It's been a month, but Chris came back from being a big shot and got back on the horn with Matt and Ian to discuss the season's first month. Things kick off with the first edition of the Big 4 Update, looking at whether Yoan Moncada's strikeouts are a concern and why Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers flipped in the site rankings update on May 1. Then the guys gave us their notes from the field from the first month. Chris had the latest from Salem, with reports on Moncada, Benintendi, Devers, Trey Ball, and others. Then Ian and Matt responded with the word from Pawtucket on Sam Travis and Deven Marrero. Finally, the guys aired it out on whether it is a good idea for Blake Swihart to start getting reps in left field, and what's gotten into the big riser in the May 1 rankings, Teddy Stankiewicz.
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A couple of key Red Sox pitchers began rehab assignments in the minor leagues this week. Carson Smith, who suffered a strained flexor tendon during spring training, threw scoreless innings with Portland on Friday and Saturday. The Red Sox appear likely to activate Smith for Tuesday's series opener against the Chicago White Sox, raising the question of who the Red Sox option to make room for Smith. Eduardo Rodriguez (pictured), who had a patellar subluxation in his right knee during spring training, made his first rehab appearance with the PawSox and struggled, allowing three runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. Rodriguez will have at least one more rehab start before the Red Sox consider activating him.
The Red Sox continued to shuffle their active roster this week. Pat Light made his major league debut on Tuesday, giving up a couple of runs in an inning. The Red Sox then optioned Light to Pawtucket and recalled infielder Marco Hernandez from Pawtucket.
5/2 Cup of Coffee: On a rainy Sunday, just two of four scheduled games for Red Sox affiliates were played. Sean O'Sullivan pitched well for Pawtucket in a loss, and the Sea Dogs bullpen, along with Wendell Rijo's clutch hit, helped Portland secure a big extra-innings win.
The PawSox bullpen was unable to hold a lead after the offense scored early, while Sean O'Sullivan delivered a nice outing. Blake Swihart got the scoring going with an RBI double in the first inning and later scored when Rusney Castillo reached on an error. Castillo would finish 2 for 5 with a double. Ryan LaMarre also had a nice day at the plate by going 2 for 5 with an RBI double.
O'Sullivan lasted seven innings and left the game with a 4-2 lead. He struck out five and walked just one while allowing five hits. His ERA was lowered to 3.00 on the year. Wesley Wright gave up single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game into extra innings. Kyle Martin took the loss by surrendering a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Cup of Coffee 5/1: It was a night of notable pitching in the Red Sox system as a pair of top ten prospects started on the mound in Greenville's Anderson Espinoza and Salem's Travis Lakins. Roenis Elias started for Pawtucket while Justin Haley turned in the most dominant performance of the day for Portland. Many of the big bats in the organization struggled on Saturday night but Sam Travis had a good game for the PawSox while Kyri Washington and Chad De La Guerra swung the bat well for Greenville.
The PawSox were simply unable to string enough hits together in a shutout loss to Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. Roenis Elias started on the mound for Pawtucket, lasting 6 2/3 innings but receiving the loss after allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. Elias was followed by Roman Mendez, who allowed a run in 1/3 of an inning, and Jorge Marban, who allowed three baserunners but no runs in an inning of work.
The PawSox bats were able to reach base eleven times via seven hits and four walks but they just couldn't push any runs across the plate. First baseman Sam Travis was the offensive standout for Pawtucket as he went 2 for 4 with a double, pushing his line to .289/.326/.434 on the young season. Blake Swihart, who made his second start in left field, went 1 for 4.
4/30 Cup of Coffee: Another night, another dynamic performance from fourth-ranked prospect Andrew Benintendi(pictured), whose four RBI carried High-A Salem to a 4-3 victory. The rest of the affiliates did not fare as well. Pawtucket coughed up a one-run lead in the ninth of a 3-2 loss while Portland and Greenville generated little offense in defeats. Right-handed relief pitcher Carson Smith saw his first action of 2016, rehabbing with the Sea Dogs.
