SoxProspects News

June 8, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Shepherd dominates again for PawSox


6/8 Cup of Coffee: While Jalen Beeks was preparing to make his major league debut, Chandler Shepherd (pictured) turned in another outstanding performance on Thursday afternoon. He was supported by the white-hot Rusney Castillo. Bryan Mata and Alex Scherff turned in solid-if-inefficient starts as both Salem and Greenville prevailed, while some wonky defense doomed both Portland and the DSL Red Sox1 squad. 

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After a rough early introduction in his transition to starter, Chandler Shepherd has turned into a force in the Pawtucket rotation. The 25-year-old righty fired six shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out four against one walk. In his last seven starts, Shepherd has gone at least five innings and allowed one or fewer earned runs five times. Ty Buttrey continues to shine out of the bullpen, striking out a pair in two scoreless innings. A trio of home runs provided the PawSox offense. Rusney Castillo and Michael Ohlman had solo shots, and Ivan DeJesus had a two-run blast. Over his last five games, Castillo is 12 for 22 with four doubles and two homers, good for an even 1.000 slugging percentage. 

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Portland was done in by a disastrous sixth inning, with three errors leading to six Bowie runs. Matt Kent had been cruising through five, surrendering just one run coming on a solo homer. He was the victim of those three errors, with all six runs going as unearned. Trey Ball bounced back from a tough stretch with a pair of scoreless innings, striking out a pair. Ball had allowed at least one run in 10 of his previous 11 appearances out of the Portland bullpen. Josh Ockimey and Luke Tendler had two hits apiece to pace the offense. 

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A 13-hit attack got Salem back up to the .500 mark. Santiago Espinal ripped his seventh home run of the year, a two-run shot in the seventh inning that put Salem up 4-3. Espinal added a single, and he is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak. Roldani Baldwin drove in three runs as part of a 2-for-5 evening, while Bobby Dalbec was 2 for 4 with his 14th double of the season. Starter Bryan Mata was solid, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with three strikeouts in five innings. Control was again an issue, as he walked four and uncorked a wild pitch.

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After a difficult first two months of the 2018 season, Greenville has taken six of its first seven contests in June. Victor Acosta led the offense, going 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI. Lorenzo Cedrola scored a pair of runs out of the leadoff spot and stole his seventh base of the year. 

Alex Scherff got the start, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits. He missed plenty of bats, striking out seven, but walked three and needed 88 pitches to get 14 outs. Despite the issues with efficiency, the 2017 fifth-round pick has taken a big step forward: after posting a 9.35 ERA through April, he has a 2.60 mark over his last six starts. 

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Nothing went right for the Red Sox1 squad, as they surrendered 15 hits, walked 13 batters, and committed five errors. The lone bright spot was the bat of Luis Mota, who was 2 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. The Red Sox1 did not record a hit as part of their lone rally, walking three times and getting hit by two pitches in a three-run sixth inning.

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A tough outing by the bullpen spoiled a solid start by Irvin Villarroel. The youngest active player in the organization, Villarroel does not turn 17 until July 26, but was able to allow just one run on four hits in four innings in his first professional start. He struck out five and walked one. At the plate, Angel Maita scored one run on a two-for-five afternoon out of the leadoff slot. Carlos Martinez and Gabriel Quintero had a double apiece, the first career extra-base hit for both.

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Player of the Day: After working almost exclusively out of the bullpen in his first four years in the organization, Chandler Shepherd was sent to the Arizona Fall League to work out as a starting pitcher. He entered 2018 in that role, and the early returns were not good, as he had a 7.56 ERA and .956 opponent's OPS through four games. A switch flipped when the calendar turned to May, and after Thursday's six shutout innings Shepherd has a 1.79 ERA in seven starts, with 29 strikeouts, seven walks, and only one home run allowed.

Photo Credit: Chandler Shepherd by Kelly O'Connor

 
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