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May 31, 2010 at 8:53 PM

Kalish promoted to Pawtucket

According to Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald, Ryan Kalish has been promoted to Pawtucket. Portland manager Arnie Beyeler indicated on today's NESN broadcast of the Sea Dogs' game against New Britain that the 22-year-old outfielder was ready to take the next step, and the front office agreed, making the call after Kalish went 2 for 4 with a double and 3 runs scored in a 10-6 win Monday afternoon. In a related move, infielder Ryan Khoury who was on the disabled list in Pawtucket, was sent to Portland, effectively switching roster spots with Kalish.

Kalish, ranked 3rd in the SoxProspects.com rankings, has been on a tear of late, hitting .432 over his last 10 games. Since returning to the lineup Friday after nursing a bruised forearm and a tweaked hip muscle, Kalish is an incredible 10 for 16 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI, and 7 runs scored. On Saturday, he was 5 for 5 with a double and a three-run home run.

On the season, he has posted a line of .292/.404/.527 with 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 41 games. His team-leading .931 OPS is good for 6th in the Eastern League, while he also ranked in the top-5 in walks and stolen bases. SoxProspects.com's Director of Scouting Chris Mellen filed an in-depth scouting report on Kalish earlier this season in The Book, correctly noting that Kalish looked "like a player that is about to go on an extended stretch of producing solid contact in the Eastern League, as he is well balanced, in control of his at-bats, and most importantly comfortable in the batter’s box."

After batting .304 in 32 games with High-A Salem to start the 2009 season, Kalish earned a promotion to Double-A and struggled out of the gate, but rebounded to hit .271 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI and an OPS of .781.

A 6th-round pick in the 2006 Draft, Kalish split time that season between the Gulf Coast League and Lowell before spending the entire 2007 season with the Spinners. After performing well in 2008 with Greenville, Kalish earned a late-season promotion to High-A, where he started the next season before joining Portland in May. Kalish was hampered through part of the 2007 and 2008 season by a wrist injury, but has seen his power numbers improve since becoming healthy. He has also improved his plate discipline since joining the organization.

Khoury, who was sent to Portland, hit .244 in 45 at bats this season for Pawtucket. A 12th-round pick in the 2006 Draft, Khoury spent the last two seasons in Portland.
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at 10:50 AM

Castillo, Greenville, keep on rolling

5/31 Cup of Coffee: Happy Memorial Day everyone! Two come-from-behind wins and more excellent mound work from Greenville's ace helped Sox affiliates take four of five games on Sunday's slate.

An early lead evaporated in the late innings, but Pawtucket managed to pull it out with some late runs of its own, coming back to top Norfolk (BAL) 5-4. Daniel Nava supplied that early lead with his seventh home run of the year in the first, a two-run shot to right-center field. Kris Johnson made that lead hold up until giving up single unearned runs in the fourth and fifth innings to tie things up, but a sacrifice fly off the bat of Angel Sanchez gave Pawtucket another lead in the bottom of the fifth. Johnson ended up going 7.0 solid innings in this one, allowing just the 2 unearned runs on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 3 and leaving in line for a win. But the control problems of Dustin Richardson pushed the PawSox to the brink of defeat in the eighth, as the big lefty walked a hitter then gave up a two-run home run to Nolan Reimold that made it 4-3 Norfolk. Richardson ended up walking 3 in the inning, but escaped without further damage. The outing broke a string of 8.2 scoreless innings for him, but Josh Reddick took him off the hook in the bottom of the eighth when his RBI double tied things up at 4. One out later, Jorge Jimenez singled in Reddick to give the PawSox the lead, and Fernando Cabrera slammed the door with a scoreless ninth. Nava and Reddick were the multi-hit performers in this one, both going 2 for 4.

Portland exploded for 5 runs in the fourth and banged out 10 hits in all en route to a convincing 8-4 victory over New Britain (MIN). Already leading 2-0 heading into the fourth thanks to Ryan Kalish's eighth home run of the year in the third, the Sea Dogs did some serious two-out damage. Nate Spears reached on a bases-loaded throwing error to score the first 2 runs, then stole second to put runners at second and third for Che-Hsuan Lin, who promptly singled to cernter to drive in 2 more. Kalish was up next, and the Portland left fielder got the job done with an RBI triple to right, and just like that it was 7-1 Sea Dogs. Despite some control trouble, Kyle Weiland did a nice job of making that lead stick, going 6.0 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, walking 4 but striking out 5. Yamaico Navarro's RBI single in the fifth would make it 8-1, and while Bryce Cox made things interesting by giving up 3 runs in the ninth, he settled down and managed to seal the deal. Lin led the Portland attack with 3 hits in 5 at-bats, scoring and driving in 2, while Kalish, Navarro, and Ray Chang all had 2 hits.

Salem also scored early at Potomac (WAS) on Sunday, but that lead did not hold up, and the Red Sox fell 7-3 despite out-hitting the Nationals 10 to 8. The early lead came courtesy of home runs by Oscar Tejeda, his eighth of the year, and Ryan Lavarnway, his eleventh, both solo shots. Each ended up with 2 hits in the contest. But leading 2-0 heading into the fourth, Caleb Clay came unravelled, allowing 4 in the fourth and another in the fifth before departing. Clay's control was on, not walking anyone in his outing, but he gave up 6 hits. Pete Hissey brought the Red Sox back within two with his seventh-inning RBI infield hit, but the Nationals scored 2 runs in the bottom of the inning off Mike Lee to solidify the lead.

