SoxProspects News

September 18, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Minor Notes: Greenville wins SAL championship


Here are Monday's minor league notes:
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September 15, 2017 at 11:57 PM

Cup of Coffee: Drive capture South Atlantic League title


9/16 Cup of Coffee: Brett Netzer and a lights-out effort from the bullpen guided Greenville to a South Atlantic League Championship. They took the series from Kannapolis three games to one to win their first SAL title.

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The Drive capitalized on a key error in the first inning to put up a crooked number right away. After consecutive singles from Brett Netzer and Roldani Baldwin, Bobby Dalbec roped an RBI double to right. With two down, Tyler Hill reached on an error that cost Kannapolis two more runs. The Intimidators chipped away at Greenville starter Hildemaro Requena, who allowed three runs on nine hits, including two solo shots, in 4 2/3 innings. In the sixth, Greenville pulled away and never looked back. Netzer delivered the nail in the coffin with a two-out, three-run double to make the score 8-3. Jagger Rusconi also had an RBI knock in the frame.
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata starts strong before dropping game three


9/15 Cup of Coffee: Things were looking up early in Greenville's attempt to sweep its way to its first ever South Atlantic League Title. Unfortunately, a tough fifth inning helped knock off the Drive, whose series lead was cut to two games to one.

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It was a disappointing result for the Drive, who had the sweep and the South Atlantic League title clearly in their sights after right fielder Ryan Scott blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, giving them a 2-1 lead. Bryan Mata, the 18-year-old phenom had been very strong up to that point, allowing only one run in four innings, striking out four against one walk. However, things turned on Mata and the Drive in the fifth. After the first batter was retired, three hits and an ill-advised throw on a fielder's choice gave the Intimidators a lead they would not relinquish, knocking Mata out of the game.
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September 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Minor Notes: Playoffs, Otani, and winter leagues


Here are Thursday's minor league notes:
  • The minor league seasons are winding down, but SoxProspects.com's coverage is not. Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was busy with two new editions of Scouting Scratch. The first covered some quick hitters from Lowell. His write-up featured four 2017 draft picks including two hitters in third baseman Michael Osinski and outfielder Marino Campana and two pitchers with lefty Dominic LoBrutto and righty Taylor Ahearn.
  • Continuing the trend of 2017 picks, Ian's second Scouting Scratch covered the Red Sox's first round pick, Lowell right hander Tanner Houck (pictured, right). Ian has now had the chance to see Houck three times, and his update after his penultimate start of the season was promising.
  • The podcast team took to the air earlier this week to discuss the minor league playoff teams, September rankings, and major and minor league call-ups. Within the episode, Chris gets fired up about outfielder Bryce Brentz. Listen to find out why.
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at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Tanner Houck



First-round pick Tanner Houck had an up and down first pro season with Lowell. He threw 22 1/3 innings, allowing 21 hits and walking eight while striking out 25, good for a 3.63 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. I had the chance to see Houck three times earlier in the season and wrote about it in an earlier Scouting Scratch. Recently, I caught his penultimate start. In that two-inning outing, in the first inning he showed the potential premium stuff that led the Red Sox to take him 24th overall before running into trouble in his second inning, albeit as a result of some poor defense. 

Houck hasn’t altered his delivery since he entered the organization, starting on the first base side before stepping towards the third base dugout and coming across his body. While the delivery isn’t what you look for in a starter, he repeats it well and more importantly is comfortable with it. It is off-putting, especially for right-handed hitters. When he’s keeping the ball down, he will generate a lot of weak contact on the ground. 

In the first inning of this start, he showed all three of his pitches and showed a much-improved changeup compared to earlier in the season to compliment his fastball and slider. His low arm slot does give left-handers a good look at the ball, making development of his changeup a key for him to stick as a starter long term.

In the first inning, Houck sat 93-94 mph with his fastball. The pitch showed life and sink and elicited two swinging strikes, one against a righty and one against a lefty. He threw seven of his eight fastballs for strikes and commanded the offering down in the zone, overwhelming the Staten Island hitters. 

