Portland's Jeremy Hazelbaker hit three home runs and posted an 1.298 OPS last week while Greenville's Brandon Workman hurled seven shutout innings, earning them both SoxProspects.com Player and Pitcher of the Week honors.
In addition to his three home runs Hazelbaker added a double, going 12-for-27 and taking a base-on-balls for an impressive .444/.483/.815 line, scoring three runs and batting in seven. Hazelbaker's standout performance of the week came when he went four-for-five with two home runs and five runs batted in at Reading (Phillies), August 25. On the season he is hitting .273/.365/.444 in 462 at-bats (126 hits) over 120 games combined with Salem (34 games) and Portland (86 games) with 16 home runs, 27 doubles, two triples and 47 stolen bases. He was also named Eastern League Player of the Week for the same period.
Brandon Workman took the mound August 26 against Augusta (Giants) and held them to two hits in his seven innings of work, stranding them both, and striking out five while walking none and earning the win. This is Workman's second Pitcher of the Week award in 2011 as he was also so honored for May 16-22. Workman owns a 5-7 record in 2011 with a 3.74 ERA, allowing 52 earned runs on 122 hits, for a .259 opponents' average, with 111 strikeouts and 33 walks in 125 innings pitched over 25 starts. He is currently the 28th ranked prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com, Hazelbaker is ranked 30th.
After an injury plagued season that saw him play in only 22 games, outfielder Ryan Kalish is slated to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
Kalish, 23, first went down in April, after playing just two weeks with the Pawtucket Red Sox, following a diving play in the outfield that resulted in a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder. The decision was made to treat this injury with rehabilitation and rest, which seemingly went well as he was first getting close to starting a rehab assignment in June. However, that got delayed when he developed pain in his upper trap/neck area.
He was finally able to get back on the field August 8 with the PawSox after a two-game rehab stint with Lowell. This was short-lived also though, as he returned to the disabled list with neck pain after 8 games. He flew out to Los Angeles to see Dr. Robert Watkins earlier this week where the decision to have surgery was made.
The recovery and rehab is expected to take about three months, leaving him on course for a normal Spring Training entering the 2012 season. Many believed Kalish had a strong chance to inherit the starting right field position in 2012, and while this season has put a damper on much of the excitement surrounding his rise to top prospect status, he will likely still play a significant role on the Big League club at some point next season if he can stay healthy.
8/31 Cup of Coffee: The affiliates split 4 games on Tuesday, as another affiliate needed a late effort to avoid being no-hit.
Pawtucket lost to Rochester (MIN), 8-6. The Paw Sox found themselves down 6-0 after 2 innings. They brought it to as close as 6-4 after a 4-run 5th inning, but ultimately came up short. Despite the loss, Pawtucket outhit the Red Wings 15-8. Daniel Nava led the way, as he went 3-5 with an RBI and was a home run shy of the cycle. Lars Anderson also had a nice day at the office, going 3-4 with a double and 2 RBI. JD Drew went 3-3 with 3 singles as he continues his rehab assignment. Greg Smith started for the Paw Sox and took the loss. Smith allowed 6 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings pitched. He walked 3 and struck out 3.
Portland defeated Harrisburg (WAS), 4-1. The Sea Dogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning on Reynaldo Rodriguez’ 3-run shot and didn’t look back. Rodriguez led the way offensively, going 2-4 with that 3-run homer. Alex Hassan also went deep, going 1-3 with 2 walks and a solo shot. Charlie Haeger started for Portland and continued to excel since being acquired by the Red Sox. Haeger pitched 8 innings, scattering just 2 hits and 1 run. He walked 4 and struck out 9. Haeger has a 2.45 ERA in 7 starts for Portland.
Greenville beat Augusta (SF), 5-3. After 4 innings, Greenville held a slim 2-1 lead. The GreenJackets tied the game in the top of the 5th, but the Drive scored 3 runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a 2-run single off the bat of Brandon Jacobs. That 3-run cushion proved to be sufficient, as the Drive held on for the win. Michael Almanzar and Henry Ramos led the team offensively. Almanzar went 2-3 with a double, while Ramos went 2-4 with a triple and a steal. Tyler Wilson started for Greenville and earned the win. Wilson pitched 5 innings and allowed 3 hits and 2 runs. He walked 1 and did not record a strikeout.
Lowell lost to Brooklyn (NYM), 3-0. The Spinners became the 2nd affiliate in as many days to be on the wrong end of a bid for a no-hitter, following Greenville’s game on Monday. Lowell was held hitless through 7 innings. Jose Garcia led off the 8th with a single, and that was the only hit that the team would collect. Luis Diaz started for Lowell and took the loss, though he pitched pretty well. Diaz scattered 6 hits and a run in 6 innings of work. He walked 1 and struck out 6.
Player of the Day: Charlie Haeger. Haeger twirled 8 superb innings in Portland’s 4-1 victory over Harrisburg. He allowed just 2 hits and a run, while he walked 4 and struck out 9.
Middlebrooks, a fifth-round draft pick in 2007, has emerged as a top prospect in Boston's farm system with an impressive 2011 campaign, highlighted by an appearance in July's MLB Futures Game. In 96 games with Double-A Portland, Middlebrooks, 22, hit .302 with a .865 OPS and 18 home runs, driving in 80 runs before his Aug. 19 promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. In 11 games with the PawSox, Middlebrooks has just 6 hits. He also homered 3 times in 4 rehab games with the Class-A Lowell Spinners.
Butler was promoted from High-A Salem to Portland in early August after posting a .247/.350/.417 line with the Carolina League club. The 25-year-old catcher was a Carolina League All-Star and was named Carolina League Player of the Week three times before his promotion. He's hitting .211 with a pair of RBI in 18 games with the Sea Dogs.
A Massachusetts native who was selected out of Duke in the 20th round of the 2009 draft, Hassan got off to a torrid start for Portland in 2011. The 23-year-old outfielder hit .411 in April and played in the Eastern League All-Star game. He's batting .296/.411/.463 with a dozen home runs on the season.
Huntzinger, selected in the third round of the 2007 draft, is 5-11 with a 6.46 ERA in 24 starts for Portland. The 6-foot-3 right-handd pitcher struck out 117 batters in 117.0 innings.
Between stops in Portland and Pawtucket, Kehrt is 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 88.1 innings, and has pitched both as a starter and reliever. A 48th-round pick in 2008, Kehrt has steadily climbed through the system with his unusually high ground ball ratio.
Latimer has worked out of the bullpen since being drafted in 2007 and is enjoying another successful season. Before being promoted to Portland on August 24, Latimer boasted a 2.96 ERA with 8 saves in 76.2 innings for Salem. In one appearance for Portland, he allowed a pair of runs in 1.1 inning of work.
Boston will likely add one or two more players to the squad before the season starts.
8/30 Cup of Coffee: Red Sox affiliates took 4 of 6 games on a busy Monday which included 2 doubleheaders.
Pawtucket was 1-hit in the first game of their doubleheader, losing to Scranton Wilkes-Barre (NYY), 3-0. The only hit of the game for the Paw Sox was collected by Jose Iglesias, who had a 6th inning single. Tony Pena started the game and took the loss. Pena allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (1 earned) in 4.2 innings of work. He walked 3 and struck out 4.
Pawtucket turned the tables in game two, defeating Scranton Wilkes-Barre, 2-0. The Paw Sox had just 2 hits in this game, but one of them was a 2-run home run by Ryan Lavarnway to provide the necessary offense. Alex Wilson drew the start and earned his first win since being promoted to AAA. Wilson scattered 5 hits over 5 shutout innings. He walked 1 and struck out 9.
Portland doubled up Harrisburg (WAS), 4-2. All 6 runs were scored in the 4th. Portland scored 4 in the frame, highlighted by a 2-run double by Mark Wagner. The Sea Dogs were led by Wagner and Oscar Tejeda, who went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI. Jeremy Kehrt toed the rubber for Portland and got his 3rd win of the year. Kehrt allowed 6 hits and 2 runs in 5.1 innings. He walked 3 and struck out 3.
Greenville did not have much luck against Augusta (SF), losing by a score of 1-0. The Drive had just 2 hits in this game. Augusta’s starter, Shawn Sanford, had a perfect game entering the 9th inning, and stood to become the first pitcher in the history of the SAL to throw a 9 inning perfect game. However, Drew Hedman led the inning off with a single to spoil the bid for perfection. Matty Johnson added a single later in the frame, but it was for naught as Felix Sanchez and Sean Coyle struck out to end the rally attempt. Miguel Celestino started for Greenville and was the tough luck loser in this one. Celestino allowed just 5 hits and 1 run in 6 innings of work. He walked 2 and struck out 5.
Lowell beat Tri-City (HOU), 5-4, in the first game of their doubleheader. The Spinners scored 3 runs in the top of the 1st, highlighted by Travis Shaw’s 2-run home run. The Valleycats fought back and eventually tied the game at 3-3 in the 5th. The score stayed that way until the top of the 10th, when Lowell scored 2 runs, including a solo shot by Jose Garcia. The 2 runs scored proved to be just enough, as Tri-City scored 1 in the bottom of the frame before succumbing to defeat. The Spinners were led by Shaw and Garcia, who each went 2-5 with a homer. Raynel Velette started for Lowell. In 4 innings, he allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, walked 3 and struck out 2. Kevin Brahney earned the win, as he allowed 3 hits and a run in 2 innings of relief. Brahney did not walk a batter and struck out 2.
Lowell edged Tri-City again in the nightcap, this time winning by a score of 3-2. Moko Moanaroa’s 6th inning RBI single put the Spinners up for good by that same score. Offensively, the team was led by Joantoni Garcia, who went 1-4 with a solo home run, as well as Matt Marquis and Adalberto Ibarra, who each went 2-3. Raul Alcantara started for Lowell, and continued to improve since being promoted to Lowell. Alcantara allowed 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned) in 4.1 innings pitched. He walked 1 and struck out 6. Robby Scott earned the win as he pitched 2.2 perfect innings of relief with 2 strikeouts.
Player of the Day: Alex Wilson. Wilson pitched 5 shutout innings to help Pawtucket salvage a split of their doubleheader. He allowed 5 hits, walked 1 and struck out 9.
8/29 Cup of Coffee: Red Sox affiliates went 0-2 yesterday with the extremely light schedule due to the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Salem was edged out by Wilmington (KC), 5-4. Salem took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st, but the Blue Rocks answered with 2 runs in the 2nd inning. Salem tied it in the 3rd when Derrik Gibson scored on a wild pitch. The score stayed that way until the 7th inning, when Wilmington scored 2 runs. Salem tied the game immediately in the bottom of the frame on RBI singles by Zach Gentile and Miles Head. Wilmington scored 1 more in the top of the 9th on a wild pitch by Jeremiah Bayer, and the Red Sox could not answer the call yet again. Offensively, Salem was led by Heiker Meneses, who went 3-5 with a double and 2 steals, and Miles Head, who went 1-1 with an RBI and was hit 3 times by Wilmington’s starting pitcher, Tyler Sample. Anthony Ranaudo started for the Red Sox. Ranaudo allowed 3 hits and 2 runs (0 earned) in 4 innings of work. He walked 4 and struck out 6. Jeremiah Bayer took the loss in relief, dropping his record to 7-3. Bayer went 2.1 innings, allowed no hits and 1 run (which was unearned, due to Bayer’s own throwing error). He walked 1 and struck out 4.
Greenville was thoroughly handled by Augusta (SF), losing by a score of 7-0. Augusta scored 3 runs before Greenville even got to the batter’s box, which proved to be more than enough of a cushion. The Drive had just 3 hits in this game. Sean Coyle and David Renfroe each went 1-3, while Felix Sanchez went 1-4. Keith Couch drew the start for Greenville and took the loss. Couch allowed 9 hits and 5 runs in 4.1 innings of work. He walked 1 and struck out 3.
Player of the Day: Miles Head. This was not a day filled with stellar performances, but Head certainly had a nice day, reaching base in all 4 of his plate appearances in Salem’s loss to Wilmington. He presumably has the bruises to prove it as well, as the 20-year old was hit 3 times in the game by Wilmington’s starting pitcher.
8/28 Cup of Coffee: With Hurricane Irene hitting the East Coast, the PawSox and the Spinners had their games cancelled on Saturday. The PawSox game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY) will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Monday. The Spinners game against the Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) will not be made up. The GCL season came to an end yesterday in heart-breaking fashion, while Salem and Greenville each had solid victories.
With Irene lingering in the distance, Portland managed to get two games in, losing the first game to the Reading Phillies (PHI) 6-2, before bouncing back with a 4-2 victory in Game 2. Jeremy Hazelbaker was the star of Game 1 going 3 for 3 with 2 stolen bases. Ronald Bermudez went 1 for 2 with a double, walk, and a run scored, while the rest of the team went a combined 2 for 19. Starter Matt Rusch pitched 4.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 1. Game 2 featured a balanced offensive attack led by Mark Wagner who went 2 for 4 with a double and home run. Alex Hassan, who has had a good month of August after seeing his production fall off sharply in July, added a home run of his own. Oscar Tejeda went 2 for 4 with a strikeout and Hazelbaker went 1 for 4 with a strikeout and a stolen base. Hazelbaker has had a solid year offensively but he needs to work on cutting down his strikeout rate and getting better reads on fly balls in order to become a player who can contribute on a major league roster. Michael Lee started the game, tossing 3.2 innings giving up 5 hits but only 1 run, with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Eammon Portice was great in relief tossing 2.1 innings giving up only 1 hit. He racked up 4 strikeouts while walking none.
In the most exciting game of the night, the Salem Sox walked off against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) with a 10-9 victory. Every starter for Salem collected at least 1 hit. Bryce Brentz led the offense going 3 for 5 with a walk and a strikeout, and Derrik Gibson went 2 for 4 with 2 walks and 3 runs scored. After going down 5-0 in the 4th inning, Salem responded with 6 unanswered runs to recapture the lead. Wilmington fired back with 3 more runs to take an 8-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth. A combination of walks to Gibson and Kolbrin Vitek, 2 wild pitches, and a double by Jorge Padron tied the game at 8. After Wimington scored 1 run in the top of the 11th, Gibson started the rally in the bottom of the inning with a single to center. Heiker Menses layed down a sacrifice bunt to move Gibson and his plus speed into scoring position, but the first baseman threw the ball away. Gibson scored and Menses went to 3rd, where he scored on Shannon Wilkerson's sacrifice fly to end the game. Bobby Jenks was scheduled to start this game as part of his rehab, but he was scratched due to an illness. Drake Britton got the start, and he was cruising through 3 innings before running into trouble in the 4th. His final line for the night was 4.0 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. While this season has been a disappointment for Britton, he still has the stuff to be an above-average starter. His command has taken a huge step back this year which has led to the poor results. As he gets further along in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery, the command should sharpen and his results will improve.
The Greenville Drive easily defeated the Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 10-4. Catcher Christian Vazquez, who earlier this week celebrated his 21st birthday, had a near perfect night at the ballpark. Vazquez went 4 for 4 with a double, home run, walk, and picked a runner off of first base. Xander Bogaerts connected for another home run and also added a double. Bogaerts has been one of the hottest hitters in the minors the past 2 weeks, and an .850 OPS from an 18 year old in the Sally league puts him in very elite company. Brandon Jacobs added a double, but also struckout twice. Felix Sanchez went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 stolen bases. He now has 53 steals on the year. Scott Swinson earned the victory, going 5.0 innings allowing 3 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3.
The last game of the GCL season was a forgettable one as the GCL Twins (MIN) walked off with a 3-2 victory. A Zach Kapstein 5th inning home run and a David Chester 7th inning home run gave the GCL Sox a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning. However, the Twins won the game without having a single ball leave the infield. A walk, error, hit by pitch, walk, and error allowed 2 runs to score and ended the GCL season on a bitter note for the Red Sox. Blake Swihart and Jose Vinicio each went 0 for 4. Swihart struckout twice while Vinicio whiffed 3 times. Kendrick Perkins went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Williams Jerez went 1 for 4 with a strikeout. Matt Price started going 1.0 inning allowing 1 run on 2 hits walking 1 and striking out 1. William Cuevas threw 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and struckout 3. Jennell Hudson took the loss. He did not record an out, walked 2, and committed a crucial error. While the season did not end well, this team has several high upside players who will be fun to follow through the system. Swihart, Vinicio, Perkins, Jerez, Mookie Betts, and Jordan Weems are the names to pay the closest attention to.
Prospect Hitter of the Day:Christian Vazquez, who went 4 for 4 with a double, home run, walk, and picked a runner off of first base.
Prospect Pitcher of the Day:William Cuevas , who threw 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3.
8/27 Cup of Coffee: Friday night was full of stellar pitching performances, J.D. Drew began his rehab assignment with Lowell, Jose Iglesias hit his first HR since signing with the Sox, but the professional debut of two top 2011 draft picks was the big story of the night.
First round pick Blake Swihart went 0 for 2 and toolsy SS Mookie Betts went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's as the GCL Red Sox defeated the GCL Twins (MIN) 6-1. Betts also stole a base but committed 3 errors at shortstop. With tomorrow the last game of the season for the GCL Sox, Swihart and Betts are getting their feet wet professionally as a primer for next season. Starter Zachary Good pitched well, throwing 4.0 innings of 1 hit ball, allowing 1 run while walking 1 and striking out 2. Renny Parthemore earned the victory hurling 2.0 scoreless and hitless innings with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Matt Kramer followed with 2.0 shutout innings of his own, allowing 2 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts. Yunior Ortega finished the game with 1.0 inning of relief, allowing 2 hits and striking out 1. Jesus Loya led the offense going 3 for 5 with 1 RBI, 3 runs scored, and 2 stolen bases. Cody Koback added a 2 run single, contributing to a 10 hit Red Sox attack.
Pawtucket was busy yesterday as they swept a double-header against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (NYY). In game one, Jose Iglesias went deep for the first time in his US professional career, blasting a 2 run shot to left field. That proved to be enough as the Paw Sox easily beat the Yankees 6-1. Daniel Nava homered, doubled, and drove in 2 runs, and Hector Luna added a 2 run double. The struggles for top prospect Will Middlebrooks continued as he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. Starter Matt Fox finished off his great August by picking up the victory, tossing 5.0 shutout innings. He allowed only 1 hit, walking 2 and striking out 5. Randy Williams finished the final 2.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, walking none and striking out 2.
In game 2, Pawtucket used its bullpen to piece together 7.0 innings and came away with a 7-3 victory.Jason Rice went the first 3.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 4 and walking 2. Hideki Okajima followed with 2.0 scoreless innings allowing only 1 hit and striking out 3. Tommy Hottovy closed out the game with 2.0 innings of one run ball. Luna led the offense with another good performance, going 3 for 4 with a 2B and 3 RBI's. Iglesias added a double and an RBI and Middlebrooks showed signs of life, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base.
In Reading, a 2 run 9th inning for the Sea Dogs proved to be the difference as they squeaked by the Phillies (PHI) 4-3. The Phillies scored 3 in the first inning off of Brock Huntzinger, but the Sea Dogs scored 4 unanswered runs the rest of the way, highlighted by a Mark Wagner solo home run to tie the game at 3 in the top of the ninth. Alex Valdez then singled home Ryan Dent to give the Sea Dogs their first lead of the game. Wagner was 2 for 4 on the day while Valdez went 3 for 4. Jeremy Hazelbaker also added a solo home run. Huntzinger settled down nicely after the 3 run 1st, going 6.0 innings, allowing only the 3 runs, walking 1 and striking out 8. Josh Fields earned the win in relief throwing 2.0 scoreless innings, walking 2 and striking out 3.
Salem finished a suspended game from July 8th, defeating the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) 7-4. Back in July, Drake Britton went 2.0 innings giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits. In what is technically his first relief appearance with Salem this year, Stolmy Pimentel continued to make progress after a terrible start to the year, hurling 5.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits. The main reason why he was able to limit the damage is because he walked none and struck out 6. Stolmy has been a completely different pitcher since the end of the July and these starts are giving him a much needed boost as the season winds down. Offensively, Salem was led by David Mailman and Josue Peley who each had a single, double, and an RBI. Mailman also added a walk. Derrik Gibson displayed some power, roping an RBI double to right field. Bryce Brentz had a tough day going 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts.
Salem was not so lucky in the regularly scheduled game, falling 6-5 in 7 innings.Pete Hissey was thrown out at the plate to end the game as he tried to score on a sac fly from Gibson. Starter Ryan Pressly was unlucky as two key errors by Gibson and Kolbrin Vitek allowed 4 unearned runs to score. Pressly only allowed 2 earned runs in 6.0 innings, walked 2, and struck out 4. Vitek did his best to atone for his error by going 1 for 2 with 2 walks, a strikeout, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Brentz went 0 for 3 with a walk, but threw out a runner at second base. Shannon Wilkerson and Leonel Escobar added 2 hits apiece.
The most impressive pitching performance of the night came from Greenville starter Brandon Workman, who threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball, allowing only 2 men to reach base, while striking out 5. Andrew Jones threw the final 2 innings to complete the shutout and lead the Drive to a 3-0 victory. With Workman dominating, 18 year old Xander Bogaerts provided him all the support he would need going 2 for 4 with a solo homer to left field. That was his 14th home run in only 64 games. Bogaerts continues to shoot up prospect rankings with his jaw dropping power performance in Greenville. Not to be outdone, Brandon Jacobs went 2 for 4 with a triple and added an outfield assist. Sean Coyle went 0 for 3 with a walk, but did add a stolen base.
In Lowell, Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up his first professional hit, but the Spinners fell to the Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) 8-4. Bradley Jr. went 2 for 3 with a walk, strikeout, caught stealing, outfield assist, and 2 runs scored. J.D. Drew began his rehab assignment and went 0 for 2 with a walk as the designated hitter. The defense was very poor for the Spinners, committing 4 errors on the day, which allowed 5 unearned runs to score. Jason Garcia threw 6.0 innings allowing 4 runs with only 1 of them being earned. Hunter Cervenka suffered a similar fate, allowing 4 runs in 3.0 innings, but only 2 were earned. Garcia walked 4 and struck out 5, while Cervenka walked 2 and struck out 3.
Prospect Hitter of the Day: Hector Luna, who went 4 for 7 with 2 doubles and 5 RBI in the PawSox doubleheader.
Prospect Pitcher of the Day: Brandon Workman, who pitched 7.0 innings allowing 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, while striking out 5.
File this one under something to pay a little more attention to in the future. While there hasn’t been a lot of fanfare about it, all four of Boston’s top four draft picks from the 2011 draft played for USA Baseball last year. Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley both played for the Team USA collegiate team in 2010 (as did fourth-rounder Noe Ramirez). Barnes went 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, Ramirez picked up 5 saves while posting a 2.70 ERA, and Bradley hit .318/.395/.394.
Meanwhile, top picks Blake Swihart and Henry Owens both played for the 18U national team. Swihart was the best hitter on the club, putting up a line of .448/.492/.845 with 5 home runs, and Owens went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA, striking out 31 batters in 19.1 innings. The most important aspect of playing for Team USA, according to Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye, is that the players have the chance to prove they can compete against the highest level of competition.
The current Red Sox front office regime is no stranger to using its top picks on former Team USA standouts. Indeed, there is a long list of former Sox picks that played for the national team prior to their selection by Boston in the 2003-2010 timeframe, including Bryce Brentz, Sean Coyle, Garin Cecchini, Chris Hernandez, Kendal Volz, Tim Federowicz, Hunter Morris, Daniel Bard, Seth Garrison, Lars Anderson, Matt LaPorta, Jed Lowrie, Abe Alvarez, and Dustin Pedroia. Additionally, several other players that have been linked to the Red Sox in one way or another have played for Team USA during that span, including Max Stassi, Branden Kline, Jason Esposito, Yasmani Grandal, Pedro Alvarez, Nick Hill, Eric Patterson, Wes Littleton, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Given that, maybe it’s worth taking a glance at the 2011 squads for a look at potential top picks in the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
Here’s the 2011 collegiate squad:
RHP Brady Rodgers Arizona State So.
RHP DJ Baxendale Arkansas So.
RHP Kevin Gausman LSU Fr.
RHP Michael Wacha Texas A&M So.
RHP Eric Anderson Missouri So.
RHP Mark Appel Stanford So.
RHP Ryne Stanek Arkansas Fr.
RHP/IF Marcus Stroman Duke So.
LHP/1B Brian Johnson Florida So.
RHP Branden Kline Virginia So.
LHP Hoby Milner Texas So.
RHP Andrew Mitchell Texas Christian Fr.
RHP Corey Knebel Texas Fr.
LHP Matt Boyd Oregon St.
LHP Tom Windle Minnesota So.
C Tom Murphy Buffalo So.
1B Dominic Ficociello Arkansas Fr.
2B/SS Nolan Fontana Florida So.
3B Matt Reynolds Arkansas So.
SS Deven Marrero Arizona State So.
LF Chris Elder Oral Roberts Sr.
CF Michael Lorenzen Cal State Fullerton Fr.
RF Tyler Naquin Texas A&M So.
DH/IF Erich Weiss Texas Fr.
C David Lyon Kent State Jr.
C Ronnie Freeman Kennesaw State So.
IF Stephen Yarrow San Francisco Jr.
IF LJ Mazzilli Connecticut Jr.
OF/C Josh Elander Texas Christian So.
OF/3B Brian Ragira Stanford Fr.
Here’s the team’s 2011 stats. The season ran from June 22 to July 8, 2011. According to Perfect Game USA, Marrero, Appel, Wacha, and Stroman are considered the top incoming junior prospects on the team. Here's the 2011 18U National Team roster:
Player, Position, Hometown, School, Graduation Year
Lucas Giolito RHP Santa Monica, Calif. Harvard-Westlake 2012
Carson Fulmer RHP Lakeland, Fla. All Saints Academy 2012
Troy Conyers LHP Lakeside, Calif. El Capitan 2012
Chase DeJong RHP Long Beach, Calif. Woodrow Wilson 2012
Cole Irvin LHP Anaheim, Calif. Servite 2012
Nelson Rodriguez C New York, N.Y. George Washington 2012
Jeremy Martinez C Fountain Valley, Calif. Mater Dei 2013
Chris Okey C Mt. Dora, Fla. Eustis 2013
Gavin Cecchini 2B Lake Charles, La. Barbe 2012
Joey Gallo 3B/RHP Las Vegas, Nev. Bishop Gorman 2012
Rio Ruiz 3B Covina, Calif. Bishop Amat 2012
Alex Bregman SS Albuquerque, N.M. Albuquerque Academy 2012
Addison Russell SS Pace, Fla. Pace 2012
Carson Kelly IF/RHP Portland, Ore. Westview 2012
C.J. Hinojosa IF Spring, Texas Klein Collins 2012
Nick Williams OF Galveston, Texas Galveston Ball 2012
Mikey White IF Hoover, Ala. Spain Park 2012
Jesse Winker OF Windermere, Fla. Olympia 2012
Albert Almora OF Hialeah, Fla. Mater 2012
Mitch Nay OF Chandler, Ariz. Hamilton 2012
Stats for the 2011 18U team are not really available at this time, as the squad has only played in exhibition games to this point. The remainder of the team's season will run from September 9 to October 2. At this early stage, the top class of 2012 prospects on the team, according to Perfect Game USA, are Giolito, Gallo, Williams, Weickel, and Ruiz.