A thirteen-hit attack and some fantastic work from Yeiper Castillo were plenty to help Greenville beat Hagerstown (WAS), 6-1. Zach Gentile and Vladimir Frias each drove in a run in the second to get things started, and Derrik Gibson singled in another in the third to make it 3-0. The score would stay that way until the sixth thanks to Castillo, who allowed a run in that inning but was otherwise brilliant, lasting 7.0 innings giving up just 3 hits, striking out 5 and walking nobody to lower his ERA to 2.93. Chris McGuiness doubled home a run in the seventh, Gentile's second RBI triple of the game brought home another in the eighth, and McGuiness collected another RBI double in the ninth to round out the scoring. There were offensive heroes abound in this one, as McGuiness and Michael Almanzar each went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, and Gibson, Gentile, and Jeremy Hazelbaker each had 2 hits.

The DSL Red Sox were down early, but came roaring back with a six-run eighth to ultimately win 7-4 over the Royals. Two walks, a single, and a pair of sacrifice hits drove in the first four runs for the Red Sox, and doubles by Juan Ugas and Roberto Duncan capped things off as the team turned a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 lead. A shaky start by Raul Alcantara helped dig that hole, as the right-hander allowed 2 runs in his 3.0 inning start, but 3.0 scoreless relief innings from Ellis Jimenez helped keep the Red Sox in it. Ugas, Duncan, and Jesus Loya each had 2 hits in the contest, as the Red Sox won their second straight game to open the DSL season.

Player of the Night: Yeiper Castillo, who was once again stellar in a Greenville victory, allowing only a run on 3 hits in 7.0 innings.
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at 10:40 AM

Van Every traded back to Pirates for Peley

According to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, the Boston Red Sox have traded outfielder Jonathan Van Every to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for catcher Josue Peley. Van Every was acquired from Pittsburgh earlier this season on April 24th for a player to be named later, but was designated for assignment on May 22nd when Jacoby Ellsbury returned briefly from the disabled list. In parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, Van Every hit .255/.327/.447 in 47 at-bats.

The 22-year-old Peley was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 35th round of the 2006 MLB draft and signed the next season as a draft-and-follow. In parts of three minor league seasons, Peley has hit .205/.257/.260 in 131 games, and was hitting .179/.222/.239 in 19 games with the West Virginia Power in the Class-A South Atlantic League this season. An infielder before he was drafted, Peley moved to catcher after signing with Pittsburgh.
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May 30, 2010 at 6:13 AM

Kalish collects 5 hits in win

5/30 Cup of Coffee: With the help of a few quality starts, Pawtucket, Portland, and Salem earned victories as Ryan Kalish went off for the Sea Dogs Saturday.

In Pawtucket, Adam Mills continued his string of impressive performances as the PawSox topped Norfolk (BAL) 7-2. Mills went 6.0 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 6 hits while striking out 2. 5 Pawsox had 2 hits, including Lars Anderson, who had a 2-run double in the seventh. Angel Sanchez, Daniel Nava, Jorge Jimenez and Bubba Bell drove in a run apiece, and Fabio Castro and Robert Manuel combined for 3.0 innings of shutout relief.

Losers of eight of their last ten games, Portland got back on track in a big way with an 11-3 drubbing of New Britain (MIN). Ryan Kalish had hits in all 5 of his plate appearances, including ahome run and a double while scoring 3 runs. Ray Chang also added a home run and 3 RBI, while Nate Spears and Anthony Rizzo added 2 RBI apiece. Ryne Miller allowed just 2 hits and struck out 4 in 6.0 shutout innings to get the win. Eammon Portice gave up 3 runs in 2.0 innings of relief, and Jason Rice struck out 2 in a scoreless ninth.

Salem had an early lead, but Ryan Lavarnway scored the game winning run on a wild pitch in the 11th inning to beat Potomac (WAS) 4-3. Fabian Williamson allowed just an unearned run on 2 hits in 5.0 innings before Lance McClain allowed a pair of runs to bring the the Nationals level. Mitch Dening was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and Alex Hassan had a pair of doubles in the win. Blake Maxwell and Will Latimer combined for 4.0 scoreless innings of relief.

Despite 3 hits and a home run by Chris McGuiness, Greenville was dropped by Hagerstown (WAS) 9-4. Drake Britton performed well in another short outing, giving up a run on 2 hits in 3.0 innings, but Tom Ebert allowed 6 runs, 5 earned in just 1.0 inning of relief to take the loss. Chris Court gave up a pair of runs in 3.0 innings and Cesar Cabral ended the game with yet another scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 0.31. Jeremy Hazelbaker added two hits, and Michael Almanzar hit his fourth home run of the season.

In their first game of the season, the DSL Red Sox topped the DSL Yankees 2 8-3. Curtney Doran was 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles, a home run and 2 RBI, and Juan Ugas was 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI. Luis Bastardo fanned 5 in 2.2 innings of relief and Sully Bonnelly struck out 4 in 2.0 innings to get the win.

Player of the Night: Ryan Kalish, who was 5 for 5 with a solo home run and a 2-run double in Portland's big win over New Britain. Kalish also scored 3 runs and stole his 13th base of the season.
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May 29, 2010 at 6:59 AM

Butler's big night powers Drive

5/29 Cup of Coffee: Offense was hard to come by in the high minors Friday night, but some offensive fireworks netted Salem and Greenville victories as the holiday weekend began.