Houck mixed in both his secondary pitches as well, both to great effect. His threw his slider 80-82 mph, slower than earlier in the year, but it had more depth and tilt. The pitch was still sweepy and at times later in the outing he got on the side of it, but it flashed above-average potential. 

The improvement on his changeup was most encouraging, as he showed more feel than earlier in the season. He had rarely mixed the pitch in early in the year, but on this occasion he showed confidence in the pitch and threw it with deceptive arm speed. It was especially effective against left-handed hitters, eliciting a pair of swinging strikes on changeups that showed late fade, falling off the table down and out of the zone, away from the hitter’s swing path. 

While Houck dominated in the first inning, flashing three above-average pitches and the ability to control all of them and locate down in the zone, he ran into trouble in the second and his stuff wasn’t as crisp. The inning was lengthened by two defensive misplays, most notably an error by the third baseman on a potential double play ball that could have ended the inning, but Houck’s fastball velocity took a slight tick down to 91-93 mph, and it lacked the finish it had in the first inning. He struggled to locate the pitch and left a few up in the zone, where the pitch flattened out. 

Houck’s secondary pitches also came and went more in the second inning. He threw a few average-to-better ones, but also some below-average ones, including getting on the side of his slider. 

Even though the second inning wasn’t as good as the first, this was still the best Houck’s stuff had looked overall. In other outings, his velocity was higher, but on this day he showed the ability to locate his fastball at 93-94 mph with sink, and if he can comfortably pitch at that velocity it will give hitters a lot of trouble. Similarly, if he can continue to refine his changeup and improve his consistency with both his secondary offerings, it will go a long way to alleviating concerns that he is a potential bullpen arm long-term.

Photo credit: Tanner Houck by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Diaz and Smith combine on a three-hit shutout


9/14 Cup of Coffee: Another tremendous pitching performance, this time led by Jhonathan Diaz, moved the Drive to within one win of their first South Atlantic League title in team history. 

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Jhonathan Diaz pitched the Drive to a 2-0 series lead with 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits, both singles, and walked one while striking out seven. Hunter Smith came on in relief and allowed one hit over 2 2/3 shutout innings.

Greenville managed only six hits, with a solo home run from Roldani Baldwin (pictured) being the biggest. Brett Netzer went 2 for 4 with an RBI single, and Jerry Downs went 2 for 4 as the designated hitter. 
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September 13, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Dalbec, Espinal lift Greenville in wild Game 1 victory


9/13 Cup of Coffee: It took 13 innings, but a 17-hit attack and some clutch hitting from Bobby Dalbec (pictured) gave the Greenville Drive a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship Series.

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In a wild, back-and-forth affair, Bobby Dalbec twice provided go-head hits for the Drive in the eighth and 13th innings. An error by Kannapolis provided the crucial insurance run as a wild Joan Martinez was able to survive a pair of wild pitches in the bottom of the 13th to secure the save.
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September 12, 2017 at 10:38 PM

Podcast Ep. #130: Lots of stuff about error bars


September brings us minor league playoffs, September call-ups in both the majors and minors, and of course, a new set of rankings. Who's fueling the Greenville Drive's playoff run? Why is Chris so fired up about Bryce Brentz? Who did Ian try to rank much higher than the other brass members? Listen and find out!

Click through for show notes, links, and in-site player.
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Greenville rained out, pausing title chase


9/12 Cup of Coffee: Game one of the South Atlantic League Championship Series between Greenville and the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS) was postponed by rain. The two squads will try once again to kick off their best-of-three series in Kannapolis on Tuesday, with game two sliding into Wednesday's scheduled off day. Jhonathan Diaz remains scheduled to take the mound in the opener for the Drive. 
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September 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: Regular season ends, Greenville advances in postseason



Here are Monday's minor league notes:
  • In the most recent Scouting Scratch, Director of Scouting Ian Cundall analyzes a couple of Boston's depth pieces in first baseman Sam Travis and right-hander Justin Haley. Travis has suffered from a lack of power this season, hitting .270/.351/.375 in Pawtucket and .306/.393/.429 in 22 games in Boston. Since returning to the Red Sox organization, Haley has pitched to a 2.66 ERA in seven starts but doesn't profile as a major league starter.
  • The minor league regular season ended earlier in the week and the Greenville Drive is the only Red Sox affiliate still active. In their most recent game, the Drive shut out Charleston to win the best-of-three series. Greenville will begin a best-of-five series against Kannapolis on Monday as they compete in the South Atlantic League Finals. 
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at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Quick-hitters from Lowell



