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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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Xander Bogaerts is putting up power numbers that 19-year-olds almost never post in the Carolina League. (Billy Crowe/Greenville Drive)

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.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

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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: Jose Iglesias, Lars Anderson do damage against Andy Pettitte 05.07.12 at 12:18 pm ET
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Lars Anderson had a big day against left-handed pitchers. (AP)

The members of the Triple-A Pawtucket lineup had an interesting barometer of sorts in the form of a 240-game winner.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte was on the hill for Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, and while it would be a mistake to read too much into one outing as the 39-year-old continues to work his way back into big league shape, it was notable to see what the PawSox did against him. Pettitte allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings. While Pettitte told reporters that his command wasn’t as sharp as it needs to be and that he’s having a difficult time maintaining the necessary start-to-start focus in the minor league setting, from the vantage point of members of the PawSox lineup, there is also something to be said for enjoying success against one of the best pitchers of the last baseball generation.

Lars Anderson, Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway all had notable performances for the PawSox, while further down, left-handers Drake Britton and Henry Owens both had, in their own ways, dominant performances, and in Greenville, outfielder Keury De La Cruz continued one of the most interesting performances by a relatively unheralded Sox prospect at the start of this season.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-5 WIN AT SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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Jose Iglesias very well may be amidst the best offensive stretch of his career. He doesn’t need to hit for power to be a very good major league shortstop. He simply needs to spray line drives around the field, deliver the occasional double, take the occasional walk and get on base at a respectable rate. Right now, he’s doing that.

On Sunday, Iglesias had his fifth straight multi-hit game, getting a single (a comebacker) and a walk before flying out to right in three plate appearances against Andy Pettitte, and later adding a single on a line drive to right. In his last five games, Iglesias is now 10-for-18 (.556) with a double, a triple and three walks. He is reaching base at a .619 clip in that span. In the process, he’s elevated his average (.253) and OBP (.330) to roughly league average numbers in the Triple-A International League, where the average batting average is .250 and OBP is .330. His power (.293) remains deficient (league average is .379), but the Red Sox would gladly take a shortstop with average on-base skills, below-average power and outrageous, game-changing defensive skills.

Prior to this stretch, Iglesias had never before had multiple hits in more than three straight games (a stretch that came in May 2011 in Pawtucket). Right now, his results suggest someone who is developing an approach at the plate that has him closer than ever to being ready to break through into the major leagues. There is more development in front of him, of course, and there is benefit to having the shortstop further solidify the offensive gains that he’s making. And the likelihood is that even with the progress he’s shown, there will be a transitional period of struggle whenever Iglesias does reach the big leagues.

That said, for perhaps the first time in his Triple-A career, Iglesias has been performing at a level that suggests that he is not overmatched by the advanced pitching that he is facing and, on the contrary, that he is capable of being on the other side of the development curve, even against a pitcher of considerable profile such as Pettitte.

Lars Anderson also had a strong day against Pettitte and fellow left-hander Juan Cedeno. He collected two hits in as many plate appearances against Pettitte (a single to right, a double to center) and later added a double to left against Cedeno. That performance made Anderson’s season against southpaws look dramatically different. He is now hitting .292/.379/.375/.754 against lefties, and the doubles were his first two extra-base hits in 29 plate appearances against lefties.

Anderson has had two doubles in each of the last two games, going 5-for-10 and improving his season-long totals to .274/.353/.438/.791. Though he has just one homer so far this year, he does have 10 extra-base hits in 19 games. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, drake britton, henry owens, jose iglesias
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Another career milestone for Jose Iglesias, while Alex Hassan keeps tearing it up 05.05.12 at 3:18 pm ET
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Jose Iglesias

On Thursday, Jose Iglesias tied a career high by reaching base four times in a game. On Friday, he did something without precedent in his previous 194 minor league games.

Iglesias went 2-for-4 with a double to center and a triple to right. It marked the first time that in his career that he has delivered multiple extra-base hits in a game. In his last three games, he is 6-for-11 with a pair of walks and the two extra-base hits. It does not mean that Iglesias is suddenly ready to blossom into an offensive star, but it is a reminder that he is capable of hot streaks in which his outstanding hand-eye coordination permit him to make consistent hard contact.

Overall, his approach shows notable progress this year, both with the fact that he’s driving the ball on a line and in the air and in the fact that he has walked 10 times and struck out just 16. The ratio of 1.6 strikeouts per walk is a drastic alteration from his prior two professional years, in which he strike out at twice that rate (3.2 strikeouts per walk).

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET: 5-2 WIN AT TOLEDO (TIGERS)

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– After he went 0-for-17 in his first six games of the year, Alex Hassan has been among the best hitters in the International League. In his last 16 games, the 24-year-old is hitting .358 with a .469 OBP, .528 slugging mark and .997 OPS after going 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk on Friday.

Andrew Miller tossed a scoreless inning of relief, walking one and striking out one. Though his ERA stands at 5.73 in 10 appearances, opponents are hitting just .105 against the left-hander. His 30-day rehab clock runs out on May 6, and so the Red Sox must soon decide what to do with the lanky lefty.