In his first start at McCoy Stadium, Felix Doubront was the hard-luck loser as Pawtucket fell 3-0 to Norfolk (BAL). Doubront gave up just 1 earned run on 8 hits, striking out 6 and walking just 2 in 5.0 innings. Chad Paronto allowed a run in 2.0 innings, and after Ramon A. Ramirez tossed a scoreless eighth, Fernando Cabrera gave up a run in the ninth. Bubba Bell had 2 of the PawSox' 4 hits on the evening.

In the first game of a weekend homestand, Portland lost 3-2 to New Britain (MIN). Mitch Herold took the loss, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 2.1 relief innings after Robert Coello allowed 2 runs in 4.2 frames. Santo Luis pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief. Che-Hsuan Lin was 3 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored, and Jose Iglesias had a pair of hits and an RBI in the loss.

The Salem pitching staff kept the clamps down on opposing batters, allowing just 5 hits in an 8-0 win over Potomac (WAS). Brock Huntzinger threw 6.0 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and fanning 4 in his second straight scoreless outing. Oscar Tejeda and Ryan Lavarnway provided the bulk of the offense for Salem, with Tejeda hitting a two-run home run in the fourth and Lavarnway belting two, a three-run shot in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth. Mitch Dening had 3 hits and Ryan Dent added an RBI for the Sox, while Kyle Fernandes and Zach Hammes combined to throw 3.0 scoreless innings.

After dropping their last two games, Greenville opened up an eight-game road trip with a 9-5 win over Hagerstown (WAS). Chris McGuiness and Dan Butler each homered and Butler, Derrick Gibson, and Reymond Fuentes drove in 2 runs apiece in the win. Butler and Fuentes each had 4 hits, while Vladimir Frias and Ronald Bermudez both drove in runs. Manny Rivera allowed 2 runs in 4.0 innings, and Pedro Perez allowed 3 runs, 1 earned in 4.0 innings of his own to get the win. Dennis Neuman threw a perfect ninth.

Player of the Night: Dan Butler was 4 for 5 with a double, a two-run home run, and two runs scored in Greenville's 9-5 win. Butler is batting .321 with 5 home runs and 19 RBI in 38 games this season.
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May 28, 2010 at 6:51 AM

Brown walk-off homer leads PawSox

5/28 Cup of Coffee: Stolmy Pimentel threw 6.0 shutout innings for the second time in three starts, and Dusty Brown went yard with two outs in the ninth to open Pawtucket's homestand with a walk-off win.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Dusty Brown hit a three-run, walk-off home run to push Pawtucket over Norfolk (BAL), 5-4. Brown already hit an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, chipping away at the four-run lead Norfolk got off Scott Atchison, who did not record an out in the seventh. Boof Bonser had his best start of the season, throwing 6.0 innings of 4-hit, shutout ball, striking out 5 and walking just 2. Dustin Richardson allowed 1 hit in 2.0 shutout innings, and T.J. Large tossed a perfect ninth. Angel Sanchez also drove in a run for the PawSox.

In its series finale in Reading, Portland was leading the Phillies, 6-4, when the game was suspended due to lightning. Luis Exposito and Chih-Hsien Chiang had early RBI doubles to stake the Sea Dogs to a 2-0 lead, but Reading fought back with 4 runs off Stephen Fife, who pitched all 5.0 innings before the game was called. Trailing 4-2 in the top of the sixth, Chiang and Matt Sheeley drew bases-loaded walks before Nate Spears' two-run single made it 6-4. The Sea Dogs will have runners on the corners and two outs on June 4, when the game is scheduled to be completed at Hadlock Field.

In another low scoring affair with division-leading Winston-Salem (CWS), Stolmy Pimentel tossed 6.0 shutout innings as Salem topped the Dash, 2-1. Pimentel didn't allow a hit and walked just 1 while striking out 6. Alex Hassan drove in both runs for Salem, and Pete Hissey continued to swing a hot bat, going 2 for 3 with a double. Jeremy Kehrt allowed a run in 3.0 innings of relief to get the win.

In Greenville, the Drive fell for the fifth time in seven games, losing 7-5 to Charleston (NYY). Kendal Volz pitched well for Greenville, holding the Riverdogs to 2 runs on 4 hits in 5.0 innings, but Charleston got to Jeremiah Bayer to the tune of 5 runs on 6 hits to pull ahead for good. Jeremy Hazelbaker brought the game level at 2 with his fourth home run of the season in the second inning and added an RBI double in the eighth to finish the game 2 for 4. Reymond Fuentes was 2 for 5 and Christian Vazquez added a two-run double in the loss.

Player of the Night: Dusty Brown was 2 for 4, including a three-run home run to give Pawtucket a 5-4 walk-off win over Norfolk.
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May 27, 2010 at 3:25 PM

The Lineup Card: 5.27.10

As promotion season kicks into gear, today we’ll take a look at how long it generally takes prospects to prove themselves before advancing to the next level. And in the Lineup Breakdown, the Red Sox’ youngest full-season team is on tap.

Sweet Promotion – an analysis of playing time before level advancement

As a prospect watcher, there is arguably nothing more exciting than when a player is promoted. It can signal that a guy you have followed and felt good about generates similar feeling from the team’s front office. On the other hand, it can be a signal that a player you were not paying attention to deserves a closer look. Either way, if nothing else, such roster moves almost always provide good fodder for debate (see, for example, our discussion of the promotions of Lars Anderson and Anthony Rizzo on the most recent SoxProspects.com Podcast, which can be downloaded here).

