|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes settles in; Jackie Bradley, Garin Cecchini hit the ground running; Bryce Brentz walks off||05.18.13 at 10:30 am ET|
Right-hander Matt Barnes has now settled into a string of consistently solid starts with Double-A Portland. On Friday, he allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings on Friday. (Two of the runs came in his sixth and final inning.) Over his last four starts, he now has a 1.96 ERA with 28 strikeouts and seven walks in 23 innings.
On Friday, he had his best velocity of the season, sitting at 95 mph and reaching 97 mph, all with command down and on the corners. Still, that comes as little surprise given that Barnes was comfortably in the mid-90s with command for most of his first professional season in 2012.
That being the case, his secondary stuff will always be the most significant aspect in determining the pace of his development and his ultimate projection. One evaluator who saw Barnes recently spoke highly of the progress that the right-hander has made with his changeup, which has developed at times into being his primary secondary offering. His curveball has been an effective pitch at times, but he’s made considerable strides in the ability to pull the string on a legitimate changeup since he started his pro career, giving him a pitch capable of keeping hitters from cheating on his powerful fastball.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 with a double and a three-run, walkoff homer with one out in the ninth. He’s starting to heat up, hitting for average, power and driving in runs in bunches. In his last nine games, Brentz is hitting .389/.421/.639 with two homers, five doubles and an RBI per game, bringing his line for the year to .280/.335/.510 with seven homers. He’s tied for fourth in the International League in RBIs with 29, thanks to a .328/.384/.612 line with runners on base (compared to a .237/.293/.421 line with the bases empty).
As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal recently noted, Brentz, 24, is trying to put his offseason gun accident behind him through his play. Though he still hears taunts from fans about the incident, he is trying to bring the focus to what he’s accomplishing on the field.
“Anytime something like that happens, your play is going to get the past behind you,” Brentz told Britton. “For anybody who’s ever done anything in baseball or had an offseason accident, their play is what makes people forget. It’s just bad that I put the organization through that situation, that the fans had to read about it.”
– Jackie Bradley Jr., 23, returned from a stint on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and, serving as the designated hitter, went 1-for-3 with a triple, walk and hit by pitch. The walk was arguably his most impressive plate appearance of the night, an 11-pitch marathon against a left-handed reliever (Ryan Buchter) to lead off the ninth inning and set in motion a three-run, game-winning rally. It was Bradley’s first game in two weeks. He’s now hitting .304/.418/.391 in 12 Triple-A games this year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox depth equation; the amazing Cecchini; Cody Kukuk’s step forward||05.02.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Prospect rankings are funny things, sometimes possessing dubious value. After all, the exercise of affixing a numerical hierarchy to a group of prospects typically accomplishes little more than taking a snapshot of a single moment in time, glossing over the reality that player development is a dynamic, ever-changing process — sort of like a picture of a group of 10-year-olds featuring one kid who towers over the rest, but who will become the shortest one in her class by the time she turns 12.
But, viewed in the broader context of the shifts in rankings, rather than the rankings themselves, such exercises can be fascinating, and say quite a bit about not just players but an entire organization. Case in point: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox.
On Wednesday morning, one major league talent evaluator was thinking aloud about Barnes’ place in the Sox’ pitching order. Prior to spring training, most prospect rating lists had Barnes ranked at the top of the Sox’ crop of minor league arms; an occasional dissenter deemed Barnes the second best pitcher in the Sox system, behind only Allen Webster.
Now? One month into the 2013 season? The evaluator noted that if the Sox’ minor league pitchers were re-ranked, a compelling argument could be made that Barnes was the sixth best pitching prospect in the system, behind (in some order) Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo, all of whom have shown the ability to dominate this year with more complete pitch mixes than Barnes currently possesses. The conclusion?
“If Matt Barnes is your sixth-best pitching prospect,” the evaluator noted, “then your system is in pretty interesting shape.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes struggles again; Bryce Brentz shows discipline; Kolbrin Vitek getting squeezed?||04.27.13 at 1:41 pm ET|
Right-hander Matt Barnes gave up a career-high 11 hits, six of them for extra bases (5 doubles, 1 triple) and matched a career high by yielding six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings for Double-A Portland on Friday. In 14 innings this year, Barnes has shown power stuff — as evidenced by his 17 strikeouts in 14 innings, and his 13 swings and misses out of 83 pitches on Friday (16 percent) — but he’s also seemingly struggled with location and execution.
On Friday, he showed plenty of arm strength (sitting at 92 mph, up to 95) with good action on his curveball and changeup, but struggled to command the secondary offerings for strikes and to keep his fastball down in the zone. The result was an ugly line, something that has characterized three of Barnes’ four outings to date this year. He’s given up 14 runs in his 14 innings, with opponents owning a .387/.449/.581 line against him.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Portland manager Kevin Boles will join Down on the Farm on Sunday to discuss Michael Almanzar‘s emergence as a late-blooming prospect as a 22-year-old in Double-A. He’ll also discuss a number of interesting prospects in Double-A Portland. To listen, tune into WEEI from 8:30-9 a.m. on Sunday, or listen to the complete interview at weei.com/podcast.
A look at what happened elsewhere in the system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-4 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Right-hander Joel Hanrahan velocity (94-97 mph) but struggled with his location in an innings of work, giving up a double and two-run homer. He struck out one and threw nine of 14 pitches for strikes. He’s slated for another rehab outing on Sunday.
– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk while driving in a run. A notoriously aggressive hitter throughout much of his career, Brentz has undergone an interesting change of course in the season’s first week. Through 11 games, he’d walked just once while striking out a dozen times. In eight subsequent games, he’s walked six times with six strikeouts. In those eight games, he’s 7-for-26 (.269) with a .406 OBP and three extra-base hits (a double, triple and homer).
– For the first time as a professional, Jackie Bradley Jr. had a three-strikeout game. He went 0-for-5. He started in right field, a position where he could see action in the big leagues in the not-too-distant future depending on the duration for which Shane Victorino is sidelined. The soonest that Bradley could be called back up without a Red Sox player landing on the disabled list would be Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »
|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|
Catching up on the action in the Red Sox minor league system from Thursday and Friday…
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:
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 »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: A different start to 2013 for Matt Barnes||04.15.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
It’s April. Sometimes it takes a while for pitchers to work their way into their normal velocity, command or execution. Cold weather — particularly after leaving Florida — can require an adjustment. So, too, can life at a new level. And the first outing or two certainly fall into the category of small, and potentially meaningless, sample.
It’s necessary to consider that context when looking at the performance of Matt Barnes in his first two starts with Double-A Portland. Nonetheless, because the right-hander got off to such an incredible start in 2012, his difficult initial turns of the rotation with the Sea Dogs are perhaps more notable than they might be for another player.
It’s worth recalling that Barnes enjoyed the most dominant stretch in all of minor league baseball at the start of last year. At a level where he should have dominated — given his age, stuff and college experience, Barnes was primed for considerable success in the Single-A South Atlantic League — he put up Nintendo numbers, with 42 strikeouts, four walks and a 0.34 ERA in 26 2/3 innings spanning five starts with Greenville. That, of course, resulted in a promotion in the first month to High-A Salem, where Barnes likewise buzzed through opposing lineups for eight starts before hitting a wall that challenged him in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox Minor League Notes: Intriguing Double-A rotation, Garin Cecchini’s growth||03.13.13 at 7:33 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Anthony Ranaudo threw three innings in a Triple-A spring training game, showing good power on both his fastball and curveball and incorporating a few good changeups. His fastball command was initially shaky, though by his third inning of work, he was locating down in the strike zone and getting swings and misses on both his fastball and curve. Ranaudo is expected to open the year in Double-A.
Here’s some of WEEI.com’s Zapruder footage of Ranaudo’s first inning of work on Wednesday:
– The Double-A Portland rotation will be a prospect-laden one. While not set in stone, a team official said that 2011 first-rounder Matt Barnes is expected to open the season in Double-A Portland after going 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem last season. Barnes struggled at the end of 2012, finishing the year with Salem with a 3.58 ERA, but the Sox chalked up most of those late-season struggles to the challenges presented by a pitcher’s first full pro season.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley among five Red Sox prospects in Baseball America’s top 100||02.19.13 at 11:48 pm ET|
Baseball America named five Red Sox prospects among its top 100 in the game, with shortstop Xander Bogaerts leading the way at No. 8. The Sox joined the Cardinals as the only two organizations with four or more prospects ranked among the top 50. A look at the Sox’ prospects who landed in the top 100 with a snippet from the publication’s evaluation of each (with one disclaimer: Rubby De La Rosa, a highly regarded right-hander, was not eligible because of the number of innings he accumulated in the big leagues in 2011 with the Dodgers):
No. 8: Xander Bogaerts, SS, 20 years old
Bogaerts ranked as the top power hitting prospect and top athlete in the Sox system. He’s expected to start the coming year in Double-A Portland. Though the Sox believe that Bogaerts can remain at short for the season to come (and perhaps beyond) despite a powerful frame that seems more typically suited for a corner position, he’s getting his first exposure to third base right now in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.
Outlook: “Bogaerts likely will open 2013 in Double-A to focus on his plate discipline, but Boston has had a hard time holding him back. He easily could hit his way to Triple-A Pawtucket before he turns 21. The Red Sox don’t have a clear starter at shortstop, so it’s not out of the question that he could put himself in the major league mix before the end of the season. More realistically, Bogaerts will make his Boston debut in 2014. Whether he does so at shortstop likely depends on how much slick-fielding Jose Iglesias shows at the plate between now and then.”
No. 31: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF, 22 years old
The publication named Bradley the best defensive outfielder, best outfield arm, best hitter for average and hitter with the best strike zone discipline in the Red Sox system. Read the rest of this entry »
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- 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
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss