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SoxProspects News

September 29, 2008 at 6:27 AM

Richardson tosses two scoreless innings in Honu loss

9/29 Cup of Coffee: The North Shore Honu fell once again to the West Oahu Canefires by a 6-3 score. Dustin Richardson was the only Sox prospect to see action in the game. He threw 2 scoreless innings giving up 3 hits and a walk. He had 2 strikeouts.
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September 28, 2008 at 6:30 AM

Hawaiian Winter League Opens

9/28 Cup of Coffee: Well, the Cup has been half filled to cover the Hawaiian Winter League and the Arizona Fall League. In the opening game of the Hawaiian League, the West Oahu Canefires crushed the North Shore Honu 12-3. Yamaico Navarro went 1 for 4. Ryan Kalish serving as the designatd hitter went 0 for 3 striking out twice. He walked once.
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September 25, 2008 at 11:59 PM

Sox announce minor league players of the year

The Red Sox honored their 2008 Minor League Award winners on field before Thursday night's game against the Indians. The recipients were chosen by the team's operations staff and roving minor league instructors, and are as follows: RHP Daniel Bard was named Pitcher of the Year; 1B Lars Anderson, Offensive Player of the Year; OF Che-Hsuan Lin, Defensive Player of the Year, OF Wilfred Pichardo, Base Runner of the Year; LHP Manuel Rivera, Latin Program Pitcher of the Year; 1B Eddie Lora, Latin Program Player of the Year.
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at 11:58 PM

Velazquez joins Sox

The Red Sox have purchased the contract of SS Gil Velazquez, and have placed him on the active roster in place of RHP Bartolo Colon, who was transferred from the suspended list to the restricted list. Velazquez spent the 2008 minor league season with Pawtucket, batting .260/.310/.417 (.727 OPS), with 10 home runs, 17 doubles and four triples in 350 at bats over 101 games.
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September 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM

Fall Instructional League opens

The Fall Instructional League - or FIL - gets underway today in Fort Myers. The FIL Roster is by invitation from the front office only, and is usually comprised of the most highly-regarded prospects from short-season ball or below. Players at higher levels also sometimes attend to work on the development of specific skills, or if they missed time in the previous season due to injury or the like. Games are generally not open to the public or the media. Although not always the case, an invitation to the FIL usually indicates that the team is willing to invest time and money in the given player for the foreseeable future. Here is the Red Sox 2008 FIL Roster:

Anatanaer Batista
Cesar Cabral
Yeiper Castillo
Hunter Cervenka
Bryce Cox
Swen Huijer
Wang-Yi Lin
Roman Mendez
Pedro Perez
Eammon Portice
Ryan Pressly
Manny Rivera
Pete Ruiz
Hunter Strickland
Kyle Stroup
Raynel Vellette
Richie Wasielewski
Tyler Wilson
Armando Zerpa

Luis Exposito
Tim Federowicz
Ryan Lavarnway
Christian Vazquez
Ty Weeden

Carson Blair
Chih-Hsien Chiang
Ryan Dent
Joantoni Garcia
Jose Garcia
Derrik Gibson
Casey Kelly
Will Middlebrooks

Jered Stanley
Ronald Bermudez
Mitch Dening
Bryan Peterson
Pete Hissey
Ryan Westmoreland

A number of other pitchers and players are down in Fort Myers working on strength and conditioning, but will not see game action. In the case of the pitchers, this is meant to rest their respective arms.
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at 3:08 PM

Q&A with Mike Hazen

Red Sox Director of Player Development Mike Hazen is the man responsible for overseeing the growth and development of the Red Sox minor league system, which has included some great success stories over the course of the 2008 season. Players such as Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, and Jed Lowrie have developed under Hazen's watch. With the Sox on the cusp of clinching another post-season berth, he certainly deserves a lot of credit for the team's success this year. Special thanks to Mike for his hard work and for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.

SoxProspects.com: If you had to pick a few players in the system who had "breakout" seasons in 2008, who would you choose and why?
Mike Hazen: I think Felix Doubront and Luis Exposito were two very positive stories in 2008. Felix rebounded from a tough 2007 campaign both physically and performance-wise, and Luis bounced back from a tough 2007as well, where he did not play very much. We felt both players made significant on and off-field adjustments that led to their very productive 2008 seasons.

SP: When evaluating the young arms coming up through the low minors, what are some of the main points that you and your staff look for in terms of developmental progress? In other words, what are the main factors in deciding when its time to promote that pitcher to the next level?
MH: I think there are the basic fundamentals that are stressed at the very beginning stages - like repeating a delivery or fastball command - and the factors generally get more complex as we move up the system. Of course, we try to never get away from the premise that we are teaching the game of baseball and not reinventing the wheel – but there are certainly some nuances at the upper levels that become far more important - controlling the running game, exploiting an opponent’s weakness, etc. As far as promotions go, everything is tailored to the individual, but there are some of the aforementioned stepping stones that we feel players need to master before taking on the next level.

: Similarly, what factors go into deciding when to make adjustments to an individual pitcher's mechanics and when to let them be? For example, why might changes be made to a Clay Buchholz's mechanics on the one hand, while a Michael Bowden type pitcher might be allowed to continue utilizing his delivery?
MH: I think performance is one key, and overall physical maturity is another. As you know, each pitcher’s delivery, frame, and arm action are pretty unique, so an individualized approach to each player is important. On the performance front, it’s tough to suggest fundamental changes to players where there is extreme positive performance, as you would probably gather. As for the physical maturity, the factors include both size and strength, as well as the advancement of mechanics - what the player is capable of handling at any one given time. Our ability to assess those things accurately is crucial.