It is human nature to become anxious for promotions once a player gets hot. “So what if it’s been a month? We want this guy at the next level NOW! It FEELS like he’s ready (although I’ve never seen the guy play)!” But when is it reasonable to start thinking on those lines? When does it make sense to start checking the team’s web page, the blogs, the SoxProspects.com front page, news page, and forum, the minor league broadcasters’ Twitter pages, and anything else that comes up on a Google search for the news that your favorite prospect is getting on a plane, taking the next step toward drilling line drives off the Green Monster?

To try and begin to answer just that, I compiled a list of every Red Sox in-season minor-league promotion from 2007 to the present. First, some quick notes on methodology. Since any study is only as good as the data used, here are the limitations on the transactions I included:

- I only looked at promotions from full-season teams. A data set that includes short-season teams would really need to include some kind of measure of performance during extended spring training, and of course, such a measure does not exist, at least publicly.
- I also did not include promotions to Boston, with one exception, as there is an element of need at the Major League level in those moves that does not otherwise apply, or at least matter nearly as much, to minor league promotions. (The exception was Josh Reddick’s promotion from Double-A Portland to Boston on July 31, 2009, as he was sent to Triple-A Pawtucket upon returning to the minor leagues.)
- As noted above, I only looked at in-season promotions. Most players are promoted to a new level at the start of a season, but here, I am only trying to determine the conditions that may lead to a promotion DURING the season. For start-of-the-season promotions, factors such as performance in spring training and in the Fall Instructional League, which again have no publicly available quantitative statistics, theoretically play a part. Later in the summer, I may expand this data set to include all promotions to see in part of that changes the conclusions herein at all.
- Also excluded were transactions that do not fit in a study of prospect promotion, such as movement of players on rehab assignments and promotions of organizational players who were later demoted (think of players like Matt Sheely, Bryan Pritz, and Charlie Zink, who have moved up and down between levels as needed). In essence, players had to “graduate” to the next level, one they had not played extensively at before, in order for the promotion to count here. (This is another rule I fudged once or twice. For example: T.J. Large’s promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket last year was included despite his short stint in Portland while the PawSox had a full bullpen earlier this spring.)
- There is no control to account for a player’s prospect status. However, the above limitation on players shuffling between levels and the general nature of in-season promotions conspired to give the data a prospect-heavy slant. This makes sense, as prospects tend to be the players who perform well enough and whose development is important enough to lead to promotions during the season.
- Finally, as for why I only went back to 2007, I wanted to keep the list relatively recent. I would not assume that the Red Sox have kept the exact same philosophies in player development throughout the Epstein era, both because of personnel changes within the player development staff and the general evolution of the club’s tendencies over time.

So, let’s look at what the data shows. Beginning with outfielder Jay Johnson’s promotion from High-A Lancaster to Portland on May 4, 2007 through reliever Mitch Herold’s promotion from High-A Salem to Portland this past Sunday, the data set includes 30 pitcher promotions and 35 position player promotions. The goal of this particular exercise is to see how soon it is reasonable to begin watching for a promotion, so let’s look at the players promoted soonest to the next level, as measured by total innings pitched or plate appearances at the level they were promoted from. Since relief pitchers by definition throw fewer innings than starters, I have attempted to separate the two where possible here:

Starting Pitchers:
1. 7/11/09: Stephen Fife, Age 22, Low-A to High-A, 36.2 IP, 32 H, 11 ER, 4 BB, 35 K; Missed start of season with shoulder weakness
2. 5/28/09: Casey Kelly, Age 19, Low-A to High-A, 48.1 IP, 32 H, 6 ER, 9 BB, 39 K; Was only pitching for first half of season
3. 5/14/07: Michael Bowden, Age 20, High-A to Double-A, 51 IP, 44 H, 12 ER, 9 BB, 49 K; Dominated in extreme hitters’ park in Lancaster
4. 6/30/08: Adam Mills, Age 23, High-A to Double-A, 81.1 IP, 95 H, 40 ER, 15 BB, 43 K; Must consider numbers in context, ERA was lowest of any full-time starter in Lancaster in ’08
5. 6/1/08: Chris Province, Age 23, Low-A to High-A, 89.2 IP, 95 H, 36 ER, 16 BB, 57 K; Had G/F ratio of 3.08

Relief Pitchers:
1. 5/23/10: Mitch Herold, Age 23, High-A to Double-A, 25.2 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 17 K; Dominant, a touch old for league
2. 5/17/07: T.J. Large, Age 24, Low-A to High-A, 29.2 IP, 29 H, 12 ER, 7 BB, 28 K; Very old for league, and promoted when Tim Cox suddenly retired
3. 7/12/09: Armando Zerpa, Age 22, Low-A to High-A, 45.0 IP, 19 H, 6 ER, 14 BB, 51 K; Dominant (noticing a pattern here?)
4. 7/9/08: Richie Lentz, Age 23, High-A to Double-A, 53.1 IP, 32 H, 17 ER, 30 BB, 77 K; Dominant, and in Lancaster
5. 7/12/09: Ryne Miller, Age 24, High-A to Double-A, 55.1 IP, 50 H, 17 ER, 18 BB, 59 K; Was also transitioning into the rotation at time of promotion