8/26 Cup of Coffee: After a hard down day on Wednesday, the affiliates mostly bounced back in a big way on Thursday. Pawtucket, Portland, Greenville and the GCL Sox all were victorious, while Salem continued to struggle and Lowell saw its contest washed away by rain.
An eight run ninth inning propelled Pawtucket over the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS), 12-4. Kyle Weiland received the start, hurling 6.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out 1. Felix Doubront picked up the victory for his 2.0 scoreless innings of relief, allowing 1 hit. Michael Bowden also added an inning of relief, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits. Down 2-0 in the third, the PawSox tied the game on an RBI ground out by Che-Hsuan Lin and an RBI double by Nate Spears. Hector Luna’s RBI single in the eighth gave Pawtucket a 4-2 advantage. The PawSox offense exploded in the ninth, plating eight runs on RBI singles from Spears and Lars Anderson, an RBI double from Daniel Nava, and a grand slam off the bat of Luis Exposito. The Chiefs plated two in the ninth, but could not overcome the enormous deficit. Exposito was 3 for 5 with a home run, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI to lead the Pawtucket offense.
The Sea Dogs scored in all but two innings to squash the Reading Phillies (PHI), 8-4. Charlie Haeger turned in his second straight impressive start, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. Kyle Fernandes added 1.2 innings of relief, allowing 3 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits, striking out 2. Blake Maxwell hurled the ninth inning, allowing 1 run on 3 hits. Jeremy Hazelbaker’s two run home run in the first gave Portland a very quick 2-0 lead. The Sea Dogs would pad their lead by scoring a singular run in the third through eight innings, including an Alex Hassan RBI double, 2 Hazelbaker RBI singles, Mark Wagner solo home run, Dan Butler RBI ground out, and a Hazelbaker solo home run. Hazelbaker was the star of the game for Portland, going 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 5 RBI.
In the lone affiliate loss, Salem was obliterated by the Winston-Salem Dash (CHW), 14-0. Chris Hernandez dropped to 10-7 for his 2.1 inning start in which he allowed 6 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3. Pete Ruiz followed Hernandez with 2.2 innings of relief, allowing 6 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. Tom Ebert provided 3.0 scoreless innings of relief out of the Red Sox bullpen, allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2. Second baseman Zach Gentile came on to pitch the ninth, allowing 2 runs on 1 hit and a walk, striking out 1. Salem mustered just 5 hits and was a dismal 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Despite being just 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position, Greenville was able to topple the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY), 5-2. Tyler Wilson picked up his third victory with the Drive as he twirled 6.0 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. Justin Erasmus added 2.0 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk, striking out 2. Dennis Neuman tossed the ninth, allowing 1 run on 1 hit while striking out 1. With the game scoreless in the third, the Drive plated four runs on a Henry Ramos bases loaded walk and a 3 RBI double by Michael Almanzar. Xander Bogaerts RBI double in the seventh padded the Greenville lead to 5-0. Charleston plated runs in the eighth and the ninth, but could not muster enough offense to attempt a comeback.
Lowell’s contest against the Staten Island Yankees (NYY) was cancelled due to rain. The game will not be made up. The Spinners return home this evening for a brief two game homestand against the Tri-City Valley Cats (HOU).
A four run sixth inning was enough to help the GCL Red Sox defeat the pesky GCL Rays (TB), 4-2. Sergio Gomez received the victory for his 5.0 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk, striking out 5. Oscar Melendez provided 3.2 innings of relief, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 2. Robby Scott recorded 0.2 flawless innings, striking out 2. Down 1-0 in the sixth, the Red Sox plated four runs on a costly fielding error by the Rays right fielder and an RBI single from Jordan Weems. The Rays attempted to rally in the ninth, but were shut down after plating a run.
Player of the Day: Jeremy Hazelbaker, who went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 5 RBI in Portland’s 8-4 victory over Reading.
Co-Player of the Day: Luis Exposito, who was 3 for 5 with a grand slam, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI in Pawtucket’s 12-4 victory over Syracuse.
Fastball: Alcantara’s outing was very fastball dominant, throwing the pitch 47 times and using it heavily in each of his 5 innings of work. Sitting 90-92 MPH the majority of the night, his heater can show strong late finish and downward movement at the tail end of its approach to home plate when he is keeping on top of the ball. Despite throwing the pitch for strikes 70-percent of the time, he did not command this offering well and his command graded as below-average in this start. Alcantara missed spots with frequency and also left it in the middle of the plate far too often. Opposing batters racked up four well hit doubles along with a couple of ringing singles against it. When Alcantara did spot up with his fastball it was across the plate. The pitch displayed its best finish in this area, slicing downward through the outside corner. He had trouble throwing his fastball arm-side much of the outing. On a few deliveries it showed a little tail into right-handed batters, but it was difficult to tell if this was actually by design.
Secondary Offerings: Alcantara sprinkled in his secondary stuff as the outing progressed. The most effective one in this start was his 82-83 MPH slider. He picked up all three of his strikeouts with this offering, snapping off an especially tight slider with hard tilt in the second inning to produce the swing and miss. However, most of his sliders rolled towards the plate and were on the loopy side. Alcantara was inconsistent producing hard snap with the pitch and it’s currently a slightly below-average offering, but it showed flashes of plus potential. The pitch has projection to round into a power slider as he improves his consistency snapping it off. Alcantara also broke out a changeup, throwing it 7 of the 10 times he used it in the third inning. This offering operated 83-86 MPH and looked more like a fastball he was taking something off of. Alcantara’s changeup did show bottom dropping action though and not much variation in his arm-speed when he delivered it. As he learns to feel this pitch, it also looks to have strong potential for improvement.
Take: The first thing that sticks out when watching Alcantara is how projectable his frame is. On the lean side, there is plenty of room for him to pack on weight and get stronger. I can see him over the next three years or so adding 30-35 pounds as he begins to mature into his early-20s. Alcantara cranked his fastball up to 93 MPH a couple of times early, but by his fourth inning his velocity began to dip into the high-80s and he began to over-throw. He has a live arm, but at this point in the season looked a little worn down. As he fills out and physically matures, there is also a lot of projection for his sitting velocity to tick up into the 93-94 MPH range and be able to hold it longer due to increased stamina. Despite being rough and raw, he showed a solid foundation of raw stuff and the type that can round into that of a starting pitcher.
I also couldn’t help but think how closely Alcantara’s delivery and physical statue at this stage of his development resembled another 18-year-old pitcher who I saw pitch with Lowell, right-handed starter Stolmy Pimentel. While their repertoires are different, the resemblance of the two down to the same high 3/4 arm slot is uncanny. Alcantara is a bit less polished overall at the same point in time, but his fastball also shows more movement. In addition to learning how to command his fastball, the development of his slider is a key need going forward. Even though the depth of the pitch was inconsistent, Alcantara showed that he has some feel for it, which is a good sign that he can tighten it up as he progresses with his development. Progress with his slider will allow him to miss more bats and also make a smoother transition to full-season baseball. Based on this start, his stuff didn’t quite look to be on that level yet though. Neither his slider nor changeup are presently pitches that hitter’s will chase consistently. How his stuff progresses from this point to next year’s Spring Training will be interesting to follow and will be a leading factor in his initial placement next season. Just based on the first scouting look, Alcantara’s ceiling appears to be as a third starter.
When I write my draft preview each year, I include a section on the top New England players available in the draft -- and I always get a lot of positive feedback about it and requests for more coverage of local players, even if they’re not in the Red Sox system. We New Englanders undoubtedly enjoy watching our own home-grown players succeed -- as long as it’s not in Yankee pinstripes. Given that, here is a breakdown of the twenty-one New England born players in the majors in 2011 (listed in order of career WAR – Wins Above Replacement). Note that this list does not count players who went to high school or college in New England but were not born here, such as Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena, a graduate of Haverhill (MA) High School and an alumnus of Northeastern University.
1. Chris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis
Born: April 27, 1975 in Exeter, NH
Other New England ties: Graduated from Trinity High school in Manchester, NH in 1993
Notes: In his eighth year in the St. Louis organization, Carpenter is one of the anchors of the Cardinals’ pitching staff in 2011, posting an 8-8 record with a 3.57 ERA. Over his career, Carpenter has compiled 141 wins in 340 games between the Toronto and St. Louis organizations. The three-time All-Star also took home the National League Cy Young Award in 2005 and won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2006. While Carpenter still regularly visits his family in the Manchester area, he now resides in St. Louis during the off-season Check out the rest of the column on ESPN Boston.
In his second season behind the reins of the club’s efforts in the amateur draft, Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye and the Boston front office handed out a new team-record in total bonus money. The $10,978,700 the Red Sox spent this year was up from the previous team-record of $10.66 million set last year, and landed them at tenth in total draft bonus expenditures in Major League Baseball. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on the horizon this off-season, many analysts saw this draft as a last chance for teams to take advantage of the present draft system by spending big on over-slot bonuses. The Red Sox may have taken this into consideration, as they spent a million dollars or more on four players for the first time ever and reportedly offered such a bonus to a fifth who did not sign, eighth-round pick Senquez Golson. One thing that stands out about the team’s draft class is the balance between high school and college players signed, with the team especially going after high school pitchers in earlier rounds than in past years. Draft experts have generally graded Boston’s draft haul well this year, including Jim Callis of Baseball America, who rated it third overall in the Majors while pointing out that Boston signed six players on BA’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list. Following the signing deadline, Sawdaye was kind enough to answer my questions via email about some of the newly signed Red Sox prospects, some who slipped through their hands, and his view on the current signing system.
Matt Huegel: It’s well-known that Matt Barnes’ fastball can hit the mid-to-upper 90s, but what did you see in terms of his secondary pitches that will enable him to be a starter in the long-run? Amiel Sawdaye: Matt threw four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) and really started to develop his secondary stuff as the year progressed. The curveball and slider did not have a ton of separation to distinguish one from the other, but he did have the ability to utilize either of them at any time in the count and land them for strikes. The changeup had improved by the end of the year and he seemed to implement it a lot more in his game plan. With a wide array of pitches, including his athleticism, command, and ability to maintain his velocity, we feel that he should be able to start for a very long time.
MH: Do you project that Blake Swihart can stick at the catcher position long-term? What are the alternatives if he eventually moves off the position? Can you also talk about his potential on the offensive side of the ball? AS: We feel Blake is a long-term catcher who shows athleticism, aptitude, and leadership on the diamond. We are committed to continue his development at that position and have not even thought about moving him off the position. He is very advanced for a player who has only been catching for a few years. Offensively, Blake has a line drive swing with an uncanny ability to manipulate the barrel of the bat from both sides of the plate coupled with an excellent feel for the strike zone. Being a switch hitter will help his learning curve at the lower levels of pro ball. After spending a lot of time as one of the top high school hitters last summer, he has proven that he can compete at the highest level versus the top competition.
MH: What about Henry Owens made you comfortable giving him the second-highest bonus among this year’s draftees? How do you compare him to the other high-ceiling lefty the Red Sox signed in Cody Kukuk? AS: Henry and Cody are both big and projectable left-handed pitchers. Henry shows an advanced feel for pitching, showing the ability to change speeds on his fastballs and curveballs, mix in a changeup to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and throw consistent strikes to both sides of the plate. Cody has shown a little more consistent power to his fastball and also has a projectable three-pitch mix. Both pitchers are very good athletes who compete very well on the mound and are going to be very exciting to watch as they develop in our system.
MH: Regarding Jackie Bradley, Jr., did you view his underwhelming junior season, along with his related injuries, as a chance to buy low on him, almost in the vein of Anthony Ranaudo last year? Do you see him as someone who could move through the system quickly? AS: We never try and move somebody too quickly through our system. Jackie is somebody we have targeted for quite some time, as we have been able to watch him develop at South Carolina and play summer ball (Team USA and Cape Cod Baseball League) in the last few years. Even throughout his injury plagued season, the one constant was his work ethic and defense. He strives for perfection and success and that is very evident with his success at the collegiate level. We were very fortunate to be able to select Jackie in the compensation round and hope that he progresses the way we believe he will.
MH: Do you think Noe Ramirez has the best shot to begin the 2012 season with Salem of the draftees the team signed this year? AS: I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have not seen Noe throw a baseball since the end of May and likely won’t until Instructional League. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to the placement of a player at the conclusion of Spring Training. Our Player Development staff will get a chance to spend some time with Noe and assess what the best development path would be in order to maximize his potential.
MH: There seemed to be some last-minute drama in regards to whether the high-upside outfielder Senquez Golson would sign or keep his commitment to Ole Miss. Would you categorize his decision not to accept your final offer, which was rumored to be in the seven figures, as a case of his heart not being in professional baseball at this time? AS: No, I believe Senquez wants to play professional baseball and strives to be a major league player. He had two unbelievable options – 1) Stay at Ole Miss, play baseball/football for an exceptional group of coaches, and get a college education or 2) Play pro baseball for the Boston Red Sox and forego his college baseball (and potentially football) playing career. Obviously, he chose to stay at Ole Miss and I have the utmost respect for Senquez and his decision to pass up baseball and bonus money. Hopefully Senquez will be drafted in the future and will have another tough decision to make.
MH: It was reported elsewhere that the decision to up your offer to Mookie Betts happened at the last minute after Golson turned the team down. Can you shed any light on that? And what did you see out of Betts that made him worth the fairly sizable bonus? AS: Mookie was a player that we spent a considerable amount of time scouting this spring and summer. His bonus and Golson’s offer were independent of each other. We really liked Mookie and were hoping that he wanted to play pro baseball. He is a very athletic shortstop with the ability to become a plus defender. By showcasing his advanced approach, spray hitter, and plus speed, it’s easy to see why many scouts considered him a top of the order hitter. Mookie was recruited for baseball and basketball, and his true athleticism is very evident on the diamond.
