Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster roughed up; Brian Johnson well-grounded in Portland; Sean Coyle mashing post-DL

May 26, 2014 - 7:58 am
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 10-9 LOSS AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS) (BOX) - Allen Webster, who was the other alternative to make the start for the Red Sox against the Rays on Sunday, was roughed up in his five innings of work, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks while fanning four. Webster had looked like a solid option to earn a promotion in Felix Doubront's absence, seeing as how he was in the midst of a stretch of seven straight outings in which he'd allowed two earned runs or less, and hadn't given up more than three runs in an outing. Webster cruised through the first four innings with relative ease, allowing a triple and a single but otherwise inducing lots of groundouts while striking out four, getting three swinging. Trouble arose in the fifth when Webster gave up just his third home run of the season to the first batter of the inning. After a single sandwiched in between a pair of walks, Webster was able to escape the inning with only two runs allowed. He came out to begin the sixth, but was unable to record an out, allowing four singles with a throwing error by third baseman Garin Cecchini in the mix. - Catcher Dan Butler went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, his first extra-base hits in 21 games. Prior to Sunday, Butler had been slumping hard, batting .164/.269/.164 with 10 walks and 17 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances. Butler, who hit 19 doubles and 14 home runs while receiving some regular playing time in Pawtucket last season, hasn't shown much of that pop in 2014, clubbing eight doubles and just one home run in 127 plate appearances. - Reliever Dalier Hinojosa blew his second save of the season and took the loss, allowing three runs on a hit and two walks in an inning and a third of work. The righty didn't strike out a single batter after fanning five of the six hitters he faced in his last appearance. - The Red Sox aren't the only ones in the midst of a losing streak; the PawSox have now dropped seven in a row. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 1-0 LOSS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS) (BOX) - Brian Johnson's line was almost identical to that of his previous starts; he allowed just one run on four hits while issuing one walk. In his previous outing, he'd gone six strong innings, but Johnson lasted through the seventh for the first time this season, tossing 90 pitches with 64 going for strikes. The biggest difference was that Johnson actually set a season-low in strikeouts, fanning just two. "Got his fastball for strike one," Sea Dogs catcher Michael Brenly told the Portland Press-Herald. "He was forcing them to put the ball in play and our defense was great behind him." Johnson has been getting noticeably fewer strikeouts since moving up to Double-A, where he's facing more experienced hitters. He'd fanned an average of 11.6 batters 25 2/3 innings with Salem this season, but that number has dropped to 6.8 per nine innings through 29 1/3 innings in Double-A. Instead he's forcing hitters to put the ball in play, a trend that continued Sunday with 12 of the 20 balls put in play against Johnson on the ground. Though he allowed four hits and a walk, he faced just two over the minimum through his seven innings of work, thanks to the help of a well-timed ground ball double play, a pick-off and a caught stealing. Johnson finished the outing strong, retiring the side in order in the seventh and fanning the last batter he faced. - Feats of Mookie: Faster than a speeding bullet. Not only is Mookie Betts continuing to get on base just about every game, but he's also been showing off his speed. Betts went 1-for-3 with a walk and an infield single on Sunday, and stole his 22nd base in 25 chances. Betts swiped 38 bases between Greenville and Salem last season while being caught just four times. - Sean Coyle continues to swing a hot bat since coming off the disabled list. Serving as the DH, Coyle went 2-for-4, and now has seven hits in 14 at-bats, including two doubles and a home run, since returning. Coyle seems to be picking up where he left off; the infielder was batting .316/.381/.474 before hitting the DL. "He'€™s developing his swing," Sea Dogs hitting coach Rich Gedman told the Portland Press-Herald. "For a guy who is not tall or big, he'€™s really a strong guy." Coyle is listed at just 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, but the 22-year-old, who was taken in the third round in 2010 out of high school, has shown some serious power, slugging .513 in 48 games for Salem last season (another year in which he battled injuries). Coyle has three home runs and five doubles to his credit through 79 plate appearances this season. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-6 LOSS VS. POTOMAC (NATIONALS) (BOX) - Cody Kukuk endured not only his worst outing since being promoted to High-A, but his roughest outing of the season, allowing a season-high seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and two walks through 4 2/3 innings. Prior to Sunday, Kukuk hadn't given up more than two earned runs in any of his nine outings this year, and his previous season-high for hits allowed was five, done twice. The lefty took his third loss in three starts and his third since being promoted to Salem, while his ERA ballooned from 2.55 through four starts in the Carolina League to 4.43 after the ugly outing. There were some silver linings, even though Kukuk got hit hard; he struck out six in his 4 2/3 innings of work, the most he's racked up since being promoted. He also continues to cut back on the walks; Kukuk walked 12 through his first 11 2/3 innings in High-A, but has walked just three in his last 10 2.3 innings. - Reed Gragnani seems to be out of his slump, going 2-for-4 with a walk. After going hitless in three straight games, Gragnani now owns a mini-streak, getting hits in four straight. With both a walk and a strikeout on the day, Gragnani has walked exactly as many times as he's fanned (20). Though he's hit for a high average all season and has been getting on base plenty, Gragnani hasn't shown any pop, and has just one extra-base hit (a double) in his last 14 games. The second baseman is batting .329/.406/.423 in 40 games this season. - Dayan Diaz, 25, tossed 2 1/3 innings of nearly spotless relief, walking two but allowing no hits and striking out one. The right-hander has recorded three saves and posted a 1.45 ERA through 18 2/3 in his first season in the Red Sox organization. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-5 LOSS VS. AUGUSTA (GIANTS) (BOX) - Stephen Drew played five innings (he was taken out of the game after a rain delay) and finished the day 1-for-3 with a double, lineout and a strikeout. He also committed an error. In five at-bats, Drew has two hits and has struck out twice. - Jamie Callahan was hit hard for the second outing in a row, giving up six runs on eight hits (though only three runs were earned) while walking one and striking out five. He also induced 10 swinging strikes on the day. Callahan ran into a bit of trouble in the second inning, giving up a leadoff inside-the-park home run, but allowed just one run through the first three innings. But Callahan got hit hard in the fourth inning, allowing a double and three singles and recording an out before Drew's error kept the inning alive. With two outs, Callahan allowed a two-run triple. The 19-year-old has allowed 17 hits in his last 8 2/3 innings, while the opposition is batting .324 against Callahan through nine starts. He owns a 6.64 ERA in 40 2/3 innings. - Carlos Asuaje broke a three-game hitless streak, going 1-for-3 and smacking his South Atlantic League-leading seventh triple of the season while driving in two runs. Asuaje hasn't been hitting very much (just a .200 average over his last 10 games) but he's managed to draw 12 walks over that same span.

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