Position Players:
1. 5/19/07: C Zak Farkes, Age 23, Low-A to High-A, 136 PA, .205/.287/.377, 12 BB/34 K; Promotion doesn’t appear to be performance-driven
2. 5/15/09: OF Ryan Kalish, Age 21, High-A to Double-A, 225 PA, .277/.387/.468, 34 BB/43 K; Showed advanced plate approach, first signs of power after wrist injury
3. 6/25/08: C Luis Exposito, Age 21, Low-A to High-A, 236 PA, .276/.322/.471, 14 BB/47 K; Had missed much of prior season, which would have been in Greenville, due to suspension
4. 6/25/09: C Tim Federowicz, Age 21, Low-A to High-A, 247 PA, .345/.393/.562, 15 BB/42 K; Advanced defensive catcher surprised with bat
5. 7/15/08: SS Argenis Diaz, Age 21, High-A to Double-A, 282 PA, .281/.330/.363, 20 BB/60 K; Only player on 40-man roster to start season below Double-A during Epstein era
6. 5/4/07: OF Jay Johnson, Age 24, High-A to Double-A, 292 PA, .270/.341/.409, 25 BB/46 K; A bit old for level and was repeating
7. 7/22/09: SS Yamaico Navarro, Age 21, High-A to Double-A, 298 PA, .338/.386/.520, 18 BB/42 K; Hamate injury in April cost him over two months before promotion
8. 6/27/08: 3B Jorge Jimenez, Age 23, High-A to Double-A, 304 PA, .352/.421/.479, 26 BB/31 K; A tad old and had hit at every level
9. 5/4/07: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Age 23, Double-A to Triple-A, 316 PA, .349/.424/.493, 31 BB/32 K; Had .452/.518/.644 line in first 83 PA’s of ‘07
10. 7/20/08: OF Josh Reddick, Age 21, High-A to Double-A, 331 PA, .343/.375/.593, 17 BB/49 K; Was specifically focusing on plate approach

So looking solely at the “quickest promoted” set, I would approximate reasonable “promotion watch” thresholds, with some leeway in the appropriate direction dependant on age relative to level (older players get promoted quicker), as follows:

Starting pitcher: 80 innings; 50 innings for dominant, top 100-level prospects
Relief pitcher: 45 innings
Position player: 300 plate appearances; 225 plate appearances with injury or age concerns

Finally, with benchmarks in mind, let’s move on to application. Listed below are the age and playing time numbers for some top prospects, and whether, based on the thresholds above and specific analysis, they would be due for a change of scenery:

C Tim Federowicz, Salem, Age 22 (23 on 8/5), 380 PA – Could move soon, particularly if he heats up at the plate. ON THE RADAR
C Luis Exposito, Portland, Age 23, 268 PA – Start looking for a move around the All-Star break, but presence of both Dusty Brown and Mark Wagner in Pawtucket may delay a move. ON THE RADAR
3B Will Middlebrooks, Salem, Age 22, 171 PA – He might see Fourth of July fireworks in Portland, but if he does, he will not have been there for very long. NOT QUITE YET
1B Chris McGuiness, Greenville, Age 21, 171 PA – See above, but the fireworks are in Salem. NOT QUITE YET
C Ryan Lavarnway, Salem, Age 22, 180 PA – Similar position to Middlebrooks, but remember, the issue here is defense (as well as available playing time). He is blocked unless Exposito, also blocked at the moment, is promoted to Pawtucket. NOT YET
2B Oscar Tejeda, Salem, Age 20, 179 PA – Given his age and struggles last year, he could stand to stay where he is and gain some confidence. NOT YET
3B Michael Almanzar, Greenville, Age 19, 524 PA – Proof that each player has his own unique situation. Tejeda got 808 plate appearances in A-ball, so Almanzar could easily stay at this level all season, then move up to Salem next year. NOT YET
SP Alex Wilson, Salem, Age 23, 45.1 IP – Given his age, he’s getting close. Four more good starts could get him where he needs to be. Add to the end-of-June watch list. NOT QUITE YET
SP Kendal Volz, Greenville, Age 22, 41.1 IP – In almost the exact same situation as Wilson. Might have moved sooner had he pitched last year. NOT QUITE YET
SP Manny Rivera, Greenville, Age 20, 42.1 IP – At age 20 in Greenville, Felix Doubront was promoted after 157.2 IP in August, but he had pitched at that level the year before. NOT YET

As I alluded to earlier, we’ll revisit and build upon this in future editions of the Lineup Card. For now, it looks like there’s a couple catchers on the cusp of moving and a list of guys to start watching for in another month or so. Stay tuned!


Lineup Breakdown: Greenville Drive

Although perhaps lacking the “shiny new toy” luster of the past couple of years, this season’s edition of the Greenville Drive has had enough intriguing performances to make it worth watching. Here is how the Drive have set the lineup as of late:

1. Reymond Fuentes, CF
2. Derrik Gibson, SS
3. Chris McGuiness, 1B
4. Michael Almanzar, 3B
5. Jeremy Hazelbaker, LF
6. Ronald Bermudez, RF
7. Dan Butler, C
8. Zach Gentile, 2B/LF/3B
9. Vladimir Frias, 2B/SS/LF / Joantoni Garcia, 2B/SS
Bench: Reynaldo Rodriguez, 1B; Christian Vazquez, C/DH; Michael Thomas, C
Inactive: Wilfred Pichardo, OF; Ken Roque, 2B; Shannon Wilkerson, OF (ALL DL)

This is the club hit hardest so far by the injury bug, with McGuiness, Gentile, Hazelbaker, and Bermudez also having spent time on the disabled list. It is no shock that McGuiness (.283/.411/.492) has been one of the team’s top hitters, but Butler (.301/.396/.520) and Bermudez (.303/.344/.490) have been pleasant surprises offensively. I mentioned the team’s stolen-base prowess in the first Lineup Card of the year, so here’s an update: Hazelbaker (22, 2nd), Pichardo (16, T-6th), Fuentes (14, T-10th), and Gibson (14, T-10th) are all in the top 10 in the South Atlantic League in steals, with the first two having played the fewest games of anyone on that top 10 list. Almanzar’s start has been better than his .230/.305/.368 line would indicate, but he has already made 15 errors. Gentile has once again gone from bench player to regular, thanks in part to Roque’s ineffectiveness (.451 OPS). Frias and Gentile have seen time in left due to the rash of injuries to the outfield. Garcia and Rodriguez began the year in extended spring training, but got the call up thanks to injuries. There is no true DH here – the position has been used to allow injured players like Fuentes and Pichardo play daily while recovering from injuries, but has otherwise been a rotation.

