Edwin Escobar

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: 17-year-old Anderson Espinoza continues to sizzle in Gulf Coast League

Ken Laird
August 13, 2015 - 4:56 am

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (44-74): L, 4-3 in 12 innings, at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) -- LHP Edwin Escobar (Boston'€™s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) made his second start of the year for the PawSox, finishing with a no-decision final line of: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO (82 pitches, 49 strikes). Escobar, 23, did not allow a run through five innings, scattering two singles and walking two, before surrendering a single to lead off the sixth. The runner would come home to score on a double allowed by RHP Jonathan Aro. In 15 appearances this season, Escobar is 0-2 with a 6.51 ERA over 27 2/3 innings, with 16 strikeouts and 14 walks. Acquired by Boston from San Francisco in July of 2014 along with RHP Heath Hembree in exchange for RHP Jake Peavy, Escobar made 25 starts last year between Pawtucket and Triple-A Fresno, going 3-10 with a 4.94 ERA, with 45 walks and 116 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings. -- Right fielder Quintin Berry homered for the second straight game, a two-run shot in the first inning to give the PawSox a 2-0 lead. Berry, 30, finished 1-for-4 with a walk and now has three homers on the season, after going 81 games between long-balls from April 18 to August 11. -- First baseman Allen Craig doubled in the sixth and came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Humberto Quintero, giving Pawtucket a 3-0 lead. Craig finished 2-for-5 and put his slash line at .266/.366/.332 with three homers and nine doubles through 75 games this season in Triple-A. -- RHP Pat Light (Boston'€™s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, walking three, while also allowing two hits. Light allowed a double and walked two to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but escaped on a ground out back to the mound. Light stayed on for the 10th inning and induced two more ground outs, one for a double play after a leadoff walk. -- Hembree also escaped a bases-loaded jam, escaping the 11th after two walks and a single, but eventually took the loss (0-5, 2.32 ERA) as he allowed a walkoff single in the bottom of the 12th. In 31 innings this year in Triple-A, Hembree has struck out 31, with opposing batters hitting just .211 against him. However, Hembree has now allowed runs in three straight appearances. -- Pawtucket has now lost 10 games in a row, three shy of a club record set in 1985. The PawSox have also dropped 13 of 15, and 21 of 25 overall, with a 6-35 mark since June 29. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (42-75): L, 4-3, and W, 6-4, vs. Erie (Tigers) -- In Game 1 of a doubleheader RHP Aaron Wilkerson could not hold a 3-0 lead in his second Double-A start, allowing four runs in the fifth inning and taking the loss (0-1, 7.59 ER) with a final line of: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO (85 pitches, 58 strikes). Wilkerson, 26, had scattered just two singles through four scoreless innings before allowing back-to-back singles in the fifth and then loading the bases on a walk. After a strikeout, Erie connected for a bases-clearing double pulled down the first-base line to tie the game at 3-3. Then, after an ensuing single, Erie scored a run when cut-off man Oscar Tejeda and second baseman Carlos Asuaje were preoccupied with a rundown between first and second base, allowing the runner on third base to break home. "I thought I could get it [the runner]," Asuaje told the Portland Press Herald. "Then, by the time I looked home, it was too late." The 6-foot-3 Wilkerson went 7-2 with a 2.96 ERA over 17 appearances (12 starts) this year with High-A Salem before his promotion to Portland on August 5. Undrafted out of Cumberland University in 2011, Boston signed Wilkerson in the summer of 2014 after three years of playing Independent league baseball. -- DH Tim Roberson had given Portland a 2-0 lead in Game 1 with a two-run home run in the first, a 2-2 pitch pulled over the left-center field wall. It was the third homer of the year for the 26-year-old Roberson, who is slashing .333/.355/.463 over 38 games this season. Roberson, who had a 13-game hitting streak come to an end on August 6, has now hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games hitting .361 (26-for-72) over that span with 16 RBIs, two homers, and five doubles. -- First baseman Sam Travis (Boston'€™s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) singled home Manuel Margot (Boston'€™s No. 3 prospect at MLB.com) in the third inning to give Portland a 3-0 lead. Travis finished 1-for-3, and has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games hitting .309 (21-for-68) with a homer, two doubles, and nine RBIs over that stretch. Selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, Travis is slashing .297/.369/.406 in 44 games in Double-A this season. Margot