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June 19, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hickey homers twice, Kavadas stays sizzling in June


6/19 Cup of Coffee:
There were several strong offensive performances on the farm, led by Nathan Hickey (pictured) and Niko Kavadas in Salem. Pedro Castellanos had four hits for Portland, Gilberto Jimenez had three hits for Greenville, and Tyler Esplin had a game-winning hit in extras. 

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With Brandon Walter scratched with neck stiffness, the WooSox turned to the bullpen on Saturday. Taylor Cole and Michael Feliz combined to shut Toledo out over the first five innings, but the Mud Hens got to Silvino Bracho for two runs in the seventh. Jaylin Davis had two of Worcester's six hits and drew a walk. Ryan Fitzgerald and Jeter Downs each went 1 for 4 with a double, and Yolmer Sánchez went 1 for 2 with two walks. 

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Brett Kennedy threw a rare quality start that did not include a strikeout, as he allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. It was the fourth straight outing where Kennedy tossed six innings. Jake Thompson did not allow a run in two innings, and Chase Shugart struck out two in a scoreless ninth. 

The 12-hit attack was led by Pedro Castellanos, as he went 4 for 5 with a double and three RBI. He is now hitting .400 in June. Ceddanne Rafaela went 2 for 5 with another double and two RBI, and Hudson Potts went 2 for 3 with a double, and two walks. After hitting .151 over the first two months, Potts is batting .263 in June, though it is coming with less power. 

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A little-league home run from Tyler Esplin in the 10th inning was the difference. Esplin hit an RBI single to left field to give Greenville the lead, and he came all the way around to score on a three-base error from the left fielder. Esplin and Gilberto Jimenez each had three hits, and Matthew Lugo and Alex Binelas each had a single and a double. 

The defense let down Shane Drohan, who allowed three unearned runs over five innings. He walked two and struck out six. The win went to Ryan Fernandez, who did not allow a run in his two innings, and Jacinto Arredondo notched the save. 

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Two home runs from Nathan Hickey and another from Niko Kavadas led the way for Salem. The home runs for Hickey were his first in his last 46 at-bats, and Kavadas kept his scorching hot streak alive. He has seven home runs in June, with a triple slash of .356/.531/.867. His OPS on the season is now over 1.000. Blaze Jordan went 2 for 5 with a triple, and Eddinson Paulino went 2 for 5 with a steal. Brainer Bonaci reached base four times via a double and three walks. 

The only blemish for Reidis Sena was a solo home run over three innings, as he struck out five. Tyler Uberstine followed with 4 2/3 innings and allowed three runs (two earned).

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Making a rehab start, Nathanael Cruz allowed a solo home run in the first inning. It was his first appearance since April when he was placed on the injured list. Jedixson Paez followed with five innings of three-run ball, striking out nine without issuing a walk. The nine strikeouts are a new career-high for Paez. B.J. Vela went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a stolen base, Freddy Valdez went 1 for 4 with a double, and Ahbram Liendo went 1 for 3 with two walks. 

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Willian Colmenares allowed two runs over four innings, and Daniel Nunez kept the opponent off the board over his two innings. Andy Lugo went 2 for 3 with a stolen base, and Karim Ayubi went 1 for 3 with an RBI. 

The Red Sox scored six runs on 10 hits to beat the Giants. Three players had multi-hit games, including Freili EncarnacionRenny Flores, and Jhon Garcia. Encarnacion also walked twice, and Johanfran Garcia went 1 for 2 with a walk and two RBI. Eybersson Polanco allowed two runs over four innings, and Royman Blanco got the win by allowing just an unearned run over two innings. 

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Player of the Day: Two home runs from Nathan Hickey were the highlight of the night on the farm. Signed for an above-slot $1 million bonus in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, Hickey has been excellent in his first full season. Hitting .264/.423/.488, Hickey has walked (35) more than he struck out (34). The Red Sox have been conservative with his playing time, but he has the third highest on-base percentage in the system in players with at least 100 plate appearances. 

Photo Credit: Nathan Hickey by Kelly O'Connor