The Red Sox announced today that they have acquired infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus from Baltimore in exchange for infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar (pictured right).
It was a familiar trade for both sides. Baltimore selected 23 year-old Almanzar in the Rule 5 draft last winter. He was ultimately returned to the Red Sox in June after spending the majority of his time with the Orioles on the disabled list. Since he was returned to the Red Sox he has played third base for the Portland Sea Dogs, hitting .277/.356/.422 with five home runs over 188 at-bats.
Kelly Johnson was acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for sending Stephen Drew to the Yankees in a deadline deal earlier this year. Johnson appeared in only 10 games for the Red Sox and ends his time with only four hits over 25 plate appearances with 10 strikeouts.
8/31 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket took a loss, tightening the Wild Card race while Portland set a franchise record. Salem took both games of a double header while Greenville won by two. Lowell was shutout and the GCL took game one of their playoff series while the DSL Red Sox bested the Royals.
Matt Barnes took the loss in this one, his ninth of the season. Barnes went seven innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while walking none and punching out 10 batters. Miguel Celestino came on in relief and gave up a single hit, a solo home run, in two innings of work.
The PawSox managed only five hits in this game, two off the bat of Bryce Brentz, including a two-run double in the top of the first inning. Blake Swihart, Alex Hassan, and Garin Cecchini collected the remainder of the clubs hits.
The loss, coupled with a Buffalo (TOR) win, puts the PawSox out of the race for their division crown, but leaves them 1.5 games up on Buffalo in the Wild Card hunt.
8/30 Cup of Coffee: All of the affiliates were in action and all but two teams picked up wins. Both the PawSox and Sea Dogs won by a single run, while Greenville and Lowell won blowouts. The GCL Red Sox notched a victory in their one-game semifinal. The Salem Red Sox lost late, while the DSL Red Sox gave up a walk off.
Brandon Workman was on the hill in this one, and largely held the Chiefs at bay. Workman went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while punching out six. Workman was relieved by John Ely who notched a perfect inning before being taken out. Dalier Hinojosa came on in relief of Ely to pick up his third save of the season thanks to 1 1/3 innings in which he allowed only one walk, while striking out one as well.
Ryan Lavarnway (pictured, left) provided all of Pawtucket's offense in this one, collecting two of the PawSox' seven hits, a double and two-run home run in the fourth inning to put the PawSox on top. Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 1 for 4 with a strikeout.
With the win, the PawSox move 2.5 games up on the Buffalo Bisons (TOR) in the International League Wild Card standings, and are only two games back of the division lead with three games remaining.
8/29 Cup of Coffee: The playoff schedule kicked off on a historic note. DSL Red Sox starter Daniel Gonzalez and relievers Algenis Martinez and Carlos Caceres combined for a no-hitter in the first game of the playoff series against the DSL Royals. Elsewhere, the GCL Red Sox closed their regular season with a win and Pawtucket's victory helped solidify its playoff chances. Lowell provided plenty of excitement, with two players and manager Joe Oliver getting ejected before the first pitch, followed by the Spinners erupting for 13 runs. Portland fell in a pitchers duel, while Salem and Greenville both suffered blowout losses.
In what turned into nearly a four-hour contest, the PawSox prevailed despite being out-hit 15 to 13. Every member of the Pawtucket lineup reached base, as the squad added seven walks to go with the 13 hits. Justin Henry led the way, going 3 for 5 with a walk and three runs driven in. Blake Swihart had the only extra-base hit for Pawtucket, a sixth-inning double. He was left stranded then, but overall scored once and drove in two as part of a 2-for-4 night. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was 2 for 4 as well, driving in a pair and walking once. Garin Cecchini added his third consecutive multi-hit game. After struggling badly in June and July, the 23-year-old has turned a corner in August, hitting .349/.429/.535.
Pawtucket pitchers allowed 22 baserunners, but the damage was limited as the IronPigs went 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position, Ryan Verdugo got the spot start in place of Anthony Ranaudo, who will be called up to pitch the major league game against Tampa Bay on Friday. Verdugo lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out eight. Chris Hernandez struggled but got credit for the win. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 1 1/3, issuing two walks without a strikeout. Drake Britton played Houdini, allowing four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings but escaping without giving up a run. Heath Hembree struck out three batters in his scoreless 1 1/3.
With the win, Pawtucket remains 1.5 games ahead of Buffalo for the wild card spot with four games remaining.
