Michael Kopech

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: RHP Michael Kopech apologizes for suspension; shortstops Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin earn promotions

Ken Laird
July 17, 2015 - 5:02 am

The Boston organization received the news Thursday that RHP Michael Kopech (Boston'€™s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com) received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension goes into effect immediately. His team, Single-A Greenville, has 50 games remaining, so this effectively ends Kopech'€™s season. The 19-year-old was 4-5 with a 2.63 ERA this year over 16 starts with 70 strikeouts in 65 innings. Kopech had allowed just six earned runs combined over his last six outings, a total of 27 1/3 innings (1.97 ERA). Kopech released the following statement to MiLB.com: "I would like to start by apologizing to all of baseball, baseball fans, and specifically the Red Sox and Red Sox fan base. I respect the game as much, if not more than, anyone else. With that being said, I never have and never will intentionally cheat the game that has been so great to me. I haven't bought any supplements that aren't NSF certified for sport. Therefore, I know I have not bought a supplement containing this drug. I have never heard of Oxilofrine, honestly. Apparently, it is a drug that many people use for weight loss. I have been trying to gain weight since I signed with the Red Sox. I do understand this is also a stimulant. This drug would have no positive outcome for me and that's why I chose to appeal. I realized I didn't have much evidence to prove that I'm innocent, but I didn't have any understanding of how I could have failed a test. I respect the system and understand why they have to be so careful with the testing. I also understand why that means my suspension couldn't have been overturned without proper evidence. I have 50 games to get to work and better myself and as a ball player. Next season I'll be better than ever. Drug free." Kopech was selected by Boston in the first round (33rd overall) of the 2014 draft, receiving a $1.67 million bonus out of high school in Texas. A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (39-53): L, 9-7, at Durham (Rays) -- Shortstop Marco Hernandez was promoted from Double-A Portland and made his Pawtucket debut, batting ninth and going 1-for-4 with a high-chopping single over the head of the pitcher and a run scored during a four-run fifth inning. Hernandez also struck out, popped out and grounded out. The 22-year old Hernandez was named MVP of the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Portland, capping off a first half in which he hit a league-leading .326 through 68 games and took a 12-game hitting streak into the break. Hernandez, the player to be named later in last summer'€™s trade of Felix Doubront to the Cubs, also showed some pop with five home runs, four triples and 21 doubles on the year. -- Rehabbing Daniel Nava (strained left thumb), hitting in the leadoff spot of the order and playing first base, gave Pawtucket a temporary 7-5 lead in the eighth inning with a two-out, two-strike, three-run home run over the wall in left field. Nava also singled home a run in the fifth. The 32-year-old has played in eight rehab games with the PawSox, and over his last three is 7-for-12 with seven RBIs and three runs scored. -- RHP Heath Hembree, on a rehab assignment, was charged with the blown save as he entered with a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth and did not record an out. Hembree allowed allowed a walk, a single, a batter to reach on a sacrifice bunt (the lead runner was called safe at third base on a close play), and a bases-clearing double down the third-base line before being lifted. -- Bullpen arms Jonathan Aro (Boston'€™s No. 30 prospect at MLB.com) and Matt Barnes were touched up in the game as well. Barnes, 25, entered for Hembree in the eighth and allowed a single and two walks, with Hembree'€™s last charged runner scoring from third on a double steal (catcher Humberto Quintero was charged with interference on the play at the plate). Barnes did strike out three batters in the inning and escaped the frame without further damage and was not charged with an earned run. It was Barnes'€™ first appearance with the PawSox since June 24 as he recently returned to Triple-A after his third stint in the majors. Aro, 24, also was charged with a blown save as he replaced starter Keith Couch in the sixth inning with a 4-3 PawSox lead. After a walk, Aro allowed a run-scoring infield single that tied the game at 4. Staying on for the seventh, Aro allowed a leadoff triple to the wall in right-center and a following sacrifice fly before finishing the inning. Aro also struck out three batters in his 1 2/3 innings of work. -- Infielder Jonathan Roof was placed on the seven-day DL, with Quintero reinstated from the DL. Infielder Reed Gragnani was returned to Portland. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (32-60): L, 7-2, at New Hampshire (Blue Jays) -- Blake Swihart had his rehab assignment (sprained foot) transferred to Portland and went 2-for-3 as the DH with a single in his first at-bat and a double to the left-center gap in his second. Swihart also reached on an error and was pinch-hit for in the seventh inning. In two rehab starts with Pawtucket Swihart was 0-for-6, catching seven innings in his last appearance on July 12. -- Center fielder Manuel Margot (Boston'€™s No. 4 prospect at MLB.com) took over the leadoff spot in the batting order with the Marco Hernandez promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. Margot had been batting in the sixth spot in the Sea Dogs lineup after hitting leadoff to start the year with High-A Salem. The 20-year-old singled and scored in the third, going 1-for-5, putting his Double-A slash line at .282/.321/.420. Margot has hits in 17 of his 20 games played so far with Portland. -- Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin was promoted from High-A Salem and made his Double-A debut, hitting ninth in the order and reaching base twice with a single to center and a walk. The 21-year-old Lin slashed .281/.331/.367 in 73 games this year with Salem, reaching base safely in 16 of his last 20 contests before his promotion. Lin was signed by Boston for a $2 million bonus out of Taiwan in the 2011 international signing period. -- RHP Justin Haley got through his first two innings scoreless but allowed four runs in the fourth and was pulled with two outs in the frame after a walk, wild pitch, single, walk, single, sacrifice fly and another walk. One of the four runs was unearned as it resulted from a throwing error by catcher Jake Romanski on a pickoff attempt at third. Haley, Boston'€™s sixth-round selection in the 2012 draft, fell to 3-11 with a 5.62 ERA. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (48-43): W, 5-3, at Lynchburg (Indians) -- Two of Boston'€™s older players at the High-A level were at the heart of an eighth-inning comeback, as right fielder Yolian Cerse hit a leadoff triple and ran home to score the game'€™s tying run on an RBI single by DH Mario Martinez. Catcher Jordan Weems followed with what turned out to the game-winning RBI single, making it 4-3. Cerse, a 28-year-old Cuban, also drove in an insurance run in the ninth and finished 2-for-4. Signed this year as an international free agent, Cerse has hit .277/.354/.446 in 29 games with Salem as a stateside professional. Cerse was a career .325/.395/.468 hitter over nine years for Guantanamo of Cuba'€™s Serie Nacional with 65 homers. Cerse'€™s most recent season in Cuba was 2012, when Cerse hit .267 with three homers before leaving the island. Martinez, a 25-year-old Venezuelan, extended his hitting streak to 11 games and his July average to .432 (16-for-37) with eight RBIs and seven runs scored this month. He was hitting just .239 through June but has raised his average to .270 with the surge. Martinez hit .268/.288/.395 last year over 118 games in Salem. -- Shortstop Mauricio Dubon (Boston'€™s No. 27 prospect at MLB.com), no longer blocked at Salem by the promoted Tzu-Wei Lin, hit leadoff and went 2-for-5 with a double and a run-scoring single in the fifth to get Salem on the board. -- RHP Kevin McAvoy took a no-decision despite a quality start, with a final line of: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO. McAvoy allowed a two-run homer in the third to fall behind 3-0, but he recovered to retire nine of his final 11 batters he faced, including inducing his league-leading 19th double play to end the fifth. On the season McAvoy, Boston'€™s fourth-round selection in the 2014 draft, is 5-7 with a 4.11 ERA in 17 starts. -- RHP Aaron Wilkerson earned the victory (7-1, 2.84 ERA) despite throwing just eight pitches, pitching a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts. Wilkerson has made consecutive relief appearances after starting in nine of his previous 11 appearances. The 26-year-old had a stretch earlier this season of allowing three earned runs or less in seven straight starts before giving up six earned in just 3 2/3 innings on June 30. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (49-42): W, 11-5, vs. Augusta (Giants) -- Shortstop Javier Guerra (Boston'€™s No. 13 prospect at MLB.com) launched his 12th home run of the season and added a double and a single on a 3-for-4, four-RBI night as he raised his slash line to .305/.355/.519 over 72 games this season. His .519 slugging percentage is second best in the South Atlantic League. Guerra, 19, has reached base safely in 14 straight games and is white-hot over his last six contests as he'€™s gone 15-for-27 (.555) with four homers, 10 RBIs and six runs scored. -- Speaking of white-hot, second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston'€™s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) had two more hits, going 2-for-5 with a deep ground-rule double to center field on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first. Moncada, now hitting .275, raced around to score on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Devers (Boston'€™s No. 3 prospect at MLB.com), and also scored in the fourth after a single. To top it off, Moncada made a diving backhand catch up the middle to end the Augusta fifth inning with two runners aboard. Moncada, a 20-year-old Cuban signed this year by Boston to a $31.5 million bonus, is streaking at .363 (28-for-77) in his last 19 games (dating to June 25) with 11 multi-hit games, 11 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs and 23 runs scored over that span. Eight of his last 11 games have been multi-hit games, with 17 runs scored in 14 July contests. -- First baseman Nick Longhi (Boston'€™s No. 20 prospect at MLB.com) had his second four-hit game this week, going 4-for-5 with an RBI triple in the third, an RBI double in the fourth and an RBI single. Longhi also scored twice and extended a hitting streak to eight games. In 14 games this month, the 19-year-old Longhi is hitting .364 (20-for-55) with four extra-base hits, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. -- Devers also had a three-hit night, with two RBIs and three runs scored, raising his average to .299. The 18-year-old Dominican is 9-for-16 in his last four games, while also appearing in the MLB Futures Game last weekend in Cincinnati. -- RHP Jeffry Fernandez picked up the win with a quality line of: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO (81 pitches, 55 strikes). The 22-year-old Fernandez (3-7, 5.93 ERA) did allow a home run for the fourth consecutive game and has given up 13 homers on the year. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (16-10): W, 1-0, at Connecticut (Tigers) -- RHP Dioscar Romero pitched six scoreless innings in his fifth start of the year, picking up the win with a final line of: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO (62 pitches, 41 strikes). Romero (2-2, 2.95 ERA), signed by Boston for a bonus of $600,000 in the 2011 international signing period, used two double plays to his advantage, including one in the first to escape a jam. In 2014 Romero pitched primarily in the Gulf Coast League, going 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA over 11 appearances, four of them starts. -- LHP Logan Boyd and RHP Edwar Garcia both lent their arms out of the bullpen to combine with Romero for the complete-game shutout. Boyd, Boston'€™s 15th-round selection in this year'€™s draft out of Sam Houston State, struck out four over his 1 2/3 innings. He was pulled after a two-out walk and a bloop single in the eighth in favor of Garcia. Garcia, a 21-year-old Dominican, picked up the save as he used a strikeout to get out of the eighth and then another in the ninth to aid in escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Garcia has made eight relief appearances with Lowell, giving up just two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings while striking out 15. -- The Lowell offense managed just five hits, with shortstop Jeremy Rivera going 2-for-3 to lead the way. Rivera'€™s two-out bunt for a single in the fifth drove home Aneudis Peralta, as the throw to first base was off line and allowed Peralta to score. Peralta had doubled earlier in the inning. ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (15-6): Postponed due to rain vs. GCL Orioles. Next action Friday at GCL Twins.