: Back when Daisuke Matsuzaka was signed in the 2006-07 off-season, we heard about all the accommodations that were made for his arrival into this country to ensure a smooth transition to playing ball in the U.S. What type of infrastructure does the organization have in place to ensure that the international amateur signees are enjoying relatively smooth transitions? Are there bilingual staff members at each level?
MH: We spend a significant amount of time trying to individualize each player’s development. For those players that are getting acclimated to a new country – no matter the country – that becomes a key component to their development. We have bilingual staff at almost every level (mostly Spanish speaking), as well as in our coordinator and medical groups. For our Taiwanese-born players, we have a staff member that speaks Chinese. For the past two years, we have employed a Japanese trainer as well. Beyond the simple language, we have staff - Eddie Romero and Duncan Webb - that do a really good job of exposing the other areas of cultural assimilation so that we can ease the transitions as much as possible and allow our foreign-born players to focus on playing baseball.

: At the time of his introduction as general manager in 2002, Theo Epstein offered a vision of a Red Sox "player development machine." As that vision comes to fruition, a number of highly-regarded players are filtering their way up to the AAA level, and this might have the tendency to create positional logjams. As just one example, candidates for the PawSox OF/1B/DH positions in 2009 include Jeff Bailey, Chris Carter, Jonathan Van Every, Jeff Corsaletti, Bubba Bell, Aaron Bates, and Zach Daeges - all who likely deserve starting roles somewhere. On top of that, players such as Jeff Natale, Sean Danielson, and Bryan Pritz might also be in the fold, and Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick could potentially be knocking at the door at some point in the season. While quite often "these things tend to work themselves out", how does your staff address these types of logjams? Its certainly a good problem to have - and a tribute to your staff's continued success - but what happens when a team has too many prospects slated for a particular level?
MH: Good question, I will admit that “these things working themselves out” has been far more convenient and usable in past years. I do think with injuries and the like, some of these things will still work themselves out. However, moving forward we will be faced with depth issues that will challenge us with regard to playing time and priority positional fits. Once you get to the AAA level, obviously there is major league need that factors into the equation, not just pure minor league development. It’s a good problem to have if it ends up working out that way, so no one around here will be complaining. However, I don’t think having logjams at the minor league level will result in players being promoted to the majors without it being a fit for the big club.

: Can you discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses (areas that may need further development) of George Kottaras, Dusty Brown, and Mark Wagner? Do you anticipate that any will get an extended look for a major role on the big league club in 2009?
MH: George, Dusty, and Mark have all had pretty good seasons and made some strides fundamentally. With George and Dusty, we are talking about the overall major league refinements of the position: game calling, managing the pitching staff, and the leadership skills necessary to be a catcher in the majors. They are certainly different offensively, but both continue to show an ability to hit at the minor league level – I do think they will have an opportunity at some point in the future. Mark had a good year in AA, and I think was presented with some challenges for the first time at the upper levels with regard to some of the nuances of the catching position. The biggest key to us is will there continue to be the offensive/defensive separation on a given night - which is probably the toughest part of being a catcher at any level.

: Josh Reddick has excelled - perhaps dominated - at virtually every level of the system. In Portland , we understand that the plan was for Reddick to take a more "patient" approach at the plate, and to try to earn a few more walks. While its certainly evident that plate patience is the area of his game in the most need of improvement, is there a part of you that just wants to let him continue with his aggressive approach?
MH: As with any player, the developmental approach and focus changes as they move through the system. We don’t necessarily need Josh to become more patient, we just continue to discuss certain aspects of plate discipline that we feel will be another tool for him as he moves up the ladder and the pitching and defense become that much better. The last thing we try to do is cookie cutter any one approach offensively or pitching-wise, but there are subtleties that we try to add along the way.

: Could you discuss the decision to allow Che-Hsuan Lin and Chih-Hsien Chiang to play for Taiwan in the Olympics? Were other players in the Red Sox organization invited to participate?
MH: Lin and Chiang have been on the Taiwanese national team for a couple of years now, so allowing them to play was pretty much a certainty. David Pauley was selected to the 60-man roster for the U.S. team in June, but was not ultimately selected for the 25 man roster.

: File this under another potential logjam: how much of the decision to jump Michael Almanzar from the GCL to Greenville at age seventeen was based on the fact that Middlebrooks was already at third in Lowell ? If both were hypothetically assigned to Greenville to start 2009, any idea how to get them as many at-bats possible? A 3B/DH platoon? Time at other positions? Or maybe you disagree with the premise of the hypothetical altogether?
MH: One of our biggest challenges in the immediate present and hopefully into the future will be these types of issues. They are a challenge as long as Jason [McLeod] and Ship [Craig Shipley] continue to draft and sign players with very good talent. Our goal is always to maximize the amount of playing time each player needs – in a lot of cases with position players, that usually translates into at-bats over defense. I don’t think the hypothetical is far fetched, although I can tell you there is a lot of time and there are a lot of evaluations left to be made between now and next April.

: What players from the 2008 DSL team should we keep an eye on in 2009?
MH: Roman Mendez and Manny Rivera were two pitchers that really stood out in the DSL for us.
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September 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM

SoxProspects.com turns five

It’s hard to believe that today marks five years since the launch of SoxProspects.com. Its never been denied that the site came from humble beginnings. For some context, I began developing the site as a hobby in early 2003, and maintained it at a separate domain name over the course of that summer. After the 2003 minor league season ended, the site was officially "launched" at SoxProspects.com on September 20, 2003. The message board was added soon thereafter – on September 27 – and for the first few months we saw more tumbleweeds than posts. But as time went on, the board picked up, several well-informed members joined up, and some even signed on as volunteer staff members. Since then, we’ve been able to add a lot of features, including a news blog (June 2005), a “wiki” (August 2006), regular player interviews (February 2007), and a statistical database (April 2008). The board has now grown into one of the largest and most-informed communities of Red Sox fans on the Internet, with over 1,300 registered members and approximately 17-million page views over that time period.

For me, its sometimes hard to remember what it was like to be a Sox fan back in September 2003. It almost seems like a tale of two teams. Think back for a minute:

  • The Sox hadn’t won the World Series in 85 years - if my memory serves me correctly, the general outlook of the fandom was something along the lines of “if there’s a way to lose in the most heartbreaking manner possible, the Sox will find it”
  • There were not many homegrown players that made major contributions to the big league club during the first half of the decade - Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon were the only Sox prospects that really ended up with Boston for an extended period of time
  • As fans, we were only starting to figure out what we had in David Ortiz – after he began the season as a platoon player – with the unstoppable Jeremy Giambi
  • John Burkett started 30 games in 2003 – the third most on the team. I think he’s a pro bowler now.
  • After the Sox "cowboyed up" to defeat Oakland in dramatic fashion in the ALDS, Grady Little indeed found a way to lose the ALCS in dramatic fashion. I don't really want to get too much into that here for fear of bringing back my post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • The system was not exactly deep back then, but there were a few strong prospects who are now on there way to solid major league careers. The top 20 prospects at the end of the 2003 season (according to the newly-founded SoxProspects.com):

    1. Jorge de la Rosa
    2. Jon Lester
    3. Kevin Youkilis
    4. Kelly Shoppach
    5. Chad Spann
    6. Hanley Ramirez
    7. David Murphy
    8. Manny Delcarmen
    9. Anastacio Martinez
    10. Jeremy West
    11. Juan Cedeno
    12. Josh Stevens
    13. Arthur Santos
    14. Carlos Leon
    15. Matt Murton
    16. Abe Alvarez
    17. Salvador Paniagua
    18. Davey Penny
    19. Kyle Jackson
    20. Justin Sturge

Since that time, we all know what’s happened. The Sox won two Word Series championships, and Theo and company made good on their promise of turning the organization into a “player development machine.” They’ve stocked the system, and only a handful of players in the organization are left over from the pre-Theo era: Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Youkilis, Delcarmen, Lester, Chris Smith, Jose Vaquedano, Charlie Zink, and Dusty Brown. And the only other players that are still around since before the site’s inception are Mike Timlin, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Beau Vaughan, Mickey Hall, and Iggy Suarez.

I want to thank all of the readers, site members, and the staff that have helped to make the site what it is today. I’ve certainly enjoyed maintaining it, and hope to keep doing so for the foreseeable future. For now, I’ll leave you with a nice discussion topic: the All-Time SoxProspects.com All-Star team, comprised of players who have been in the Red Sox minor league system since the summer of 2003. I think this team would compete in 2009 – but if you ask me, I’ll stick with the current club. Your thoughts?

1. Jacoby Ellsbury (CF)
2. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
3. Hanley Ramirez (SS)
4. Carlos Pena (DH)
5. Kevin Youkilis (1B)
6. David Murphy (LF)
7. Kelly Shoppach (C)
8. Jed Lowrie (3B)
9. Brandon Moss (RF)

Chris Coste (C)
Jeff Bailey (1B/OF)
Freddy Sanchez (IF)
Andy Marte (3B)
Matt Murton (OF)

1. Jon Lester
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Clay Buchholz
4. Anibal Sanchez
5. Michael Bowden
- Jorge de la Rosa

Jonathan Papelbon
Brandon Lyon
Cla Meredith
Justin Masterson
Manny Delcarmen

Casey Fossum
Javier Lopez

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September 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Salem affiliation official

The Red Sox announced today the much-anticipated signing of a two-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Salem Avalanche. The new PDC will result in the team moving its Advanced Class-A minor league affiliation from Lancaster, California to Southwest Virginia. The Fenway Sports Group - the Red Sox corporate ownership group - purchased the Salem Avalanche franchise back in December 2007, and it has been speculated since that time that Boston would start its affiliation with Salem when the teams takes the field for the 2009 Carolina League season. Now that speculation is official.

"Salem is an ideal fit for the Boston Red Sox," said Red Sox Director of Player Development, Mike Hazen. "The playing surface is one of the best in the minor leagues, and the area's commitment to baseball has created a great environment for developing top-notch players, both on and off the field. We are committed to bringing championship-caliber baseball, and a team which the fans can take great pride in, to the Roanoke Valley."

The Sox' Advanced Class-A team spent its last two seasons on the west coast, affiliated with the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League. Boston has also been affiliated with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Sarasota Red Sox, and Lynchburg Red Sox at that level since 1988. The Southwest Virginia area also has a history as a Boston affiliate - the Roanoke Red Sox played in the Piedmont League from 1943-1953. With the move, the Salem franchise ends its six-year affiliation with the Houston Astros.
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at 11:09 AM

Sox send four prospects to Hawaii

The Hawaii Winter Baseball league opens on September 27 and will run through November 16. Four teams will compete - the North Shore Honu, West Oahu Canefires, Waikiki Beach Boys, and Honolulu Sharks. The teams will be comprised of players from the High-A and Low-A levels of minor league baseball, as well as select players from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league and the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization. Several 2008 first round picks are also slated to participate in the league. The Red Sox will send four prospects to the HWB, each of whom will play for the North Shore Honu: Yamaico Navarro, Ryan Kalish, Dustin Richardson, and Jose Capellan. Capellan is eligible to become a minor league free agent on October 15. In addition, Greenville Drive manager Kevin Boles will manage the Honu. This off-season, fall and winter league stats will be kept up-to-date at SoxProspects.com
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at 8:09 AM

Britton to have Tommy John Surgery

According to a reliable source, Red Sox prospect Drake Britton is scheduled to have Tommy John Surgery on Tuesday, September 23. Britton, 19, went 1-2 for the Lowell Spinners in 2008 with a 4.28 ERA, 26 strikeouts, and 16 walks. He last pitched on August 3, going five innings and earning the win against the Vermont Lake Monsters. At the time, his velocity was down a bit, after which time he skipped a start and was soon thereafter shut down for the season with elbow concerns. A highly-regarded prospect coming out of Tomball (TX) High Scholl in 2007, Boston selected Britton in the 23rd round after he slipped due to bonus demands. He eventually signed with the Red Sox at the 2008 signing deadline for a $700,000 bonus. Brtitton is now likely to miss the entire 2009 season.
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September 18, 2008 at 6:01 PM

