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August 20, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Abreu homers again in wild WooSox win

8/20 Cup of Coffee: As the big-league club secured a series win in the Bronx, Boston's minor-league affiliates went 3-5 on Saturday. In Worcester, Wilyer Abreu (pictured) homered yet again as the WooSox held on to win a wild one over the RailRiders. Elsewhere, Chase Meidroth homered on an otherwise quiet offensive night for Portland, Allan Castro stayed hot for Greenville, Luis De La Rosa put together an impressive three-inning start for Salem, and Franklin German made an appearance in Fort Myers. 


It was another high-scoring affair at Polar Park on Saturday, as the two sides combined for 26 runs on 20 hits. Three of Worcester's nine hits left the yard, as Yu Chang went 1 for 3 with a two-run home run (his first with the WooSox), three runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base. Ronaldo Hernandez went 2 for 4 with a walk and a third-inning grand slam for his 15th homer of the season. Wilyer Abreu, meanwhile, stole two bases, drew three walks, and made his only hit of the day count by crushing a three-run blast in the eighth inning for his 22nd big fly of the year and eighth of the homestand. Out of the leadoff spot, Ceddanne Rafaela went 2 for 5 with a pair of singles and two runs scored. Caleb Hamilton, Worcester's No. 9 hitter, went 2 for 3 with two doubles, a walk, and a run scored.

Brian Van Belle fell victim to the long ball in his sixth start and seventh appearance of the season for Worcester. Pitching into the fifth inning, the 26-year-old righty allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits (three home runs), four walks, one hit batter, and eight strikeouts. Of the 89 pitches he threw, 54 went for strikes and 21 induced a swing-and-miss. In relief of Van Belle, Brendan Nail recorded the first two outs of the fifth before making way for Ryan Fernandez, who surrendered one run over 1 1/3 innings and ultimately earned the winning decision. Justin Hagenman and Nick Robertson then combined to give up five runs before Robertson closed it out. 


Wikelman Gonzalez went just 2 2/3 innings in his sixth start of the season for Portland. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed four earned runs on two hits and four walks to go along with two strikeouts. Half of those runs came by way of a two-run home run  in the bottom half of the third. In relief of Gonzalez, Ryan Miller yielded one unearned run and struck out four over 2 1/3 innings. Christopher Troye then spun two scoreless frames before making way for Ryan Zeferjahn, who served up a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth.

Offensively, the Sea Dogs were held to just one run on six hits. Chase Meidroth, who went 2 for 4, provided that one run by going deep in the ninth inning for his sixth homer at the Double-A level. Interestingly enough, Portland forfeited the designated hitter in the third inning as a result of a defensive substitution that saw Nathan Hickey -- the starting DH -- take over behind the plate for starting catcher Elih Marrero. Because of that switch, the aforementioned Miller hit for himself in the top of the fifth and was called out on strikes in what appears to be the first plate appearance of his professional career.


Luis Perales went four innings in his fifth start of the season for Greenville. The Venezuelan righty allowed three earned runs on six hits (one home run) and five walks to go along with six strikeouts. He finished with 86 pitches (54 strikes) and induced 16 whiffs. Joey Stock took the loss in relief, as he was tagged for for three runs on two hits (one homer) and three walks in a rough seventh inning. Felix Cepeda, on the other hand, tossed two scoreless frames, meaning he has yet to give up a run of any kind at the High-A level. 

Allan Castro enjoyed another productive night at the plate for the Drive, going 2 for 4 with a triple and a walk. In front of him, Gilberto Jimenez went 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, and two runs scored. Ronald Rosario and Nick Decker each went 1 for 3, as the former drove in one run on a sacrifice fly and the latter drove in two with a solo home run (6) and an RBI groundout. Tyler Miller also registered a sacrifice fly while Max Ferguson drew three walks and stole two bases to bring his season total up to 28.


Luis De La Rosa was the lone bright spot for Salem's pitching staff on Saturday night. Making his sixth start of the season, the 21-year-old righty struck out a season-high seven batters and walked only two over three scoreless, one-hit innings. He recorded 12 swings-and-misses on the 57 pitches (33 strikes) he threw. Noah Dean, who followed De La Rosa out of the bullpen, took the loss after surrendering five earned runs on three hits, six walks, one hit batsman, and six strikeouts across just 2 2/3 innings of relief. 

Albertson Asigen accounted for half of Salem's hits by going 3 for 3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk out of the seven-hole. Claudio Simon went 1 for 3 with an RBI double and a walk. Asigen and Alcantara each stole a base as well. 


The FCL squad was held to just three hits (all singles) and one walk in Saturday's shutout loss. Those three base hits belonged to Stanley Tucker, Rivaldo Avila, and Fraymi De Leon. Nazzan Zanetello, who went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts, drew his side's only walk. On the other side of things, Denis Reguillo took the loss despite striking out seven over four innings. The 19-year-old righty allowed three runs on six hits (one home run) and zero walks. Franklin German, in his first appearance as a member of the Red Sox organization since last year, gave up one run on one hit, one walk, and two strikeouts in the top of the fifth.

This was the makeup of a game that got rained out on Friday. Wandy Abreu delivered a strong performance on the mound, allowing just one unearned run on one hit, two walks, and one strikeout over five solid innings. Yonfi Rodriguez and Simon Pacheco then combined for two scoreless frames of relief. Diego Viloria was responsible for the biggest hit of the day, as he drove in what would prove to be the winning run on a second-inning single.


Raimundo De Los Santos, Cristofher Paniagua, and Kleyver Salazar combined for seven of the Blue squad's 10 hits. De Los Santos went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base out of the leadoff spot. Paniagua went 3 for 5 with an RBI, two runs scored, and three stolen bases out of the three-hole. Salazar, the five-hole hitter, went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a walk. Ali Ascanio picked up the win on the mound by scattering two hits and one walk over two scoreless innings of relief. Ruben De La Cruz notched his fourth save by striking out the side in the ninth. 


Three members of the Red squad's lineup had multiple hits. Leadoff man Nathanael German went 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Yohander Linarez went 2 for 5 with a pair of singles and an RBI out of the three-hole. Claudio Evangelista went a perfect 4 for 4 with one double, one RBI, and two runs scored. Of the five pitchers used in the losing effort, Andres Jimenez stood out by punching out six and walking only one of the 11 batters he faced over 3 1/3 scoreless, no-hit innings out of the bullpen.


Player of the Day: Another day, another Player of the Day award for the red-hot Wilyer Abreu. After reaching base four times in Saturday's win, the 24-year-old outfielder is now batting a stout .429/.529/.964 with three doubles, nine home runs, 25 RBIs, 18 runs scored, three stolen bases, 11 walks, and 10 strikeouts in 16 games for Worcester this month. Already on the 40-man roster, Abreu is currently ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the organization. 

Photo Credit: Wilyer Abreu by Kelly O'Connor