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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Ryan Lavarnway continues tear; Daniel Bard struggles; Kendrick Perkins likes being Kendrick Perkins 06.21.12 at 9:12 am ET
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A quick synopsis of Wednesday’s minor league action in the Red Sox system:



— The weather is warm, and Ryan Lavarnway is now scorching. The catcher went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk, and in his last four games, he’s 10-for-16 with three walks, a double and five homers. He’s boosted his line for the year to a .306 average, .397 OBP, .481 slugging mark and .877 OPS. While he hasn’t shown the same consistent power that he did en route to blasting 34 homers a year ago, his average and OBP both represent what would be career bests at any level. In his last 33 games dating to May 6, he’s hitting .349/.432/.577/1.009.

Daniel Bard was summoned to preserve a 4-3 lead with four outs to go for Triple-A Pawtucket against Syracuse. Instead, he suffered his first blown save since being sent to the minors.

Bard entered in the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second and two outs. He retired the first batter he faced on a pop-out, but then gave up a double (to Chris Marrero, cousin of Red Sox 2012 first-round pick Deven Marrero) and single with a pair of wild pitches en route to a two-run yield over four outs. In addition to uncorking the pair of wild pitches, Bard threw just 11 of 22 pitches for strikes, threw a first-pitch ball to five of the six hitters he faced and got one swing and miss in the outing.

Though the PawSox had scored an insurance run for him after the eighth, Bard’s two-run yield tied the game and ultimately permitted Syracuse to claim a 6-5 walkoff win in 11 innings.

The outing represented something of a reversal, as Bard had delivered four shutout innings with six strikeouts and one walk in his previous two appearances, also out of the bullpen. Overall, he has a 7.36 ERA in five Triple-A games, none longer than two innings, and all but one of which has come from out of the bullpen. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Arnie Beyeler, Daniel Bard, deven marrero, drake britton
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Ryan Kalish and the rehab fast track; Xander Bogaerts shows precocious power; Ryan Lavarnway shows familiar power 06.07.12 at 10:17 am ET
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For the second time in as many days since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ryan Kalish went deep, bashing another homer to right as part of a 2-for-3 day in which he also singled up the middle and walked while scoring a pair of runs. In those two games, Kalish is 4-for-5 with two homers and four walks, having reached base in eight of nine plate appearances. Over the course of his rehab assignment (now eight games across three levels), Kalish has been as hot as virtually anyone in the system, hitting .385/.529/.769/1.299 with three homers, a double, eight walks and two steals. One can make the case that the eight walks are as impressive as any part of that line, since the natural tendency might have been for Kalish to chase nearly every pitch in sight after missing most of a 13-month span due to surgery-necessitating injuries.

On Wednesday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine broke down the checklist of what a team wants to see from a player in a rehab assignment after he has been sidelined for such a substantial stretch.

“What you want him to do is to face left-handers and right-handers, you want him to be hot, you want him to be not, you want him to come out of being not, see him hitting the ball the other way, pull the ball, run the bases, just a long checklist of making sure he gets it done when you’€™re out that long,” said Valentine.

That suggests the possibility of a relatively significant stretch in the minors, perhaps even an option to the minor leagues before the expiration of the 30-day window for a rehab assignment. However, there is another potential model that Kalish could follow.

Jed Lowrie missed almost all of 2009 after undergoing early-season wrist surgery and then missed the first half of 2010 due to mono. When he finally began a rehab assignment in July of that year, it seemed almost inevitable that it would be a lengthy one to get him re-acclimated to the full spectrum of playing experiences. Instead, necessity dictated a call-up after just 10 games (six in Lowell, four in Pawtucket), and Lowrie went on to have a tremendous stretch in the big leagues, hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers in 55 games over the second half of that season.

