Brian Johnson

Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: Brian Johnson proves healthy, but unlucky; Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis homer for Greenville

Ken Laird
July 07, 2015 - 4:23 am

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-48): L, 3-2, at Syracuse (Nationals) -- LHP Brian Johnson (Boston'€™s No. 6 prospect at, making his first start since being removed due to illness on June 29 after throwing five pitches, took the loss (8-6, 2.73 ERA) despite allowing just two unlucky earned runs over five innings. With two outs in the second inning, PawSox second baseman Jonathan Roof lost an easy pop fly in the afternoon sun and the batter reached as the ball fell on the infield dirt on what was ruled a base hit. The next batter connected on a two-run double over the head of left fielder Carlos Peguero and Syracuse took a 2-0 lead. Johnson, 24, retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced before being lifted after 87 pitches (54 strikes), finishing with five hits and two walks allowed while striking out five. The 6-foot-4 Johnson, drafted by Boston with the 31st pick of the 2012 draft, is among the International League leaders in wins (second), strikeouts (second), ERA (sixth), and WHIP (first). -- The struggles for LHP Edwin Escobar (Boston'€™s No. 17 prospect at continued, as the 23-year-old surrendered what would eventually prove the decisive run in the sixth inning. Escobar allowed a double, hit a batter, walked a batter, and then hit another to force in a run. Escobar was then pulled for Noe Ramirez, who escaped the jam and finished with 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Escobar was acquired by Boston last summer as part of the return from the San Francisco Giants in the Jake Peavy trade. In seven outings this year for the PawSox since coming off the DL, Escobar has allowed 13 runs in 9 1/3 innings (12.54 ERA). -- Pawtucket dropped their ninth straight game, a span over which they'€™ve scored just 13 total runs. The offense struggled again on Monday, with the PawSox managing just two runs on five hits, four of them singles. In the sixth, a leadoff Roof single and stolen base led to an RBI groundout by DH Rusney Castillo. In the eighth, a Roof double set up shortstop Mike Miller in scoring position and rehabbing right fielder Daniel Nava used another groundout to bring a runner home. The first five batters in the Pawtucket lineup were a collective 0-for-17 (Nava, Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., Peguero, and Allen Craig). Castillo and Bradley did each draw a walk. -- Bradley was added to the International League All-Star team on Monday, as he was in the major leagues when the original roster was announced. Bradley led the league in fan votes prior to his call up. The 25-year-old has a slash line of .319/.396/.460 with Pawtucket this year over 54 games played. Those slash numbers are good for the third, second, and third best marks, respectively, in the International League in those categories. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (31-53): W, 5-4, at Binghamton (Mets) -- RHP Luiz Diaz, who hadn'€™t won a game in his last 24 starts and 366 days dating back to last season, finally picked up a victory (1-7, 6.10 ERA) as he gave up 10 hits, but only two earned runs over six innings. Diaz did allow a two-run home run in the fourth, just the second long ball he'€™s allowed in his last seven outings, but all told Diaz has now allowed three earned runs or less in five of his last six games. The 6-foot-3 Venezuelan was signed by Boston in 2008 as a undrafted free agent. In 2014 combined between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, Diaz was 9-7 with a 3.54 ERA in 26 starts. -- Catcher Jake Romanski, a Carolina League All-Star in the first half of this season with High-A Salem, hit his first Double-A home run and had his first multi-RBI game at that level as his solo blast in the sixth inning proved to be the game'€™s difference maker on the scoreboard. Romanski finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, as he also knocked in a run with a bases loaded single during a three-run Portland fourth inning. Selected by Boston in Round 14 of the 2013 draft out of San Diego State University, Romanski has hits in seven of his last eight games with the Sea Dogs as he'€™s gone 9-for-24 (.375) over that span. "All I'€™m trying to do is contribute to the team as much as I possibly can,"€ Romanski told the Portland Press Herald. "It'€™s all about winning and trying to help everybody get a [win] every single night." -- Several Portland batters have modest hit streaks that continued on Monday, as shortstop Marco Hernandez (seven games), DH Sam Travis (six games), third baseman Jantzen Witte (five games), and center fielder Manuel Margot (five games) all reached to keep streaks alive and all scored a run in Monday'€™s ballgame. Witte had two hits and a walk, while Hernandez had two hits including a triple to put his average at .313, currently fourth best in the Eastern League. -- RHP John Cornely picked up his first save for Portland as he pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing one walk, but no hits. Cornely, 26, has now made three consecutive scoreless appearances for the Sea Dogs after giving up three earned runs in an outing on June 29. Acquired by Boston in May from Atlanta in exchange for cash considerations, Cornely made four appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket before being demoted. He has struck out 39 batters in 36 innings in 2015 combining his work with three different teams. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (42-39): Postponed due to rain at Lynchburg (Indians) -- The postponed game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on July 15 on Salem'€™s next trip to Lynchburg. Salem now returns home to face Carolina (Braves) Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (Boston'€™s No. 19 prospect at on Monday was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 29-July 5, his second such award this year. Stankiewicz tied a career-high with nine strikeouts over seven shutout, one-hit, no-walk innings in a victory on July 3 at Myrtle Beach. It was the eighth quality start on the year for Stankiewicz, who was drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2013 draft. Stankiewicz leads the Carolina League with 90 1/3 innings pitched, and his 3.69 ERA is 12th best. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (43-38): W, 8-7, vs. Savannah (Mets) -- Third baseman Rafael Devers (Boston'€™s No. 4 prospect at and DH Michael Chavis (Boston'€™s No. 10 prospect at each hit two-run home runs, both their seventh homers on the season, as Greenville finally beat Savannah for the first time in their 10th meeting of the season. Devers'€™ blast traveled 420 feet and hit off of the bottom of the Flour Field scoreboard in right-center as Devers pulled a ball sinking down out of the strike zone. It was Devers'€™ first home run at Greenville'€™s home park this season and he snapped a recent 0-for-15 slump with a 2-for-4 night to go with three RBIs. An international signee by Boston in 2013, Devers was inked for $1.5 million in a signing bonus. Devers had a terrific start to 2015, hitting 56-for-164 (.341) combined in May and June before cooling off with a 20-for-87 June (.230). Chavis, selected by Boston with the 26th overall pick of the 2014 draft, finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored in addition to his dinger over the Greenville Green Monster in left. It was only the third multi-hit game in his last 36 games, as the 19-year-old has struggled to hit for average all season. His slash line currently sits at .202/.266/.351 with his 83 strikeouts fifth most in the South Atlantic League. -- Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston'€™s No. 1 prospect at reached base three times and scored two runs, going 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, and getting on via a hit-by-pitch. After getting plunked in the fifth, Moncada advanced to second on a groundout and then stole his 11th base by taking off for third. Devers followed with a sacrifice fly to bring Moncada home. Moncada also made an important defensive play in the game, showing his athleticism by backhanding a hot shot slightly to his left, then getting up off a knee to throw to second to start a 4-6-3 double play to end a Savannah threat in the eighth inning. Over his last 11 games, Moncada is hitting 14-for-41 (.341) with 10 runs scored while raising his batting average 44 points over that span to .244. -- Shortstop Javier Guerra (Boston'€™s No. 15 prospect at and center fielder Bryan Hudson each had two-hit games, while right fielder Joseph Monge came through with the decisive eighth inning RBI single, a night after going 4-for-4. Guerra and Hudson also each stole a base, their fourth and 15th, respectively. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (12-6): L, 7-4, at Tri-City (Astros) -- Catcher Austin Rei made his professional debut, hitting in the cleanup spot of the order. Rei played 5 1/2 innings, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout as well as a groundout and pop out to first. The 21-year-old Rei was drafted by Boston in third round of this year'€™s draft out of the University of Washington where he had a slash line of .330/.445/.681 this season to go with seven homers. -- First baseman Tucker Tubbs hit his first professional home run, a solo shot in the ninth, and also reached base on a single and a hit by pitch. Tubbs, a 22-year-old who was selected by Boston in the ninth round of this year'€™s draft, is 10-for-39 (.256) so far in 13 games with Lowell with five extra base hits. Tubbs played four years at the Univeristy of Memphis, hitting a combined .291 with 25 home runs over his four seasons, with 17 of those homers coming in his senior year. -- Rehabbing outfielder Henry Ramos (Boston'€™s No. 18 prospect at went 2-for-3 with an RBI as the DH in his third game with Lowell after playing eight games in the Gulf Coast League. The 23-year-old Ramos, a 6-foot-2 switch hitter from Puerto Rico, has a hit in all three games with the Spinners coming back off of knee surgery which limited him to just five games with Double-A Portland to begin the 2015 season. ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (11-2): W, 2-0, vs. GCL Rays -- LHP Daniel McGrath continued his rehab assignment (elbow inflammation) as he appeared in his third Gulf Coast League game of 2015. McGrath pitched three scoreless innings, striking out four, walking none, and picking off two runners at first base. The 21-year-old McGrath, signed by Boston in 2012 for $400,000 out of high school in Australia, made six starts earlier this year with High-A Salem and allowed just six earned runs in 30 innings (1.80 ERA) to go with 31 strikeouts before being placed on the disabled list on May 17. The 6-foot-3 McGrath has not allowed a run in six total innings with the GCL Red Sox since coming off the DL. -- RHP Kevin Steen followed McGrath with four shutout innings and picked up the victory (3-0, 0.00 ERA), as the 18-year-old allowed just one hit while striking out four batters and walking none. Steen has not been scored upon in 12 total innings this year, giving up three hits to go with 10 strikeouts and three free passes over his three appearances. Steen was selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2014 draft and signed for an over-slot value of $255,000. He had originally committed to the University of Tennessee. -- First baseman Jerry Downs reached base three times, with a single and two walks, as he extended his hit streak to four games. Downs, a 21-year-old left-handed batter who was selected by Boston in Round 15 of this year'€™s draft, also successfully stole his third base in his third attempt. Downs played three years of college baseball at NAIA St. Thomas University, where this year he hit .349 with nine homers and 12 steals in 64 games played. Check out the weekly Farm Report podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable.