|Red Sox minor league roundup: Will Middlebrooks heating up; Xander Bogaerts rebounds; Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez showcase all-around skill||08.09.13 at 12:03 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-0 LOSS (SEVEN INNINGS), 5-4 LOSS (SEVEN INNINGS) AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Xander Bogaerts was slumping for a brief period of time, something that the young infielder has not had a lot of experience with. But he’s beginning to show that the slump was just a blip in what is otherwise a fantastic season for the 20-year-old. With three hits, including a double, in the night game on Thursday, Bogaerts went 5-for-7 in the two games, and is batting .359/.375/.487 with five doubles in his last nine games.
The one thing Bogaerts hasn’t been doing much of lately is drawing walks. He’s worked a free pass only once in his last nine games and twice since a streak of four games in a row with a walk, a streak that ended 12 games ago. However, he’s also not striking out very much. Bogaerts has drawn walks in about 11.5 percent of plate appearances while striking out in just over 16 percent. That means he’s actually cut down on the strikeouts since transitioning to Triple-A (he was fanning in almost 20 percent of plate appearances this year in Double-A), and though his walk numbers are down, the difference is rather slight (down about 2 pecent). Bogaerts ranks third on the Pawtucket club with a .380 OBP, and has posted a .291/.380/.476 line in 51 games since being promoted from Portland.
– Not to be outdone, Will Middlebrooks also had an impressive day, going 3-for-5 with a double, RBI and two walks between the two games. He got the start at third base in both ends of the doubleheader, while Bogaerts stayed at shortstop. The third baseman is showing some signs of heating up in Pawtucket, hitting safely in seven straight games and batting .345/.375/.586 over that span.
Middlebrooks’ power seemed to have gone missing for a period of time, when he failed to knock an extra-base hit in nine straight games, hitting only .194 in that stretch. But he’s clubbed two home runs and a double in his last four contests, while also drawing two walks as compared to three strikeouts over the last three days. Middlebrooks is hitting .265/.315/.452 with 12 walks, 33 strikeouts, and 13 extra-base hits in his 38 games since being demoted to Triple-A. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The good and bad of Matt Barnes’ year; a mini-slump for Xander Bogaerts; Christian Vazquez scorching; Victor Acosta shows pop||08.07.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 12-8 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– At a time when there is a daily watch to see if he will be called up to the big leagues, Xander Bogaerts is amidst his first mini-slump in roughly a month. He went 1-for-5 with a single on Tuesday, and starting with an 0-for-5 contest on Saturday (which ended his stretch of 30 straight games reaching base by hit or walk), the 20-year-old is 3-for-17 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts over his last four games.
It’s a brief struggle, one that does not detract in the least from Bogaerts’ prospect status. That said, the one thing that Bogaerts has had little opportunity to do in Triple-A is to show how he would respond to even a brief taste of struggle (while he was up and down in his first two weeks in Pawtucket following his promotion, he probably outperformed expectations to a transition to the highest minor league level given his age and relative inexperience). That being the case, the Sox would likely welcome Bogaerts facing a period of adversity and proving he can adjust to it before he reaches the big leagues.
Bogaerts also committed a fielding error (his eighth in 49 games in Pawtucket and first in seven starts at third base) that led to an unearned run. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster getting back on track; Dan Butler’s amazing run; Blake Swihart streaking; Miguel Pena rolling; Jamie Callahan honored||08.06.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Allen Webster‘s performance was not quite as impressive as his last one, in which he fanned 12 batters while allowing only one walk. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings, allowing his seventh home run in Triple-A while punching out four. The righty had gone four straight starts without giving up a home run. Since a 1 1/3 inning performance back on July 21, Webster hasn’t been dominant, but has looked like he’s getting back on track, allowing six earned runs in his last 18 innings, walking five while fanning 20.
– Dan Butler‘s been on fire at the plate in the past couple weeks, and Monday night was no different. Butler drove in two runs with a double and his 12th home run of the season, a home run which put the PawSox on top in the 8th inning and was ultimately the game-winner. Butler is hitting a ridiculous .477/.540/.977 with six home runs, four doubles and 15 RBI in his last 12 games, raising his overall line to .283/.380/.513 in 67 games this season.
– Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-3 with a home run, his ninth with the PawSox. Middlebrooks has hit safely in his last four games, but the home run was his first extra-base hit since July 25. In his last 10 games, Middlebrooks is hitting .205/.256/.282 with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Since returning to Pawtucket, Middlebrooks has compiled a .255/.301/.428 line in 35 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen: Potential bullpen deals got into ‘danger zone’; what Will Middlebrooks must work on; Sox won’t make ‘hasty decisions’ on Xander Bogaerts||08.01.13 at 4:07 pm ET|
Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, in an appearance on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show, suggested that a combination of factors convinced the team that a bullpen move in the days and hours immediately preceding the July 31 trade deadline was unnecessary. First, Hazen noted that the team did make a trade in July to add left-hander Matt Thornton. Beyond that, Hazen pointed to the emergence of left-hander Drake Britton and the promise of adding right-hander Brandon Workman to the bullpen (with the addition of Jake Peavy to round out the rotation) as factors that played into the team’s comfort level in the bullpen.
Beyond that, Hazen noted that the supply/demand bullpen dynamic was wildly unfavorable, with trade proposals for relief help pointing to a potential “danger zone” in which a team was at risk of giving up a significant prospect in exchange for a couple months of a middle reliever. (Cases such as Koji Uehara for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter or Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell or Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe come to mind — though it’s worth noting that all of those pitchers had multiple years of team control prior to their free agency.)
“We looked at all those guys. We looked at the universe of relief pitching. As you saw, there weren’t a lot of relievers that got traded. There are a lot of teams on the fringes of contention to out of contention who held onto their relievers. I don’t think you’ve seen that as much in the past. We saw that this year, where some of those guys got held. Not only did they not come to us, they didn’t go somewhere else,” said Hazen. “What happens in that situation is, your asking price is somewhat out of reach because it’s not something that you necessarily want to do, getting a rental reliever where you’re overpaying significantly. Look, we’ll trade prospects, but those are some of those trades where you can get into the danger zone of getting two months of a seventh-inning reliever for a guy who shows up and pitches for another team for the next six years. Those are the types of moves you don’t like to watch for the next six years.”
To listen to the complete interview, click here. Here are some additional highlights:
On what the team wants Will Middlebrooks to work on in Triple-A: Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Youth served in Jamie Callahan’s perfect day; Allen Webster offers reminder; Will Middlebrooks’ frustration boils over; Matt Barnes striking out everyone; Tzu-Wei Lin shows sneaky pop||at 3:24 pm ET|
The Lowell Spinners of the short-season New York-Penn League enjoyed a flirtation with perfection, their pitchers retiring the first 25 batters of the game before Cody Dent — the son of one-time Red Sox tormenter Bucky Dent — singled with one out in the ninth inning. The pitcher who anchored that sterling effort now commands notice.
The Red Sox selected right-hander Jamie Callahan in the second-round of the 2012 draft knowing that he represented a player with considerable upside not only based on his outrageous high school performance (as a senior at Dillon High School in South Carolina, he was 7-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 50 innings), physicality (at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he showed the frame and quick arm of a starter while also retaining athleticism) and stuff (a 92-95 mph fastball, curveball and slider) to inspire promising projections. That combination of attributes was all the more impressive given that Callahan was just 17 while pitching his senior season, already showing an ability to dominate against older performers.
Increasingly, there’s evidence — at least for position players — that the ability to emerge as a top performer as one of the youngest high school draftees in a class is a significant indicator of star potential. While the aforementioned study did not dig into the correlation between the drafted age of pitchers and future stardom, the ability to dominate older competition will always be viewed as one of the most significant measures of potential big league talent.
In that context, Callahan’s performance is becoming increasingly interesting. At 18, he’s the youngest pitcher in the New York-Penn League, a level that is heavy with relatively advanced college talent (for instance, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel is making his debut in that league this summer). And he’s showing some flashes of the ability to dominate.
Wednesday represented the most dramatic example, as he retired all 18 batters whom he faced, nine on strikeouts. But it wasn’t an isolated event. Callahan’s dazzling outing on Wednesday was almost a replica of his prior outing, in which he fired six shutout innings, allowing just one hit while punching out eight and walking none. So: two starts, 12 innings, no runs, one hit, 17 strikeouts, no walks. Dominance.
