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Red Sox minor league roundup: Rubby De La Rosa dominating; feats of Mookie Betts; Jamie Callahan strikes out everyone 04.11.14 at 12:10 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-4 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– When Rubby De La Rosa opened the 2014 season with five dominating innings in which he yielded neither a run nor a walk, the Red Sox were thrilled, but with a caveat — they wanted to see him do it again. On Thursday, he did just that. De La Rosa logged a strong 5 2/3 innings in which he once again attacked his opponents, allowing just one run while permitting two hits (both singles) and walking two while retiring the last 12 batters he faced. He punched out four. In two starts so far, the 25-year-old has allowed one run in 10 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA) while punching out nine and walking two. He’s given up just four hits, with opponents hitting .111 against him to date this season. And he’s been an absolute groundball machine, with 14 of his 15 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball in his first outing and 15 of his 17 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball on Thursday.

Brock Holt added to his strong start to the year by going 3-for-5; he’s now 9-for-22 with a .409/.500/.500 line in 26 plate appearances. Holt did strike out for the first time of the season on Thursday. His nine hits in six games are one shy of the number he amassed in 20 games for Pawtucket last April.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 and clubbed his first homer of the year. He’s now 3-for-9 with a double and homer — his first two extra-base hits of the year — in his last two games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Eureka moment for Rubby De La Rosa?; (Pat) Light goes on in Greenville 04.06.14 at 12:00 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

Finally, this was what the Red Sox had been waiting to see from Rubby De La Rosa. This was total dominance.

The line alone was glimmering: five shutout innings, two hits (a double and single), no walks, five strikeouts, nine groundball outs and just one out in the air. He needed just 70 pitches (43 strikes) to navigate through his outing, the sort of efficiency that has often eluded him. His fastball, according to PawSox play-by-play man Jeff Levering, sat at 93-96 mph all game and consistently down (hence the groundballs), he commanded his slider well and his changeup was a compelling out pitch, the go-to offering for four of his five punchouts.

But his performance went beyond that.

De La Rosa, sometimes prone to lapses of concentration and the appearance of uncertainty on the mound, showed poise and appeared to be in total control throughout the game. Those signs were significant enough, but in this case, the process was significant.

De La Rosa’s transition from the Dodgers to the Red Sox organization last year was not without challenges. He faced sometimes-frustrating workload restrictions in his return from Tommy John surgery, but beyond that, he faced a chorus of new voices to whom he was trying to acclimate in his first year with the Red Sox after being traded over from the Dodgers in 2012. He didn’t always show evidence of processing the messages he was being given.

But on Wednesday, De La Rosa had a bullpen session with Pawtucket bullpen coach Rich Sauveur in which dialogue between the two was implemented in pitch after pitch. De La Rosa again showed the ability to repeatedly translate conversation into his delivery in the bullpen prior to Saturday’s game, and again sustained it during the game. His focus was evident, but so, too, was his ability to receive instruction and implement it — often a key skill in allowing prospects to translate potential into performance. Multiple evaluators viewed his outing as his best — “by far” — since joining the Red Sox organization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thursday notes: Jonathan Herrera wins utility job, Brock Holt, Rubby De La Rosa sent to minors, Brandon Snyder reassigned 03.20.14 at 4:54 pm ET
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Jonathan Herrera fields a ball in spring training drills. Herrera won the utility infielder job on Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jonathan Herrera fields a ball in spring training drills. Herrera won the utility infielder job on Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jonathan Herrera will be the Red Sox utility infielder to start the 2014 season.

In a move that was expected, the Red Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to their minor league camp Thursday while reassigning infielder Brandon Snyder, who was in camp on a minor league deal and doesn’t have to be designated off the 40-man roster.

With Thursday’s moves, the Red Sox now have 40 players in big league camp, including 31 players from the 40-man roster, and nine non-roster invitees.

The decision to award Herrera the job was based on the solid and versatile play he displayed while playing shortstop, third base and second base through camp. But it was Herrera’s advanced play at short that was the key determining factor.

“Prioritizing shortstop play, and while Brock has made strides on the left side of the infield, particularly from the start of last year, we felt with the acquisition of Jonathan there was more middle-of-the-field experience and that’s the choice made,” manager John Farrell said in making the announcement before the game with the Yankees.

The 29-year-old Herrera was acquired on Dec. 18 for pitcher Franklin Morales and minor-league pitcher Chris Martin as the Red Sox eyed a veteran insurance policy in the middle of their infield with Stephen Drew‘s uncertain future hanging over their offseason plans.

“His instincts inside the game,” Farrell said of Herrera, who played his first six seasons with the Rockies. “You get a two-to-three game glimpse across the field. But when you’re in camp with someone in camp for a month and a half, you get more of a sense of their instincts and how they react and respond to game situations and the energy he brings. It’s a good fit.”

The Venezuelan was 8-for-29 (.276) in 13 games entering Thursday’s contest against the Yankees at JetBlue Park. Herrera was penciled in as the starting third baseman against the Bombers.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A leaner Rubby De La Rosa sees a difference this spring 02.20.14 at 7:33 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago, Rubby De La Rosa made jaws drop with an electric display of stuff. He touched the high-90s with his fastball and got swings and misses with a changeup and slider.

But that didn’t translate to an impact in 2013. Two years removed from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in August 2011, the right-hander saw his stuff and command endure peaks and valleys. Part of that resulted from the progression back from his surgery but part of that may have been self-inflicted, with De La Rosa raising concerns about his conditioning.

That being the case, the team emphasized his need to get on a strong workout program in the offseason. The results in the early stages of camp have been apparent.

De La Rosa said that he’s currently at 215 pounds, down from 225-226 last year. More significantly, he said that his body fat came down from 20 to 13 percent. The right-hander said that he can see a difference when he’s been on the mound for bullpen sessions in the early going, with better mechanics that have made it easier to command the baseball.

“I worked hard. I feel better. I feel different. I feel like right with my mechanics, my delivery. This year to last year, I feel from 1-10, 10 better,” said De La Rosa. “I can work on one thing. I try to work on hitting the glove. … It’s working.”

Certainly, the Sox view De La Rosa as a potential impact arm. In all likelihood, he’ll open the year back in the rotation of Triple-A Pawtucket, though certainly there’s a chance that he could make a compelling case for a job in the bullpen in the big leagues. If he does go to the minors to remain stretched out as a potential starting depth option, there is some question about what kind of innings bump he might be able to withstand. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gary DiSarcina: Allen Webster has most dominant potential of Sox’ Triple-A pitching prospects 01.17.14 at 7:41 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster (AP)

As the manager of the Red Sox‘ Triple-A team in Pawtucket in 2013, Gary DiSarcina saw a compelling group of pitchers making its way across the top rung of the minor league ladder. The pitching prospects who stopped in Triple-A for varying durations included right-handers like Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes along with a one-start cameo by left-hander Drake Britton.

Yet when asked to identify the pitcher who has the most big league impact potential, DiSarcina — in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove show — had little trouble identifying one arm that separated himself from the rest.

“When Allen Webster is right, when Allen Webster is finishing his pitches, he was the most impactful, dominant right-hander that we saw,” said DiSarcina. “One of the best matchups that we saw in the International League was (Pirates prospect and 2011 No. 1 overall pick) Gerritt Cole vs. Allen Webster, and Webster beat him, 3-2 or 3-1 — a real tight, low-scoring game. If Allen can put it together and iron out some delivery issues and just finishing his pitches, he’s dominant with the heavy, heavy sinker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rubby De La Rosa explains why he expects this year to be different 01.11.14 at 3:18 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

In terms of pure stuff, few pitchers in the Red Sox organization can match the arsenal of Rubby De La Rosa. The 24-year-old can sit in the mid-90s and touch the high-90s with his fastball. He has the ability to generate swings and misses with both a tremendous changeup and slider. His arm is a rarity.

But his performance in 2013, his first year with the Red Sox after coming over from the Dodgers in the August 2012 blockbuster, did not match his pitch mix. He went 3-3 with a 4.26 ERA, 8.5 strikeouts and a jarring 5.4 walks per nine innings while working on limited pitch counts in Triple-A Pawtucket. In 11 big league games (all as a reliever), he allowed seven runs in 11 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and just two walks — but three hit batters.

Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s possible to bracket the 2013 season as one that presented De La Rosa — who showed tremendous promise while forging a 3.71 ERA with a strikeout per inning in 60 2/3 innings with the Dodgers in his 2011 big league debut — with unique challenges that will not recur. The right-hander’s physical status was something of a work-in-progress in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He was dealing with the transition to a new organization, along with the frustrations created by a limited pitch count. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox’ late-inning bullpen vulnerabilities persist in loss to Rays 09.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

For the second night in a row, the Rays got to the Red Sox bullpen and scored a run in the eighth inning. This time, the Red Sox were unable to come back and win in their last at-bat.

With the score knotted at 3, Rubby De La Rosa was ineffective in his one-third of an inning. De La Rosa relieved Drake Britton with one out in the bottom of the eighth and proceeded to give up a long ground-rule double to Evan Longoria. De La Rosa forced Matt Joyce to pop out to foul territory, but he gave up the go-ahead run in the form of a double down the right-field line off the bat of Wil Myers. De La Rosa was removed after a hot shot to shortstop resulted in an error on Stephen Drew and a first-and-third situation. Matt Thornton came in and closed out the inning.

The seventh and eighth innings have proven to be vulnerable frames for the Red Sox and their bullpen. Brandon Workman worked the eighth on Wednesday night and gave up a game-tying home run, and De La Rosa was saddled with the loss on Thursday. De La Rosa has been shaky in relief for the Red Sox in his 9 1/3 innings of work, and he looks unlikely to be included on the postseason roster.

While the Red Sox’ magic number remained at 8, another moment in the game proved more ominous than the loss.

With one out in the sixth inning, the Red Sox held their collective breath when Jake Peavy was pegged with a comebacker line drive off the bat of Desmond Jennings, a hot shot that deflected over to Xander Bogaerts at third base and eventually resulted in a forceout. Peavy remained in the game for the last batter of the inning and did not return for the seventh inning. Chances are, even without taking a liner off the wrist, Peavy’s evening would  have been over after those six innings. He did not rush to the clubhouse, however, a potential indication that the impact of the ball did not raise undue concerns. Read the rest of this entry »

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