Whether or not Kalish follows such a model remains to be seen. After all, when he was healthy at the beginning of last year, the Red Sox said that they wanted Kalish to have more time in the minors (even after a two-month stint in the majors at the end of 2010) to complete his player development, suggesting that his career may be at a somewhat less advanced stage than was Lowrie’s in 2010. And, as Valentine suggested, there is likely a stretch coming in which Kalish will struggle and have to make the adjustment to shed a slump.

Still, the initial returns offer a reminder that the outfielder — still just 24 — is capable of helping the Red Sox at the major league level this year, and perhaps sooner than anyone anticipated.



Ryan Lavarnway went 1-for-4 with a homer, his second in as many days and his fifth of the year. After collecting just five extra-base hits in his first 29 games of the year, Lavarnway now has 10 in his last 16 contests, bringing his slugging percentage up to .449 for the year. During that 16-game stretch, Lavarnway is hitting .350/.418/.617/1.035. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, Dan Butler, Jed Lowrie, junichi tazawa
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Keury De La Cruz gives and takes lessons; big day for Blake Swihart 05.19.12 at 12:54 pm ET
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Keury De La Cruz has never been prominently mentioned as a Red Sox prospect. He signed for just $120,000 out of the Dominican as a 17-year-old in early 2009, having been passed over as a 16-year-old the previous summer. But his performance to date in the Sox system — particularly in a 2012 season that has represented a breakout seasonto date — has served as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of the market for Latin American amateurs, for whom multi-million dollar bonuses have been anything but a guarantee of success, while far more modest bonuses have netted quality big leaguers.

The Sox scouted De La Cruz a number of times before signing him in Feb. 2009. Despite a 5-foot-11 frame and a lack of strength at the time, the Sox were impressed by a swing that suggested projectable power once he filled out.

“He wasn’€™t strong then, but he had natural loft and showed the ability to drive the ball. He just didn’€™t have muscle behind it to make it go anywhere,” said Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero. ‘€œ[Former Sox international scouting director Craig Shipley] said, ‘€˜You can project power on this guy. He was right.’€

That is certainly proving the case this year. On Friday, De La Cruz continued his phenomenal season in Single-A Greenville, going 3-for-5 with a double and triple to improve his line for the season to .329/.374/.579/.953. The left-handed hitter continued to do damage against southpaws (all three Power pitchers were left-handers), improving to .347/.439/.612/1.051 against them. His .579 slugging percentage is the third best among the organization’s minor leaguers, behind only Will Middlebrooks and Mauro Gomez (counting only the minor league stats for both). He has seven homers, nine doubles and four triples, averaging better than one extra-base hit for every two games.

His strong performance this year is impressive enough in its own right, but it is even more significant in that it demonstrates a prospect who endured struggles, learned from them and went on a mission to get better as a results of those lessons. De La Cruz, a strong performer in both the Dominican Summer League in 2009 and the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in 2010, struggled in 2011 against more advanced pitching in a New York-Penn League that is loaded with college arms making their professional debuts. His numbers weren’t disastrous, but his line of .263/.292/.390/.682 was hardly head-turning.

But he used that experience as the basis for improvement.

“He didn’€™t look at it as a bad season. Usually, players look at the numbers and say, ‘€˜I stunk.’€™ But he said, I didn’€™t hit what I wanted to and didn’€™t hit as many homers as I wanted to, but I learned a lot,” said Romero. “He went in with his old approach and realized it wasn’€™t working and that he needed to work on it in the offseason.”

That work has yielded a greater commitment to driving the ball to all fields and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. With positive results in that regard has come greater confidence and a more consistent approach in the box.

“When he was younger, he liked to tinker,” said Romero. “Now, he’€™s kind of focused on one, and he’€™s seeing the results.”

The results have been eye-opening for a player described as a hard-nosed gamer who plays the game with a positive intensity. De La Cruz did not enter the year with a prominent place on anyone’s prospect radar — he fell outside Baseball America’s top 30 prospects in the organization, for instance — but he is quickly making a case to move up quickly, at a time when his performance at a relatively young age (20) suggests that he could emerge one day as an everyday big-league corner outfielder.



