Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo throws strikes; Mickey Pena, sleeper prospect; Mookie Betts, streaking prospect; Kendrick Perkins finds his groove; Simon Mercedes revs up the K machine

August 16, 2013 - 7:56 am

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Thursday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 WIN VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS) (BOX) -- Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, in his third Triple-A start and his first in Pawtucket, worked around a flood of hits (nine -- seven singles and two triples) to limit his opponents to one run in 5 2/3 innings. He punched out three and didn't issue a walk, continuing to display the impressive willingness to attack the strike zone that has characterized his first three Triple-A starts. In 16 2/3 innings, Ranaudo now has 11 strikeouts and two walks along with a 2.70 ERA. -- Xander Bogaerts, starting at shortstop, went 1-for-3 while also receiving an intentional walk. The intentional free pass snapped a nine-game stretch without a walk. However, he's also emerging from a slump, as Bogaerts is now 6-for-11 in his last three games. -- Right-hander Chris Martin had one of his best outings of the year, retiring all six batters he faced while recording four strikeouts. In his last two outings, the 27-year-old with the unconventional career path (he was essentially out of the game for five years before joining an indy league team in 2010) has allowed one hit, no walks and struck out seven in four scoreless innings. On the year, he has a 3.68 ERA but with 44 strikeouts and just nine walks in 44 innings since his promotion to Triple-A in May. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-0 LOSS AT ALTOONA (PIRATES) (BOX) -- Boston College alum Terry Doyle was very effective in his eighth start with Portland, despite getting no run support from the Sea Dogs offense. Doyle delivered seven scoreless innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out three. Doyle, who moved from Triple-A Pawtucket to Portland back in July, has been solid over his last four starts, pitching to a 2.08 ERA. However, Doyle's lacked a ton of control, walking nine batters while striking out 12 over that same span. The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-4 with a 3.59 ERA with Portland, and is 6-10 with a 4.80 ERA between the two levels this season. -- Pete Ruiz, who has struggled in relief this year with Portland, gave up two runs for the second outing in a row, this time receiving the loss after giving up the two deciding runs in his one inning of work. Though Ruiz has been better since missing a month due to injury, he still owns a 5.56 ERA through 43 2/3 innings. One thing Ruiz has been doing well, however, is racking up the strikeouts. The right-hander is averaging almost 12 1/2 strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 60 while walking 25. -- Garin Cecchini has a mini-hit streak going, hitting safely in five straight games after a 1-for-4 showing on Thursday. The third baseman looks to be heating up again after hitting just .121 (though he drew 14 walks, a .396 OBP) over the course of 11 games earlier this month. Cecchini continues to put up impressive numbers in Double-A, hitting .294/.408/.395 in 48 games since being promoted from High-A. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 2-1 WIN AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX) (BOX) -- Left-hander Mickey Pena generates far less attention than many other starters in the Red Sox system, but the 2011 sixth-rounder looks very much like a future big leaguer if he can avoid any of the off-the-field problems that have trailed him in the past (including earlier this year, when he was hit with a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse). Pena had a tremendous outing for Salem on Thursday, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings while punching out five and walking one. The 22-year-old has now worked at least six innings while allowing three or fewer runs in each of his last seven starts, with a 1.96 ERA and an opponents' batting line of .214/.296/.289 along with 28 strikeouts and 17 walks in 46 innings. He is a strike-thrower who is fearless about attacking opponents on the inside part of the plate with a legitimate starter's mix (fastball, curveball, change), and on the mound, he's done nothing but impress in his two full seasons (he had a 3.01 ERA and nearly a strikeout an inning last year in Greenville). -- Mookie Betts went 1-for-4 with a double. The 20-year-old saw his streak of eight straight games reaching base multiple times come to an end, but he has gotten on base by either walk or hit in 13 consecutive contests, during which he has a line of .367/.456/.551. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 3-2 LOSS (12 INNINGS) AT AUGUSTA (GIANTS) (BOX) -- Starter Justin Haley was stellar for the Drive, tossing seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball. Haley walked one and struck out four in his seven innings of work. The right-hander, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2012, has been dominant in his last four starts, allowing just four earned runs in his last 26 innings. In those four outings, the opposition is batting just .136/.183/.227 against him. Haley has posted a 2.31 ERA since May 14, and has a 3.36 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) this season for Greenville. He has had trouble with walks, however. Haley's walked almost six batters per nine innings over the course of the season, but has cut that number down to two batters in nine innings over his last five outings. -- Right-hander Austin Maddox gave up two runs in his two innings on Thursday, but neither of the runs were earned. Maddox allowed a hit and a walk, but the two runs in the ninth inning were a result of two errors committed by third baseman Mario Martinez. Maddox, a 22-year-old right-hander, has struggled in his time with Greenville this season, but has allowed only one earned run in his last 11 2/3 innings. Maddox has split time between the bullpen and the rotation, posting a 7.76 ERA in seven starts, and a 5.29 ERA in 51 innings of relief. -- Kendrick Perkins reached base three times on Thursday, drawing a walk and adding a pair of singles. Perkins has really found his groove at the plate recently, hitting .353/.389/.500 with two doubles and a home run over his last nine games. After a brief stint with the Spinners, Perkins has hit .257 with a .304 OBP since returning to the Drive, and is now batting .237/.288/.340 on the season with Greenville. The outfielder has drawn just six walks in 28 games with the Drive this season, but four of those have come in his last 11 contests. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 4-1 LOSS VS. VERMONT (ATHLETICS) (BOX) -- Right-hander Simon Mercedes turned in an impressive six-inning performance, allowing one run on four hits while punching out nine and walking just one. His fastball was sitting in the high-80s -- below his mid-90s capability -- but he pounded the strike zone with it. The imposing 6-foot-4 21-year-old, signed out of the Dominican last spring, was getting few swings and misses early in the year (4.9 per nine innings through eight games) but has since put up big strikeout numbers, with 23 punchouts in his last three games spanning 16 1/3 innings (12.7 per nine innings). While showing an increased propensity to punch out opponents (thanks both to his fastball and a changeup that at times has been an impressive swing-and-miss pitch), he's remained stingy with his walks throughout the year, allowing 2.4 per nine innings. -- Left-hander Corey Littrell allowed three unearned runs in one inning of work, the second straight outing in which the 2013 fifth-rounder has given up three runs. Because the runs were unearned on Thursday, Littrell now has a 2.16 ERA in his pro debut with 18 strikeouts and nine walks in 16 2/3 innings. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-1 LOSS AT GCL ORIOLES (BOX) -- Left-hander Trey Ball, the Sox' first-round pick this year, had a rough outing, permitting two runs on two hits and three walks in just two-thirds of an inning. To date, the 19-year-old's debut has been relatively inauspicious as he's allowed five earned runs in nine innings while walking six and striking out four in his four outings. Of course, none of the on-field results matter at this stage. The Red Sox put approximately no stock in the performance of players making their pro debuts in short-season levels. At this point, the team (like most other clubs in the game) is interested almost solely in familiarizing players with the professional environment. In the case of Ball -- a two-way player in high school who pitched once a week -- the team simply wants the left-hander to gain familiarity with a minor league starter's five-day routine. And so, his inability to blow away opposing hitters to this point verges on irrelevant -- just as player development staff members would suggest that no stock should be placed in the left-hander's performance if he were dominating in Fort Myers. -- Outfielder Bryan Hudson went 3-for-4 with three singles (one of the infield variety), adding to what has been a very strong pro debut (there's that asterisk again...) for the 15th rounder out of Georgia. The 18-year-old has reached base by walk or hit in nine straight games, elevating his season line to .309/.438/.371. He's squared up the ball to produce consistent line drives in August, hitting .423/.516/.462 in eight games this month. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS AT DSL MARINERS (BOX) -- On a quiet day for his team's offense (the DSL Sox mustered just six singles), Luis Alexander Basabe delivered a pair of singles and a walk, and in his last six games, the 16-year-old center fielder is now 7-for-21 with four walks to improve his season line to .214 with a .383 OBP (and .305 slugging mark). He also has a team-leading 18 steals in 54 games.