|Red Sox minor league roundup: A teachable moment for Matt Barnes; Christian Vazquez’s aggressiveness; Heri Quevedo dominates; Sean Coyle returns||09.08.13 at 2:01 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system in Saturday’s playoff games:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-1 LOSS VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS); BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES TIED, 2-2
– Right-hander Matt Barnes, after an excellent Triple-A debut at the end of the regular season (in which he threw 5 1/3 scoreless frames), struggled in his second outing at the level on Saturday. He yielded five runs (four earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out three in just four innings, throwing just 44 of 75 pitches (58 percent) for strikes. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reported that Barnes hit 97 mph on the McCoy Stadium gun — with his increased velocity and diminished command offering suggestions that he may have been too amped, with consequent diminution in location and touch as well as, ultimately effectiveness.
Of course, from a player development perspective, that suggests that there was considerable value to the outing in the increasingly consequential setting of a playoff start. Barnes has now experienced increased adrenaline and the challenge of regulating it, something that he will need to do when he is exposed to the big league setting. As such, even in defeat, there was career value to the experience.
“He was overthrowing a little bit,” DiSarcina told MacPherson. “He was missing arm-side with his fastball. When he was in the zone, he was missing his spot. It was more of a command issue as well as overthrowing, but it’s a tremendous learning experience for him.”
|Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes moving up to Triple-A Pawtucket||08.28.13 at 7:46 pm ET|
According to Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes is in Pawtucket, where he will make his Triple-A debut on Thursday following a promotion from Double-A Portland. Barnes, 23, has endured an up-and-down season with Portland. In 24 starts, he has a 5-10 record and 4.33 ERA with 3.8 walks per nine innings. However, he’s also leading the Eastern League with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Barnes has shown a quality, big league-caliber fastball that he can command while sitting comfortably at 92-94 mph and topping out higher than that. He also has developed a changeup that grades as a solid big league offering. At this point, while he flashes an ability to spin a decent curveball, his ability to do so has been inconsistent — and, according to a number of scouts who have seen him, infrequent — with the inability to develop a consistent third pitch he can throw for strikes resulting in high pitch counts and pitch inefficiency. The result has been a year in which Barnes has found it difficult to work deep into games. He’s worked more than six innings just once this year. Indeed, he’s averaging just 4 1/2 innings per start.
That said, there have been some extended stretches of promise that pointed to why Barnes entered the year as the consensus top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, and why he still has a shot at living up to the mid-rotation potential that the Sox saw in him when they made him the No. 19 overall pick in the 2011 draft. The development of his curveball (or, if that pitch doesn’t take hold, a slider) likely will determine whether he will come closer to scraping that ceiling or be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter.
“This year obviously hasn’t been everything I’ve wanted it to be so far,” Barnes said on Down on the Farm in July. “I’ve gone through times this year where I’ve had really good stretches of outings and times where I’ve had really bad stretches of outings. It’s one of those developmental things where you keep trying to work hard, keep trying to refine your pitches, learn how to pitch better and get through it.
“I feel close. That’s part of the frustration. I think my stuff right now is better than it was at any point last year,” he added, noting that he feels that his fastball command is comparable to what it was last year and that his changeup has made considerable strides to become a consistent secondary weapon, while his curve has been, at times, better in part thanks to the tutelage of former Portland teammate Brandon Workman. “It’s maybe one pitch that hurts me. I feel like I’m on the cusp of getting back to stringing together a bunch of good outings again.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The astounding feats of Mookie Betts; Keury De La Cruz stays hot; Matt Barnes, Daniel McGrath falter; Jake Drehoff shows superb command, Brian Johnson promoted||08.24.13 at 1:57 pm ET|
It was a career night for second baseman Mookie Betts on Friday. The second baseman collected five hits in High-A Salem’s 18-run offensive onslaught, driving in a career-high seven runs with two doubles and not one but two home runs. It was the first multi-homer game for Betts, his first five-hit game and first game with more than three extra-base hits. It was an unbelievable night for Betts, but it’s even more impressive when put into context.
