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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Bryce Brentz bashing to the finish, Stolmy Pimentel fights his splits, Dioscar Romero rolls 08.23.12 at 1:02 pm ET
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A quick look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday, highlighted by a huge performance by slugger Bryce Brentz in Portland . . .




Bryce Brentz went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, a double and four runs batted in. In 15 games in August, he’s now hitting an even .400 with a .446 OBP, .700 slugging mark and 1.146 OPS. All three of his extra-base hits came against lefties, continuing a season in which most of Brentz’s power numbers have come against southpaws. He’s hitting .302/.359/.629/.989 with 11 homers against lefties, and .286/.350/.424/.774 with six homers in nearly three times as many at-bats against righties.

Stolmy Pimentel tossed six innings in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four and walking two. It was his first road win of a season in which he has featured almost inexplicable home/road splits. In Portland, he is 4-0 with a 2.80 ERA. On the road, he is now 1-6 with a 7.35 ERA. The culprit? Homers: At home, he’s allowed one in 54 2/3 innings; on the road, he’s given up eight in 49 frames.

Michael Olmsted had a scoreless inning that included a strikeout. He’s now thrown 16 innings in Double-A without permitting an earned run, striking out 25 and walking four in the process.



Michael Almanzar went 2-for-5 with a double, improving his line this year to .302/.355/.467/.822. His performance this year is such a dramatic departure from anything that preceded it that it’s somewhat difficult to know what to make of it — whether it indicates a late-blooming prospect whose leap forward is sustainable or something of a flash in the pan. One talent evaluator recently noted, however, that when looking for late-blooming prospects, the profile of tall, lanky sluggers sometimes fits the bill. It can be more difficult for such players to sync up their swings on a consistent basis than it is for smaller players with fewer moving parts. Almanzar, a 6-foot-3 21-year-old, certainly fits that description. Still, his huge performance in 2012 will simply mean that his 2013 season — when he presumably will make it up to Double-A — will serve as a season to indicate whether he can maintain his considerable gains of what has been an unexpectedly impressive 2012 season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, bryce brentz, dioscar romero, keury de la cruz
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Middlebrooks recalls Futures at Fenway; Iglesias still hot; Pimentel, Almanzar maturing 08.18.12 at 10:25 am ET
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It’s a big day in the careers of a number of Red Sox prospects.

The Futures at Fenway doubleheader takes place on Saturday, with the Lowell Spinners and Pawtucket Red Sox leaving behind their usual home parks to play at Fenway Park. It’s a seminal moment in the careers of a number of the participants in those contests.

Some will never again have the opportunity to play in a big league ballpark. For others, the day is a harbinger of what is to come.

For Will Middlebrooks, it was the latter. In 2008, he’d mostly struggled through his first month and a half of pro ball. But on Aug. 9, while playing for Lowell, he delivered a walkoff single as part of a 3-for-6 day that also included a double that underscored a message that had been delivered by Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina about the young third baseman’s potential.

“I guess you could say that was a turning point. That’s really where things started to click, where I said, ‘I can do this,’ ” Middlebrooks said on Friday.

Not every player who takes part in the game will have such a defining moment. But for all of the participants, the event will be something of a revelation, an experience unlike anything that most have ever before encountered.

“Everyone’s goal in the minor leagues is to make the big leagues. Part of that is to play in big league stadiums, historic stadiums like Fenway. Just to be able to come in, play in that venue with pretty big crowds — that’s different for a lot of guys,” said Middlebrooks. “The thing that stands out the most is when you walk on the field, the structure of it. It’s hard to explain. It just feels different. It smells different.”

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The next episode of “Down on the Farm” will feature Portland right-hander Brandon Workman and Salem pitching coach Kevin Walker to discuss the development of pitch mixes at the minor league level. The show airs on Sunday from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com.



Jose Iglesias continued his best stretch in Triple-A, going 2-for-4 with a walk. He’s now hitting .317/.394/.397/.791 with five doubles and eight walks this month. The eight walks match his career-high for any month in his professional career. A case can be made that now is the right time for him to be called up to the majors. PawSox play-by-play man Aaron Goldsmith recently checked in with Iglesias and Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler about the shortstop’s improved results.