MH: Williams Jerez signed relatively quickly and has gotten some solid playing time in the Gulf Coast League already this season. What have you seen out of him so far and what is he working to improve upon? AS: Williams has greatly benefited from getting out early and playing in the GCL. Since Williams did not have the same playing opportunity as many of the other kids who were drafted, it really behooves him to be able to face good competition and play every day. He is a very exciting player who flashes five tools but will need to continue to improve on consistency on a daily basis.
MH: As a follow-up, how much of an advantage does Jerez have over someone of similar skill set and age because he signed well-before the deadline and got playing time this season? Would you change the rule in regards to the timing of the signing deadline and/or over-slot bonus announcements if it were up to you? How? AS: I do believe the first season is the most important one – not only from a physical/mechanical standpoint, but also from a mental/preparation standpoint. Your first summer allows you to learn how to work, how to make adjustments, what to expect, etc. I think there are a lot of people who would love to see the signing deadline pushed up and hopefully that will be one of the items discussed in the new CBA. It benefits all of the players because they will be guaranteed more at-bats or innings pitched, therefore allowing them to spend more time playing for their introductory season.
MH: In regards to the negotiating deadline of August 15, we’ve heard with some of the top draftees, including Ranaudo and Chris Hernandez last year and Swihart this year, that the team actually waits until minutes before the deadline to make an offer. Swihart, for instance, said that he didn’t hear from you until 11:58 PM. How do you manage to get the agreement worked out and to the Commissioner’s Office before midnight in that case? AS: Believe me, if it were up to the club, we would rather get the player out the day after the draft. Unfortunately, in a world where we are dealing with a handful of different advisors, many of them do not become serious regarding their asking price until we get closer to the deadline. We make many significant and fair offers to the players throughout the summer and try and, in turn, set the expectations so they won’t be surprised when it gets close to the deadline. Many of the advisors do not like to negotiate until they see how the market develops, which, for the past few years, has not been until 11:58 PM.
MH: Lastly, can you name a less-heralded player or two in this draft class that you are excited about getting into the system? AS: There are so many players that we are excited about in this draft and I don’t want to single out one player. I believe we were able to bring in a strong mix of athleticism, tools, and makeup. Given our strong relationship with Player Development and their success at developing these players, we are very excited for what the future may bring with this class.
8/25 Cup of Coffee: The affiliates struggled mightily on Wednesday, losing all six contests.
Pawtucket’s offense could not get into gear as they dropped a 3-1 contest to the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS). Greg Smith received the start for the PawSox, tossing 6.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. Junichi Tazawa was tagged with the loss for his lone inning of relief, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 1. Tommy Hottovy also added an inning of relief, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 1. Pawtucket’s lone run of the contest came in the second inning on a Lars Anderson solo home run. The loss drops Pawtucket a game behind Lehigh Valley (PHI) for first place in the North division.
Portland’s bullpen continued to sputter in a 9-3 loss to the Harrisburg Senators (WAS). Jeremy Kehrt received the loss for his 5.2 innings of work, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 2. Chris Martin continued to have a rough beginning to his Double-A career, hurling 1.2 innings, allowing 6 runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 1. Eammon Portice contributed 1.2 innings out of the bullpen, allowing 3 hits and striking out 2. Down 3-0 in the fourth, Jeff Howell’s solo home run got the Sea Dogs on the board, 3-1. Finding themselves in a steep 9-1 hole in the eighth, Portland rallied for two runs on a Mitch Dening sacrifice fly and a Ryan Dent solo home run. With the loss, Portland is now officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Salem had no answers for the rival Winston-Salem Dash (CHW), being shutout 3-0. Manuel Rivera received the loss for the Red Sox, tossing 6.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2. Anatanaer Batista hurled an inning of relief, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 1. Jordan Flasher contributed 2.0 scoreless innings out of the Salem bullpen, allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2. The Red Sox had just one runner in scoring position the entire game; despite leadoff man Derrik Gibson going 3 for 4 with 3 singles.
An extra inning tussle ended in heartbreak for Greenville as they fell 5-4 in 11 innings to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). Miguel Celestino took the mound for the Drive, tossing 5.0 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits while striking out 5. Michael Olmsted added 2.0 innings of flawless relief, striking out 2. Next out of the bullpen was Michael Gleason, who hurled 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing a walk and striking out 6. Tyler Lockwood received the loss for his 0.2 innings of relief, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk. Greenville jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a Xander Bogaerts RBI single in the first, as well as a Matty Johnson RBI double and Brandon Jacobs RBI single in the second. The RiverDogs came back to tie the game by scoring individual runs in the bottom of the second, third and fifth innings. The game remained deadlocked until the eleventh when Sean Coyle’s sacrifice fly gave the Drive a 4-3 lead. In the bottom half of the eleventh, Charleston was aided by a walk and a wild pitch, helping them to tie and eventually win the game. Coyle and Bogaerts each had 2 hits to lead the Greenville offense.
Despite outhitting their opponents 5-2, Lowell’s offense was held at bay by the Staten Island Yankees (NYY) in a 3-1 loss. Madison Younginer dropped to 1-5 on the season for his 5.0 innings of work, allowing 3 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 4. Luis Bastardo added 3.0 scoreless innings of relief, walking 2 and striking out 6. In the fifth, Jose Garcia’s RBI single gave the Spinners a 1-0 lead. A wild pitch, error and a passed ball helped Staten Island plate 3 in the sixth to give them the 3-1 victory. Jackie Bradley Jr. was removed in the sixth inning after attempting to break up a double play.
The GCL Red Sox had a very forgettable day at the ballpark as they were hammered by the GCL Rays (TB) 21-2. Mario Alcantara received the start, lasting 2.1 innings, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out 2. Alexander Mateo was torched in his 2.1 innings of relief, allowing 10 runs (9 earned) on 9 hits and a walk, striking out 1. Jennell Hudson contributed 1.2 innings of relief, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2. John Killen finished off the game with 2.0 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 4. The Red Sox lone runs came in the third on a Aneury Tavarez solo home run and in the seventh on a David Chester solo home run. The Red Sox committed 5 errors and uncorked 5 wild pitches.
Player of the Day: Jeff Howell, who went 4 for 5 with a home run, 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and an RBI in Portland’s 9-3 loss to Harrisburg.
Author’s note: Today’s installment of the series features contributions from SoxProspects.com Northeast Scout Ian Cundall, who penned the section on Matt Marquis. I want to thank Ian for all of his hard work this season and for helping further expand the coverage of the Scouting Department.
