While not a single Red Sox player graduated from prospect status during the 2016 season, the newly crowned American League Eastern Division champions had a distinctly homegrown feel. The team gave at least 50 at-bats to at eight players who had been named SoxProspects.com All-Stars during their ascent to the majors: Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia, Travis Shaw, Blake Swihart, and Christian Vazquez. With that backdrop, we present the 2016 SoxProspects.com All-Stars.
The 25-year old backstop turned in a solid season both offensively and defensively, earning honors as an Eastern League All-Star to go with his SoxProspects.com recognition. In 90 games with Double-A Portland, Romanski hit .308/.338/.410 with 22 doubles. While power is not a major part of his game, he did set a career high with four round trippers. He also solidified his reputation as a strong handler of pitchers and threw out 49 percent of attempted base stealers. It was the first all-star selection for the 2013 14th-round pick out of San Diego State.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Each year, the Fall Instructional League provides us here at SoxProspects.com with the opportunity to catch 50 or so of the system’s young prospects in one place at the end of a long season. This year, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall spent four days at Instructs. These are his reports from Saturday, September 24, when the Red Sox took on the Twins across town at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
The 12th pick overall in June’s draft, left-hander Jason Groome, started the game, throwing two scoreless innings, striking out three and walking one. The first thing that stands out with Groome is his build, as he does not look like a typical 18-year-old. He has a wide, mature frame and looks all of his listed 6-foot-6, 220 pounds. An up-close look at him gave me the impression that he has a body that might need some watching, given how he is built now and his youth. He has the frame to support added weight, but whether that is good or bad weight will depend on how he maintains his body and how much work he puts in off the field, both during the offseason and in-season.
Groome’s delivery is remarkably easy, and even though his velocity was down a tick from when I saw him earlier this month with Short-Season A Lowell, he still sat 89-92 mph, touching 93 mph. Given that Groome is at the end of a long year spanning high school and pro ball, it is not a surprise that his velocity is down a tick. With the ease of his delivery and arm action, as well as his youth, as he matures I expect him to add a few miles per hour to the pitch, though I would not be surprised if he sat in the low-90s generally, with the ability to ramp up if the situation calls for it.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Each year, the Fall Instructional League provides us here at SoxProspects.com with the opportunity to catch 50 or so of the system’s young prospects in one place at the end of a long season. This year, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall spent four days at Instructs. These are his reports from Thursday, September 23, when the Red Sox campers took on the Twins at Fenway South.
The standout pitcher on the day was 22-year-old right-hander Victor Diaz. Diaz’s numbers with Greenville this year—a 3.88 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with 25 walks to 63 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings—do not really stand out, particularly considering his age. But even though he is already 22, he is relatively new to pro ball having only signed when he was 20 years old. Looking further into his season, however, reveals bad performances in the first half of the season leading to a 6.59 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in his first 28 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 23 strikeouts. But in the second half, Diaz put up a 1.42 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 2/3 innings with 40 strikeouts and 13 walks. Furthermore, to end the year, Diaz did not allow a run in 16 2/3 innings over August and September, striking out 25 hitters and allowing only 8 hits and 9 walks.
In his inning of work, Diaz struck out the side, showing off not only his impressive fastball but improved secondary stuff and the ability to locate when he is locked in. Diaz is listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, but looks heavier than that. He is filled out and has a sturdy pitcher’s frame with minimal projection remaining. Because of his size, he does have effort in his delivery and a lot of moving parts. As a result, Diaz has struggled in the past to lock into his three-quarters arm slot at times, but in this outing, he was repeating his delivery well. Diaz works exclusively from the stretch and sat at 99 mph for every fastball he threw. The pitch has late life and showed bat-missing ability, eliciting two swing-and-misses against right-handers. If he can harness his command and stay within himself like he did in this outing, the pitch has elite potential and is easily one of the best fastballs in the system.
SoxProspects.comput out a new podcast last Monday to discuss and recap the minor league season. They talked about each affiliate's season and the crew mentioned players from each team that stood out. The Padres' scandal involving their trade with Boston was also discussed, along with much more.