Although he has struggled in the second half of his first professional experience, Michael Osinski has been one of the better hitters in the Lowell lineup. As of September 6, Osinski has hit .259/.328/.348 in 177 plate appearances (including three games in the Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to Lowell). He came out of the gates quickly, hitting .341/.385/.427 in his first 23 professional games, but from August 5 to September 5, he scuffled to a .171/.267/.263 line in 20 games.

Osinski was selected in the 31st round in this year’s draft out of Longwood University—from where the Red Sox previously drafted outfielder Kyri Washington in 2015—and signed for a $25,000 bonus. A shortstop in college, the 6-2, 195 pound Osinski has split time between third base and shortstop since he signed, playing 18 games at third and 13 at short. Long-term, Osinski is unlikely to stick at shortstop, as he is a fringe athlete, a below-average runner, and lacks the fluidity or range to play up the middle. At third base, Osinski has a below-average arm and his footwork is poor. He has struggled with the move as a result, making eight errors and posting just a .822 fielding percentage. 
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September 10, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Requena leads Greenville to the finals


9/10 Cup of Coffee: The Drive made sure the minor league season would go a little longer for the Red Sox affiliates, winning the clinching game of their series with Charleston.

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Greenville Drive 5 Charleston RiverDogs (NYY) 0 (Game 3, Best of 3)
The Drive won the Southern Division title, beating the River Dogs in the decisive game of the best-of-three series. They now move on to play the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS) for the South Atlantic League championship.
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September 9, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata pitches well in loss


9/9 Cup of Coffee: The Drive continued their playoff series with Charleston, taking the loss to force a Game three that will be played tonight. Bryan Mata (pictured) pitched very well for Greenville and Brett Netzer grabbed two hits.

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The Southern Division Championship was evened at one, as the Drive offense wasn't able to come through with runners in scoring position, going 0 for 9 with RISP. Brett Netzer and Pedro Castellanos each had two-hit nights, with Netzer ripping a double. Jerry Downs drove in the lone run with a ground out in the eighth inning that scored Netzer, who doubled to open the frame. 
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September 8, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Ahearn pitches in during Spinners split


9/8 Cup of Coffee: It was the final day of the 2017 regular season, with only the Short Season-A Lowell Spinners still in action. They closed by winning in the completion of Wednesday's rain-shortened affair, followed by dropping the regularly scheduled season finale. Greenville, the only Sox affiliate remaining in the playoffs, resumes its series against Charleston on Friday. 

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The two teams matched zeroes for eight and a half innings in a contest the was halted by rain in the second inning on Wednesday. The game winning rally came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, as Juan Barriento singled and came around to score on the rare walk-off triple by Michael Osinski. After Nick Duron went the first two innings, Taylor Ahearn (pictured) entered when play resumed Thursday. Ahearn was excellent, scattering three hits across five innings, striking out four. Ryan Oduber went the final two innings to get credit for the win.
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September 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Sam Travis and Justin Haley



Coming off an ACL tear that ended his 2016 season early, first baseman Sam Travis sought to reestablish himself as a potential first baseman of the future for the Red Sox this year. With the team only signing Mitch Moreland to a one-year deal, Travis could claim the first base job entering 2018 with a good, healthy season. Unfortunately, the 2017 season hasn’t gone according to plan—Travis did receive his first big league call up in May, but he has been unable to answer the biggest question mark in his game: his lack of power. 

For the season, Travis has six home runs and 14 doubles in 342 plate appearances in Pawtucket, good for a .375 slugging percentage to go along with a .270 average and .351 on-base percentage. Over his most recent stint in Pawtucket, from July 18 through the end of August, his lack of power was even more glaring, as he managed just five extra-base hits—two doubles and one home run—in 160 plate appearances, good for a .338 slugging percentage and .065 isolated power mark. 

