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May 12, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Paulino leads Greenville rally; Worcester falls despite Alfaro effort

5/12 Cup of Coffee:
The major league squad was off on Thursday, but the minor leaguers had a full slate of action, drawing a split on the day. Both Class-A affiliates were victorious. Jose Ramirez outdueled  Connecticut native Frank Mozzicato in a well-pitched Carolina League contest, leading Salem to victory. Eddinson Paulino helped spark a 10-run rally that made winners of Greenville. Jorge Alfaro (pictured) reached base five times for Worcester, including a home run, but the WooSox fell short out at Frontier Field. CJ Liu flirted with another no-hitter but lost his bid and the shutout in the fifth as the Portland lead in the division slipped to a half-game.


The WooSox fell back to .500 despite a monster effort from Jorge Alfaro. The veteran backstop reached base five times, going 4 for 4 with a solo home run, a double, a walk, and two runs scored. His homer was part of a back-to-back connection in the third inning, following a Wilyer Abreu drive. Ryan Fitzgerald also went deep as part of his three-hit night. Brandon Walter never got entirely on track in his start, allowing seven runs (five earned) on five hits in four innings, despite striking out eight against just two walks. Oddanier Mosqueda was a highlight in relief, striking out the side around one hit in a scoreless sixth inning.


In his follow-up to last week's seven-inning no-hitter, CJ Liu looked primed for a repeat performance. He held Somerset hitless through his first four innings before surrendering a single to lead off the fifth. The Patriots rallied for a run that inning and another in the sixth before the floodgates opened late in the game. In all, Liu surrendered two runs on three hits in 5 1/3, striking out two and walking three. It was a rare shaky outing for Theo Denlinger out of the Portland bullpen. He forged a hitless 1 1/3, but struggled with his control, walking three, bequeathing a pair of runners who came on to score. Ryan Zeferjahn returned from the injured list after a short rehab visit to Salem. He allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits in an inning of work, including a solo homer to old friend Jeisson Rosario. 

Stephen Scott was a highlight at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a solo home run in the seventh. Chase Meidroth drew a walk and ripped his first Double-A double. He is 4 for 9 in his first two games since the promotion and now sports a .495 on-base percentage across two levels.


It was a wild turnaround for the Drive, who trailed 7-1 in the sixth inning before exploding with 10 unanswered runs, including eight in the seventh frame. Eddinson Paulino delivered a two-run double as part of that rally, his second two-base hit of the evening. He also singled, stole a base, and scored three runs. Paulino started at shortstop as Marcelo Mayer was again out of the lineup. Per SoxProspects.com Executive Editor Chris Hatfield, Mayer has been out with shoulder soreness but is expected to return for the weekend. Tyler Miller drove in a pair of runs as part of a 3-for-4 night, and Blaze Jordan notched a pair of singles to raise his average to .301 on the year.
Juan Daniel Encarnacion got the start, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits across three innings. He struck out four and walked three. Christopher Troye was dominant in relief, firing three shutout innings and striking out seven of the 10 batters he faced. Troye lowered his ERA to 1.38 and has fanned 28 batters in 13 innings. 


The Salem lineup had a tough test in 2021 first-round pick and Hartford native Frank Mozzicato. The pride of East Catholic High School had a solid outing but was outpitched by Jose Ramirez, who continues his run of strong pitching. Ramirez gave up just one run on five hits in six innings, striking out one and walking two. The 22-year-old right-hander actually saw his ERA inch higher to 0.75. He has not allowed more than one earned run in any of his six starts thus far. Luis Talavera and Felix Cepeda combined for three shutout frames to preserve the win, with Cepeda getting credit for the save. Juan Chacon was the only player to manage a multi-hit effort at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a walk and stolen base. Albert Feliz had a double and a walk, while Yorberto Mejicano and Karson Simas added a triple apiece.


Player of the Day: Jorge Alfaro is not just the owner of the best mane in the Red Sox system (though he is certainly that). He also leads the system in batting average (.352), runs batted in (23), hits (43), and total bases (65). Alfaro came to the Red Sox as a minor league free agent after spending parts of seven seasons in the majors between the Phillies, Marlins, and Padres, compiling over 1600 plate appearances. He hit 18 home runs while taking most of the Marlins' catching duties in 2019, but he was non-tendered in December after three consecutive seasons with a sub-.290 on-base percentage. 

Photo Credit: Jorge Alfaro by Kelly O'Connor