The Fall Instructional League games got underway on Thursday down in Fort Myers, and SoxProspects.com's Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was there to catch some of the action. Check out his Twitter feed for some notes on Jason Groome, Pablo Sandoval, new draft picks, and more.
Catchers Alan Marrero and Alberto Schmidt were selected in the Puerto Rican League's draft and have been added to Criollos de Caguas' roster. Marrero is an 18-year-old who was taken by Boston in the eighth round this past June. He was just 5 for 54 with a home run this year in the GCL but is highly thought of as a defensive catcher. Schmidt was also selected in the 2016 draft, in the 16th round. He is also very solid defensively but was just 8 for 41 with three doubles for the GCL Sox this year.
Coming down the stretch in MLB, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about in the world of SoxProspects! In this episode, the guys wrap up each affiliate’s season, discuss the Fall Instructional League roster, and the Padres trade scandal. Plus your emails! Which players might get protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason (take 2)? What mechanical flaws are immediate red flags? What’s the deal with Rafael Devers’ 18 steals? Plus, thoughts on Jake Cosart, Austin Glorius, Matt Kent, and more!
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SoxProspects.com unveiled its 2016 season-end award winners this past week. It was a good year for the system, and there were several worthy candidates for every award. In the end, the winners were as follows: Andrew Benintendi won Player of the Year, Jake Cosart won Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year went to Bobby Dalbec (pictured, right), Mauricio Dubon was the Breakout Player of the Year, Jhonathan Diaz won Comeback Player of the Year, Pedro Castellanos and Ritzi Mendoza won the DSL Hitter and Pitcher of the Year awards, Cubs first basemen Anthony Rizzo won the Ex-Player of the Year, and finally, Red Sox star right fielder, Mookie Betts, won the Homegrown Player of the Year.
The Red Sox announced their own season-end award winners this past week as well, and there were not many double-ups from our awards. The repeat winners were Castellanos and Mendoza who won the Red Sox Latin Player and Pitcher of the year honors as well. Other award winners were Yoan Moncada as Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, Roniel Raudes as the Minor League Pitcher of the Year, third basemen Rafael Devers won the Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Mauricio Dubon was awarded the Baserunner of the Year.
It was a great year for the Red Sox farm system. Officially, the system saw no graduates this year and several of their top prospects had performances that only resulted in their stock continuing to rise. The fact that Baseball America's Player of the Year did not win a SoxProspects.com award shows the depth of talent in the system. That depth was only buoyed by the addition of several highly regarded draft picks, with a few already impressing as professionals.
The system saw team success again this season as well, with the DSL Red Sox1 winning the Dominican Summer League title, Salem losing in the Southern Division Championship Series, and Lowell losing in the New York-Penn League semi-finals.
Coming off a season where he was drafted seventh overall in the MLB Draft and took home both the SoxProspects.com Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, Benintendi somehow managed to keep those amazing performances going as he raked at level after level. After a 2015 in which he produced a .972 OPS between Lowell and Greenville, he began 2016 in Salem, where he was a year and a half younger than the average position player. Over his 34 games there, his production only increased, hitting .341/.413/.563 over those 135 at-bats. The next stop on the tour was Portland, where he was over three years younger than the average positional player. You might think that he would hit a slump at some point with the never-ending series of aggressive promotions, but that slump just never came. After hitting .295/.357/.515 and getting a few reps in left field while at Portland, he got the call to the majors.
His first game came on August 2, and his first major league hit came a day later. Through August 24, he was hitting .324/.365/.485 and had earned the everyday role in left field. Turns out the only thing that could slow the 22-year-old down was an injury. While running the bases, he tweaked his knee and the worst was feared, but an MRI later revealed no structural damage. He spent about three weeks on the DL and was activated by the Red Sox on Monday, the hope that he will be able to help them as they make their playoff push. His production across all levels, including the majors, is what was able to separate Benintendi from a competitive field led by Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Yoan Moncada and earn him Player of the Year honors.
SoxProspects.com has confirmed the full roster of participants and schedule for the 2016 Fall Instructional League, reported on Tuesday by Baseball America. Players will report to Fort Myers on September 18, followed by the first game on September 22.
The 47-player roster includes a host of 2016 draftees such as Jason Groome (pictured, right), CJ Chatham, Shaun Anderson, Bobby Dalbec, Michael Shawaryn, Stephen Nogosek, Ryan Scott, Santiago Espinal, and Alan Marrero.Groome, Dalbec, Chatham, and Anderson are all ranked in the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox organization by SoxProspects.com.
The league is used to develop players in the low minors and includes both classroom training and on-field workouts. The games are frequently open to the public, though the game start times are not necessarily entirely accurate.
Here is the full roster of participants, broken down by position:
Baseball America has named Yoan Moncada(pictured, right) its Minor League Player of the Year. The 21-year-old infielder has had a meteoric rise throughout the Red Sox system in 2016, starting with High-A Salem, eventually leading to his promotion to Boston a little under two weeks ago.
Moncada, who was originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2015, has consistently been ranked as one of the top prospects in all of baseball and is currently ranked the #1 prospect in the Red Sox system by SoxProspects.com. In 106 games with Salem and Double-A Portland, Moncada hit .294/.407/.511 with 15 home runs, 31 doubles, 62 RBI, and 45 stolen bases.
The Red Sox minor league season concluded this week, as the Lowell Spinners and Salem Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention but the DSL Red Sox1 wrapped up the summer in style with a DSL championship.
9/10 Cup of Coffee: The final Red Sox affiliate ended its season Friday, as High-A Salem fell 2-1 in a decisive Game Three of the Southern Division Championship Series. Matt Kent (pictured) tossed a gem for Salem, but two late runs were enough for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to claim the victory.
Through six innings, Matt Kent had a shutout working and Salem held a 1-0 lead. But the Pelicans plated the equalizer in the seventh and scored the game-winner off Yankory Pimentel in the eighth. Simon Mercedes did not allow a hit in the final 1 1/3 innings, but the Red Sox could not close the gap. Three straight singles to start the fifth pushed across Salem’s lone run, with Jordan Procyshen’s knock scoring Jayce Ray. Rafael Devers’ two hits, including a double, upped his series line to 5 for 12 with a home run, a double and 4 RBI. Seven different Red Sox notched hits, as Salem outhit Myrtle Beach 8-7.
Moncada to the majors? September call-ups? First-hand Jason Groome, Bobby Dalbec, CJ Chatham, and Mike Shawaryn reports? And even new rankings? Sounds like a recipe for a podcast, so Chris and Ian got into the kitchen to cook up some prospect talk.
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9/9 Cup of Coffee: Salem staved off elimination thanks in part to a big night from Rafael Devers(pictured), forcing a deciding Game 3 on Friday. An exciting season came to an end for Lowell, despite a solid start from Jason Groome.
Salem bounced back in a big way after losing the series opener, pounding out 10 hits. Rafael Devers led the charge with a 2-for-4 night, clubbing a two-run shot in the fifth to give the Sox some breathing room. He also drove in a key run in the third inning on an RBI single. Jayce Ray kicked the scoring off in the second inning with a solo home run. Trey Ball came through in the clutch, picking up the win with 5 2/3 innings of solid work. He allowed just one run on three hits while striking out three and walking two. Myrtle Beach was able to bring the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Jamie Callahan staved off disaster to earn the save.
NORWICH, Conn. -- After two appearances in the Gulf Coast League, Red Sox 2016 first-round pick Jason Groome was promoted to Lowell and made his New York-Penn League debut last Friday, September 2, on the road against the Connecticut Tigers. Groome was regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2016 draft class, but fell all the way to the 12th pick, where the Red Sox selected him and then signed him on July 15 for a $3.65-million bonus, just over $450,000 over slot.
Groome threw two innings in each of his two appearances in the GCL, but lasted two and two-thirds in his Lowell debut. He did not allow any hits and struck out two, but did walk four and was charged with a run when an inherited runner scored. Overall, Groome threw 56 pitches, half for strikes, and while his control came and went at times, it was still a very encouraging first look.