The View: Originally drafted in the 28th round of the 2008 draft out of high school by the Red Sox, Marquis turned down professional baseball to attend Vanderbilt University. After his freshmen season, Marquis transferred to the University of Maryland where he played two seasons before getting redrafted by the Red Sox in the 41st round this season. Only getting 29 at-bats in college this season due to injury, no one knew what to expect out of Marquis after he signed on August 4. Following a brief stint in Gulf Coast League, Marquis moved up to Lowell and has provided a much-needed bat in the Lowell lineup, which has been decimated by promotions and injuries.
When seeing Marquis, the first name that came to mind was Alex Hassan, albeit four inches shorter. No tools stand out, but on the other hand, there are no glaring weaknesses in his game. Marquis has put together a solid debut with the Spinners, demonstrating strong plate discipline and some pop at the plate. He has an athletic frame, but since he is only average sized, there isn’t much projection in his body. If he were to fill out much more, it would inhibit his speed and mobility in the outfield, decreasing his value. At the plate, Marquis hits from a crouched stance. He starts with his hands low, before raising them as the pitch approaches. He looks comfortable in the batter’s box and thus far has demonstrated above-average pitch recognition and plate discipline. One thing that jumps out is he can get over selective at times, taking pitches he could drive in hitter’s counts. While this might have to do with the inconsistency of pitching in short-season ball, as he progresses he will see fewer fastballs to hit, so it will only become more important that he attacks the ones he gets. Possessing a swing with a slight uppercut, Marquis does a good job shifting his weight forward, driving with his lower half to generate power. At times, however, his swing can get a little long, causing him to come around the baseball and get jammed on inside pitches. In the outfield, Marquis has average speed, a plus arm and the potential to be a solid-average to plus defensive outfielder. With the season winding down, Marquis should continue to get consistent playing time, and be one of the standout hitters for the Spinners. After missing most of the college season, Marquis needs these at-bats to develop a consistent hitting approach and to get acclimated to the daily grind of playing every day in order to prepare him to push for a starting outfield position in Greenville next season.
The View: 2011 has been a tough year for Pimentel and a season where he has not been able to get much consistency going from start to start. Breaking camp with Portland, his struggles began out of the gate and snowballed to the point where the organization was forced to send him back down to High-A in an effort to get him back on track. The command of his arsenal has been off this season, especially in regards to the fastball. Much of his struggles can be tied into the below-average command he has displayed with the heater. Pimentel has not established it early in sequences. Despite sitting 92-93 MPH and touching up to 95 MPH, he often misses wide of the strike zone or grabs too much of the plate elevated in the zone when he does throw it for a strike. Opposing hitters, especially during his time in Double-A, have jumped all over the pitch to create a lot of hard contact.
Pimentel’s inability to spot his fastball has greatly reduced the effectiveness of his plus 78-82 MPH changeup. When he gets ahead in the count, this is the offering he heavily leans on to either create swings and misses or get batters to weakly put the ball in play. He has not missed enough bats this season because hitters typically have not had a reason to swing at anything besides his fastball. Pimentel’s changeup shows excellent separation from his fastball and there is little variation in his arm speed when throwing it. The pitch should be a valuable asset for him against advanced hitters if he can make strides with his fastball command.
The times I have seen him this season the main driver behind his lack of command has been inconsistencies with his delivery. Pimentel varies with his release point, which causes the ball to come out of his hand in different spots. This issue especially affects his fastball and mid-70s curveball. Ideally throwing from a high ¾ slot, he has not been able to lock into this spot when delivering these two offerings and drops down with frequency. With his heater, coming under the ball causes it to sail on him and also considerably flatten out, losing the downward finish it can show. He ends up wrapping his wrist when trying to throw his curveball and the pitch rolls to the plate with loopy break. Pimentel is still just 21 years of age and learning to execute his mechanics, but he repeats his mistakes often. Once he can make strong progress in this area, I feel the consistent results will follow. However, there is a lot of work to go and despite having the raw stuff to project as a third starter down the line, a lack of strides over the course of the next year could push Pimentel towards a bullpen role.
Salem left-handed starter Chris Hernandez has found his groove during the last two months of the season. In his 60.2 innings since the All-Star break, Hernandez has given up 48 hits and only 2 home runs. The former University of Miami standout works to change speeds on hitters, cutting his mid-80s fastball and moving the ball around both sides of the plate. Hernandez’s stuff looks best suited as a lefty reliever out of the bullpen, but his time in High-A this season has proven he deserves a shot to continue starting at the next level…On the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, PawSox righty Junichi Tazawa has seen his stuff make strides in returning to the level of crispness he displayed prior to the injury. Most notably his fastball velocity has ticked up. Sitting in the mid-80s while rehabbing with Salem, he has seen that jump to 88-91 MPH as of late. Tazawa also has shown a much better feel of his curveball and the trust to snap it off hard into the dirt. All good signs that his arm strength is ramping up and that his progression is going well. It should be interesting to see where he slots next season, with the feel here that he ends up a full-time reliever at the major league level…Recently back in action after having surgery to remove his appendix, Portland first baseman Reynaldo Rodriquez looks to be getting his timing back. The 25-year-old has shown solid power since his promotion to Double-A, but also needs some work handling advanced breaking balls. Rodriguez quickly brings the head of the bat through the strike zone, while creating strong lift with his swing. He tends to over-commit against secondary offerings though. Next season should be a good view as to whether he can learn to keep his weight back consistently and continue pushing himself up the ranks of the Red Sox system.
Salem’s left-handed starter Drake Britton has been unable to get himself on track this season. Plagued by inconsistencies with his command and control in High-A, opposing batters have hit Britton extremely hard. Possessing excellent stuff, highlighted by a 92-94 MPH fastball, the tools are there for him to consistently get hitters out, but he has not gotten ahead of enough batters this season. Britton’s curveball also has not been as sharp in the past leading him to throw a large percentage of fastballs in outings. He also rarely throws his changeup, which is a below-average offering and needs considerable sharpening. Britton has the potential to make rapid gains in 2012 if his command can improve and the learning experienced is applied…PawSox lefty Felix Doubront has had a tough time getting his footing on the ground this season. Things started poorly for Doubront when he came into Spring Training in less than ideal shape and went down early in camp with a strained arm. After starting his season late, he has also dealt with nagging groin injuries during his time in Triple-A and overall has been inconsistent on the mound. Out of options next season, it is important for Doubront to come into 2012 ready to win a job on the major league team. His low-90s fastball is nicely complimented by his plus low-80s changeup, while his 75-78 MPH curveball made excellent strides last year in Double-A. He is an arm that can help the big league team, but he also must prove that this year was just a bump in the road and not a re-occurring theme…After putting up an impressive first half in Greenville, 20-year-old first baseman Miles Head has found the step up in High-A pitching to be a challenge. Head has plus power potential, but his hit tool needs some refinement to square more offerings up. Carolina League pitchers have spotted the ball more consistently against him and the next step is to learn how to hit more than mistake pitches. Head has put in a lot of work trying to develop his approach since signing with the organization and honing his batting eye. This aspect of his game has been making steady improvements. The challenge will be to incorporate his hands into his swing more and use them to stay inside the baseball.