|Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ eye-opening progress; Michael Almanzar’s year as a prospect; Daniel Bard remains resolute; Mookie Betts remains astonishing||05.17.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Though Henry Owens gave up a season-high eight hits (seven singles, one double), he showed an impressive ability to weave through and around a host of baserunners to limit his opposition to one run in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none while throwing strikes with an impressive 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent), and he got a ton of groundballs — resulting in eight groundball outs.
Owens has been outstanding in all but one of his eight starts this year, and he’s shown development in two areas that represented focal areas entering the year. First, he’s getting groundballs at a much higher rate this year than he did last year in Single-A Greenville. A year ago, he was a somewhat extreme flyball pitcher, recording just 0.59 groundouts per flyout. This year, he’s doubled the rate of groundouts per flyout, with 1.19 outs on the ground per air out. Secondly, he continues to show a consistent ability to attack the strike zone. He has permitted two or fewer walks in seven of his eight starts, and gave up only three in the other outing. Hence, after walking 4.2 per nine last year, he’s trimmed that rate to 2.9 per nine this season — a reduction of roughly 30 percent. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to get swings and misses in volume thanks to a big-league-quality three-pitch mix (four- and two-seam fastball, changeup, curve), averaging 10.9 punchouts per nine.
In short: There’s a reason why the 20-year-old will receive considerable hype as one of the better pitching prospects in the game if he sustains what he’s done to date this year.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up just one unearned run on one hit in four innings of work. He had command difficulties (throwing just 36 of 71 pitches for strikes and walking a season-high four), but nonetheless punched in with his fifth straight outing (spanning 18 innings) without allowing an earned run. In that time, he has 22 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents are hitting .145 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Reins loosening on Rubby De La Rosa; Ks pile up for Brandon Workman; Jackie Bradley Jr. sidelined||05.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET|
A brief look at Sunday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS VS. DURHAM (RAYS)
– A quartet of Rays pitchers, led by seven innings from pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, combined to throw the first nine-inning no-hitter against the PawSox since 1994, when right-hander Jose Lima went the distance in doing so.
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who’d been subject to an approximate 50-pitch limit through the first month of the season, will have the reins loosen a little bit starting with his Monday outing against the Gwinnett Braves. According to the Pawtucket Times, De La Rosa will be permitted to throw around 70-75 pitches.
The Sox created workload restrictions on the 24-year-old in deference to the fact that a) this is his first healthy full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2011 and b) he’s never thrown more than 110 innings in a season in his pro career.
Still, after De La Rosa tossed three scoreless innings in each of his last two starts — most notably, a three-inning, five-strikeout, one-walk effort in his last turn of the rotation — the Sox felt it was time to start to get the young right-hander stretched out.
“Ultimately you want to protect his arm because of the surgery he had,” PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Times. “Rubby’s going to tell us when it’s time to stretch him out and he’s been telling us with his performance over the last outing or two. Sooner or later, you’ve got to release the reins.”
In five starts, De La Rosa has a 7.11 ERA with 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 12 2/3 innings.
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 0-for-2 but drew a pair of walks, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 17 to start the year. The 25-year-old has 12 walks and nine strikeouts as part of a .317/.429/.500 line.
– Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, in his first appearance since tossing four scoreless innings on April 30, made his eighth straight scoreless appearance, tossing a clean inning in which he got three groundball outs. He has a 0.52 ERA in 17 1/3 innings this year, and lefties are 2-for-22 (.091) against him.
– Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who sat out of the last two games, could land on the seven-day DL due to a biceps injury. In 11 Triple-A games, Bradley is hitting .302/.400/.349. He’d been restricted to DH duties in recent days.
– Jose Iglesias was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game due to what manager Gary DiSarcina described to reporters as a “manager’s decision,” the same term applied by DiSarcina on Sunday to explain why the 23-year-old shortstop was not in the PawSox lineup. 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: Brandon Workman’s ordinary meets extraordinary; Rubby De La Rosa dazzles; Garin Cecchini closes out spectacular month||05.01.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The accomplishment was extraordinary. Through six innings, Brandon Workman retired all 18 batters he faced, simply overpowering his opponents with Double-A Reading.
Yet the thing that was most extraordinary about Workman’s run of perfection — which ended with a leadoff double in the seventh inning — was the fact that it represented a continuation of rather than an aberration from what he’d already been doing this year. He wasn’t doing anything that he hadn’t done in virtually every other outing this year, and most of his trips to the mound dating back to last season in High-A Salem.
He was aggressive in the strike zone with his fastball (which sat at 93 mph and topped out at 95) and cutter, threw a bunch of first-pitch strikes (16 of 23 hitters) and mowed through 11 plate appearances in three pitches or fewer. Workman’s blunt, strike-throwing approach — he threw strikes with 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent) — netted 15 swings and misses.
Impressively, after spending the full game in the windup, he bounced back from the leadoff double in the seventh by punching out the next two hitters, before finally faltering by allowing a walk and run-scoring double that ended his outing after 6 2/3 innings in which he permitted one run on the two hits and a walk while striking out six.
So, aside from the fact that there were 18 straight batters retired out of the gate, the outing looked very much like what the 24-year-old has been doing all season for Double-A Portland. On the year, Workman is now 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA and an eye-catching 34-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate in 29 2/3 innings. He’s worked at least five innings in all five of his appearances, while pitching at least six frames in three of his five outings, with his strike-throwing approach permitting him to work reliably deep into games, in part because of how he attacks the strike zone, in part because he exhibits such tremendous intensity and focus while looming as an imposing, 6-foot-5 physical presence on the mound.
“Since last year when he came up, he comes right after hitters,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “The thing with him is, you watch him, you can see he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Sometimes, you’ll see him throw a ball and think, ‘OK, they’re getting to him.’ Then, all of a sudden, he’s pitching in the sixth or seventh inning. The opposing club has to be scratching its head thinking, ‘I thought this guy was going to self-destruct on the mound.’ But he’s so competitive and so fiery. 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: Taking stock of the prospects at the start of the season||04.04.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
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.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX
– 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 »
|Red Sox roster moves: Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Vazquez sent down||03.15.13 at 7:37 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made three cuts from major league camp Friday, sending pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster to Triple-A Pawtucket, and catcher Christian Vazquez to Double-A.
With the moves, the Red Sox now have 48 players in big league camp, including 34 from the 40-man roster, one on the 60-day disabled list and 13 non-roster invitees.
De La Rosa impressed early on in camp (with Pedro Martinez surmising he could be as good as Roger Clemens or Juan Marichal), but ran into some command issues in his last two outings. The righty, who, along with Webster, came over from the Dodgers last August, allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings while walking five in his last pair of appearances.
Webster has been one of the bright spots of camp for the Red Sox, flashing a high 90′s fastball, along with a put-away changeup. The righty made a few small adjustments (click here for details), leading Red Sox manager John Farrell to describe him simply as “pretty damn good” after the pitcher’s last outing. In four outings, Webster struck out 14, walked one and allowed two earned runs in 11 innings.
Vazquez was also a standout in camp, impressing with a lightning quick delivery to second on stolen base attempts. The catcher gunned down all four baserunners attempting to steal against him, while also picking off a runner. (For more on Vazquez click here.)
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- Cup of Coffee: Gedman, big Salem seventh key system’s only win
- Christian Vazquez’s new focus at the plate starting to pay off