9/8 Cup of Coffee: The DSL Red Sox1 had to wait a day, but they wrapped up the DSL championship with a convincing 8-1 victory. In Game 1 of their respective series, both the Salem Red Sox and Lowell Spinners lost. They will look to stave off elimination Thursday in Game 2 of their series.
In the opening game of a best-of-three series, the Pelicans rode a six-run third inning to an easy 8-1 victory. Michael Kopech struggled, going 2 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out five. Anyelo Leclerc added 1 2/3 innings of relief, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Jake Cosart, Bobby Poyner, and Trevor Kelley combined for four scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The lone run of the contest for the Red Sox came in the sixth on a Rafael Devers RBI single. Trey Ball will take the mound in Game 2 as the Red Sox look to keep their season alive.
Six Red Sox minor leaguers are receiving recognition as postseason All-Stars after strong seasons. Most notably, SoxProspects.com top-ranked prospect Yoan Moncadaand third-ranked Rafael Devers(pictured)were named to the Carolina League roster. Joining them in receiving all-star honors were first baseman/outfielder Chris Marreroin the International League, outfielder Aneury Tavarezin the Eastern League, and outfielders Luis Alexander Basabeand Tate Mathenyin the South Atlantic League.
To have six postseason All-Stars is quite an accomplishment to the Red Sox farm system, as players who receive midseason promotions are unlikely to receive consideration (though Moncada still made the Carolina League's team). In 2015, the Red Sox affiliates had only one postseason All-Star, with Moncada representing the South Atlantic League. The last time Red Sox affiliates had as many as six postseason All-Stars was 2012 when they had nine, including Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, and Mauro Gomez for Pawtucket; Christian Vazquez, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Almanzar, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Travis Shaw for Salem; and Keury De La Cruz for Greenville.
9/7 Cup of Coffee: The DSL Red Sox1 remain one victory away from winning the championship series as their contest was suspended by rain. They were the only Red Sox affiliate in action.
DSL Red Sox1 4, DSL Rangers1 1 (suspended)
The DSL Red Sox1, who lead the championship series, 2-1, had their contest suspended by rain with one out in the top of the eighth inning. The game will resume Wednesday morning; if the Red Sox falter, a deciding Game 5 will be played immediately following Game 4.
Ritzi Mendoza struck out six over five innings, allowing one unearned run and three hits. Carlos Cortes added two innings of hitless relief, striking out four. Carlos Pulido, Eddy Reynoso, Marino Campana, and Ramfis Berroa each had two hits and an RBI before the game was suspended.
SoxProspects.com managing editor Matt Huegel took a look at another 2016 draftee who's playing in Lowell right now in fourth-rounder Bobby Dalbec. After struggling at the plate in his junior season at Arizona, Dalbec has hit .391/.432/.688 with 13 doubles and seven home runs in 33 games with Lowell. Dalbec credits his success to a return to the hitting mechanics that he used in the Cape Cod League last summer.
Dalbec is featured on this week's Scouting Scratch as SoxProspects.com director of scouting Ian Cundall took a recent trip to Lowell to see some of the 2016 draftees.
With rosters expanding in September, the Red Sox promoted top prospect Yoan Moncada (pictured) from Portland to Boston for Friday's game against Oakland. Moncada entered Friday night's game as a defensive replacement and then made his first start on Saturday, going 2 for 5 with a double for his first major league hit. Through four games, Moncada is 4 for 13 with a double and a walk.
LOWELL, Mass. -- Somewhat surprisingly, Lowell has been one of the more intriguing affiliates in the system, with a nice blend of young players moving up from the complex leagues and 2016 draftees. Thus far, the most impressive player of the group has been third baseman Bobby Dalbec, and in fact, he has done things that I haven’t seen any hitter do in Lowell since I started scouting games at LeLacheur Park back in 2011. Through 112 at-bats, Dalbec has put up a .375/.426/.679 line with six home runs, two triples and 12 doubles with only a 21.3% strike out rate. His stat line has not been approached by a Spinners regular since at least Ryan Kalish in 2007 (.368/.471/.540 with three home runs in 87 at-bats in 23 games).