– Right-hander Alex Wilson had his strongest relief appearance to date. In his fourth appearance since being shifted to relief, he made his first multi-innings appearance, tossing two shutout innings while punching out three. He walked two and allowed a single.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex hassan, alex wilson, bryce brentz, henry ramos
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 hit the ground running in his return to Triple-A. (AP)

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.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS AT TOLEDO (DETROIT)

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– 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.
Red Sox weekend in review: All things Adrian 03.14.11 at 8:14 am ET
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Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez showed off his opposite-field stroke in his first game of the spring on Saturday. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Adrian Gonzalez Show is now underway.

The first baseman made an impressive Red Sox debut on Saturday, jumping into his first game with his new club by lining a first-pitch fastball to left against Marlins ace (and 2010 NL ERA champion) Josh Johnson of the Marlins. He then lined a sac fly to center in his second at-bat. He saw only fastballs, but it was a meaningful step forward for the 28-year-old. Now, Gonzalez is looking to build on that effort.

–Gonzalez likes to play. A lot. The first baseman wants to play 162 games in the coming year, something that he accomplished in 2008. He is the major league leader in games played over the last four years, so it is not merely bluster when Gonzalez says that he wants to play everyday.

John Lackey expects that the addition of Gonzalez to the Sox lineup will make life easy on the Boston rotation.

–Gonzalez will be in the lineup when the Yankees come to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox on Monday night. Though New York first baseman Mark Teixeira is not expected to make the trip, the comparisons between the two players will be prevalent for years to come. Of course, that only makes it more interesting that the two were once teammates. Both were with the Rangers in 2004 and 2005. Texas was puzzled about how to get both outstanding first basemen into its lineup, until Gonzalez — then 23 — took the initiative and suggested how the Rangers might be able to fit both players into regular roles.

–The Rangers, however, did not heed Gonzalez’ advice, and ended up trading him to the Padres. They weren’t the first team to deal Gonzalez away. The Marlins — who drafted the first baseman with the first overall pick in the 2001 draft — also parted with Gonzalez in a player swap, though Florida enjoyed considerably better results than did the Rangers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, cesar cabral, Daisuke Matsuzaka
Saturday roundup: Red Sox stacking chips in the middle of the diamond 03.06.11 at 2:19 am ET
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Shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias enjoyed an impressive day against the Orioles on Saturday. (AP)

It was a dazzling day for the Red Sox middle infield. But no, it wasn’t about Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro, or even Jed Lowrie.

The standout performances were delivered instead by a pair of players who are barely old enough to drink legally in their place of work. Top Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias went 3-for-4, and is now hitting .429 this spring. Oscar Tejeda went 3-for-5, driving in three and collecting his second two-run triple in as many days. Two of the hits — including the triple — came against starter Brad Bergeson in a 4-4 tie between the Orioles and a split-squad Sox ensemble (the other split squad was shelled in an 11-2 loss to the Marlins in Fort Myers).

Both players, at 21 years old, have been turning heads in camp. Iglesias is doing so for the second straight year, as he routinely turns in remarkable plays in the field and has shown a high-contact, line drive-producing approach at the plate. Tejeda, meanwhile, has commanded attention this spring as a player whom one talent evaluator suggested reminded him physically more of Terrell Owens than a second baseman; his bat speed points to a potentially above-average offensive second baseman.

It is, of course, early in the spring, and it would be a mistake to draw sweeping conclusions about the talents of either based on a couple of exhibition games. Moreover, the two players are unlikely to alter significantly their developmental paths no matter what they do this spring. Tejeda, who spent all of last year in Hi-A Salem, is all but certain to open this year at Double-A Portland. Iglesias, meanwhile, will be given more time to develop in the minors.

Even so, the two represent a significant development in the Red Sox organization, insofar as they create the possibility that the Sox will feature unusual middle infield depth, something that gives the team plenty of options.

Dustin Pedroia, of course, is entrenched at second base, and under contract through 2014 (with the Sox holding an option on him for the 2015 season). In coming years, that means that Tejeda will either represent a solid in-house alternative should the 2008 MVP suffer another injury, offer the team a potentially significant trade chip (assuming, of course, that he is able to carry his promising 2010 performance forward) or give the team a player whose athleticism could permit a move to the outfield should the need arise.

As for Iglesias, the Sox have scribbled him in as their starting shortstop come 2012. But, depending on his performance this year, he could position himself to make an impact at some point in the 2011 season as well. The pace of his development this year, then, could influence what kind of flexibility the Sox might have to deal either Jed Lowrie or Marco Scutaro as the season progresses and needs get defined.

Spring performances mean little in their own right. That said, they can hint at the future shape of the team, and early returns suggest that the team could have a set of options with its middle infield depth that few others can claim.

OTHER NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, carl crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, dennys reyes
Daisuke Matsuzaka struggles vs. Marlins 03.05.11 at 4:42 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled Saturday against the Marlins, while Alfredo Aceves was strong against the Orioles on a busy Saturday for the Red Sox.

Matsuzka allowed six hits and seven runs over three innings to Florida. He struck out one, walked two and allowed a two-run homer to DeWayne Wise.

Aceves, meanwhile, allowed just an unearned run against the Orioles in a game the teams would eventually tie, 4-4. The lone run came in his fourth and final inning of work. Oscar Tejeda had his second straight game with a two-run triple (for more on Tejeda, click here).

Read More: alfredo aceves, Daisuke Matsuzaka, oscar tejeda,
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