and I continue to work hard, I’ll be in a good spot from a baseball skill standpoint.

“I’ve enjoyed everything, not just the games, everything. Just being here, getting the work. I appreciate all of it. I can’t wait to get back to the ball park. I’m enjoying everything.

“It’s a tough stretch to go through, especially when you’ve battle through this. You try to move forward and not dwell on the injuries and not look back. I’ll test it and see how it feels. I guess you’d expect to be a little bit more sore than normal and not to get too frustrated with that. If I come in feeling fine [Friday], then we know that I can continue to push it more, build up my innings and go from there.”

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Jonathan Herrera walked to open the inning, stole second and third before scoring on a Jayson Hernandez groundout.

Northeastern responded off Noe Ramirez in the sixth. Ramirez was replacing 37-year-old submariner Shunsuke Watanabe, after Watanabe pitched a scoreless fifth.

Northeastern’s James Hand doubled to left, scoring Shane Allen and Nick Fanneron and putting the Huskies on top, 2-1.

But the lead was short-lived as Shannon Wilkerson hit a ball to short with runners on second and third. The ball was misplayed by Keith Kelly allowing one run to score. The ball careened to center and was mishandled by center fielder Nick Fanneron allowing the go-ahead run to score. Two errors on the same play allowed the Red Sox to take the lead for good, 3-2. They would add two more on an RBI triple by Scott Cousins and an RBI groundout by Herrera.

Ramirez, despite giving up the two runs, earned the win.

Other notables:

  • Grady Sizemore flew out to center and left in his two at-bats in the first and third innings, respectively. He started in left field and batted leadoff.
  • Northeastern lefty James Mulry struck out Dustin Pedroia (looking) and David Ortiz (swinging) back to back in the third inning. “The kid can go out and celebrate tonight, I guess,” Ortiz said. “I guess he was watching what they tried on me in the World Series.”
  • Ryan Lavarnway doubled and singled and went 2-for-2 in his spring debut.
  • Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brandon Workman, henry owens, Northeastern University
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