SoxProspects News

August 1, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Sale, Downs delight Worcester's record crowd; Encarnacion keeps dealing


8/1 Cup of Coffee: Record crowds, rehabbing big-league stars, and top-tier prospects having top-tier days. Baseball is just better when Boston's team and affiliates are making big things happen, and that was certainly the case on Saturday night. While big-league stalwarts Chris Sale and Marwin Gonzalez made the most of their rehab appearances, the younger generation showed that the future is brighter than ever. There's no better way to put behind a 3-for-47 skid than to hit homers on consecutive days, which is just what Jeter Downs (pictured) did. The impressive hitting streaks continue for Yairo Muñoz and Nick Yorke, and Juan Daniel Encarnacion's microscopic ERA just keeps getting lower.


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While the prospect pool is our primary focus, all eyes were on Chris Sale on Saturday -- literally, as the club said Saturday's attendance was a Polar Park record -- as he continued to ramp up his baseball activity in the hopes of joining the big club in the near future. Sale didn't disappoint, tossing five innings of one-run ball, walking just one and striking out seven. Sale threw 81 pitches, scattered five hits, and looked primed for big-league action, whenever that may be. Not lost in the excitement over Sale's start was a second home run by Jeter Downs in as many days. His ninth big fly of the season was one of three tallied by Worcester in the win -- with Marwin Gonzalez and Tate Matheny also clearing the wall for the WooSox. Michael Gettys was 2 for 2 with 2 walks, and Jeremy Rivera added two hits as well. Yairo Muñoz extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a sixth-inning single -- a mark that leaves him two shy of the Worcester/Pawtucket record, held by old friend Jacoby Ellsbury.

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While Triston Casas was busy hitting towering blasts for Team USA in the Olympics, his Sea Dogs teammates had a bit of a power surge of their own in a 6-4 victory over the Fisher Cats. Ronaldo Hernandez opened the scoring with his 10th home run of the season, and Hudson Potts added a game-tying shot in the fifth inning. One inning later, the Sea Dogs took the lead for good with a two-run double by Devlin Granberg. Potts added a sacrifice fly and Kole Cottam hit a bloop single to right that brought Granberg across. Fans at the ballpark celebrated Witchcraft and Wizardry night, and starter Victor Santos needed a little wizardry to get out of a late jam and earn the 7-inning complete game victory. He scattered 9 hits, struck out 5, and didn't walk a single batter in the win.

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In a game that managed only five combined hits between the two teams, Portland needed just two -- plus a well-timed wild pitch by the Fisher Cats -- to earn a narrow 1-0 victory. Pitching understandably dominated the second end of the twin bill, and AJ Politi was up to the task, throwing 6 innings of scoreless ball with just three hits and two walks allowed. Jose Disla slammed the door in the 7th to earn his first save in a Portland uniform. Kole Cottam's double and Nick Sogard's triple were the only hits for Portland, with Sogard crossing the plate in the fifth on a wild pitch to score the game's only run.

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In a game that featured just three total walks and an astounding 38 runners left on base, Greenville mustered a late rally to even things in the 8th inning only to give up three more in the bottom of the frame in a 7-4 loss. Cameron Cannon, Tyler Dearden, and Brandon Howlett hit clutch RBI singles in the 8th to give the Drive life before the Crawdads reclaimed the lead on a HBP, an error, and a single. Yorvin Pantoja suffered the loss after the late-inning struggles. Chase Shugart pitched 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 3 earned runs.

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Kannapolis' hot start doomed Salem early as the Cannon Ballers scored in each of the first four innings en route to a 7-3 victory. Nick Yorke's sixth-inning single extended his hit streak to 13 games, while Darel Belen and Ceddanne Rafaela each added two hits including a home run to their own totals. But pitching proved troublesome for Salem, as Jorge Rodriguez couldn't get into any early rhythm. He allowed 8 hits and 6 earned runs in just two innings of work, giving the Red Sox a deficit from which they could not recover. Ryan Fernandez, Robert Kwiatkowski, and Yasel Santana combined to right the ship out of the bullpen. Fernandez threw three innings of one-run ball while Kwiatkowski and Santana combined for three perfect frames.

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A fifth straight scoreless outing by Juan Daniel Encarnacion wasn't quite enough for the FCL Red Sox on Saturday as the bullpen failed to shut the door late in a 6-4 loss. Encarnacion was brilliant yet again, throwing five innings of two-hit ball, striking out three and walking one. The outing dropped his ERA to a miniscule 0.39. The Red Sox took the lead in the sixth on RBI singles by Eduardo Lopez and Danny Diaz and capped with a Eddinson Paulino double that scored two more. But the Twins responded with two runs in the 7th and four more in the 8th to rally for the win. Blaze Jordan's two hits helped raise his average to .348 this season. But pitchers Reidis Sena and Merfy Andrew ran into late trouble that halted the team's effort on this night.

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An intra-squad contest between Red Sox Red and Red Sox Blue went down to the wire, with Allan Castro both starting and ending the scoring to help Red earn the narrow 8-inning victory. Castro blasted his first home run of the young campaign in the first inning, then laced a game-winning single to score Miguel Bleis. The 2-for-4 effort helped Castro raise his batting average to .302. Ahbram Liendo added two hits out of the leadoff spot for DSL Red, while Lyonell James had two of Blue's four hits on the day. Francis Hernandez pitched well for Red, going 3.2 innings and allowing just one hit, one walk, and one earned run, striking out five. Barbaro Pinero highlighted Blue's pitching effort, offering three innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts.

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Player of the Day: He may not have earned the win, but Juan Daniel Encarnacion and his 0.39 ERA have been one of the many highlights of the farm system this year for the Red Sox. With just two hits allowed across five innings of work, the 20-year-old hurler now sports a 0.65 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in 23 innings. If this impressive display continues, it won't be long before he's secured a firm spot in the SoxProspects rankings.

Photo Credit: Jeter Downs by Kelly O'Connor

 
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