— In his first game at third base on his rehab assignment, Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-3 with a single and two strikeouts. Defensively, he had three assists (starting one double play turn) and caught a pop-up. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron kurcz, blake swihart, drake britton, henry owens
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Patience paying off for Jose Iglesias; Bradley’s power surge continues 05.04.12 at 11:17 am ET
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Jose Iglesias did not appear in either of the two games for which he was summoned to the majors, and so with Will Middlebrooks now up in place of Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox moved swiftly to option him back to Pawtucket so that he could return to the lineup on Thursday. The result was one of the better stat lines of Iglesias’ professional career. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, matching a career high (achieved four times in 2010 with Double-A Portland, and never before in Triple-A) by reaching base four times.

It is interesting to note that Iglesias, who endured periods of trying to pull the ball in the past, seems more comfortable than ever going up the middle and to the opposite field. His singles (one a line drive to right, one a grounder to second) both were to the right side of the field, while his out was on a ball hit to center. During the spring, the most notable aspect of his game was that he was driving the ball to center in a way that made center fielders have to go back on the ball.

All of that is consistent with Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett‘s claim that Iglesias is showing an approach that was not properly reflected by his numbers. After Friday, he is hitting .216/.300/.227/.527.

One caveat in Iglesias’ day: Toledo starter Casey Crosby issued seven walks, so there was a bit of a chicken-and-egg question with regards to Iglesias’ patience on Thursday.



— Back in Triple-A, Junichi Tazawa submitted a dominant outing. He retired all seven batters he faced, striking out five and getting two on groundouts. Between Triple-A and the majors, Tazawa now has 10 appearances this year (five with the Red Sox, five with the PawSox) and has yet to allow a run. He’s struck out 18 and walked two in 15 2/3 innings between the two levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Che-Hsuan Lin, garin cecchini, jackie bradley jr.
Pregame Notes: Bobby Valentine on Mark Melancon, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller 04.18.12 at 6:55 pm ET
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Mark Melancon needed to go down to the minors to rediscover the form that inspired the Red Sox to trade for him in the first place. That much was apparent to all parties.

There was no injury (“We asked; he said absolutely not,” said Sox manager Bobby Valentine) to explain the pitcher’s catastrophic start to his Red Sox career, in which he has achieved both team and major league history with the depths of his struggles. Even Melancon seemed to recognize that his best chance of returning to the form that led him to forge a 2.78 ERA in 74 1/3 innings last year with the Astros was in Triple-A.

Melancon did not have a single 1-2-3 appearance in nine exhibition games during spring training, and quite clearly, after that slow start, he was unable to flip the switch once the regular season got underway. His 49.50 regular season ERA in four appearances, culminating in Tuesday’s yield of six runs on three homers without retiring a batter, made it clear that he needed to work to restore his command in the minors.

“He was anxious to get an opportunity to work more regularly so that he could get back to where he belongs,” said Valentine. “Mark just has to be the pitcher that he is. He struggled with his command. He’€™s a great command pitcher and thus far, he hasn’€™t had it. Don’€™t feel that he’€™d have the opportunity really here to work through it.”

And so, the Sox made the decision to option Melancon. In his place, the team decided to bring up Junichi Tazawa — who has minor league options remaining — rather than left-hander Andrew Miller, who is five appearances into a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a hamstring strain suffered in the middle of spring training. Miller does not have minor league options, and so once called up, the Sox have to keep him in the majors or risk exposing him to waivers. Right now, the team felt that he needs at least one more appearance during his rehab assignment.