1. Yeiper Castillo
2. Ryan Pressly
3. Kendal Volz
4. Manny Rivera
5. Drake Britton
Piggyback Starters: Pedro Perez, Jeremiah Bayer, Tom Ebert
Bullpen: Dennis Neuman, Cesar Cabral, Anatanaer Batista, Jordan Flasher
Inactive: SP Roman Mendez, PBS Pete Ruiz, RP Chris Court (ALL DL)

Again, more injury woes, as Britton and Flasher have also spent time on the disabled list. Rivera and Volz have received the most attention for their strong starts, but a closer look shows that Castillo and Pressly have also been doing well. Perez and Ruiz have been swingmen, going between the rotation and bullpen, while Bayer and Ebert have worked long relief appearances on 3-4 days’ rest. Cabral has been stellar out of the bullpen with a 0.78 WHIP in 28.1 innings; he and Neuman share closer duties.
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at 8:42 AM

Wilson and Hissey a dynamic duo in Salem victory

5/27 Cup of Coffee: Casey Kelly looked for his first victory of the season while Salem looked to gain ground against their first-place rival and Greenville tried to continue its late-inning magic.

Portland carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth but lost on a walk off home run to fall 5-3 to the Reading Phillies. Kelly was mediocre in his quest for his first victory of the year, going 5.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits while striking out 4 and walking 3. The Sea Dogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third on back-to-back RBI singles by Luis Exposito and Anthony Rizzo. With the score knotted at 2-2 in the eighth, Portland reclaimed the lead on Chih-Hsien Chiang's bases-loaded walk. Eammon Portice, who followed Kelly out of the bullpen, pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh, allowing only two hits to keep the Phillies' bats quiet. Bryce Cox pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and looked to close out the game in the ninth when he ran into trouble. Cox quickly got the first out of the inning but allowed back-to-back walks before letting up a three-run home run to end the game. The loss leaves the Sea Dogs at 3-7 in their last 10 games as they slipped to 4.5 back of the first-place New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR). Exposito and Matt Sheely were both 2 for 4 to lead the Portland offense.

Salem received impressive performances from its starting pitcher and center fielder to outpace the Winston-Salem Dash (CHW), 3-1. Red Sox starter Alex Wilson was spectacular, going 6.0 innings, allowing just 2 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5. The contest was a pitcher's duel until the fifth, when Salem got on the board on Mitch Dening's RBI double to take a 1-0 lead. Winston-Salem tied the game in the seventh, but Salem plated two in the eighth on Peter Hissey's RBI triple and Oscar Tejeda's sacrifice fly to pull ahead 3-1. Mike Lee pitched the final 3.0 innings of the game, allowing 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 4 to earn his third victory of the season. Hissey was 2 for 4 to have the lone multi-hit game for the Red Sox.

Greenville looked to continue its walk-off magic against Charleston, but was shut down by the RiverDogs (NYY), 5-0. Drive starter Ryan Pressly had a decent outing, going 3.1 innings, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks and striking out 3. Anatanaer Batista followed Pressly and was smacked around in his 2.1 innings of work, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits. Jordan Flasher pitched 2.1 innings in relief of Batista, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 2. Dennis Neuman pitched a perfect ninth inning while collecting 2 strikeouts. Greenville was only able to collect four singles from Derrik Gibson, Dan Butler, Reynaldo Rodriguez and Vladimir Frias the entire game. The Drive had a few chances to score despite the meager offensive output, but were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Player of the Night: Alex Wilson, who went 6.0 scoreless innings while striking out 5 in Salem's 3-1 victory.
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May 26, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Castillo sharp in walk-off win

5/26 Cup of Coffee: It was another poor night for Sox affiliates, but Greenville once again pulled off some late-inning magic to walk off with Tuesday's lone win.

A tie game in the middle innings quickly got out of control for Pawtucket, which despite a valient ninth-inning comeback attempt fell at the hands of the Durham Bulls (TAM), 8-5. Michael Bowden put the PawSox in an early 2-0 hole when he allowed a two-run big fly in the first inning, but was solid from there, ultimately throwing 4.1 innings allowing only those 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. He left the game tied 2-2 thanks to a second-inning solo home run from Lars Anderson, his third at Triple-A, and a fourth-inning RBI groundout by Aaron Bates. But reliever Fabio Castro ran into all kinds of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing 6 total runs (4 earned) on 5 hits and 2 walks to put Pawtucket in an 8-2 hole heading into the ninth. The PawSox would make some noise in the final frame, when Bates singled to open the inning and was followed by three straight walks, the last by Jorge Jimenez to bring home a run and make it 8-3. After a strikeout, another walk by Tug Hulett made it 8-4, but after Angel Sanchez grounded out to make it 8-5, Daniel Nava struck out with the tying runs aboard to end the game. Nava had been having a nice night prior to that at-bat, and ended up 2 for 5 with a double and the only Pawtucket player with multiple hits.