8/28 Cup of Coffee: It proved to be a down day on the farm as the affiliates were only able to bring home two victories. Salem split a doubleheader against Frederick, while the GCL Sox exploded for 14 runs against the Orioles. Elsewhere, offense was at a premium as Pawtucket, Portland and Greenville all had weak nights at the plate. Lowell lost in heartbreaking fashion in Connecticut as their playoff hopes were further trimmed.
It was a quiet night at the plate for the PawSox, who collected just five hits on the evening. Garin Cecchini was 2 for 3, including an RBI single in the ninth inning, to lead the Pawtucket offense. Steven Wright dropped to 5-5 after allowing five runs on 12 hits and two walks in six innings of work. Miguel Celestino added two perfect innings of relief, striking out three.
Brain Johnson's season-long resurgence continued last Saturday night at New Hampshire (TOR) in which he allowed three base runners and a single earned run, coasting easily to his fourth SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week award. His ten strikeouts were two short of his season-high of 12. Johnson currently leads the Eastern League in ERA (1.83) and WHIP (0.96). He is currently the eighth-ranked prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com.
Season Line: 24 G, 13-3, 138.2 IP, 2.21 ERA, 99 H, 34 ER, 39 BB/131 K, .200 BAA
8/27 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox had a strong showing at the plate as they easily handled Buffalo. Despite a loss, one of the Red Sox top pitching prospects was impressive in Portland. The GCL Red Sox secured a playoff berth as they rode a strong pitching performance to victory.
Henry Owens notched the victory, allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings of work. The left-hander struck out eight Bisons on the evening and has now punched out 35 hitters in 32 innings as a member of Pawtucket. Dallier Hinojosa added 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing a hit and striking out a batter.
The PawSox compiled 17 hits on the evening, as Ryan Roberts was the only member of the starting lineup to not collect a hit. Bryce Brentz was 2 for 5 with a key three-run home run in the fifth. Alex Hassan was 3 for 5 with a run scored and two doubles while Deven Marrero was 2 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI. Garin Cecchini continued to remain hot at the plate, going 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Jackie Bradley Jr., in one of his best games since rejoining Pawtucket, was 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI.
The win gives the PawSox a two game cushion over Buffalo in the wild card standings.
The Arizona Fall League (AFL) rosters were announced today, and the Red Sox will be sending six prospects to play for the Surprise Saguaros. The list is headlined by infielders Deven Marrero (pictured) and Sean Coyle, while pitchers Keith Couch, Aaron Kurcz, Robby Scott, and Madison Younginer will join them. The Red Sox also have an outfielder listed as TBD, and as Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, that spot could go to Rusney Castillo. When Jose Iglesias was signed in September of 2009, the Red Sox sent him to get at-bats in the AFL that fall, and this situation with Castillo is quite similar.
8/26 Cup of Coffee: While Monday was yet another day of fantastic pitching down on the farm, it was one of the organizations most exciting young bats that stole the spotlight. First-round pick Michael Chavis (pictured, left) collected six hits, including his first professional home run, as the GCL Red Sox split a doubleheader. A trio of Portland arms combined on a shutout win, while Pawtucket, Salem, and Lowell eached cruised to four-run victories.
Matt Barnes continued his late-season resurgence with yet another strong start. The 2011 first-round pick allowed two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings, as he struck out four and walked two. In five August starts, Barnes has a sterling 1.30 ERA and has struck out 28 in 34 2/3 innings. Chris Hernandez tossed a scoreless final 1 2/3, allowing a hit while striking out one and walking two. The big blow for the PawSox came in the fourth inning, as Garin Cecchini drove a three-run double to deep center field. Justin Henry was 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored, and Alex Hassan drove in a pair as part of his 3-for-4 night.
The win moves the PawSox a game ahead of Buffalo in the wild card race with seven games remaining.
At the start of the week the Red Sox were among six teams connected to Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo (pictured right), who defected earlier this year. By midweek the list was down to three teams, and on Friday news broke that the Red Sox had landed the 27 year-old for a record setting deal of seven years, $72 million. SoxProspects.com executive editor Chris Hatfield was all over the news and broke it down for you.
Since the trading deadline had passed, the Castillo news proved to be the big news of the week both locally and nationally. Many writers and analysts broke down the signing, among them Dave Cameron of FanGraphs who compared him to Shane Victorino, and WEEI.com's Alex Speier who focused on how he can impact the Red Sox.