Betts has amassed nine hits in his last two games, making an out in just two of his 11 plate appearances. He’s driven in nine runs and clubbed five extra-base hits. In his last four games, he’s hitting .667 with three home runs and three doubles. But Betts’ offensive tear extends much farther than his last four games.He’s reached base safely in 21 straight, and is hitting .430/.500/.722 over the life of that streak. Since August 1, Betts has been the hottest hitter in the Carolina League, boasting the highest average (.410), highest OPS (1.165), most RBI (26, eight more than the player ranking second) and home runs (five).
There was certainly an adjustment period for Betts upon his promotion to Salem. After hitting .296/.418/.477 with 24 doubles and eight round trippers in 76 games with Greenville, the 20-year-old scuffled against the more advanced competition at first, hitting just .227 with a .689 OPS through his first 84 plate appearances. Betts still put the bat on the ball plenty, however, striking out only eight times, and displayed decent power with three doubles, two triples and two home runs through those first 21 games.
The amazing thing about Betts’ 2013 campaign is his ability to do well in just about every aspect of the game. He showed the ability to take walks and get on base at a good clip in 2012, posting a .352 OBP and drawing walks in 11 percent of plate appearances while striking out in only 10 percent. That capability certainly hasn’t disappeared this year against older and better competition. In Greenville, it was enhanced. Betts drew 58 walks in 340 plate appearances, or almost 17 percent of his times up to the plate, while striking out only 40 times, which, while representing a small spike (up to 12 percent of plate appearances), was a small sacrifice for the large spike in the number of free passes and power. In Salem, he’s drawn as many walks as he has strikeouts, 17, in 174 plate appearances, or about 10 percent of plate appearances.
His speed is also an important part of his game. Betts was caught stealing for the very first time in 18 attempts earlier this week, but he maintains a 92 percent success rate this season. Although he’s played in 47 more games this season than in 2012, Betts has stolen an impressive number of bags compared to his 20 last season, swiping 35 bases through 118 games.
But it’s obviously Betts’ power that’s turning heads in Salem. And this power seems to have developed out of nowhere this season. Betts slugged only .307 in his time with the Lowell Spinners in 2012, but leads the Salem ballclub with a .565 slugging percentage after leaving Greenville with the highest slugging percentage among those with more than 50 at-bats (.489). After going homer-less in the first 76 games of his career, Betts now has 15 to his credit, along with 33 doubles and four triples this season.
Betts was not regarded as one of the organization’s top 10 prospects this offseason. He even failed to make Baseball America’s top 30 list (he was ranked No. 31). But the second baseman has made himself into a legitimate prospect worthy of attention, not just because of his performance, but the fact that he’s been so impressive throughout the season all while being notably younger than his competition. Betts is thriving in a league in which the average age is 22.4 years old; he doesn’t even turn 21 until October. In the Carolina League, he’s hitting well above many league averages, including batting average (Betts is hitting .331, the league average is around .259), OBP (Betts: .399, league average: .338) and slugging percentage (Betts: .565, league average: .382), while he’s walking slightly more than the league average of 9.5 percent and striking out a whole lot less than the 18.6 percent average among Carolina League hitters.
Maintaining the pace that Betts has hit at recently seems unlikely, but he’s definitely proven that his success in Greenville this season was not a fluke, and that his many talents translate well across levels. The Feats of Mookie have truly been one of the most eye-opening phenomena in the Red Sox system this year
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-1 LOSS AT SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Is Victor Acosta the next Red Sox power hitting prospect?; tough day for Xander Bogaerts; more mixed results for Matt Barnes; Bryce Brentz returns||08.18.13 at 1:26 pm ET|
The Red Sox aren’t an organization overflowing with future power hitters. Xander Bogaerts, of course, looks like someone who projects to hit for considerable power in the big leagues, with the possibility of 30-homer seasons not too far-fetched to imagine. Aside from him, there is Bryce Brentz – who certainly has the strength and raw power to launch 30-plus homers (indeed, he has already done so in a single minor league season back in 2011), but whose aggressive approach raises questions about whether he will emerge as an everyday big leaguer, let along a middle-of-the-order slugger.