Juan Carlos Linares continued to mash, going 3-for-5 with a double and homer. Since the start of July, he’s hitting .327/.347/.532/.879 with seven homers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bob kipper, Futures at Fenway, garin cecchini, jamie callahan
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Bogaerts, Bradley bash; Barnes, Pimentel shelled; Bard, Lavarnway streaking 07.30.12 at 9:05 am ET
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A quick look at the action in the Red Sox‘ minor league system on Sunday, headlined by the three B’s (Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes) who rank at or near the top of the Red Sox prospect pool. A few 2012 draftees also turned in impressive performances for the Lowell Spinners, with a pair of first-rounders on display …



Daniel Bard now has five straight scoreless appearances after working a perfect eighth inning that featured a strikeout on Sunday. He threw eight of 15 pitches for strikes.

Ryan Lavarnway maintained his streak of stealing a base in every pro season, swiping third base after a double. He also went 2-for-4 with the aforementioned two-base hit.

Billy Buckner allowed just one hit in six shutout innings, and he’s now put together 15 straight scoreless frames. In his last six starts, the right-hander has a 2.21 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 12 walks in 36 2/3 innings.



Stolmy Pimentel, after three straight dominant starts that seemed to point to the possibility of a Triple-A call-up this year, suffered the worst outing of his career. He retired just one of the seven batters he faced and got pulled after issuing four walks, hitting a batter and giving up a single. The woeful demonstration of control (he threw just 13 of 34 pitches for strikes) interrupted a three-start run in which the right-hander had a 1.77 ERA, 19 strikeouts and two walks in 20 1/3 innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr. launched his fourth homer since his June promotion to Double-A and his third in his last 10 games while going 1-for-4 with a walk. He now has 20 extra-base hits in 39 games in Double-A, and his four homers at that level exceed the three he hit in 67 games in High-A. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: billy buckner, brian johnson, Daniel Bard, deven marrero
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Michael Almanzar’s amazing run, Stolmy Pimentel’s ongoing re-emergence 07.25.12 at 12:26 pm ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday…



Zach Stewart continued to defy logic. In his first three starts after the Red Sox acquired him in the trade for Kevin Youkilis, he allowed four runs in 18 1/3 innings (1.96 ERA) despite striking out just five. In his subsequent three starts (including Tuesday night’s three-run, five-inning yield), he has 14 strikeouts in 15 innings … but a 6.60 ERA. One culprit: An increased walks total. He issued two free passes in his first 18 innings, compared to seven in his last 15 frames, including three on Tuesday.

Ryan Lavarnway followed his four-hit game on Monday by going 3-for-4 on Tuesday.

Lars Anderson went 2-for-4, and during his current five-game hitting streak, he’s 9-for-23 (.391).

Mark Prior tossed a pair of scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out two. Perhaps more significantly, he didn’t walk a batter after struggling with his command (seven walks in five innings) in his previous three outings.



Stolmy Pimentel continued his best stretch in Double-A, tossing 6 1/3 innings in which he permitted two runs on just four hits (a triple and three singles) while walking one and striking out six. In his last three starts, he’s yielded four runs in 20 1/3 innings (1.77 ERA) while striking out 19 and walking two while holding opponents to a .169 average. For the year, he’s 4-4 with a 4.83 ERA, 60 strikeouts (6.6 per nine innings) and 25 walks (2.7 per nine), but the recent demonstration of dominance in Double-A at age 22 and his stuff (mid-90s fastball, major league changeup, slider) suggest that Pimentel remains one of the more promising arms in the Sox system. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: deven marrero, dioscar romero, j.b. wendelken, matt barnes
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Brandon Workman and Frank Montas overpowering their levels 07.10.12 at 10:09 am ET
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A quick look at Monday’s action in the Red Sox farm system, highlighted by a pair of very strong performances from two hard-throwing right-handers:




Jeremy Hazelbaker‘s first-inning double was the only Sea Dogs hit of the game.

— Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel was scheduled to start on Monday, but was scratched late. Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonnelis reported (via twitter) that the scratch was not injury-related.



