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Red Sox minor league roundup: How Pedro Martinez helped Rubby De La Rosa correct course; Matt Barnes gets lit up; monkeys ride dogs 06.03.13 at 11:07 am ET
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Through his first three outings of the year, Rubby De La Rosa struggled. It wasn’t just that the 24-year-old with an electric arm had given up 10 runs in just 6 1/3 innings while struggling with workload restrictions. There was also the uncomfortable transition to a new organization without necessarily having a trusted, familiar presence with whom he could navigate his difficulty.

Enter Pedro Martinez. The retired three-time Cy Young award winner and current special assistant to the GM with the Red Sox not only possesses deified status among young Dominican pitchers, but he also has a longstanding personal history with De La Rosa, dating to when the current Red Sox prospect’s grandmother was the nanny to Pedro and Ramon Martinez. And so, in mid-April, Martinez spent a few days in Pawtucket — interacting with all the players on the roster, but with a particular interest in De La Rosa.

The cause-and-effect may not be as direct as it appears, but nonetheless, it is noteworthy to see that since their time together in Pawtucket, De La Rosa has been outstanding.

“It was great having [Martinez] there. I really think the Pedro thing, talking to De La, it really set in. I saw a difference in him the first outing after Pedro was there, and he stuck with it. … There was absolutely nothing bad that could come out of that. It was all going to be good,” said PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur recently. “We just wanted him to talk to him, explain to him that, hey, we’re thinking about you.Look what we’re doing — we have Pedro Martinez in this organization. We wanted him to talk to him and say, we’re here for you.”

In seven outings since Martinez’s visit, De La Rosa has a 1.01 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 26 2/3 innings, with opponents hitting just .179 against him. He’s been working with what Sauveur describes as a plus fastball (typically 92-98 mph), a plus-plus changeup with “ridiculous sink on it, that the hitters get very ugly swings on,” and a slider that Sauveur suggests has “improved a ton” that projects as a plus pitch as well.

And, as he gets more distant from his August 2011 Tommy John surgery and gets deeper into the season, his workload restrictions are gradually easing. On Sunday, he logged a season-high 4 2/3 innings, working around a pair of solo homers to yield two runs on just three hits and two walks while matching a season-high with seven strikeouts. He continued to show an improved willingness to attack the strike zone with his outstanding three-pitch mix — fastball, curve, change — throwing 53 of 83 pitches (64 percent) for strikes with 11 swings and misses. Slowly but surely, the reins are loosening as De La Rosa increasingly begins to resemble the pitcher who made an impressive big league debut in 2011.

Here’s a look at his swing-and-miss stuff from the outing:

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TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 10-3 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, brandon snyder, garin cecchini, kyle stroup
Red Sox minor league roundup: Xander Bogaerts heats up; Rubby De La Rosa struggles; Travis Shaw, on-base machine; Mathew Price resurfaces 04.20.13 at 9:33 am ET
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Catching up on the action in the Red Sox minor league system from Thursday and Friday…


Friday: Postponed at Rochester

Thursday: 14-5 loss vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies) – BOX

— Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa struggled badly with his fastball command and execution. In two innings, he threw just 24 of 46 pitches for strikes while allowing four runs on two hits and three walks with one strikeout.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for the right-hander with the electric arm who was acquired from the Dodgers in last August’s blockbuster. He continues to work under a limit of approximately 50 pitches per outing; he’s been so inefficient that he has yet to pitch more than 2 1/3 innings. In a combined 6 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 10 runs on seven hits, six walks and three homers while punching out seven.

On the mound, though he’s shown the arm strength to generate 98 mph fastballs and displayed swing-and-miss changeups and curveballs at times, he’s looked like a pitcher without a plan, someone who scatters his pitches either outside of the strike zone or leaves them too much in the middle of it.

“He looks like he’s just throwing out there. He’s got to get to the point where his mindset is more pitching,” manager Gary DiSarcina told the Providence Journal. “You can throw 96 miles an hour, but these guys are going to hit it. He just needs to be a little more efficient with his pitches, be down in the zone a little more and pitch — not just get out there and throw.

“Sometimes, when pitchers get hit, and they get hit hard and somebody turns on their fastball and hits it for a line drive, they feel that machismo to throw it harder, harder, harder. He’ll learn. This is his third outing, and he’s kind of been repeating the same mistakes. It’s time for him to adjust and pitch.

“He just has to go out there and experience what he’s going through right now. He’ll be better for it.”

— Shortstop Jose Iglesias was 2-for-4 with one infield single (a chopper into the hole — something that is becoming, oddly, a signature of his repertoire) and a line drive double to left-center on an 88 mph fastball on Thursday. The resounding impact of the ball off the bat on his double was noteworthy, as was the fact that the ball was driven not to straightaway left but instead on a swing where he stayed towards the middle of the field. Iglesias is 5-for-23 with a double, homer and three walks since heading back to Pawtucket.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Iglesias and PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina will join Down on the Farm this week to discuss managing a player’s expectations when he’s sent down to the minors after a notable run of big league success. The show will air on Sunday from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI and WEEI.com; for complete podcasts of the show, visit weei.com/podcast. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: cody kukuk, francellis montas, garin cecchini, jose iglesias
Red Sox minor league roundup: Michael Almanzar’s intriguing prospect status; promising returns for Brian Johnson, Kyle Stroup 04.08.13 at 12:54 pm ET
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Is Michael Almanzar a prospect?

It’s a question that, for now, does not have a clear answer. But that fact alone represents considerable progress in the career of the 22-year-old, given that in 2011, it would have been difficult to find anyone who would have suggested that there might be a path to the majors for him.

Perhaps because he signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican in 2007, it seems as if the corner infielder (whose third base defense has shown considerable strides, to the point of making him a viable glove at that position) has been in the Red Sox‘ system forever. The reality is that he’s in his age 22 season — the same age that Jackie Bradley Jr. was last year, younger than Bryce Brentz was in Double-A last year and younger than prospects such as fellow Portland corner infielder Travis Shaw is this year.

Almanzar has a power-hitter’s frame but the long arms that require particular precision in his swing to make consistent power. That physical description puts the right-handed hitter in the category of a player who can fit the late bloomer category. And from the standpoint of his performance, there is a chance that he is finally starting to see some elements come together in the batter’s box.

Last year in Salem, he hit .300 with a .353 OBP, .458 slugging mark and .812 OPS, with marks of .296/.363/.485/.848 in the second half, when he hit nine of his 12 homers. On Sunday, in his second game in Double-A Portland, he made some noise, delivering his second career two-homer game (the first having come last August 14 for High-A Salem), going deep to center and left as part of a 2-for-3 game in which he also walked.

The jury remains out on whether Almanzar will develop the approach to succeed. He can be aggressive to his detriment. That being the case, it remains to be seen where the glimpses of promise over the last year-plus take him, but if Almanzar is able to translate his Salem performance to Double-A, it would solidify the notion that there is still time for him to create a path to the big leagues. This could be a defining year for a player who still remains young enough to be a prospect, even if it isn’t quite on the same timetable as might have been expected when the Sox signed him out of the Dominican for a $1.5 million bonus almost six years ago.


(BOX) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: boss moanaroa, brian johnson, kyle stroup, michael almanzar
Red Sox minor league roundup: Taking stock of the prospects at the start of the season 04.04.13 at 1:37 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The other Opening Day is upon us.

On Thursday, three of the Red Sox‘ full-season minor league affiliates open their seasons, with Triple-A Pawtucket, Double-A Portland and Single-A Greenville all set to start play, and High-A Salem of the Carolina League set to open on Friday. As was the case last year, WEEI.com will endeavor (to try, to seek, to find and occasionally to yield to the realities that it’s hard to sustain this project on an everyday basis) to offer a daily roundup of the most interesting performances in the Red Sox’ minor league system.

The emphasis will be less on individual games than it will be on the development of prospects in broader context. The idea is to give a sense of where the players who might impact the Red Sox in the months or years down the road are in the (typically) nonlinear world of their career trajectories.

With games set to kick off, here’s a level-by-level look at an incomplete list of the most interesting players on each roster with some insight into their performances in spring training.


— Based on the spring, right-hander Allen Webster looks like the Pawtucket prospect with the greatest chance of making a considerable mid-year impact should the opportunity (whether due to injury or poor performance by one of the five season-opening big league starters) arise. His ability to show high-90s velocity with sink on his fastball coupled with a terrific changeup and a biting slider suggest a pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential if his command can be harnessed. He did a great job of doing just that in big league camp, striking out 14 and walking just one in 11 innings, and continued attack the strike zone once reassigned to minor league camp.

“He was very similar to what he’d done at the major league side — he only had, I think, a couple walks throughout spring training,” said farm director Ben Crockett. “A few mechanical adjustments that were made really helped him repeat his delivery a little better and kept him on line a little better, allowing that fastball to play. With as much movement and as much velocity as he has, his focus can be on the big part of the plate and letting it work to the corners rather than being too fine.”

— Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa — who, like Webster, was acquired in the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers last season — continued to work in two-inning stints over the duration of spring training, just as was the case when he showed eye-opening stuff (albeit inconsistent execution) in big league camp. He will open the year as a starter who will work in short stints, with no strictly defined plan for his progression to build his innings load as he gets further and further removed from his 2011 Tommy John surgery.

Because of his early-season innings restrictions, De La Rosa is unlikely to be in the mix as a spot starter for the Red Sox in the early months of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex hassan, allen webster, anthony ranaudo, blake swihart
More in the pipeline? Red Sox prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Kyle Stroup impress in instructional league 10.12.12 at 9:09 am ET
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It was a strong year in the Red Sox farm system for pitching, despite the fact that two players who entered the year among the top-ranked arms in the system suffered what amounted to lost seasons.