And beyond those two? There really isn’t much in terms of players who project to hit a lot of homers at the big league level, barring a later-career jump in the home run totals of a player with an incredible ability to barrel the ball such as Garin Cecchini, or, perhaps a rediscovery at some point by Ryan Lavarnway of the swing that made him a 30-plus home run hitter in 2011.
Perhaps one of the amateurs signed by the Sox this summer — 16-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers, or 18-year-old catcher Jon Denney or 17-year-old outfielder Nick Longhi — will emerge as such a player down the road. But there’s no performance data on any of them as professionals to reach such a conclusion.
So, if one is trying to scour the Sox system in search of the next emerging slugger based on a performance in 2013, one might have to look far and wide in order to find such a player. And while it is insanely early to suggest that a 17-year-old will become such a player, there is at least one player who is performing as if he could have a chance to do so long, long, long down the road.
Aside from Bogaerts, there is precisely one power display occurring in the Red Sox system this season that bears notice for the fashion in which it stands out relative to league norms. That is coming from third baseman Victor Acosta, a 17-year-old who on Saturday blasted his seventh homer of the 2013 season for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox as part of a 2-for-4 day that improved the teenager’s line to .256/.332/.406.
Context: Since 2006 (as far back as baseball-reference.com’s records go), only one other DSL Red Sox player has hit that many homers, and that occurred when 19-year-old Roberto Feliz also hit seven homers in 2007. As a 17-year-old in the DSL, Bogaerts had three homers and a .423 slugging mark. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Progress for Jackie Bradley Jr., the forgotten phenom; perfection for Daniel McGrath; Mookie Betts busting out; Matt Barnes rolling (sort of); Garin Cecchini, on-base machine||08.12.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-5 on Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket, with his lone hit being a double. The two-bagger was the third extra-base hit for Bradley (who returned from a DL stint on Friday) in his last two games, further evidence that he’s developing an increasing ability to drive the ball in his second full pro season.
In 61 games for the PawSox, Bradley is hitting .276/.376/.496 with 34 extra-base hits this year in Triple-A Pawtucket. Those numbers don’t match his combined totals last year in the minors (a .315/.430/.482 line with High-A Salem and Double-A Portland), but it does represent a noteworthy step forward from what he did in the second half following his promotion to Double-A, where he hit .271/.373/.437 with 24 extra-base hits in 61 games. In particular, Bradley’s ability to drive the ball for extra bases seems greater this year than it was in Portland in 2012.
“Obviously, I’m still a pretty young kid. I’m going to get stronger. That’s just maturation, working out,” said Bradley. “I do think it has something to do with knowing your swing and picking your spots as well. I feel like it’s been something that’s being developed into my game. It might not be there in a large quantity, but it keeps pitchers honest.”
While Bradley just came off the DL due to a minor elbow injury, he feels that he’s physically primed to finish the 2013 campaign in strong fashion. The 23-year-old has adjusted his exhausting-and-amazing-to-watch pregame routine of power shagging, and he expects the results to show that.
“My body feels great. I’m not tiring out like I did last year. I was definitely tired out at the end of the year. I think that had to do with the power-shagging. I kind of adjusted that, had to make adjustments. I had to learn that from experience. The power-shagging I did in college and high school, I wasn’t playing as many games, so I kind of had to settle down. That’s something that I did this year. Maybe take it a group or so. Kind of get my body into shape to be able to perform at a high level every single day.”