Dalbec led the Cape Cod League in home runs last summer despite spending a good part of that season playing for Team USA, heading into his junior season at Arizona as a potential first-round selection. However, he struggled this spring, striking out 76 times in 207 at-bats and seeing his home run total drop from 15 to six and his average drop from .315 to .266. Complicating things further, perhaps, Dalbec excelled on the mound late in the year, moving into in a starting role late and turning in a stellar pitching performance during the College World Series. As a result, some speculated that his long-term future might be in that role, but the Red Sox drafted him as a position player and thus far their faith in his bat has been rewarded.
9/6 Cup of Coffee: The 2016 season came to an end for Pawtucket, Portland, and Greenville, while Salem and Lowell will move on to the playoffs. The DSL Red Sox1 held on to beat the DSL Rangers1 and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series for the DSL title. Henry Owens (pictured) and Bryce Brentz helped Pawtucket go out with a victory, while Mauricio Dubon ended the season on hot streak for Portland.
Henry Owens ended the minor league season on the right foot, leading the PawSox as they doubled up the Bisons. Owens allowed two runs, one earned, over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five while walking three. He ends the season with a 10-7 record and a 3.53 ERA, though his 81 walks in 137 2/3 innings will be a key development point as he looks ahead to 2017. Kyle Martin finished the game with 2 1/3 scoreless innings as he picked up his sixth save.
9/5 Cup of Coffee: No-hitters being broken up on singles back to the mound seemed to be a theme on Sunday, even in the minors. Justin Haley (pictured) was brilliant in his no-hit bid for Pawtucket. Salem won in 12 innings, while the GCL Red Sox' season ended in the playoffs. The DSL Red Sox had their championship series tied up.
This was an interesting game, as the only run came in the first inning when Buffalo starter Scott Copeland made a throwing error when attempting to pick off Jose Vinicio at second base. The PawSox had just four hits, with Chris Marrero ripping his 30th double and Chris Dominguez adding a double of his own.
Justin Haley was dominant, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Just like Eduardo Rodriguez' start in Oakland, Haley's no-hitter was broken up on a single back to the mound. Overall, he threw eight shutout innings, struck out seven, and walked just one. Luis Ysla picked up the save with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
Cup of Coffee 9/4: It was a night of low-scoring games for the affiliates, as Salem was the only team to score more than four runs, putting up nine in a blowout win behind a banner day from Luis Alexander Basabe (pictured). A strong performance by Sean O'Sullivan led Pawtucket to victory while struggles from Kevin McAvoy and Roniel Raudes ended in a pair of losses. The DSL Red Sox1 won the first game of the DSL finals in an exciting walk-off win in the 14th inning.
Starting pitcher Sean O'Sullivan led the PawSox to victory with a strong performance on Saturday night. O'Sullivan tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out eight. Roman Mendez tossed 1 2/3 innings of shutout baseball before turning the ball over to Austin Maddox and Heath Hembree for a scoreless frame each. The PawSox bats drew first blood in the third inning, when Jose Vinicio and Rusney Castillo each doubled to start the inning. Pawtucket's only other run came via a fifth-inning RBI single off the bat of Ryan LaMarre, scoring Castillo.
9/3 Cup of Coffee: The Spinners had a historic night as they swept a doubleheader and gained further clarity on their playoff situation. Meanwhile, the PawSox and Sea Dogs both lost. Salem and Greenville both came away with wins, while the DSL Sox won their opening playoff series in walk-off fashion.
The PawSox ended up on the wrong end of a pitcher's duel, dropping a close 1-0 decision in ten innings. Roenis Elias (pictured, right) took the mound for Pawtucket, allowing just three hits and two walks in six shutout innings. The left-hander struck out nine, throwing 59 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Noe Ramirez added two scoreless innings of relief, punching out three. Chandler Shepherd took the loss, allowing the lone run of the game during his inning of relief. Pawtucket mustered just three hits, with Chris Marrero's double accounting for the team's only runner to reach scoring position.