— Right-hander Brandon Workman was overpowering, punching out nine in six shutout innings. The only hit he allowed was a second inning single, on a day when he walked two, elicited six groundball outs in addition to his nine punchouts. Workman now has a 2.94 ERA this year (fifth best in the Carolina League among qualifying starters), his 1.02 WHIP is tied for third-best in the league, and in his last eight starts, he is 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA, and he’s striking out nearly a batter an inning (8.2 per nine) with a strikeout-to-walk rate of 4.4:1. He’s pitched at least six innings in each of his last six starts. On the year, opponents are hitting just .223 against him. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Workman, christian vazquez, deven marrero, frank montas
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Rough day for Matt Barnes, Stolmy Pimentel, Anthony Ranaudo; Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts keep clubbing 06.24.12 at 11:31 am ET
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It was a tough day for some of the most heralded Red Sox pitching prospects…



— One day after his 16-game hitting streak was snapped in an 0-for-6 night on Friday, Pedro Ciriaco rebounded by going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of steals.

Mark Prior was placed on the seven-day DL (retroactive to June 22) due to a strained oblique. Prior has 20 strikeouts and eight walks in nine innings with Pawtucket. However, after not allowing a run through his first five outings, he permitted three runs over 2 1/3 innings in his most recent two appearances while walking four.



Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-7 with two doubles and a triple in the double header while also stealing a base and getting hit by a pitch. In three games in Portland, he is 4-for-11 with a walk and the HBP along with two steals and the three extra-base hits. Bradley joined WEEI’s “Down on the Farm” on Sunday to discuss his debut. The complete interview is available here.

Stolmy Pimentel entered Saturday not having allowed a single homer this year in Portland. He left the game having permitted four, doubling his previous career high. The right-hander was shelled for seven runs on 11 hits, walking one and striking out one in 4 1/3 innings. In three of his last four outings, he has failed to make it through five innings. In that four-start span, he has a 7.45 ERA, and after a very promising start, his record for the year is now 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA. He has shown flashes this year, particularly early, of being on the right track at age 22, but his more recent skid — and the overall inconsistency of his season — has raised concerns that his struggles of 2011 may be spilling into a second season.

— After being skipped in his last start to have some extra side work, Anthony Ranaudo once again struggled in his return to the mount. Though he punched out four, the 22-year-old right-hander lasted just two innings while giving up two runs on two hits and three walks. Of his 60 pitches, 35 were strikes. For the year, he is now 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA and nearly as many walks (23) as strikeouts (24) in 29 2/3 innings. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, bryce brentz, garin cecchini, henry owens
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Stolmy struggles, Bryce Brentz is right vs. lefties, Mark Prior is striking out everyone 06.13.12 at 11:56 am ET
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A quick glance at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox minor league system (with apologies for the uncharacteristic brevity)…



Mauro Gomez blasted a pair of home runs while going 3-for-3. His 15 homers this year rank fourth in the International League, while his .622 slugging percentage (part of a .306/.360/.622/.982 line) is second.

Alex Wilson struck out two batters while allowing one hit in 1 1/3 innings to earn the win. Since moving to the bullpen, Wilson now has a 2.63 ERA, 25 strikeouts and seven walk in 24 innings. Though he is a somewhat extreme flyball pitcher, he has yet to give up a home run as a reliever.

Mark Prior recorded all three of his outs via punchout while allowing no hits and walking two. In 5 2/3 innings with the PawSox, the right-hander has yet to allow a run while striking out 13 batters (while getting one groundout and three fly balls) and walking four.

Ryan Kalish went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Over his last three games, he’s 2-for-12 with six punchouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, henry ramos, jose espitia, keury de la cruz
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.



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: Stolmy Pimentel re-establishing prospect status; Bryce Brentz keeps mashing in May 05.20.12 at 8:32 am ET
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The 2011 season was little short of a disaster for right-hander Stolmy Pimentel. He was battered to the tune of an 0-9 record and 9.12 ERA last year in Double-A Portland, resulting in that cruelest of things in July, a demotion to High-A Salem, a level that Pimentel thought had been left in his rearview mirror.