On the year, Callahan’s numbers aren’t quite as eye-opening — he has a 3.74 ERA with 32 strikeouts and nine walks in 33 2/3 innings spanning seven starts — but frankly, the fact that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by his level of competition, and instead appears to be gaining a growing sense of comfort, bodes well for his future.
As of now, he’s showing almost no ability to elicit groundballs, something that does offer an asterisk for his projection. Still, at 18, there’s time for Callahan to figure out a way to address that early deficiency. After all, he’s shown a propensity to demonstrate a steep learning curve on the field already.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 LOSS AT NORFOLK (ORIOLES) Read the rest of this entry »
|PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina on D&C: Xander Bogaerts needs more ‘marinating,’ but has similarities to Angels star Mike Trout||at 12:57 pm ET|
Gary DiSarcina, the manager of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning, and after a whirlwind couple of days that featured plenty of rumors concerning some of the top players in his lineup, he was very complimentary of the big three, all of whom remained with the organization through Wednesday’s trade deadline: Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Much time and energy has been spent speculation when Bogaerts, the Red Sox’ top prospect, will be called up to the big leagues. While DiSarcina has been quite impressed with the 20-year-old shortstop training at third base, he did say Bogaerts “needs to marinate a bit more, he needs to have some seasoning.”
“This kid has so much going for him,” DiSarcina said, comparing him to Angels star Mike Trout more than once. “He’s such a great asset, a personality on the club. If you walked into this clubhouse and you told him, ‘Hey, Xander, we’re going to go play baseball on the moon today,’ he’s the first one on the ship.”
DiSarcina did, however, echo the sentiment John Farrell has of late: Bogaerts remains a work in progress, particularly with his defense. He needs to know where to be for relay throws, when a hit is a sure double and other fundamentals. The best thing for him at this point is more reps.
One of the questions surround Bogaerts is whether or not he, at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, will stick at shortstop. To that, DiSarcina compared the situation to two other big-bodied shortstops, Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter.
“It’s more than just hitting. He has to work on his baserunning, he has to work on his defensive stuff, his angles to baseballs, his decision-making. You can’t replicate that stuff in practice or in early work or those types of things. He has to play. He has to be in games. He has to be in situations.
“He’s been impressive, and for me watching him defensively, he’s a lot further along than I thought he was coming up from Portland. He’s just inconsistent in some of his decisions, but over the last 10 days he has gotten better.”
|Ben Cherington on D&C: Red Sox did not come close to dealing for Cliff Lee, trading away Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. in July||at 11:35 am ET|
With the dust settling following Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning, saying that even though the team made only one acquisition — that of Jake Peavy — his phone was much, much busier.
“Any starting pitcher that was moved at the deadline, or was even potentially available, we talked about,” Cherington said. “But I think the issue is really — we really felt for a variety of reasons that Peavy was the best fit: the combination of what we gave up, the control we have over him next year and our comfort with him as a person and how he fits into the rotation and clubhouse and all those things. That’s what we were most focused on.”
Cherington explained that there were a number of factors that permanently shifted the team’s focus from Phillies ace Cliff Lee to Peavy, including Lee’s big contract and Philadelphia’s large asking price. Also making a difference was that Lee was scratched from his start last weekend.
Despite Peavy’s injury history, the Red Sox aren’t worried about his ability to pitch down the stretch. He couldn’t say the same about Lee.
“When you’re making a deal in July, it’s a little bit about next year, but it’s a lot about this year,” Cherington said. “You want to make a trade for players who are going to walk in, be active and help your team from Day 1. If there’s any question about that whatsoever, even if it looks like a guy is going to be fine, it’s a hard thing to do. Peavy’s last two outings we’ve been at, we’ve seen him, he’s pitched, he looks healthy, he looks strong. He’ll step right into the rotation and help us this weekend.”
No matter who Cherington was after, the organization stuck to its philosophy of valuing and keeping its top prospects, particularly Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. He would not go as far to say that they were untouchable, but he did give further indication of just how much the team expects the pair to play a significant role in future years.
“I don’t think you say, ‘never, never, never’ to anything, but obviously the more convicted you are of a player and more important that player is to you long-term, the higher the bar is,” Cherington said. “In talking about trading, the truth is we never got anywhere near considering them in a deal this July. There wasn’t one presented that would have made sense. But I don’t think you say ‘never, never.’ Who knows what comes down the pipe?”
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