Portland was far less successful in Reading (PHI) on Tuesday, managing only 3 total hits and falling 6-0. Two of those hits came in the first inning for Portland, when Nate Spears and Ray Chang both singled with one out. But no runs came of it, and the Sea Dogs had no answer from there for Drew Naylor, who went the distance for the Phillies to earn the shutout. The only other Portland hit was an Anthony Rizzo single in the fourth. On the mound, it was Kyle Weiland who was saddled with the loss, going 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks.

It was a much closer affair in Salem, but Winston-Salem (CWS) got the better of it, beating the home-standing Red Sox 3-2. The game was close throughout and entered the top of the fifth in a scoreless tie. Caleb Clay had been brilliant to that point but allowed a triple and a single in the fifth to make it 1-0. Clay ended up going 6.0 innings total, allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk, striking out 5. The Dash got another run off Will Latimer in the seventh, but came back with a run in the bottom of the frame when Pete Hissey singled home Alex Hassan to make it 2-1. But Winston-Salem extended the lead in the top of the ninth to 3-1, and while Salem was able to pull out another run on a Hissey groundout, Oscar Tejeda struck out to end the game with the tying run on third. Salem managed only 5 hits in the game, with no player earning more than 1.

There was another pitchers' duel down in Greenville on Tuesday, and for the second straight night the Drive walked off with a win, this time 1-0 over Charleston (NYY). Yeiper Castillo was sensational in this one, going the first 6.0 innings allowing only 4 hits and no walks, striking out 6. Cesar Cabral was nearly as impressive, going the next 3.0 innings without allowing a hit, walking 2 and striking out 3 to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied 0-0. It looked like the game was going to go to extras when the Drive made two quick outs, but Derrik Gibson's wheels kept things going. Gibson singled to shortstop and promptly stole second base, his 14th of the season, before a wild pitch moved him to third. Chris McGuiness was intentionally walked to bring up Michael Almanzar, who didn't hit the ball hard but managed an infield single to third, plating Gibson and ending the game.

Player of the Night: Yeiper Castillo, who fired 6.0 scoreless innings to put Greenville in a position to walk-off with a 1-0 win.
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May 25, 2010 at 9:09 PM

Sox switch gears, designate Atchison instead of McDonald

Changing course from last night's announced roster move, the Red Sox today decided not to designate outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment, instead opting to designate relief pitcher Scott Atchison for assignment to make room on the active roster for outfielder Mike Cameron. After starting three games in a row following his activation from the disabled list, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury reportedly has soreness in his left side, which led the club to opt to keep McDonald on the roster for extra depth.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Atchison will be optioned to Pawtucket after clearing waivers. The story is likely referring to optional assignment waivers, which are described in detail on the SoxProspects.com Wiki.
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at 12:01 PM

Players of the Week, May 17-23: Nate Spears and Felix Doubront

Nate Spears took the Player of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks, while Felix Doubront, his former Portland teammate who earned a call-up to Pawtucket this week, was voted Pitcher of the Week by SoxProspects.com members.

The 25-year-old infielder ran away with the voting after posting a .391/.533/.609 line with a home run and 3 RBI on the week. Spears, who is playing in his third organization since making his debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2003 with Baltimore, is batting .267 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI and an OPS of .837 in 41 games this year for Portland. He ranks in the top-20 in the Eastern League in OPS, and his 9 doubles are third best on the Sea Dogs.

Doubront, 22, earned a promotion to Pawtucket Thursday after another impressive start for Portland. He tossed 7.0 innings of shutout ball Tuesday, allowing 7 hits and striking out 6 to lower his ERA to 2.51 before getting the call to Triple-A. Doubront, who was signed by the Red Sox out of Venezuela in 2004, made his debut for Pawtucket Sunday, striking out 2 in a scoreless first inning before a rain delay chased him much early than Durham ever would have. In 8 starts with the Sea Dogs, Doubront was 4-0 with 38 strikeouts.
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at 8:25 AM

Greenville walks off with win

5/25 Cup of Coffee: While Pawtucket was nearly no-hit and Portland pitching had no answer for Reading, Greenville scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with a victory.

Unlike their big league counterparts, Pawtucket could not figure out Tampa Bay pitching, as they fell to the Durham Bulls 1-0. The PawSox were only able to muster an Aaron Bates single in the eighth inning as Durham starter Jeremy Hellickson was magnificent. Kris Johnson was the tough-luck loser for Pawtucket, going 6.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits. Dustin Richardson pitched the final 2.0 innings of the contest, allowing only a walk while striking out 5. Pawtucket has now dropped six of their last eight.

Two late runs could not help the Sea Dogs overcome a large deficit as they succumbed to the Reading Phillies (PHI) 7-2. Portland starter Ryne Miller had problems finding the plate, allowing 5 walks and 2 wild pitches during his outing. In all, Miller threw 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 3 hits while striking out 5. Ryne Lawson followed Miller out of the bullpen and did not fare any better, pitching 2.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits. The Sea Dogs were held scoreless until the seventh, when they broke through on Chih-Hsien Chiang's RBI double. Yamiaco Navarro added an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth for the second and final Portland run. Navarro and Matt Sheely both had two hits to lead the Sea Dog offense.