As much attention as has been conferred upon whether and when teammate Xander Bogaerts might be called up, there’s every chance that Bradley could emerge as just as significant a contributor down the stretch. While he’s gone from the brightest of spring training spotlights (admittedly a somewhat oxymoronic term) to relative obscurity in Pawtucket, there remains an opportunity for the gifted defender with an advanced approach to make an impact down the stretch — whether as a late-season call-up or in positioning himself for a big league opportunity next year.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-1 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The good and bad of Matt Barnes’ year; a mini-slump for Xander Bogaerts; Christian Vazquez scorching; Victor Acosta shows pop||08.07.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 12-8 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– At a time when there is a daily watch to see if he will be called up to the big leagues, Xander Bogaerts is amidst his first mini-slump in roughly a month. He went 1-for-5 with a single on Tuesday, and starting with an 0-for-5 contest on Saturday (which ended his stretch of 30 straight games reaching base by hit or walk), the 20-year-old is 3-for-17 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts over his last four games.
It’s a brief struggle, one that does not detract in the least from Bogaerts’ prospect status. That said, the one thing that Bogaerts has had little opportunity to do in Triple-A is to show how he would respond to even a brief taste of struggle (while he was up and down in his first two weeks in Pawtucket following his promotion, he probably outperformed expectations to a transition to the highest minor league level given his age and relative inexperience). That being the case, the Sox would likely welcome Bogaerts facing a period of adversity and proving he can adjust to it before he reaches the big leagues.
Bogaerts also committed a fielding error (his eighth in 49 games in Pawtucket and first in seven starts at third base) that led to an unearned run. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Youth served in Jamie Callahan’s perfect day; Allen Webster offers reminder; Will Middlebrooks’ frustration boils over; Matt Barnes striking out everyone; Tzu-Wei Lin shows sneaky pop||08.01.13 at 3:24 pm ET|
The Lowell Spinners of the short-season New York-Penn League enjoyed a flirtation with perfection, their pitchers retiring the first 25 batters of the game before Cody Dent — the son of one-time Red Sox tormenter Bucky Dent — singled with one out in the ninth inning. The pitcher who anchored that sterling effort now commands notice.
The Red Sox selected right-hander Jamie Callahan in the second-round of the 2012 draft knowing that he represented a player with considerable upside not only based on his outrageous high school performance (as a senior at Dillon High School in South Carolina, he was 7-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 50 innings), physicality (at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he showed the frame and quick arm of a starter while also retaining athleticism) and stuff (a 92-95 mph fastball, curveball and slider) to inspire promising projections. That combination of attributes was all the more impressive given that Callahan was just 17 while pitching his senior season, already showing an ability to dominate against older performers.
Increasingly, there’s evidence — at least for position players — that the ability to emerge as a top performer as one of the youngest high school draftees in a class is a significant indicator of star potential. While the aforementioned study did not dig into the correlation between the drafted age of pitchers and future stardom, the ability to dominate older competition will always be viewed as one of the most significant measures of potential big league talent.
In that context, Callahan’s performance is becoming increasingly interesting. At 18, he’s the youngest pitcher in the New York-Penn League, a level that is heavy with relatively advanced college talent (for instance, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel is making his debut in that league this summer). And he’s showing some flashes of the ability to dominate.
Wednesday represented the most dramatic example, as he retired all 18 batters whom he faced, nine on strikeouts. But it wasn’t an isolated event. Callahan’s dazzling outing on Wednesday was almost a replica of his prior outing, in which he fired six shutout innings, allowing just one hit while punching out eight and walking none. So: two starts, 12 innings, no runs, one hit, 17 strikeouts, no walks. Dominance.
On the year, Callahan’s numbers aren’t quite as eye-opening — he has a 3.74 ERA with 32 strikeouts and nine walks in 33 2/3 innings spanning seven starts — but frankly, the fact that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by his level of competition, and instead appears to be gaining a growing sense of comfort, bodes well for his future.
As of now, he’s showing almost no ability to elicit groundballs, something that does offer an asterisk for his projection. Still, at 18, there’s time for Callahan to figure out a way to address that early deficiency. After all, he’s shown a propensity to demonstrate a steep learning curve on the field already.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 LOSS AT NORFOLK (ORIOLES) Read the rest of this entry »
- Gary DiSarcina named Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder
- Cecchini, Ranaudo, Brentz added to 40-man roster
- Red Sox 40-man roster additions expected