Henry Owens

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Andrew Benintendi opens season with first career 4-hit game

Ken Laird
April 08, 2016 - 2:43 am

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday, the opening day of the regular season for the affiliates listed below: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (0-0): Postponed due to rain vs. Buffalo (Blue Jays). Next action Friday vs. Buffalo. -- Pawtucket will now play its 2016 home opener Friday at 6:15 p.m., with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5:45 p.m. Thursday's postponed game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 12:05 p.m. (seven-inning games with a 30-minute break in between). -- The PawSox starting pitching schedule for the weekend now is: LHP Henry Owens Friday, RHP Sean O'Sullivan for Game 1 Saturday, RHP William Cuevas for Game 2 Saturday, and LHP Brian Johnson (Boston's No. 6 prospect at MLB.com) Sunday. LHP Roenis Elias is expected to round out the rotation on Monday. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (1-0): W, 3-1, at Reading (Phillies) -- RHP Aaron Wilkerson pitched shutout baseball over 5 2/3 innings, earning the Opening Day victory (1-0) with a final line of: 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO (84 pitches, 56 strikes). The 11 strikeouts were a career high for the 26-year-old Wilkerson, who last season went 11-3 with a 3.10 ERA over 29 outings combined between Single-A Greenville, High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, striking out 137 in 136 2/3 innings of work. Signed by Boston in July of 2014 from the Grand Prairie AirHogs out of the independent American Association, Wilkerson was promoted to Double-A Portland on Aug. 5 of last year. In his last six starts dating back to last year, Wilkerson has allowed just three total earned runs over 35 2/3 innings (0.78 ERA) with 36 whiffs to just 10 walks over that span. -- DH Mike Miller got the Portland offense started with an RBI double in the third, driving home first baseman Jordan Weems who had led off the inning with a two-bagger. The SeaDogs 1-0 lead would expand in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jantzen Witte that scored Tzu-Wei Lin. The final Portland run of the night came on a solo home run by Witte, who drilled a 3-2 offering over well over the left-center bleachers. -- Lefty reliever Williams Jerez (Boston's No. 20 prospect at MLB.com) put out a fire in the sixth inning, stranding runners at first and third with a strikeout of a left-handed batter on an offspeed pitch taken across the heart of the plate. Jerez then remained in the game and pitched a scoreless seventh inning as well. A member of Boston's 40-man roster, the 23-year-old Jerez was a second-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 2011. - LHP Luis Ysla (Boston's No. 21 prospect at MLB.com) pitched a perfect eighth, while righty Rob Wort made his organizational debut in the ninth after a year of playing with Sioux City of the American Association. Wort allowed a run on a walk and two singles before stranding the tying runs in scoring position, getting a flyout to right field to end the ballgame and earn his first save with Boston. -- The Portland Opening Day lineup was as follows: Mike Miller, DH Cole Sturgeon, RF Jantzen Witte, 3B Rainel Rosario, LF Henry Ramos, CF Jake Romanski, C Wendell Rijo, 2B Jordan Weems, 1B Tzu-Wei Lin, SS -- The Portland starting rotation following Wilkerson to begin the year is: RHP Justin Haley, RHP Kevin McAvoy, RHP Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Ty Buttrey (Boston's No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (1-0): W, 13-4, vs. Carolina (Braves) -- Center fielder Andrew Benintendi (Boston's No. 3 prospect at MLB.com) made his High-A debut a memorable one, going 4-for-5 with a triple, a double, three RBIs and two runs scored in the season opener at Salem Memorial Stadium. It was the first four-hit game of his pro career. "I felt pretty good," Benintendi told milb.com. "I was put in a pretty good situation, the guys in front of me were getting on base and it made my job pretty easy. I felt pretty comfortable up there. The whole order hit tonight. It was fun. I wasn't thinking about [the cycle] at all. The wind was blowing hard out to left and my power is mostly to right field, so that basically took the home run out of that situation." Benintendi, 21, singled home second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston's No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) in the first, tripled in shortstop Mauricio Dubon (Boston's No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) in the second, doubled to score Moncada again in the third, and