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SoxProspects News

July 8, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Swihart and Bradley rake while Romero turns a corner

7/8 Cup of Coffee: Outstanding performances from several Top-20 prospects and Jacoby Ellsbury's return to the PawSox highlight an exciting night of minor league action. 

The PawSox erased a two-run deficit in the seventh inning and took advantage of another good start from Zach Stewart to defeat the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS), 3-2. Stewart cruised through the first six innings, but ran in to trouble in the seventh, allowing a run after giving up three consecutive singles. With two outs in the inning, Stewart was pulled, and Mark Prior came on for his first appearance since June 21st. The rust was palpable, as Prior walked the first two batters he faced, with the second walk bringing home a run. He struck out the next batter to end the inning and close the line on Stewart, who allowed two runs in 6.2 innings, walking two without striking out a batter.

The PawSox answered back in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs of their own. Two of the runs came in on an error by the Chiefs' shortstop, and the go-ahead run scored on a Jose Iglesias single to center. Iglesias led the offense going 2 for 4, and Ellsbury made his first rehab appearance with the PawSox, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout as the center fielder. 
Jackie Bradley Jr. had another three-hit game, but it was not enough for the Sea Dogs as they lost to the Thunder (NYY), 4-3. Jeremy Kehrt gave up 10 hits in 6.2 innings, but was able to limit the damage to four runs, thanks to two double plays and Trenton's 0 for 8 line with runners in scoring position. Portland got a run in the fourth on a Peter Hissey single, a run in the sixth on a Drew Hedman sacrifice fly, and a run in the ninth on a Bradley double. Jeremy Hazelbaker struck out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Four Sea Dog players had multi-hit games. Bradley went 3 for 5 with two doubles, Hissey went 3 for 4, Dan Butler went 2 for 3 with a walk and threw out an attempted base stealer, and Marquez Smith went 2 for 4. Bradley is now batting .384 in 18 games with the Sea Dogs, and this was his eighth game this season with at least three hits. 
Salem got a rare clunker from Keith Couch, and fell to the Frederick Keys (BAL), 9-4. Couch was chased from the game after allowing seven runs on eight hits in 3.0 innings. His ERA rose from 3.51 to 4.13. Salem's offense struggled until the seventh, when Michael Almanzar knocked in Travis Shaw and Brandon Jacobs with a double. Jacobs had one of his best games of the season, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. In his last 10 games, the 21-year-old is batting .410 with a .477 on-base percentage and .667 slugging  percentage. Christian Vazquez may be the only hitter in the system who is hotter than Jacobs, as he is also hitting .410 over his last 10 games, but has a .489 on-base percentage in that span after his 3 for 4 performance last night. 
It was a great night for 2011 draft picks in Greenville, as the Drive beat the Rome Braves (ATL) 5-4. Noe Ramirez started and threw the first 6.0 innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out eight. He got some help form his defense, as Drew Turocy threw out a runner at home to end the fourth inning. The Drive took their first lead of the game in the fifth when Keury De La Cruz launched his 13th home run to deep right field, and Blake Swihart (pictured) added to the lead with his fourth home run of the season. 

The Braves came back, scoring three runs off of Justin Erasmus in the seventh inning to tie the game. In the eighth inning, Turocy led off with a ground-rule double, stole third, and came in to score when Swihart lined the 14th pitch of his at-bat into right field for the go-ahead single. Swihart finished the game 3 for 3 with a walk, and he was a double shy of the cycle. Fellow 2011 draftee Cody Koback also had a multi-hit day, going 2 for 4 with a double.  
Despite out-hitting Batavia (STL) 8-6, Lowell lost to the Muckdogs 3-0. Justin Haley continued to  get acclimated to pro-ball, throwing 2.0 perfect innings, striking out two. Lowell threatened in the third after Mike Miller and Deven Marrero singled, but as was the case all night, the team could not capitalize. Lowell finished the game going 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and left nine men on base. Miller and Aneury Tavarez each had two hits, with Miller adding a stolen base. William Cuevas picked up the loss after allowing three runs in 4.0 innings. 
Sergio Gomez pitched well but was the tough-luck loser as the GCL Red Sox were shutout by the GCL Twins (MIN), 3-0. Gomez pitched 5.0 innings allowing two runs, one earned, while striking out six. The lone earned run came on a third inning home run by the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Byron Buxton. Another run scored in the third thanks to errors by Gomez and first baseman Miguel Rodriguez.

The Red Sox actually had more errors (five) than hits (four) in the game. One of the hits came from Tzu-Wei Lin, who was making his second start as a professional. He went 1 for 4 as the designated hitter. Jesus Loya went 1 for 3, which dropped his average to .484 in 31 at-bats. He has yet to draw a walk, but he has struck out only once. 
2011 bonus baby Dioscar Romero had by far his best start as a professional, leading the DSL Red Sox past the Mets1 (NYM), 3-0. Romero cruised through 5.0 innings, facing only one batter over the minimum. His no-hit bid was broken up by a one-out fifth inning double. He walked none and struck out five. Unfortunately he did not get the win because the Red Sox bats were equally silent. Their first base runner reached in the sixth inning when Gregori Titts walked, and he moved to third on a Kevin Segovia single. After Ricardo Andujar was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Raymel Flores cleared them with a double to left field. Yankory Pimentel earned the win in relief, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings. 
Player of the Night: With the success of Matt Barnes and Bradley, it is easy to forget that Blake Swihart actually received the highest bonus of any 2011 Red Sox draft pick. After an awful April, Swihart has improved every month, and he has now hit .333 with a .832 OPS since the All-Star break. His 3 for 3 performance with a home run, triple, and walk last night was his best to date, and his 14-pitch at-bat that resulted in the game winning single was the cherry on top.

In addition to the regularly scheduled games today, be sure to tune in to the Futures Game at 5 P.M ET on ESPN2 and MLB.com. Xander Bogaerts will be the designated hitter and bat fifth for the World Team, while Barnes will pitch an inning for the US team. 

Photo Credit: Blake Swihart by William Parmeter