was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, putting his Double-A slash line at .255/.310/.391 over 40 games. -- In Game 2 of the doubleheader, third baseman Dustin Lawley broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run homer, scoring Travis and shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin on a deep drive to left-center field. It was the first homer with Portland for the 26-year-old Lawley since being signed as a minor league free agent on July 20. Lawley finished 2-for-2 with a walk, to bring his average up to .194 (6-for-31) in nine games with the Sea Dogs, with now five RBIs and three runs scored. "It's exciting to be here with new guys," Lawley said. "Trying not to press and just put good swings on the ball. Hopefully I can be consistent and keep doing that." -- Left fielder Keury De La Cruz went 2-for-3 in Game 2 and 3-for-6 all told in the doubleheader. De La Cruz, 23, has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games, hitting .400 (16-for-40) with a homer, a triple, and two doubles to bring his average up to .230, his highest average since May 31. De La Cruz also had a leaping catch against the wall to end the fifth inning in Game 1. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (55-61): W, 5-4, vs. Myrtle Beach (Cubs) -- Second baseman Wendell Rijo (Boston'€™s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-4 with RBI singles in the second and sixth innings, the latter proving to be the decisive run in the game. The 19-year-old Rijo, signed by Boston out of the Dominican Republic during the 2012 international signing period for $575,000, is slashing .253/.310/.363 through 88 games with Salem this season with four homers and 22 doubles. Rijo is off to a .333 (13-for-39) start for the month of August with six RBIs. -- Rijo'€™s single in the second capped a string of seven straight hits from the Salem offense during a four-run inning. Left fielder Yolian Cerse hit a two-run home run, his third of the season, and third baseman Deiner Lopez knocked in a run to start off his 3-for-3 day at the plate. The 21-year-old Lopez is slashing .294/.324/.338 with three doubles and eight runs scored over 20 games and two stints with Salem this year. Since his most recent promotion on August 6, Lopez is batting .350 (7-for-20) over six games. -- RHP Kevin McAvoy picked up the victory (8-9, 4.06 ERA) with a final line of: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO. McAvoy, a sinker-baller, recorded 10 groundouts to three fly outs and escaped a few jams on the night, including stranding the bases loaded in the third after a pair of walks. Myrtle Beach would plate one in the fourth after a single and a wild pitch, and two more in the fifth on back-to-back doubles. Selected by Boston in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Bryant University, the 6-foot-4 McAvoy has won his last three starts and has allowed just four total earned runs in his last four outings, over a 24-inning span. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (59-56): L, 3-2, vs. Asheville (Rockies) -- LHP Jalen Beeks pitched into the seventh and allowed just one earned run, but took a no-decision with a final line of: 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO (90 pitches, 61 strikes). Beeks, 22, retired eight in a row from the first through the fourth inning before allowing base runners on a walk and fielding error by shortstop Javier Guerra (Boston'€™s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com), getting out of the jam on a double play ball. Beeks then allowed his first run in the fifth on a solo home run, and another unearned marker in the seventh after a double and a throwing error from third baseman Michael Chavis (Boston'€™s No. 11 prospect at MLB.com). The 5-foot-11 Beeks, selected by Boston in the 12th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of Arkansas, is now 9-4 with a 3.85 ERA over 22 starts this season with Greenville. In 128 2/3 innings, Beeks has struck out 87 and walked 25, with 14 home runs allowed. Three of Beeks'€™ last five starts have been quality outings, with two earned runs or less allowed in all five. -- The Greenville offense got Beeks off the hook in the eighth as they tied the game 2-2 on an RBI-ground out by Guerra, scoring Chavis who had singled to lead off the inning. Chavis finished 2-for-4, with his defensive miscue his 19th of the season and Guerra'€™s error his 22nd. -- Asheville took the lead for good in the ninth off RHP Kuehl McEachern (6-3, 2.64 ERA) on two singles sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt. The 22-year-old McEachern allowed three hits and a walk over 2 1/3 innings, with the earned run snapping a string of five straight scoreless outings. Selected by Boston in the 34th round of the 2014 draft out of Flagler College in Florida, McEachern has pitched nine innings in August with one earned run allowed, striking out five and walking three. -- Catcher J.T. Watkins played his first professional game at first base on Wednesday and was involved in seven putouts at first, including a diving stop of a line drive to end the top of the ninth inning. Watkins went 1-for-4 at the plate and is now slashing .268/.288/.324 with four doubles through 17 games played. The 25-year-old Watkins was drafted by Boston in 2012 in the 10th round out of the United States Military Academy at West Point and is a commissioned second lieutenant in the Army. Watkins played 17 games with Lowell in 2012 before returning to military duty, and although he has been granted opportunity this season to pursue his baseball career, Watkins may be recalled for active military duty at any time over the next six years. -- Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston'€™s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) was held out of the lineup for a second straight night. WEEI.com'€™s Ryan Hannable is reporting Moncada has a minor left hand issue. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (27-25): L, 6-4, at Batavia (Marlins) -- Second baseman Chad De La Guerra went 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs, giving Lowell a temporary 4-3 lead in the seventh inning with his three-bagger to the right field wall, scoring two. The 22-year-old Guerra, selected by Boston in the 17th round of this year'€™s draft out of Grand Canyon University, now has a team-best 25 RBIs on the season and is slashing .273/.321/.420 with two homers, two triples, and 11 doubles. -- Catcher Austin Rei (Boston'€™s No. 18 prospect at MLB.com) also had a two-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Selected by Boston in the third round of this year'€™s draft out of the University of Washington, Rei has back-to-back multi-hit games to raise his slash line to .205/.322/.370 with two homers, a triple, and four doubles through 22 games as a professional. -- It was a rocky day for Lowell pitching, as starter Javier Rodriguez allowed two runs in the first on a walk, wild pickoff attempt, and then back-to-back wild pitches. Rodriguez, a 20-year-old lefty and native of Mexico, walked four and struck out three in his three innings of work. Then, reliever Daniel Gonzalez had two throwing errors in the fourth to allow a run. The 6-foot-5 righty would recover to strike out seven over four innings, but gave up a leadoff single in the eighth before being replaced. RHP Trevor Kelley then entered in the eighth and was charged with a blown save, allowing two earned runs (and Gonzalez'€™s inherited runner to score) on a walk, two hits, and a hit batsman as Batavia re-took the lead 6-4. The earned runs were the first allowed by the 21-year-old Kelley, selected in the 36th round of this year'€™s draft out of the University of North Carolina, since joining Lowell on July 18 snapping a string of six straight scoreless appearances. ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (31-14): W, 6-3, at GCL Orioles -- RHP Anderson Espinoza (Boston'€™s No. 9 prospect at MLB.com) pitched four innings without allowing an earned run for the sixth time in eight starts since his promotion to the Gulf Coast League, with a final line on Wednesday of: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO. The 17-year-old Espinoza retired the first seven batters he faced before a batter reached on a throwing error from third baseman Roldani Baldwin. Espinoza then allowed his only hit of the day, a double, and hit a batter before retiring the side. The 6-foot Venezuelan native would allow one more base runner in the fourth inning via a wild pitch on a strike out, but the runner was caught stealing as catcher Devon Fisher gunned him down at second base. Espinoza, signed by Boston during the 2014 international signing period for $1.8 million, has a 0.84 ERA with the GCL Red Sox through eight starts, all limited to four innings in length. In the 32 total innings, he'€™s allowed 21 hits, five runs, and three earned runs with striking out 27 and walking nine. -- The throwing error was Roldani Baldwin'€™s eighth miscue on the season, but the third baseman went 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs while also reaching via a hit-by-pitch. Baldwin'€™s double in the first scored second baseman Sean Coyle, and another two-bagger in the third scored Coyle again to cap a three-run inning. A 19-year-old Dominican native, Baldwin is slashing .278/.355/.383 through 36 games this year with two homers and six doubles. -- The rehabbing (lower back strain) Coyle had a two-RBI double in the third inning and scored three runs in his 10th straight Gulf Coast League game, putting his slash line at .289/.357/.474 with a homer run, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored in GCL play. -- First baseman Jerry Downs went 2-for-4 with a two-RBI single in the fifth to extend the GCL Red Sox lead to 6-1. The 21-year-old Downs has back-to-back multi-hit games and is slashing .270/.422/.416 through 30 games since being selected by Boston in the 15th round of this year'€™s draft out of St. Thomas University. For more, check out the latest Farm Report Podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable