Brian Johnson

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Brian Johnson delivers another strong start; Shane Victorino 0-for-2 in first rehab start

Ken Laird
June 25, 2015 - 3:58 am

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (36-37): W, 3-2 in 11 innings, vs. Rochester (Twins) -- Left-hander Brian Johnson (Boston's No. 6 prospect at continued to build a case that he is ready for the majors with an outstanding start, posting a line of 6 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO (93 pitches, 71 strikes). In addition to the seven strikeouts, only two balls left the infield as Johnson recorded 11 ground ball outs. At one stretch Johnson went 15 batters without falling behind 1-0 or 2-1 in the count, and he didn't reach a three-ball count until the seventh inning "He had some weapons tonight," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles told the Providence Journal in regard to Johnson'€™s performance. "He worked ahead in the count. He was unpredictable and worked to both sides of the plate. It all predicated off that fastball command." Johnson left the game after colliding with a Rochester player while Johnson was attempting to cover first base. He got up and walked off under his own power after the runner crashed into his right (non-throwing) arm, sending both players tumbling to the ground. Johnson told reporters after the game he was fine and Boles admitted he removed Johnson from the game to err on the side of caution. The run scored off of Johnson was unearned, coming after the pitcher'€™s throw to first on a swinging bunt was low and wide. That runner would come around to score to tie the game at one in the seventh as reliever Pat Light allowed a two-out RBI single to right-center. Johnson, 24, is 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA on the season over 14 starts. He has allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of those 14 appearances, pitching at least six innings in eight of his last nine outings. Johnson'€™s eight wins lead the International League, as does his 1.08 WHIP, with his 86 strikeouts second-best and his ERA fifth among qualified starters. -- The Pawtucket bullpen blew two saves on the night, with Light allowing the inherited runner to score in the seventh and with Matt Barnes surrendering three straight two-out singles in the top of the ninth as Rochester tied the game at two. Barnes, who reached 98 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun, got to the game'€™s final strike on two batters, but allowed one hit on a hanging curveball, another on a looping single to center and the third on an opposite-field roller through the infield. Since his demotion from Boston on June 14, Barnes has made five appearances for the PawSox, allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, with nine strikeouts to one walk. Light had retired the first nine batters he faced in Triple-A, but has now blown saves in consecutive games. Light, whose fastball hit 97 mph on the McCoy gun on Wednesday, did recover from allowing the hit in the seventh inning to record a scoreless eighth, with help from a nice Quintin Berry catch at the wall in left field. -- Outfielder Shane Victorino began a rehab assignment (calf), playing five innings in right field and going 0-for-2 at the plate while batting second in the order. Victorino hadn'€™t played since May 23. In the first, Victorino smoked a ball back to the pitcher, but was retired. Victorino grounded out to third base in the fourth inning and was replaced by Berry in the top of the sixth. "It felt great to be back out there and moving around," Victorino said to the Providence Journal afterwards. "My body feels good, I came out of it good. I'll come back tomorrow, hope all feels good and be ready to go. We're definitely learning through this process -- not only myself but the organization. The fact of continuously playing, that'€™s the part where I've got to prove to myself again that I can play back-to-back and feel like I don'€™t have to play two and then sit two. I don't want to be that guy again. It's understanding that when I do come back, I want to make sure I'm ready to go the rest of the way. Hopefully everything holds up and knock on wood we go in the right direction." -- Outfielder Rusney Castillo was activated after his demotion from Boston and went 2-for-5 as the DH, with two singles and a run scored, batting in the three-hole of the lineup. General manager Ben Cherington was in Pawtucket Wednesday watching the action and spoke to the Providence Journal about Castillo. "€œWe'€™re not in a position right now to get him in the lineup every day in the big leagues, and he's at a point where in order to realize what we think his potential is, he's got to play," Cherington said. "This is the place to do it." DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (27-45): L, 