Buchholz to pitch in the AFL

According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz will be headed to the Arizona Fall League next month to pitch approximately 25 innings for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Other Sox minor leaguers headed to play for Scottsdale are Aaron Bates, Josh Reddick, Mark Wagner, TJ Large, Ryne Lawson, and Beau Vaughan. Vaughan, a 2003 draftee who earned a late-season promotion to Pawtucket, will be a minor league free agent come October 15, but is a candidate to be re-signed or added to the 40-man roster this off-season. The AFL season gets underway on October 7, and goes through November 22. The league is typically comprised of highly-regarded prospects from the AA and AAA levels.
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September 16, 2008 at 8:04 PM

Epstein close to extension

The Red Sox are close to a contract extension with General Manager Theo Epstein, principal owner John Henry announced in a e-mail today. The terms and length of the deal are unknown, but Henry indicated that the framework of the contract is in place and that finishing details were being worked out.
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September 15, 2008 at 6:09 AM

Lancaster's season over

9/15 Cup of Coffee: With the score tied 1-1 going into the top of the seventh, Stockton scored 6 runs - including 4 on a grand slam - and coasted to a 9-3 win over Lancaster. Stockton captured the California League Championship, winning the best of five series 3 games to 1. Blake Maxwell started the game, and went 5.2 innings allowing 1 run on 8 hits. He struck out 7. Derrick Loop went two-thirds of an inning, and was charged with 5 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks. Craig Molldrem also lasted just two-thirds of an inning, and was charged with 1 run on a walk and 2 hits - one of which was the grand. He had 1 strikeout. Josh Papelbon threw 2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits. Yamaico Navarro went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Luis Exposito went 2-for-3. The coffee pot is now empty, but will be refilled in time for the Arizona Fall League schedule. Until then enjoy the big league club's push for the playoffs.

Player of the Night: Yamaico Navarro who went 3-for-3 with an RBI.
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September 14, 2008 at 6:23 AM

Lancaster forces a Game 4 with 8-6 win

9/14 Cup of Coffee: Facing elimination, Lancaster broke a 5-5 tie, pushing across 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh last night. They then held on for a 8-6 win over Stockton. The win forces a fourth game tonight (8:00 pm EST). Felix Doubront went 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 BB. He also had 3 strikeouts. Cody McAllister lasted 3.1 frames, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk and striking out 1. Kyle Fernandes threw 1.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and a BB. He had 3 strikeouts. Jason Blackey retired all four hitters he faced, fanning 1 of them to preserve the win. Yamaico Navarro went 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Daniel Nava went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Mike Jones went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI. Zak Farkes went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Aaron Reza went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI.

Player of the Night: Jason Blackey - the big Canadian retired all four batters he faced to save the victory and force a Game 4
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September 13, 2008 at 5:23 AM

Lancaster falls behind 2-0 in their best of five series

9/13 Cup of Coffee: Lancaster took a 3-1 lead into the bootom of the 8th last night but gave up 4 runs in that inning to drop a 5-3 decision to Stockton. The Jethawks return home with the task now of having to win 3 straight games. Chris Province went 6.1 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits. He had 2 Ks. Derrick Loop took over and gav up 4 runs on 2 hits and a BB in 1.1 frames. He had a K. Jason Blackey retired the only batter he faced. Jon Still went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI. Luis Exposito went 2 for 4.

Player of the Night: Chris Province who gave the Jethawks an excellent chance at a win by giving up just 1 run over 6.1 innings.
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September 12, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Blog Under Construction

The SoxProspects Blog will be undergoing some design updates today. The blog should be good as new (hopefully better) come this weekend. Thanks for your patience!
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at 5:35 AM

Lancaster drops opener of Cal League final

9/12 Cup of Coffee: Lancaster dropped the opening game of the California League final 9-5 to Stockton. Terumasa Matsuo started and lasted 3.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 5 hits and 3 BB. He had 4 Ks. Craig Molldrem took the loss going 2.1 frames. He gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and a BB. He had 3 Ks. Felipe Garcia threw 1.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and a BB. Josh Papelbon pitched the final inning and did not allow a run or a hit. He walked 1. Kris Negron went 2 for 5 and scored a run. Reid Engel was the only other Jethawk player to have a multiple hit game going 2 for 4.

Player of the Night: Kris Negron who went 2 for 5 with a run scored in a losing cause
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at 3:40 AM

SoxProspects.com Players of the Year

The votes have been tallied and the following players have won SoxProspects.com post-season Player of the Year Awards:

Offensive Player of the Year: 1B Lars Anderson
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Michael Bowden
Rookie of the Year: RHP Kyle Weiland
Comeback Player ofthe Year: RHP Daniel Bard
Breakout Player of the Year: C Luis Exposito
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September 11, 2008 at 11:59 PM

Player of the Week, 9/1-7: Will Middlebrooks

Lowell 3B Will Middlebrooks, in the week that he turned 20 (Sept. 9), posted a .421/.500/.632 (1.132 OPS) line, with half of his eight hits going for doubles, and scored five runs while batting in four, and adding three stolen bases in route to being voted SoxProspects.com Player of the Week of September 1-7. In 204 ABs over 59 games with the Spinners in 2008, Middlebrooks batted .254/.298/.368 (.666 OPS), hitting one home run, 17 doubles and two triples, scoring and batting in 21 runs respectively and swiping 10 bases. He is currently the 14th ranked prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com.

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at 11:58 PM

Pitcher of the Week, 9/1-7: Devern Hansack

Pawtucket RHP Devern Hansack worked six innings of no-hit ball against Scranton-Wilkes Barre (Yankees) September 4, allowing one earned run, while striking out eight and walking two, earning the win and SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week honors for September 1-7. Hansack, 30, was 6-10 with a 4.08 ERA in 139 innings pitched over 25 starts with the Paw Sox in 2008, allowing 68 earned runs on 123 hits (.237 BAA), striking out 128 and walking 41. He was called up to Boston September 7 to bolster the bull pen for the stretch run. This is his third Pitcher of the Week award in 2008, having won previously for the weeks of June 23-29 and July 21-27.