9/2 Cup of Coffee: The playoff run for the second DSL team came to a halt in a gut-wrenching loss. Brian Johnson bounced back nicely from a rough outing his last time to get back on track for Pawtucket. Similarly, Teddy Stankiewicz(pictured) posted his best start in a month for Portland. Salem concluded its wild game that was suspended on Wednesday.
The bats could not get going on Thursday as the PawSox wasted a nice bounce-back start from Brian Johnson. After getting tagged for seven runs in his last outing, Johnson allowed just one run on four hits, while walking three and striking out three. William Cuevas took the loss, despite only having one unearned run score in his 2 1/3 innings of relief. The PawSox managed only four hits, none of which were for extra bases. Chris Dominguez drove in Pawtucket's only run on a sacrifice fly.
The Red Sox have announced that they will promote outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe(pictured) to High-A Salem. The 20-year-old Basabe places eighth in the SoxProspects.com rankings and has enjoyed a solid season in Low-A Greenville, slashing .258/.325/.447 in 105 games with the Drive. He will join Salem for their remaining five games of the season as well as the playoffs.
Basabe signed with the Red Sox alongside his twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe(who was traded to Arizona in the Brad Ziegler trade this July) in 2012. He jumped onto the prospect radar after hitting .243/.340/.401 and flashing plenty of tools as an 18-year-old in Lowell last season. Basabe came into this season with a bit of hype, but struggled in the first half, hitting only .222/.293/.397 and striking out at a 29.9% rate. However, the toolsy outfielder adjusted at the plate and improved to .292/.355/.493 in the second half.
The Red Sox announced on Wednesday evening that the system’s top prospect, infielder Yoan Moncada, will be selected to the active major league roster from Double-A Portland on Friday when rosters expand. Based on comments by Boston manager John Farrell to the press earlier in the day, it is likely that Moncada will see time at third base, a position he only began playing earlier in the month, as well as provide speed off the bench once he joins the club in Oakland.
The 21-year-old Cuban was ranked as the top prospect in baseball at midseason by Baseball America and MLB.com, while Baseball Prospectus ranked him second. He will reach the major leagues less than two years after signing with Boston for a $31.5 million bonus in March 2015, a figure on which the club paid a 100 percent tax, having already gone over its international bonus cap. Although yet to make his major league debut, he shows sufficient promise for that record bonus to look like money well spent for a club that now turns to him for a shot in the arm entering the stretch run of a pennant chase.
After signing to great fanfare during spring training last season, Moncada spent time in extended spring training to shake off rust from a year-plus layoff, and his professional debut was then delayed further until mid-May because of a shoulder strain. After finally being assigned to Low A Greenville, he took some time to adjust, scuffling through his first 25 games. But after the all-star break, something clicked. In his final 56 games, Moncada hit .310/.415/.500 with seven home runs and 45 steals, reaching safely in all but six of those contests.
9/1 Cup of Coffee: Both DSL squads began their semifinal series on Wednesday. Ugly starting pitching in Portland, Greenville, and Lowell led to blowout losses, but a ferocious comeback helped Michael Kopech and Salem avoid a similar fate. Bobby Dalbec and Jerry Downs (pictured, right) stayed sizzling hot despite Lowell’s loss, and Pawtucket suffered a narrow defeat.
Despite outhitting Lehigh Valley, 8-5, Pawtucket fell short. Henry Owens surrendered four runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six. The bullpen did not allow a hit or walk the rest of the way. Roman Mendez went 1 1/3 innings, and Joe Kelly (two strikeouts) set down the side in order in the eighth. The PawSox tied the game, 3-3, with a three-run sixth inning. Chris Marrero doubled home Ryan LaMarre and Christian Vazquez before Jantzen Witte plated Marrero with a sacrifice fly. Marrero and Vazquez each had two hits, while Rusney Castillo reach twice on a single and a walk.