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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hernandez leads Greenville to series lead


9/7 Cup of Coffee: Seven strong innings from Darwinzon Hernandez (pictured), and home runs from Roldani Baldwin and Tucker Tubbs pushed the Drive past the RiverDogs in the opening game of their playoff series, while the Spinners game was suspended due to rain.

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Greenville Drive 4, Charleston RiverDogs (NYY) 1 (Game 1, Best of 3)
Darwinzon Hernandez struck out six and allowed only two hits as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball. The lone blemish was a solo home run that gave the RiverDogs the lead in the sixth, but the Drive answered with RBI singles from Tucker Tubbs and Jagger Rusconi to take the lead in the seventh. Home runs from Tubbs and Roldani Baldwin extended the lead, and Joan Martinez shut the door with two scoreless innings of relief.
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September 6, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Lozada, O'Linger carry Lowell to win


9/6 Cup of Coffee: With Greenville laying in wait for the playoffs begin, the Spinners were the only affiliate in action as the minor league season draws to a close. In his second game with Lowell, Everlouis Lozada paced the offense, while the Spinners pitching also impressed.

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The Spinners rallied late to snatch a win to cap their second-to-last series of the season. Everlouis Loazada impressed in his second game with Lowell, going 3 for 5 with the game-tying RBI single in the seventh. Alexander Martinez drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth on an RBI groundout. Cole Brannen added an RBI triple, going 1 for 2 with a pair of walks. It had been a frustrating night at the dish until taking the lead, as the Spinners left 11 men on base and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

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September 5, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Minor Notes: Rosters expand, minor league playoffs set to begin


Here are Tuesday's minor league notes:
  • With rosters expanding on September 1, the Red Sox recalled Blake Swihart (pictured, right), Sam Travis, Austin Maddox, Tzu-Wei Lin, Deven Marrero, Hector Velazquez, and Roenis Elias from Pawtucket. They now have 35 players on the active roster.
  • Elias is the only player to not appear in a game for Boston already this season, as he missed the first month of the season with an intercostal strain and then missed another two months with a rib injury. 
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at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Dalbec helps Greenville cap record-setting season


9/5 Cup of Coffee: Another regular season has come to an end for all of Boston's affiliates with the exception of Lowell. The only squad to qualify for the playoffs also picked up the only win on the day. Greenville was powered by Bobby Dalbec (pictured) and a lineup that ripped 15 hits in its final tuneup for the South Atlantic League playoffs. Pawtucket, Portland, and Salem limped into the offseason with losses, and Lowell continues to struggle, getting swept in a doubleheader by Hudson Valley.

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A depleted PawSox roster was little match for the Red Wings. Jalen Beeks closed out his regular season by allowing four runs on six hits in 4 2/3. Brian Bogusevic picked up three hits in the loss, and Ryan Court finished the season with his 21st double.
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September 4, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Dominguez rips two homers, Kendrick dominates


9/4 Cup of Coffee: Weather hampered the last Sunday of the minor league season for Red Sox affiliates as Portland and Lowell were rained out. The PawSox handily beat Rochester thanks to a huge game by Matt Dominguez (pictured) and six shutout frames by Kyle Kendrick. Salem lost in a pitching duel despite a strong performance by Logan Boyd. Starter Jhonathan Diaz had a tough start in a loss for Greenville. 

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Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick was dealing on Sunday night, throwing six shutout innings with three hits and no walks allowed. Carson Smith threw a scoreless 1/3 of an inning then Chandler Shepherd gave up two runs in 1 2/3 frames of relief. Williams Jerez closed it out with a shutout inning, striking out one. Third baseman Matt Dominguez led the charge on offense, going 3 for 5 with two homers and three RBI. Bryce Brentz went 2 for 5 and clocked his 31st home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth. 

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September 3, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Barfield lights up Triple-A debut


9/3 Cup of Coffee: Jeremy Barfield hit the ground running after his promotion to Pawtucket with a huge night at the plate. The Sea Dogs won in dramatic fashion thanks to Mike Olt. Salem got a sparkling start from Daniel Gonzalez en route to a win.