Despite being outhit 14-7, the Greenville Drive rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY) 8-7. Drake Britton made his return from the disabled list, pitching the first 1.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 1 and walking 2. Chris Court made his professional debut for Greenville as he followed Britton, going 2.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits. Vladimir Frias knocked in the first Greenville run on his third inning double. The Drive would not score again until the sixth, when Jeremy Hazelbaker walked, advanced to second on a errant pickoff throw, stole third and came home on a wild pitch. In the eighth, Ronald Bermudez laced his thirteenth double of the season to bring home Derrik Gibson with the third Greenville run. With things looking bleak, the Drive rallied in the bottom of the ninth. Joantoni Garcia led off the inning with a single, which was followed by a Zach Gentile walk and a Christian Vazquez RBI double. Gentile scampered home as Frias reached on a throwing error. Vazquez scored when Reymond Fuentes reached on another error. After Gibson struck out, Hazelbaker finished a long at-bat by doubling home the tying and winning runs. Tom Ebert picked up the victory for Greenville, having a rough outing, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits in his 5.0 innings of work.

Player of the Night: Dustin Richardson, who went 2.0 scoreless innings while striking out 5 in Pawtucket's 1-0 loss.
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May 24, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Sox designate McDonald for assignment

With Mike Cameron set to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, multiple sources are reporting that the Red Sox have designated outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment.

McDonald, 31, started the 2010 campaign with Pawtucket after bouncing around with seven different organizations throughout his career. In 10 games with the PawSox, McDonald posted a .341/.372/.683 line before making his Red Sox debut on April 20. That night, he graced Fenway Park with a pinch-hit game-tying 2-run home run in the 8th inning followed by a game-winning double in the 10th inning. In total, McDonald hit 3 home runs and knocked in 11 runs for Boston, with a slash line of .263/.320/.400.
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at 6:17 PM

ESPNBoston: Revisiting the top 5

Now that we’re more than six weeks into the minor league season, here’s an updated look at the top five prospects in the Red Sox system. While all five have had some ups and downs early on, each has made significant individual strides and all look like potential major league regulars at this point.

The rankings have remained fairly steady since the beginning of the season, except for a diminution in the prospect status of Josh Reddick. The 23-year-old outfielder has disappointed in 2010, hitting .187/.220/.355 with Triple-A Pawtucket, making him one of the least-productive regulars in the International League this season and dropping him out of top-tier prospect status.

With that, here is the updated top five -
SoxPropects-ESPNBoston: Revisiting the top 5
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at 9:06 AM

Coello and Cameron shine in Portland victory

5/24 Cup of Coffee: It was a dismal day for the most part for Sox affiliates on Sunday, as teams dropped three of four contests with feeble offensive efforts. But in the lone victory, there was plenty of excitement to go around:

Not much went right for the PawSox on Sunday, as the team spotted Durham (TAM) a 10-0 lead after two innings and wound up falling 18-1. Most of the damage was done against starter Boof Bonser and reliever TJ Large, who each allowed 7 earned runs on 13 combined hits through the first 3.0 innings. Ramon A. Ramirez was a little better in his 3.2 innings, allowing 3 more earned runs, but the pitching performance of the night belonged to Robert Manuel, who managed to allow only an unearned run in 1.1 innings. Down 14-0 in the fourth, Pawtucket tried to start a rally when the first three batters of the inning reached base. But Bubba Bell grounded into a double play, plating a run but killing the rally, and the PawSox would produce little else the rest of the way. Lars Anderson and Dusty Brown each had 2 hits in the game, including a double for each man. By contrast, seven Bulls hitters had multiple-hit games in this one.

Portland built a big lead against Trenton (NYY) on Sunday, let it get away, but still made sure the fans went home happy, pulling out a 7-6 victory in ten innings. Robert Coello got the spot start for the Sea Dogs and performed well, allowing only 1 earned run on 4 hits and a walk in 5.0 innings, striking out 6 in the process. Portland was down 1-0 when Coello left the mound in the fifth, but his teammates quickly put him in line for a win. It was a death by a thousand stings for the Thunder in the bottom of the frame, as four singles, a double and a walk plated six Sea Dogs runs to make it 6-1. Nate Spears and Luis Exposito each had two-run hits in the inning. But just as quickly as the lead was built, Mitch Herold managed to lose it. After a lead-off walk and a line out, five straight Trenton hitters reached base, and when the dust had settled, the game was tied 6-6. Herold would up pitching 2.0 innings, allowing 5 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. The drama mounted as the game wore along, with each team swapping scoreless frames over the next three innings, but the rehabbing Mike Cameron ended things in a hurry in the tenth, blasting his second Double-A home run to lead off the inning and give Portland the walk-off win. Masterful relief work over 3.0 innings from Santo Luis helped him earn the win. Cameron was the offensive leader for the Sea Dogs and the only Portland hitter with multiple hits, going 3 for 5.

It was a much less dramatic affair in Salem, where the vaunted Red Sox offense couldn't get the timely hits and fell to Potomac (WAS) 6-0. All the damage was done against Fabian Williamson, who allowed 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 4.2 innings. Mike Lee and Lance McClain were good in relief, allowing nary a run on just 2 combined hits, but Salem's bats just didn't have it in this one. The Red Sox managed just 6 singles in the game, but Will Middlebrooks did have 2, going 2 for 4 to raise his season line to an impressive .345/.437/.521.

Not to be outdone by their Carolina League brethren, the Drive dropped their game in similar fashion on Sunday, losing 5-0 at home to Augusta (SFG). Greenville managed just 5 hits, with Reymond Fuentes and Ronald Bermudez each turning in 2-for-4 efforts to pace the offense. It was a decent outing for Manny Rivera, who went 5.1 allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out 2, but not nearly good enough on this day as the Drive dropped to 21-23 on the year.

Player of the Night: Robert Coello, who made the spot start and pitched brilliantly for Portland in the only affiliated victory of the day.
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