Noe Ramirez was hung with the blown save but it was sloppy defense that felled the PawSox in a ninth-inning meltdown. Leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the final frame, the PawSox committed three errors — charged to first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Blake Swihart, and shortstop Deven Marrero — which brought home two runs for a Syracuse walk-off win. The late rally wasted a strong start from Brian Johnson, who allowed just one run and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings.
The PawSox grabbed an early lead on a solo shot by Ryan LaMarre, his first of the season. Swihart picked up an RBI single as part of his 2-for-4 night, and Marrero had two singles out of the leadoff spot.
4/29 Cup of Coffee: It was a night light on games, but not on intrigue as Eduardo Rodriguez began his rehab stint with Pawtucket and Trey Ball made his 2016 debut for Salem. But it was Andrew Benintendi(pictured) once again coming up big in a comeback win for the High-A Red Sox.
It was a rocky start to 2016 for Eduardo Rodriguez who made his first rehab start for the PawSox. The 23-year-old Venezuelan threw 75 pitches, lasting just 3 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits, walking three and striking out two. According to multiple reports on Twitter, Rodriguez will have at least one more rehab start - possibly two - before rejoining the Boston rotation. Keith Couch threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to keep the PawSox within striking distance, but the bats went cold. Rusney Castillo drove in Pawtucket's only run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. A third inning rally was snuffed out when Ryan LaMarre was gunned down at the plate trying to score. Blake Swihart and Sam Travis were both held hitless. The former also played his first game in the outfield as a professional, starting in left field.
4/28 Cup of Coffee: Salem used a 10-run eighth inning to win for just the second time in its last six games. Portland submitted another lackluster performance, dropping its seventh straight. In Greenville, a strong day from the Basabe brothers wasn't enough as a late-inning rally by Delmarva sent the Drive to their sixth loss in seven games.
The Sea Dogs dropped their seventh in a row, as they were shutout by the Mets. Ty Buttrey fell to 0-4 on the season after allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. Heri Quevedo followed, allowing a run on two hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Portland mustered just four hits, with Wendell Rijo's double the only of the extra-base variety. The Sea Dogs will look to snap out of their funk when they return home on Friday to face Reading.
On occasion, we will be featuring videos here from the SoxProspects YouTube page. Today's video is of 2014 first-round pick Michael Chavis. Watch the 20-year-old hit in spring training games last month and take grounders at third. Our scouting staff went into more detail with what they saw from him down there, and Chavis also described how he lost weight over the offseason in another SoxProspects.com story from spring. Chavis was off to a scolding start to start the season with Greenville, but was recently placed on the disabled list with a thumb injury. This season, we plan to incorporate more video to supplement our regular scouting material, so check back here and on the YouTube page frequently.
4/27 Cup of Coffee: The major league club used up all of the offensive firepower available on Tuesday night. While Boston pounded out 11 runs in its rout of Atlanta, the three affiliates in action combined for only four. While the bats fell mostly silent, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada continued their superlative runs, each extending hitting streaks to 15 games.
Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) at Pawtucket Red Sox, PPD rain
The weather is often Pawtucket's toughest April opponent. This year, Mother Nature intervened in McCoy Stadium's first and last game of the month, but allowed all in between to go off without a hitch. Tuesday's rainout will be made up on June 21 as part of a doubleheader. The two teams have an off day Wednesday before kicking off a four-game set in Syracuse.
4/26 Cup of Coffee: William Cuevas (pictured) was dominant over seven innings for the PawSox, with Blake Swihart, Sam Travis, and Marco Hernandez providing all the offense he needed. Kevin McAvoy was not as successful in Portland as he struggled mightily to throw strikes, ending the day with more walks than outs recorded. Both Salem and Greenville were off yesterday.
Fresh off his major league debut, William Cuevas led the PawSox to a shutout victory. Cuevas went the first seven innings, allowing only three hits while walking three and striking out four. After struggling in his first appearance in Boston last week, Cuevas was able to get back on track and turn in his best start of the young season. Kyle Martin finished off the shutout with two scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing only one baserunner. While his 5.40 ERA is not pretty, Martin has not issued a walk and has struck out 11 batters over his first 10 innings.