“There was consideration [to calling up Miller],” said Valentine. “It was determined he just would benefit most from getting at least one other good performance in Triple-A. He’€™s coming off of a good one [in which he struck out the side on 15 pitches on Monday]. He’€™s going to pitch again [Thursday].’€

With Miller not quite ready to come up, the Sox elected to have Tazawa join the bullpen. The right-hander has pitched in four games in Pawtucket this year, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out nine and walking two. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, carl crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, junichi tazawa
Red Sox minor league roundup: Andrew Miller progresses, and a forgotten prospect shows signs 04.10.12 at 11:39 am ET
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We’re going to try a new feature, with a quick daily look at noteworthy performances by prospects throughout the Red Sox farm system. In large part, the focus will be on individual players rather than the minor league affiliates. For more details on team performances, the invaluable soxprospects.com remains the place to get a daily Cup of Coffee:


Andrew Miller delivered his second scoreless appearance of a rehab assignment with Single-A Greenville, tossing a scoreless inning. After the game, the left-hander told reporters that he expected his next rehab assignment to come for Triple-A Pawtucket, likely on Thursday.

— Third baseman David Renfroe, a second-round pick signed to a $1.4 million bonus in 2009, continued his excellent start in Single-A Greenville by going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. He now has five extra-base hits (four doubles and a homer) in as many games. After striking out in 30 percent of his career at-bats entering the year, he has yet to strike out this year.


— The Sea Dogs are 0-5, the worst start in franchise history.

— Catcher Dan Butler, who made a tremendously favorable impression as a non-roster invitee to the Red Sox’ big league camp in spring training, collected his first two hits of the year, going 2-for-4 with a homer.

— Outfielder Bryce Brentz, who had gone 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in the previous two games, went 1-for-4 with a single and his first Double-A walk (against eight strikeouts).


— The PawSox pitching staff has a 1.54 ERA to date, lowest in the International League. But despite a .351 OBP (second in the International League), the team is scoring just 2.2 runs per game, the lowest yield in the league.

— Right-hander Junichi Tazawa allowed three hits (all singles) in two scoreless innings while striking out one. That’s four scoreless innings so far for him in Pawtucket.

— Right-hander Clayton Mortensen made his debut for the PawSox, tossing a pair of shutout innings and allowing one hit.



An awesome homage to the joy of watching minor league baseball by Baseball Prospectus guest writer Ian Miller

— PawSox broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith talked to Triple-A pitcher Aaron Cook about where he stands in his efforts to impact the Sox

— PawSox right-hander Justin Germano received a remarkable education from a Hall of Famer, notes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal

— Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg, unsurprisingly, loves Dustin Pedroia, notes Kevin Pereira

Soxprospects.com looks at a day of Monday blahs for the affiliates

Read More: andrew miller, bryce brentz, clayton mortensen, Dan Butler
Friday morning with Bobby Valentine: Red Sox pitching staff gets closer to definition 03.23.12 at 12:55 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that he was not in position to comment on the arrest of reliever Bobby Jenks this morning, as he had just learned about it via a brief text message about 10 minutes before meeting with the media. (Here are some emerging details of the arrest of the pitcher.)

While the Red Sox are in the process of investigating the Jenks situation and trying to gather information, the right-hander’s arrest does not impact the formation of the team’s roster, given that he is on the 60-day disabled list and expected to be out for months. In matters that more immediately impact the team on the field, the Sox have achieved some progress in edging closer to defining their season-opening ensemble of pitchers.

The Sox made seven cuts on Friday, optioning three members of the 40-man roster (pitchers Clay Mortensen and Junichi Tazawa and catcher Luis Exposito) and reassigning four non-roster invitees to minor league camp (outfielder Alex Hassan, catcher Max St. Pierre, left-hander Jesse Carlson and right-hander Brandon Duckworth). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, bobby jenks, Bobby Valentine, junichi tazawa
Red Sox postgame notes: Saltalamacchia swings into action 03.21.12 at 5:15 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It had been a slow start to the spring for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who not only was just 1-for-13 in Grapefruit League action, but also missed time due to bursitis in his hip.

On Wednesday, in a 6-5 loss by the Red Sox, the 26-year-old had a game that represented a satisfying change of fortunes. Batting left-handed in all three of his at-bats against Pirates starter Kevin Correia, he went 2-for-3 with a double to left-center and a massive home run to right field.