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at 11:57 PM

Colon and Aardsma return to Sox

RHP Bartolo Colon was recalled to Boston Tuesday and RHP David Aardsma was activated from the disabled list (groin) on Wednesday.
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at 9:18 PM

Q&A with Will Middlebrooks

The Red Sox selected Will Middlebrooks out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texas in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Committed to Texas A&M for both baseball and football, Middlebrooks signed with the Sox at the signing deadline, but did not make his professional debut in 2007. In 2008, Midlebrooks stayed behind in Extended Spring Training after the full season teams broke camp, and eventually made his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners this summer as the starting third baseman. Prior to Lowell’s first game of the playoffs, Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com sat down with Middlebrooks to chat about baseball.

Chris Mellen:
Will, you started this season off a little slow at the plate, but have come on strong over the last six weeks. Can you talk about some of the adjustments you have made at the plate along with some of the things that Sox have stressed with you this season?
Will Middlebrooks
: Yeah, well this season started off pretty rough. You know, just trying to get adjusted to the style of baseball and the overall speed of the game. I was real tense at the plate, trying to do a little too much, and not staying within myself. I focused on staying relaxed and just dealing with what I could control while not worrying about other things. I’ve been working on staying calm so I can go out, see the ball, and hit the ball.

The Red Sox drafted you as a shortstop, and you played shortstop down in spring training, but have exclusively played 3B here in Lowell. What has that transition been like, and was this something that you had expected?
: Well, from the get-go we knew eventually somewhere down the line I was going to move to third base. Basically, I’m not your typical shortstop, being a little bigger than the usual middle infielder. They told me that as I got older - and not as quick as I was in high school - that I’d move over. They wanted to go ahead and get me over there now to start the process of learning the position, getting used to the angles and speed of the ball over here. It’s been a good transfer so far. I like playing third a lot, but it’s very different than shortstop. There’s more reaction, as opposed to the footwork at shortstop. Coming in on the ball is also different. At third, you’re going back on the ball more and finding your angles.

CM: What teammate has impressed you this season in Lowell?
WM: The whole season I have really been impressed with Mitch Dening. He’s not just a good ballplayer, he’s a good teammate. He picks everyone up, and if he has a rough day, you know he is going to come back and have a good day. Dening has been really consistent all season - just a good ballplayer and teammate.

CM: What are your plans for the off-season? Is there something specific you will look to work on leading up to spring training?
WM: Last year in the off-season, I was trying to stay quick and fas, as I was still at shortstop. Now, I can start to put on a little more size, especially in my legs. I’m going to work on getting bigger and stronger to hit for a little bit more power.

Give us a self scouting report on Will Middlebrooks.
: A lot of improvement as a player this season. Right now, I’m a gap-to-gap hitter with a little power, who’s not trying to do too much. In the field, I’ve been developing as a third baseman. Getting the footwork down and used to the angle of the ball off the bat. Someone who is always going to work hard like everyone else, and always looking to improve.

Back when you were drafted, you were committed to Texas A&M. What was it like leading up to being signed, and how did the Red Sox approach the negotiations?
: It was actually a really smooth ordeal. It wasn’t back-and-forth like maybe it had been reported. They basically said we’re going to try and get you what you want, because we want to get you signed. I was committed to going to school. as I loved playing football, and was going to a good school - but they also knew I was willing to give that all up because I wanted to play baseball professionally. That was my goal. We worked together and everything ended up going real well.

What’s been the biggest difference between the pro pitchers and high school pitchers?
: Guys really spot up well here. In high school, it was a lot of throwers and not as many pitchers. These guys throw breaking pitches whenever in the count. In high school, it was mostly later in the count. Here, you’ll see guys throw first pitch breaking pitches, 2-0 breaking pitches, and lots of change-ups. High school was a lot of fastball-curveball guys, and here it is a lot of pitchers with change-ups. Guys throw harder, and overall the pitching intelligence is better.

CM: Football season is underway. What do you miss the most about playing football?
WM: The feeling of game day. Even on Fridays now in the fall, it feels like game day to me. Watching college football on Saturdays, of course you’re going to wonder “what if”? But I have no regrets at all, as this is where I want to be.
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at 6:08 AM

Lancaster wins Cal League's Southern Championship

9/11 Cup of Coffee: Lancaster downed Lake Elsinore 10-8 to capture the Southern Division Championship of the California League. After giving up 2 runs in the top of the eighth to allow the Storm to tie the score, the Jethawks rallied with 2 runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead got good. Chris Jones started and went 2 innings giving up 5 runs on 7 hits and a BB. Cody McAllister went 2 scoreless innings allowing 1 hit and 2 BB. He had 4 Ks. Travis Beazley threw 4 innings giving up 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 BB. He had 2 Ks. Jason Blackey pitched a clean 9th inning. Mike Jones went 3 for 5 with a run scored and a RBI. Luis Exposito went 2 for 5 and scored 2 runs. Aaron Reza went 2 for 4 with a run scored and 3 RBI. Reid Engel went 2 for 4 and scored twice. The Jethawks now face Stockton for the Cal League Championship.

Lowell were eliminated from the playoffs dropping a 3-2 decision to Batavia. Bryan Price went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 BB. He had 1 K. Stephen Fife threw 4 scoreless 1 hit innings allowing 1 BB. He had 3 Ks. Mitch Dening went 2 for 4 with a RBI.