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The PawSox erased an early 3-0 deficit thanks in part to a Triple-A debut to remember from Jeremy Barfield. The 29-year-old right fielder went 4 for 5 with his first Triple-A home run and two runs scored. Dan Butler also drove in a pair on a two-run double. Edgar Olmos earned his ninth win of the season with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out four. Hector Velazquez pitched one inning to start the game in anticipation of his likely promotion back to Boston.
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September 2, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Barfield, Ball lead Portland to win


9/2 Cup of Coffee: Jeremy Barfield (pictured) produced another big night offensively, blasting a home run and a double in Portland's win.  Tzu-Wei Lin had a nice game before his call up, and Trey Ball pitched well en route to his seventh win.

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Brian Johnson had a rough outing, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one during his fourth loss of the year. Kyle Martin struggled a bit with control, walking three, but limiting the damage to one run in his two innings. Brian Bogusevic had a big night, going 2 for 5 with his 12th home run and three RBI. Matt Dominguez also went 2 for 5 with his 14th home run. Tzu-Wei Lin went 1 for 3 with a pair of walks before being recalled to Boston after the game.

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Trey Ball struck out just one batter in six innings, but still managed to allow just two runs on four hits as he picked up his seventh win. Jacob Dahlstrand tossed two scoreless innings and Trevor Kelley finished it off with a shutout frame. Jeremy Barfield led the way, belting a three-run homer, his 27th of the season, as part of a 2-for-4 night. Henry Urrutia also had a nice game, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run. Jordan Procyshen laced a two-run double as well.


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Salem was postponed due to rain, but Frederick won again last night, meaning Salem has fallen two-and-a-half games behind. Salem has just four games left, as the makeup game will be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday.

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Darwinzon Hernandez struggled, surrendering four runs on eight hits in just four innings, pushing his ERA over four. The bullpen kept the Drive in the game, as Robby Sexton and Jared Oliver each tossed two shutout innings, with Sexton punching out three. Jerry Downs went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI, and Carlos Tovar had two hits including a double out of the leadoff spot.

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The Lowell bats couldn't get anything going with runners in scoring position, going just 1 for 10 with RISP and leaving 14 runners on base. Tanner Nishioka was the highlight offensively, going 3 for 4 with a double and a stolen base. Nick Duron was solid, allowing just two runs in five innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Mitchell Osnowitz also pitched very well in relief, not allowing a run in three innings with four punch outs.

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In game one, the Sox walked off with two runs on the bottom of the ninth, with the tying run scoring on a bases-loaded walk and the winning run scoring on a wild pitch. Pedro Castellanos went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk and Eddy Reynoso went 1 for 3 with a double. Fernando Rodriguez started and threw two shutout innings. Victor Garcia got a blown save and the win, striking out seven and allowing three runs in four innings.

The Sox were blown out in game two, as Edilson Bautista allowing nine runs (five earned) on eight hits, three walks, and just one strikeout in 2 2/3 innings. Hunter Haworth was much better, firing 3 1/3 shutout frames with six strikeouts, no walks, and no hits allowed. Ricardo Cubillan had the only hit for the Sox, a single.

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Player of the Night: Jeremy Barfield homered for the third consecutive game to give him 27 on the season now. Barfield has been incredible for Portland, as his 27 long balls have come in just 92 games and 384 plate appearances. The 29-year old has been a great story this year, signing a contract with Boston in May after playing Independent ball.


Photo Credit: Jeremy Barfield by Kelly O'Connor 



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September 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Requena extends scoreless streak to 28 innings


9/1 Cup of Coffee: Pitching was the story on Thursday, and the highlight was the continued excellence of Hildemaro Requena (pictured). The Venezuelan right-hander likely closed the book on his regular season with by extending his shutout innings streak to 28. Justin Haley also continues his run of excellent pitching since rejoining the organization, while Durin O'Linger had a strong outing in the nightcap of the Lowell doubleheader. 

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Justin Haley turned in another quality start, allowing just one run on four hits in seven inning, striking out four. Haley has quality starts in six of his seven outings since being returned from the Minnesota Twins, and he sports a 2.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with the PawSox. Buffalo reached rehabbing Carson Smith for three runs in the eighth inning in one of Smith's final tune-ups before returning to the major league club. At the plate, Jantzen Witte doubled twice as part of a 3-for-4 effort.
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