“Me and [hitting coach Dave Magadan] have been working on some things, trying to stay on the ball more, and I was able to do it today at the plate,” said Saltalamacchia. “This spring I’ve really been getting underneath the ball and popping it up too much, just kind of bat head dragging a little bit. So we’ve really worked on getting the head outand staying on top. If I roll over or ground out, that’s OK, at least it’s not a pop-up. But what I’m still trying to do when I get two strikes, is trying to fight my way to get the ball in the field instead of striking out.”

That being the case, Saltalamacchia was particularly pleased with his second-inning double, in which he lined a two-strike fastball off the fence in left-center, a potentially important sign for a player who struck out in 119 of his 358 at-bats last year.

A year ago, the average AL hitter hit .185 with a .252 OBP and .283 slugging mark in two-strike counts. Saltalamacchia hit .157/.208/.347/.555, marks upon which he is hoping to improve. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: franklin morales, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jon Lester, junichi tazawa
Bobby Valentine really liked what he saw from Red Sox pitchers Tuesday night 03.13.12 at 10:33 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was understandably pleased with what he witnessed when watching Red Sox pitching Tuesday night against the Yankees in Tampa. Sox hurlers allowed New York just four hits while striking out 13 and walking one. Here’s what he told reporters after the Sox’ 1-0 win:

Felix Doubront: 4 IP, 2H, 0R, 3K, BB

“I thought Felix was outstanding. I thought he had really good control of his changeup, which is a devastating pitch for him. He had good control and command of his fastball. His breaking ball was good. His composure was good. He pitched four good innings.”

Michael Bowden: IP, H, 0R, 3K 0BB

“First off, I thought Michael worked the runner as well as I’€™ve ever seen him do it on film or live. He’€™s been practicing his stretch and varying his speeds. He had a pretty veteran runner on base, a very veteran runner in Andruw Jones, and he really broke his tempo. I think he was trying to steal, and he never could. His stuff down in the zone was good. His breaking ball was good. We didn’€™t get to see his split, but his slider was a good pitch for him tonight. He threw them back-to-back, too, and did a good job with it.”

Vicente Padilla: 3IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K

“Padilla made it look easy, didn’€™t he? There’€™s probably a change of the lineup a little there that made it — but he does that. Vicente can throw a lot of pitches to get ahead of the bat. He’€™s a strike-thrower. He’€™s probably the best strike-thrower we have. He pitched well tonight.”

Junichi Tazawa: IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 3K

“This was his best outing tonight. He kept the ball down very well tonight. His other outings, he was scattering it a little more. He spotted his fastball, that two-strike fastball up in the zone, and that was right where he wanted to throw it. His breaking pitches were sharp, much sharper than they have been.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, felix doubront, junichi tazawa, Michael Bowden
Bobby Valentine Notes: And then there were six… 03.06.12 at 12:01 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — When the Red Sox had Carlos Silva work out for them in December, they were impressed by his stuff, which seemed to have greater life than at any point in years. However, mindful that he hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2010, they were comfortable signing him only to a minor league deal.

While the right-handed sinkerballer had been slated to compete for a rotation spot this spring, that prospect is no longer realistic. The 32-year-old has been shut down indefinitely due to right shoulder inflammation. He is no longer being considered for the rotation, and it remains to be determined what his shoulder will allow him to do.

“That’€™s probably going to set him back enough that he won’€™t be totally in the mix,” said Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who said that while a definitive timetable was unavailable, the injury will keep Silva out of the “little picture situation.”

Valentine said that the issue was related to a pre-existing condition that the Sox knew about.

“I think we know exactly what it is and we were hoping it wouldn’€™t present itself as quickly as it did,” said Valentine.

Asked what the longer-term implications were of the condition, Valentine said simply, “It’s being discussed.”

Silva, 32, last pitched in the majors in 2010 with the Cubs, when he went 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA. He was 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA with the Yankees‘ Triple-A team last year before getting released. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, carl crawford, carlos silva, junichi tazawa
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