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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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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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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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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 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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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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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,
Red Sox-Yankees Postgame Notes: Buchholz builds, Iglesias dazzles 03.04.11 at 10:25 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz had a productive day in his second start of the spring. The 26-year-old allowed one hit and two walks in three shutout innings, striking out a pair of batters while getting five groundball outs.

His command was shaky at times, as he threw just 24 of his 45 pitches for strikes. Even so, he viewed the outing — in which he faced most of the Yankees regulars — as productive.

“I looked at [the lineup], and I was like, ‘€˜Man, another All-Star team.’€™ But it was good going out there and facing guys like this every other time out. It’€™s not fun if you don’€™t have your stuff and are not locating, but it definitely makes you better because this is a time to get better and work on your pitches,” Buchholz told reporters. “I feel like the pitches are there. I’€™ve just got to work on the command of a couple of pitches and try to stay in the rhythm a little bit better.”

OTHER NOTES

–Shortstop Jose Iglesias offered an impressive performance. Most notably, he made a dazzling play up the middle, gloving the ball while diving, hopping back to his feet and gaining enough balance to uncork a strong throw to first to record the out. He also went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Perhaps as notably, he took a walk, something he did just 17 times in 328 plate appearances in his first pro season.

–A pair of Yankees pitchers turned in impressive performances. Former Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon, who last pitched in the majors in 2009, struck out five in three shutout innings. He was followed by 19-year-old left-handed prospect Manny Banuelos, who allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings.

–Iglesias was one of several Red Sox international prospects to turn in strong performances. Juan Carlos Linares (like Iglesias, from Cuba) went 2-for-2 with a double and RBI, while Oscar Tejeda went 2-for-2 with a two-run triple and RBI single.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, jose iglesias, juan carlos linares, oscar tejeda
Red Sox Roundup: What happened in Fort Myers on Wed. 02.17.11 at 7:13 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The second day of Red Sox workouts was tranquil, particularly in comparison to the expected-yet-still-stunning news across the state that the Cardinals and franchise icon Albert Pujols had not been able to reach an agreement on a long-term extension. By comparison, nearly any news would seem trivial, particularly on a day that featured little more than another round of drills and side sessions being tossed by pitchers.

Of course, the news that Pujols intends to test the free-agent waters also raises a fascinating question. In a world in which the Sox didn’t already have Adrian Gonzalez — and an agreed-upon framework to keep the newly acquired first baseman in Boston for years to come — would the team be better served pursuing Gonzalez or King Albert? For a closer examination of that quandary, click here.

In other news from Sox camp:

Jacoby Ellsbury arrived in Red Sox camp eager to put 2010 behind him while looking forward to the coming season. The return of Ellsbury to full speed could create the basis for a fascinating competition between him and new teammate Carl Crawford, the latter of whom is expected to arrive in Fort Myers on Thursday. Ellsbury faces no restrictions this spring.

–Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is in his fifth spring with the Red Sox. He is healthy and has already been given the green light to pursue a more aggressive throwing program than some of this teammates. This year, he is able to enjoy a spring in near anonymity, as the following of his every move has dwindled. For the 30-year-old, that could be a good thing.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is earning early raves in camp. The trust he’s earning from his teammates is important.

Mike Cameron asked manager Terry Francona if he could play both left and right field during spring training. Cameron shows no reservations about moving from center to a corner position, despite the fact that he had a devastating injury the last time he was not playing center field.

Jon Lester had a shot at 20 wins in his final start of 2010. The fact that he failed to reach that goal left him with a “bitter taste” during the winter. Lester said that he wants to cut down on walks this year.

Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena Jr., a couple of non-roster invitees, received clean bills of health after undergoing MRIs.

Jason Varitek showed up in phenomenal shape, and has put himself in position to play as long as he wants to, said Francona.

–Prospect Oscar Tejeda is not your usual second baseman. The 21-year-old is turning some heads in Red Sox camp.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, brandon duckworth, Daisuke Matsuzaka
Prospect Watch: The growth of Oscar Tejeda 02.16.11 at 9:47 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a time when Oscar Tejeda looked lanky and even a touch frail. When he signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old in 2006, he weighed 177 pounds, but after making his U.S. debut as a very impressive 17-year-old in 2007, he required offseason surgery to repair a minor heart defect that all but stopped him from working out. He subsequently developed a staph infection that further limited his activity.

That time now seems like a distant memory. His manager in Salem in 2010, Kevin Boles, said that opposing managers in the Carolina League would approach him last season to comment on Tejeda’s maturing physique, and they surely would have more to discuss if they were to see him this spring, following an offseason in which he went home and played for the Gigantes of the Dominican Winter League. Tejeda, now 21, appears robust, weighing a muscular 205 pounds this spring. He has also grown a couple inches since signing, and is now roughly 6-foot-2.

So the question is obvious as he stands on the field. What player does he look like?

Terrell Owens?” mused one talent evaluator.

The fact is that there aren’t a lot of second basemen who look like the 21-year-old prospect. While there are a couple of outliers who have played the position (Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano come to mind), physically, he looks more like an outfielder — if not someone who belongs on a football field.

“Every time he steps on the field, you’re like, ‘Whoa,'” noted Sox minor league instructor Chad Epperson. “You notice him.”

But Tejeda’s 2010 season was noteworthy for more than his physical growth. In a season in which he shifted from the left side of the infield (shortstop and second) to the right, he had a tremendous season for Salem, hitting .307 with a .344 OBP, .455 slugging mark, .799 OPS, 48 extra-base hits (including 11 homers) and 17 steals in 126 games.

Many were stunned to see the ball jump off of his bat so consistently. Boles raved about the bat speed he can generate with his hands, a trait that inspired (unfair) comparisons to Alfonso Soriano when he was signed out of Latin America.

Entering 2010, Tejeda had eight career homers and 64 extra-base hits in 263 career games. In fewer than half those games (126) in 2010, he exceeded that longball total and came within shouting distance of the multi-base knocks. The performance surprised some — though Tejeda was not among them.

“I hit the ball pretty good in [batting practice],” he said. “If you have power in B.P., you can have power in the game.”

Tejeda noted that he made adjustments at the plate that proved instrumental in his improved results. He eliminated a leg kick, allowing his swing to be shorter and more direct to the ball.

“That way, I could recognize the pitch — curveball, slider, whatever the pitch,” he said.

Meanwhile, he embraced playing second base. Tejeda said that, after playing solely on the left side of the infield from 2007-09, he felt that playing on the right side of the infield was “easier” and permitted him greater comfort. Sox officials noted that he did not merely accept the switch but instead embraced it, and that his actions in the field were natural.

That said, at times, his size is a detriment at the position. One official noted that he will have to learn how to “play smaller” at second if he wants to stay at the position. Another suggested that, in his first year at second base, he remains too upright and long when coming across the bag, but that is something that they expect him to be able to fix if he continues the work that he invested in the position last year. That said, if there are any restrictions on his ability to remain at second (whether due to his approach or because there isn’t an opening for him at the position — where the Sox, of course, have Dustin Pedroia entrenched for years to come), he would appear capable of making the transition to the outfield. But that is a matter for another time much further down the road.

Tejeda — who will likely open the year in Double-A Portland — was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster this offseason, but he has not appeared out of place in big league camp, despite the fact that he is the second youngest player (behind only Stolmy Pimentel, who is about five weeks younger) in the clubhouse. Instead, he seems eager to take advantage of the opportunity to show his talents in a brighter spotlight.

Read More: Alfonso Soriano, oscar tejeda, Robinson Cano,
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