Player of the Night: Aaron Reza who had 2 hits which produced a run scored and 3 RBI
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September 10, 2008 at 5:29 AM

Lancaster forces deciding game with 4-3 win

9/10 Cup of Coffee: Lancaster edged Lake Elsinore 4-3 on Tuesday to force a fifth and deciding game in their playoff series. Blake Maxwell went 6 innings giving up 2 runs on 8 hits and a BB. He had 4 Ks. Derrick Loop threw 3 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits and a BB. He had 5 Ks. Kris Negron went 2 for 5. Daniel Nava went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Mike Jones went 2 for 4.

Batavia forced a third and deciding game in their series with a 13-9 win over Lowell. Stolmy Pimentel went 4 innings giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 BB. He had 6 Ks. David Aardsma threw a clean inning fanning 2 of the three hitters he faced. Charlie Rosario lasted 0.2 of an inning giving up 6 runs on 3 hits and 2 BB. He fanned 2. W.Y. Lin pitched an inning allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and a BB. Armando Zerpa went 1.1 innings allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 1 BB. He had a K. Richardo Burgos went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a RBI. Will Middlebrooks went 3 for 4 with a run scored and a RBI. Tim Federowicz went 2 for 4 and scored a run. Kade Keowen went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and a RBI. Casey Kelly went 2 for 5 with a run scored and a RBI.

Player of the Night: Daniel Nava who went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI
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September 9, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Q&A with Derrik Gibson

Derrik Gibson was a 2008 second round draft out of Seaford High School in Delaware. After making his professional debut for the GCL Red Sox, he was promoted to the Lowell Spinners for their late season playoff-push. Recently, Jonathan Singer of the SoxProspects.com staff had a chance to catch up with Gibson in the Spinners dugout prior to a game against Tri-City.

Jonathan Singer: What has been the biggest transition since you have started pro baseball?
Derrik Gibson: Probably just the everyday ins-and-outs and playing a game every single day. Coming from high school, you have a game maybe two days a week, and now you have games all the time - so you have to get your body use to not being fatigued.

JS: What have been some of the things the Red Sox have initially been working on with you since you signed?
DG: So far it has been my hitting, especially my swing. I think you can always work on hitting - even when you go 4 for 4 or 0 for 4. But my hitting is definitely a work in progress right now.

JS: Give us a self scouting report of yourself.
DG: I am definitely a player that uses my speed to try to get on base in order to make things happen. Right now, I know that my fielding can improve, as well as my hitting. In order to work on improving as a hitter, my goal is to try to hit the ball more towards center field and right field.

JS: What are your off-season plans?
DG: I want to really hit the weight room hard. I’m only 170 pounds, so by hitting the weight room, I think I will be able to go longer and deeper into the season without being fatigued. The goal is to be able to gain more power and more stamina in order to prepare for a full season in the organization.

JS: You were planning on attending North Carolina. Tell us the process of signing with the Red Sox over playing college baseball, and what went into that thought process?
DG: It definitely had its pros and cons. One of the things about the Red Sox is they have a tradition, and you hear so much about the organization and how great it is. Just looking at the major league roster and seeing so many guys that actually came up through the organization was exciting. It shows you the Red Sox have a system of player development that has worked, and that was a big reason that I signed. Looking at North Carolina, I was looking at getting an education and developing as a baseball player in the ACC. But thinking it over, the Red Sox gave me the best chance to reach the big leagues, because of the fact it is a great organization to play for. I really thought that they would give me the best chance to develop as a player.

JS: Since you have come to Lowell you have played 2B, SS, 3B. How difficult has it been to move around the diamond?
DG: The most difficult part of it is knowing what you are doing on every play at each position. At times it has not been too hard, because when I was in the Gulf Coast League they filtered me around just like up here. However, other times it can be a challenge knowing what to do on each play - but its fun and I am still trying to learn and get better.

JS: Were you surprised to get the call to Lowell so late in the season?
DG: I was definitely surprised. Coach Tomlin down in the Gulf Coast League told me three hours before my flight left and I was ecstatic. There were so many emotions flowing, and I knew Lowell had a shot of getting into the playoffs. Now that we clinched a couple of nights ago, it is an unbelievable feeling. Just being part of a playoff team is an experience of its own, and I’m looking to contribute in any way that I can.

JS: Even though you have been in Lowell a short time, which of your teammates has impressed you the most?
DG: I would have to say that the player that really impressed me the most was Luis Sumoza - even though he was recently traded. He’s pretty ridiculous. From gap to gap he could drive the ball, and actually the first game that I was here against Brooklyn, he threw a runner out from the warning track. It was just amazing seeing him play, but I think everyone is just tremendous and I think you can learn something from every single player.
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at 5:38 AM

Lowell takes 1-0 lead in their series while Lancaster falls behind 2-1

9/9 Cup of Coffee: Lake Elsinore edged Lancaster 5-4 to take a 2 games to 1
lead in their playoff series. Felix Doubront went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a BB. He had 3 Ks. Craig Molldrem went 0.2 of an inning and gave up 2 runs on a hit and 2 BB. Kyle Fernandes took the loss allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 2 BB. Zak Farkes went 3 for 4 and scored a run.

Lowell edged Batavia 4-3 in 12 innings. Ricardo Burgos doubled to lead off the bottom of the 12th and was sacrificed to third. Two intentional walks followed by a short fly ball that was not deep enough to score the run. Ryan Dent then walked to force in the winning run. Kyle Weiland went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. He had 6 Ks. Mitch Herold threw 2 scoreless innings allowing a hit and 3 BB. Dan Buller pitched a scoreless inning allowing 1 hit. He had 2 Ks. Alex Hale pitched 1.2 scoreless frames allowing 1 hit and 1 BB. He had 3 Ks. Lance McClain threw 2.1 perfect innings recording 3 Ks. Will Middlebrooks went 3 for 5 with a home run.
Player of the Night: Lance McClain who retired the seven hitters he faced fanning 3 of them to pick up the win for the Spinners

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September 8, 2008 at 8:04 PM

