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May 31, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Duran and Casas homer, Hart dominates in Triple-A debut

5/31 Cup of Coffee: With the graduation of Michael Chavis, Triston Casas became the new number one prospect in the system in the SoxProspects.com rankings. He celebrated by launching his eighth home run of the month, though Greenville ultimately lost in a rout. Jarren Duran, who jumped up to the third spot in the rankings, hit an inside-the-park home run in a game that was ultimately suspended, and Kyle Hart (pictured, right) had a nearly flawless Triple-A debut.


Kyle Hart became the first pitcher in Triple-A to throw a nine-inning shutout this season as he stifled the IronPigs. Making his Triple-A debut, the 26-year-old left-hander allowed only five hits and struck out eight without walking a batter. Including his Double-A stats, Hart now has a 2.51 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 64 2/3 innings. 

The offense was once again led by Bryce Brentz, who went 2 for 2 with a double, two RBI, and a walk. After struggling in April with a .554 OPS, Brentz has hit .327/.413/.673 in May. Jantzen Witte added a two-run home run, his third of the year. 


A strong start from Denyi Reyes went to waste as the Sea Dogs struck out 18 times and the bullpen blew a late lead. Reyes gave up only one hit (a single in the sixth inning) and struck out seven over six scoreless innings. Reyes is another player who turned around his season in May, dropping his ERA from 6.87 in April to 2.86 in May. Brian Johnson came on in relief and blew the save, allowing two runs on four hits over two innings. Johnson has been hit hard in his four rehab appearances as he works his way back from his left elbow inflammation. 

There were not any noteworthy offensive performances as the team only managed six hits over 11 innings. Bobby Dalbec went 1 for 5 with a double but he also struck out four times. The hot-and-cold aspect of Dalbec's game has not gone away this season, as he went from hitting .340/.426/.809 from May 8 to May 21, to going 5 for 28 with 13 strikeouts in the seven games since then. 


Salem Red Sox @ Down East Wood Ducks (TEX) (Suspended, rain)
The game was suspended in the fourth inning with the game tied at 1-1. It will resume on Friday, and then be followed by a seven-inning game. The main highlight at the start of the game was an inside-the-park home run from Jarren Duran on a fly ball to left-center field.


Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL) 10, Greenville Drive 2
It was another rough start for Brayan Bello, who saw his ERA balloon to 8.53. He was tagged for eight runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old looked like a breakout prospect to start the year, but he has now been hit hard in four of his last five starts. Angel Padron tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts to help limit the damage.

The top four hitters in the order combined to go 0 for 14, but Triston Casas launched another home run out of the fifth spot in the order. Casas went 1 for 3 with the home run, a walk, and two strikeouts. The home run was his 10th of the year, eighth of the month, and third in as many games as he improved his slash line to .326/.402/.674 in May. 


Player of the Night: Signed for $5,000 as a 19th-round pick in 2016, Kyle Hart impressed in smaller sample sizes over his first two years in the system. 2018 was his first full season, and he logged 138 2/3 innings with Portland after not topping 100 innings in any previous season even going back to college. He predictably hit a wall in the middle of last season, but he was able to bounce back and pitch to a 2.06 ERA over his last 48 innings. 

He carried that success forward to this season, where he has been arguably the top performing starter in the system, with Thaddeus Ward as his main competition. Hart has increased the usage of his slider and cutter this season, and that has allowed his strikeouts per nine innings to jump from 6.49 in 2018 to 9.46 in 2019. 

Photo Credit: Kyle Hart by Kelly O'Connor