3-1, at New Hampshire (Blue Jays) -- Right-hander Justin Haley pitched six shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks, allowing just four hits in a no-decision outing. That'€™s now back-to-back six inning scoreless starts for the 6-foot-5 Haley, as the 2012 sixth-round draft pick has lowered his ERA from 5.98 to 4.82 in the past week. Haley was in line for the win, leaving with a 1-0 lead, but the Portland bullpen could not hold it. -- Haley was aided by two assists in the field from right fielder Aneury Tavarez. The 23-year-old Tavarez combined with second baseman Carlos Asuaje to throw out a runner at home attempting to score from first on a fifth inning double. Then, in the sixth, Tavarez threw out a runner at third base attempting to tag-up from second on a fly out. -- Right-hander Miguel Celestino took the loss and a blown save, as he allowed a decisive two-run homer in the seventh inning. The homer came on an 0-1 pitch, a fastball that was drilled over the right field wall. The 25-year-old Celestino was recently demoted from Triple-A Pawtucket and he had recorded two scoreless multi-inning outings with Portland before Wednesday'€™s action. -- Shortstop Marco Hernandez had yet another multi-hit game, his fourth in a row, going 2-for-4 to raise his average to an Eastern League fifth-best mark of .315. Hernandez now has a six game hitting streak, and in June has a slash line of .333/.368/.544 with 12 extra-base hits in 21 games played. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (38-32): Scheduled off day (All-Star break). Next action June 25 vs. Frederick (Orioles) SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (38-32): Scheduled off day (All-Star break). Next action June 25 vs. Charleston (Yankees) SHORT SEASON LOWELL SPINNERS (5-1): W, 10-1, at Hudson Valley (Rays) -- First baseman Tucker Tubbs cleared the bases with a two-out three-run triple as Lowell plated seven runs in the second inning en route to the win. Tubbs, a ninth-round selection in this year'€™s draft out of the University of Memphis, finished 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Tubbs, 22, has a hit in all four games played so far with Lowell. -- The Spinners had three triples in the game, with left fielder Bryan Hudson and right fielder Luis Alexander Basabe joining Tubbs with three-baggers. Hudson, now with a five-game hitting streak to open the season, scored on a passed ball in the first inning. Basabe'€™s triple brought home Lowell'€™s third run of the game, and the Venezuelan now has six hits in his last three contests. -- Second baseman Victor Acosta led the way with three hits for Lowell, extending his season-opening hit streak to three games as the 19-year-old Venezuelan has gone 6-for-14 out of the gate (.429). -- Left-hander Luis Ramos had a bounce-back start after allowing six earned runs in his 2015 debut, as Ramos went: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO (75 pitches, 59 strikes). The 20-year-old from Panama worked mostly out of the bullpen in 2014 in the Gulf Coast League, giving up 14 earned runs over 43 innings (2.93 ERA). ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (3-0): W, 3-0, at GCL Rays -- Anderson Espinoza (Boston'€™s No. 25 prospect at made his Gulf Coast League debut and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits, with a strikeout and a walk. Espinosa'€™s catcher Isaias Lucena helped keep a clean pitching line by erasing two runners on the base paths in the fourth that were attempting to steal, while also teaming up with Espinosa for a 1-2-6 double play to erase a second and third, one out situation in the first. Promoted from the Dominican Summer League this week, the 17-year-old Espinosa is a six-foot righty from Venezuela that was ranked as one of the top pitchers in the international class in 2014 when Boston signed him to a $1.8 million deal. In five combined starts this year Espinosa has allowed just two earned runs in 19 innings. -- Right-hander Kevin Steen, Boston'€™s ninth-round selection in the 2014 draft, earned the victory in his 2015 debut with four no-hit innings of relief, striking out four while allowing just one walk. Steen also recorded six ground-ball outs. Signed for an above-slot $255,000 last summer, the 18-year-old Steen had originally committed to the University of Tennessee coming out of high school in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. -- Third baseman Roldani Baldwin went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs batting out of the three-hole in the lineup. Baldwin, a 19-year-old Dominican, had an RBI single in the first, a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and also had a single in a run-scoring seventh inning. Baldwin, who played catcher on Tuesday, also committed a throwing error in the field at third. He has four RBIs at the plate in his two games played.