Carter, Kottaras shipping up to Boston

The Boston Red Sox have recalled OF/1B Chris Carter and C George Kottaras from Pawtucket. Carter, 25, batted .300/.356/.515 (871 OPS) in 470 ABs (141 hits) over 121 games with the Paw Sox in 2008, with 24 home runs, 25 doubles and two triples, and batting in 81 runs. Kottaras, also 25, hit .243/.340/.456 (804 OPS) over 395 ABs (96 hits) in 107 games, hitting 22 home runs and 18 doubles, batting in 65 runs. They are the 18th (Carter) and 23rd (Kottaras) rated prospects in the organization by SoxProspects.com ... Boston also activated OF J.D. Drew from the disabled list (lower back strain) ... RHP Marcus McBeth, who was designated for assignment September 7, was outrighted to Pawtucket.
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at 8:31 AM

Q&A with Bryan Price

The Boston Red Sox selected pitcher Bryan Price from Rice University 45th overall in the supplemental round of this year’s First Player Draft. Pitching at Rice University for the last 3 seasons, Price emerged as a key member of the bullpen this season in the Owl’s run to the College World Series. This summer, Price has been pitching for the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League to begin his professional career. Recently, Price took some time between baseball activities to field some questions and talk some baseball with Chris Mellen of the SoxProspects.com Staff.

Chris Mellen: Bryan, you were a reliever back at Rice and now the Red Sox have converted you to a starting pitcher. Can you talk about what the transition to being a starter has been like?
Bryan Price
: I prepared to be a starter prior to this season for Rice, but ended up in the bullpen so it’s not entirely new. You have to get used to the routine, slow yourself down on the mound, and stuff like that. As a reliever, you can go right at the hitter. As a starter it’s about pacing yourself, monitoring more of what you’re doing, and getting into a rhythm. You have to watch yourself a little more. I wouldn’t say hold back, but more like pacing yourself to go deep into a game.

CM: Since joining the organization what have the Red Sox been stressing while working with you thus far in Lowell?
: They haven’t worked too much to change anything mechanically really since I signed. They want me to go out there and compete on the mound. Get used to pitching every 5 days and being comfortable with the routine. Maybe going into next season we’ll work on mechanics or things like that, but so far they’ve really stressed going out there and getting comfortable with being a starting pitcher.

CM: What’s been the biggest difference between playing at Rice and starting your professional career with the Spinners in the New York-Penn League?
: Well, it’s the same game so that makes it somewhat easier. The biggest difference is the amount of time. There is a lot more time centered on baseball, going through things, and just in general. I’d say the competition is pretty similar as there are a lot of College guys here in the league and good hitters overall. Guys are adjusting to hitting with wood bats and getting comfortable at the plate. There is a huge emphasis on the routine and a lot of time dedicated to baseball.

CM: Can you give us a self scouting report of yourself?
BP: Fastball, slider, and change pitcher. I throw a 2-seam fastball that runs in on right handed batters and a 4-seam fastball. My slider is probably my best pitch and I’ve been throwing my change-up a lot since I got here. Recently, I have been looking to use my slider as more of an out pitch later in the count rather than showing it earlier in the count. More and more I have been getting comfortable throwing my change-up and going for it in any count. It’s been getting a lot better, but still is coming along.

CM: What teammate has impressed you here in Lowell?
BP: Kyle Weiland. He just goes right after hitters and doesn’t hold anything back. His fastball has a lot of movement on it and he attacks hitters with it. He’s done a great job out there on the mound and has been fun to watch.

CM: It’s been a long season of baseball. What are your plans for the off-season?
BP: I’m going to be a hunting guy back in Texas when I get home. Do a lot of hunting this off-season and just relax in general. I’m also participating in the Strength and Conditioning Camp during Fall Instrux. I won’t be throwing as the Sox want certain guys to take a break from throwing after the season ends. We’ll be going through the lifting and running program for the off-season. Instruction on how to train, how to do the exercises, etc. so it should be pretty good and a push in the right direction to get ready for Spring Training.

CM: Most of the time, baseball fans only see the coaches sitting in the dugout or coaching a base. Can you talk about how the Lowell coaches interact on a daily basis and some of the instruction they give?
: They keep things really loose. It’s a long season of ups and downs. They really stress to keep it loose and have a lot of fun out there. This season has been a lot of fun thus far. They are big into letting the players play. Afterwards, they’ll pull you aside to mention things after the game or whatever. They want us to experience and play. It’s all about looking down the road with the Staff. They’ll constantly stress how to get to the Big Leagues and forgetting about the results of the now sometimes. It’s all about doing the things that are going to get you to the Red Sox and a lot of times that means putting the now aside. They’re (The Coaches) really good at putting things into focus.

CM: Did you have a favorite team growing up in Texas? Astros? Rangers?
BP: Actually, I grew up a big Red Sox fan so getting drafted by them was a pretty big thrill for me. I used to watch a lot of ESPN and it always seemed like the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was on TV. I loved watching those games and became a big Red Sox fan.
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at 6:04 AM

Pawtucket eliminated from playoffs while Lancaster evens their series at one

9/8 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket was eliminated from playoff action dropping a 2-0, 10 inning decision to Scranton/WB. Bartolo Colon started and threw 7.2 scoreless innings allowing just 2 hits. He did not walk a hitter and fanned 3. Unfortunately his performance was matched by an equally outstanding one by Yankee prospect Phil Hughes. Hunter Jones took over and went 1.2 innings and was charged with the loss. He fanned 3. He was replaced by Edgar Martinez after he gave up a 1 out double in the 10th. Martinez faced just one hitter giving up a game winning 2 run homer to eliminate the PawSox. Josh Wilson went 3 for 4 in the game.

Lancaster evened their series at one with a 9-6 10 inning win. Kris Negron hit a walk off 3 run homer in the bottom of the 10th to give the Jethawks the victory. Chris Province went 5 innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 BB. He had 4 Ks. Cody McAllister threw 1.1 frames allowing 1 run on 2 hits. He had 2 Ks. Derrick Loop went 2.2 innings giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and a BB. He had 2 Ks. Jason Blackey pitched a scoreless inning allowing 1 BB. Yamaico Navarro went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a RBI. Zak Farkes went 2 for 5 with a run scored. Jon Still went 1 for 3 with a home run and 3 RBI.