singled to leadoff the fifth before finally flying out in the sixth. Chosen by Boston with the seventh overall selection in the 2015 draft out of the University of Arkansas, Benintendi hit a combined 31 home runs last season combined between his final year in college baseball and his first professional action split between Short-Season Lowell and Single-A Greenville. Benintendi's slash line in the Red Sox organization last year was .313/.416/.556 over 54 games. -- Moncada, 20, went 2-for-4 with two walks, a stolen base and two runs scored from the leadoff spot of the batting order. Dubon, 21, hit in the two-hole and went 2-for-6 with a triple and two runs scored. -- The much-anticipated Salem lineup featured five of Boston's top-17 prospects (as ranked by MLB.com) in spots one through five of the batting order, with first baseman Nick Longhi (No. 17, 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs and an RBI) hitting cleanup and third baseman Rafael Devers (No. 2, 0-for-4 with a walk and an RBI) hitting fifth. Salem batted around twice and scored 11 runs in the first three innings Thursday on a cold, rainy, and windy night. "When you've got weather like that, you're really pleased when you can walk out of there really only having that one questionable error tonight," Salem manager Joe Oliver said (via the Roanoke Times). "It was a well-played ballgame on our end, and it showcased a little bit what we're capable of doing." Oliver continued: "I think Moncada really set the tone. That was evidence of what he's capable of doing, and it was definitely something that got the team to kind of relax and breathe a little bit. It gave us a little bit of energy on a cold night that we really needed." Right fielder Danny Mars went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, catcher Jordan Procyshen went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run and an RBI, and left fielder Mike Meyers went 2-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. The complete Salem Opening Day lineup was as follows: Yoan Moncada, 2B Mauricio Dubon, SS Andrew Benintendi, CF Nick Longhi, 1B Rafael Devers, 3B Danny Mars, RF Jordan Procyshen, C Franklin Guzman, DH Mike Meyers, LF -- Left-handed starter Daniel McGrath picked up the victory (1-0) with a final line of: 6 IP, 4 H, 3R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO (71 pitches, 46 strikes). McGrath, a 21-year-old Australian, went 4-6 with a 3.84 ERA last season over 17 starts with Salem, striking out 71 in 84 1/3 innings. The Salem starting rotation following McGrath to begin the year is: RHP Travis Lakins (Boston's No. 11 prospect at MLB.com), LHP Jalen Beeks, RHP Ben Taylor, LHP Dedgar Jimenez SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (1-0): W, 4-3, vs. Asheville (Rockies) -- Greenville prevailed in their home opener in front of 6,000 fans at Fluor Field, taking the lead for good in the seventh inning on an RBI single by shortstop Jeremy Rivera. The 21-year-old Rivera, selected by Boston in round 17 of the 2014 draft out of El Paso Community College, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, as he also doubled in Greenville's first run in the third inning to tie the game at 1. Known for his stellar defense at short, Rivera slashed .256/.328/.284 over 63 games with Short-Season Lowell last year with just five extra-base hits on the season. -- Left fielder Kryi Washington went 2-for-3 with an RBI triple in the fifth that scored DH Roldani Baldwin. Washington, 21, also singled in the seventh and came around to score the game's winning run. Last season Washington flashed with eight doubles and a triple in just 24 games with Short-Season Lowell to go with 15 RBIs and 13 runs scored. -- RHP Matt Kent started for Greenville and finished with a no-decision line of: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (81 pitches, 55 strikes). Picking up the victory with three perfect shutout innings was Anyelo Leclerc, as Leclerc struck out three and walked none. The 6-foot, 24-year-old Leclerc, a Dominican Republic native, was acquired by Boston from Texas in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December. Last season in 29 appearances in High-A, Leclerc struck out 42 hitters over 44 innings, going 3-3 with an ERA of 5.52. -- The Greenville Opening Day lineup was as follows: Chad De La Guerra, 2B Jeremy Rivera, SS Michael Chavis, 3B Josh Ockimey, 1B Austin Rei, C Luis Alexander Basabe, CF Roldani Baldwin, DH Kyri Washington, LF Joseph Monge, RF -- The Greenville starting rotation following Kent to begin the year is: RHP Anderson Espinoza (Boston's No. 4 prospect at MLB.com), LHP Logan Boyd, RHP Roniel Raudes (Boston's No. 14 prospect at MLB.com), RHP Daniel Gonzalez