Prior to the 2012 campaign, Baseball America tabbed Anthony Ranaudo as the No. 4 overall prospect and the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox’ system; in spring training, the big right-hander looked like a potential breakout candidate. However, injuries derailed Ranaudo’s season before it ever had a chance to take shape. He suffered a groin injury in spring training, experienced a recurrence of it while rehabbing, then never had his mechanics while pitching in Double-A Portland. Ranaudo made just nine starts in Portland, going 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA while issuing as many walks (27) as he had strikeouts in just 37 2/3 innings before getting shut down in the first week of July with a dead arm. He didn’t pitch again in Portland over the final two weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, right-hander Kyle Stroup started the year as the No. 20 overall prospect in the Sox system and the No. 8 pitching prospect as ranked by Baseball America based on a 2011 season in which he showed the ability to sustain mid-90s velocity with a changeup that gleaned swings and misses in bulk. But late in spring training, Stroup blew out the ACL in his left knee, resulting in the second time in three years that he missed a full minor league season after an ACL rupture (prior to 2010, he blew out his right knee in spring training).

That being the case, the returns of Ranaudo and Stroup to the mound represented a significant development for the Red Sox in the recently completed Fall Instructional League. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, kyle stroup,
Red Sox minor league notes: Ranaudo, Workman held back; Stroup suffers major injury 04.05.12 at 12:05 pm ET
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After a couple seasons in which the strength of their farm system appeared to be their position players, the Red Sox are starting to see promising signs from their pitchers. Homegrown pitchers Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront will both be in the rotation this year, Alex Wilson looms as a potentially significant midyear call-up, and in the lower levels, pitchers such as Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens have the Sox hopeful about the next wave of pitching prospects.

That said, the Sox have suffered a pair of setbacks — one minor, one more significant — to their pitching prospects at the start of the year.

The most notable development was the fact that right-hander Kyle Stroup — who thrust himself into prospect status last year at Single-A Greenville, where he went 5-2 with a 1.55 ERA, 53 strikeouts and 12 walks in 63 2/3 innings over his last 13 starts, and showed a fastball that sat at 92-95 mph while touching 97 mph, and also showing a potential plus changeup — blew out his knee for the second time in three springs.

Stroup blew out the ACL of his right knee in a freak spring training accident in 2010 and missed the entire season. This spring, he blew out his left ACL, and he’ll require surgery that has his 2012 season in jeopardy.

“We’€™re really, obviously, disappointed. He was having a really good spring. He’€™d made some strides, opened some eyes last year, and maybe opened his own eyes about how good he can be,” said Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “He’€™ll have the surgery, rehab it, go from there.”

Of course, the one silver lining for Stroup is that he has successfully returned from this injury before, and came back as a better pitcher thanks to his committed approach to the rehab process.

Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo will be delayed by perhaps a few weeks before making his debut with Double-A Portland. Ranaudo suffered a mild right groin injury in late-March, and is currently limited to playing catch in extended spring training. He will need to get stretched out by pitching at least a couple of games in Fort Myers before he heads to Portland to start his season. The injury is not considered significant — it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ranaudo in Portland before the end of April — but after a first pro season in which he remained healthy for all 26 of his starts, a notable development given that health had been a question surrounding him when the Sox took him in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Brandon Workman, kyle stroup,
Bottom third: Mr. Irrelevant (almost) 09.22.08 at 5:05 pm ET
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Indians starter Zach Jackson has experienced a pretty broad spectrum of the MLB Rule 4 amateur draft. The White Sox took him out of high school in the 50th and final round of the 2001 draft but failed to sign the fourth-to-last pick of that draft. (Jackson was selected with overall pick No. 1,482.)

After three years at Texas A&M, Jackson was once again draft eligible. The Blue Jays tabbed him as a sandwich-round pick (32nd overall) in the 2004 draft. 

As best as I can tell, Jackson is just one of two players who was once selected in the 50th round this decade to reach the majors. The other was former Sox prospect David Murphy, who went from being a Mr. Almost Irrelevant in 2000 to a first-round selection of Boston in 2003. 

In the spirit of that conversation, one of the more interesting aspects of this year’s draft was the Red Sox‘ approach to drafting “Mr. Irrelevant.” The Sox used the last pick of this year’s draft to take Kyle Stroup, a hulking high-school pitcher out of Illinois. Stroup showed excellent velocity when he came to Fenway Park for a showcase of draftees this summer, pumping low- to mid-90s gas across the plate. After following him during the summer, the Sox decided to sign him to a $150,000 bonus, or roughly fifth or sixth round money. 

Back to the Indians’ Jackson, who just gave up an RBI double to Kevin Youkilis: he’s been part of a couple of fairly major trades, first going from the Blue Jays to the Brewers in 2005 as part of the deal that landed Lyle Overbay in Toronto. He then went from Milwaukee’s system to Cleveland as part of this summer’s blockbuster that sent CC Sabathia to the Brew Crew.

Read More: david murphy, kyle stroup, mr. irrelevant, zach jackson
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