Player of the Night: Kris Negron who hit a game winning walk off 3 run homer in the 10th inning for the Jethawks
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at 3:46 AM

SoxProspects.com Post-Season All Stars

The votes have been tallied, and the following players have been chosen as SoxProspects.com Post-Season All Stars:

Position players:
C Luis Exposito
1B Lars Anderson
2B Joe Thurston
SS Yamaico Navarro
3B Jorge Jimenez
DH Chris Carter
UT Kris Negron
OF Josh Reddick
OF Daniel Nava
OF Zach Daeges

Starting pitchers:
RHP Michael Bowden
RHP Kyle Weiland
RHP Charlie Zink
LHP Felix Doubront

Relief pitchers:
RHP Daniel Bard
RHP Richie Lentz
LHP Hunter Jones

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September 7, 2008 at 11:59 PM

Hansack to Boston 'pen, Colon to Pawtucket

RHP Devern Hansack has been recalled from Pawtucket to Boston to bolster the bullpen, and RHP Bartolo Colon has been activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Pawtucket.
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at 6:39 AM

Lancaster drops opener in their playoff series

9/7 Cup of Coffee: Hanna caused the cancellation of both the Pawtucket and Lowell games but it couldn't save Lancaster who dropped their series opener to Lake Elsinore 12-6. Travis Beazley lasted 4 innings giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and a BB. He had 2 Ks. Kyle Fernandes took the loss going 2 innings. He allowed 4 runs on 5 hits. He had 2 Ks. Craig Molldrem went 2 innings giving up 1 run on 2 hits. He had 2 Ks. Josh Papelbon went 0.2 of an inning allowing 3 runs on 4 hits. He had a K. Felipe Garcia got the final out striking out the only hitter he faced. Yamaico Navarro went 2 for 5 and scored a run. Mike Jones went 3 for 4 with a home run and 3 RBI.

Player of the Night: Mike Jones who had 3 hits, a home run and 3 RBI in a losing cause

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September 6, 2008 at 6:19 AM

Portland eliminated from postseason play

9/6 Cup of Coffee: Scranton/WB defeated Pawtucket 6-4 and took a 2-1 lead in their playoff series. Adam Mills went 3.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 5 hits. He had 3 Ks. Jon Switzer did not retire a hitter but gave up a run on 2 hits. Jose Vaquedano retired the 2 batters he faced. Michael Bowden threw 1.2 scoreless frames allowing 2 hits and a BB. He had 1 K. Kyle Snyder threw 1.1 frames and did not allow a run. He gave up 1 hit and a BB. He had 1 K. Marcus McBeth threw a scoreless inning allowing 1 BB. He had 1 K. The PawSox managed just 6 hits with Dusty Brown going 1 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

Portland was eliminated from post season play after falling 5-4 to Trenton. They held a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning but could not hold it. Ryne Lawson went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 BB. He had 2 Ks. Mike James pitched 2 perfect innings recording 1 K. Bryce Cox lasted 0.2 of an inning giving up 1 run on 1 hit and a BB. He had 1 K. Miguel Asencio retired the first 2 hitters he faced in the 9th and then gave up a hit and 3 straight BB to take the loss. He had 1 K. Interestingly, Daniel Bard did not appear in the series. The Sea Dogs managed just 6 hits. Lars Anderson went 1 for4 with a home run.

Tri-City edged Lowell 5-4. Yeiper Castillo threw 5.1 frames allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and a BB. He had 6 Ks. Stephen Fife pitched 3.2 scoreless frames allowing 3 hits. He had 6 Ks. Alex Hale (0-2) did not retire a batter but gave up the winning run on a hit and 2 BB. Ricardo Burgos went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored. Will Middlebrooks went 2 for 4 with a run scored and 2 RBI. Matt Keowen went 2 for 4 with a RBI.

Player of the Night: Stephen Fife who threw 3.2 scoreless innings with 6 Ks.
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September 5, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Beckett, Casey, Lowell back

The Red Sox have activated RHP Josh Beckett (elbow), 1B Sean Casey (neck) and 3B Mike Lowell (right oblique) from the disabled list. Beckett will start tonight's game at Texas and Lowell is in the line up at third base.
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at 6:14 AM

Hansack tosses 6 no hit innings as PawSox even series

9/5 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket evened their series at 1 game a piece last nigt with a 3-1 victory over Scranton/WB. Devern Hansack threw 6 no-hit innings giving up an unearned run and 2 BB. He had 8 Ks. Jon Switzer went 0.2 of an inning allowing 2 hits. Beau Vaughn pitched 1 clean inning recording 1 K. Hunter Jones went 1.1 innings retiring all 4 hitters he faced fanning 3 of them. Jason Lane went 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

Trenton edged Portland 4-3 to take a 2-0 lead in their best of five series. Clay Buchholz went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and a BB. He had 9 Ks. Richie Lentz threw a perfect inning of relief recording 1 K. Dave Gassner went 0.2 innings and gave up the winning run on a hit and a BB. TJ Large went 0.1 innings allowing 1 hit. He fanned 1. Jorge Jimenez went 3 for 5 and scored a run. Zach Daeges went 3 for 5 with a RBI.

Lowell edged Oneonta 3-2. Hunter Strickland threw 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and a BB. He had 5 Ks. Lance McClain pitched 3 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits. He had 3 Ks. Robert Romero earned the save throwing a scoreless, hitless 9th. He allowed 1 BB while striking out 2. Pete Hissey went 2 for 5 with a run scored and a RBI. Mitch Dening went 3 for 4 with a RBI.

Player of the Night: Devern Hansack who threw 6 no hit innings with 8 Ks to lead PawSox to win
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