There, Pimentel was better though still not overpowering. He went 6-4 with a 4.53 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 16 walks in 51 2/3 innings.

The Sox, however, insisted that there was promise in the pitcher’s stuff, if not his results. He showed the best velocity of his career, touching as high as 97 mph, rediscovered a swing-and-miss changeup after he went back to Salem and shelved a curveball in favor of a slider that demonstrated greater promise as a legitimate breaking ball. His pitch mix suggested that he remained one of the better pitching prospects in the Red Sox system, but entering his second year on the 40-man roster in 2012, he needed to start demonstrating the sort of results to match, something that Pimentel himself understood entering the year.

“Last year, I had a bad year. But you have to learn from that,” he said this spring. “I’m not thinking about last year. I’m worried about this year, doing what I need to do to get better and be positive.

“Every day, you have to have a goal. You have to think about progress, not go back,” he continued. “I feel like I’m young. I know I’m going to be growing up. I know I have the stuff. What I need to do is be more focused, more consistent outing to outing, keep in my mind to have really good command of both sides of home plate. When you get that combination, everything will be good.”

Pimentel was slowed in spring training with a lat strain that rendered him unable to begin his season (back in Double-A Portland) until April 27. Since doing so, however, his results have aligned more closely with his stuff than at any point last year.

That continued on Saturday (his first start in 10 days after he’d been skipped in his previous scheduled start due to a minor back issue), as he logged six shutout innings, allowing four hits (three singles and a double) while striking out six and walking two. In four starts in Portland, he now has a 2.95 ERA, 17 strikeouts and just five walks in 21 1/3 innings. He is attacking hitters in a manner that suggests he has recovered the confidence that was nowhere in evidence in Portland a year ago.

“He’s brought a three-pitch mix to the table in each of his starts. He’s throwing a lot of strikes. He’s really gotten ahead and pounded the strike zone. The velocity has been good, up to 96,” Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett observed prior to Pimentel’s most recent start. “He’s come out and really hit the ground running in Portland.”



— Third baseman Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-4 with a single and a pair of strikeouts. In three rehab games, he is now 3-for-9 with a double, a walk and four strikeouts, having whiffed twice in each of the last two games. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, christian vazquez, Keith Couch, Kevin Youkilis
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Daniel Nava and the lessons of adversity in player development 05.15.12 at 8:07 am ET
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Daniel Nava‘s arrival in the big leagues was one of a great and improbable player development story, a player who was undersized throughout high school and had all but given up on playing baseball at the college level — let alone professionally — before a late growth spurt led him to a batting title in the West Coast Conference, an independent league tenure and, eventually entry into the Red Sox system. At 27, he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the majors on June 12, 2010, and while he endured ups and downs that year, he played in 60 games and hit .242 with a .351 OBP and .711 OPS as a rookie.

But just as quickly as he rose from obscurity, he returned to it in 2011. On May 20, he was hitting .189 with a .574 OPS in 36 games, and the Sox designated the switch-hitter for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Drew Sutton. Any team in baseball could have had him, but instead, Nava sailed through outright waivers and remained with the Sox in Triple-A.

He could have lamented his fate, dwelled on the reality that his trip to the majors in 2010 might be his only shot. Instead, he used that moment as an opportunity to reset and renew his career.

“I struggled a lot for a while last year. It allowed me to find myself again as a hitter,” said Nava. “I wasn’t myself. I was trying to do a lot of things that put me in a state where I was pressing. … Unfortunately, that’s what happened, but fortunately, I learned from it. Basically, I felt like when I was hitting .199, you can’t do too much worse. I had nothing to lose. I just went back to me. And I’m glad I have another shot.

“I had nothing else to lose at that point,” Nava said. “I was designated, taken off the 40-man, all that stuff. Who’s going to pick up someone who couldn’t hit water if he fell out a boat, so to speak? It allowed freedom. Let’s just go back to me, not worry about anything and let that take over.”

The challenge he faced, in many respects, was more psychological than physical. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, daniel nava, Stolmy Pimentel,
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