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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman locked in; context for Xander Bogaerts' early struggles

April 12, 2013 - 7:55 am
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A quick look at the action in the Red Sox system on Thursday... TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS) (BOX) -- David Ortiz collected a pair of singles in his first rehab game in Pawtucket. He also had to make a trip around the bases on the second hit, advancing to third on a double and then scoring on a single. The Red Sox will make a game-time decision, based on the weather, about the wisdom of having Ortiz play again on Friday. -- Jose Iglesias, in his first game in Pawtucket since getting sent down following his 9-for-20 performance in the big leagues, went 1-for-4 with a homer and a pair of strikeouts. The homer was his third in three seasons in Pawtucket (he had exactly one in both 2011 and 2012). '€œI'€™ve got my confidence back, and I know what to do in the field to help the team win some ballgames,'€ Iglesias told the Providence Journal. '€œThat'€™s what I'€™m going to continue to do here every single day with the same intensity.'€ -- A year ago, left-hander Chris Hernandez went at least five innings in 25 of his 26 appearances (one as a piggyback starter, the other 25 as the starter). This year, he has fallen short of five frames in both of his two outings. The left-hander lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits (including a homer and a double) while striking out five and walking two. Still, aside from the two hits, he often generated bad contact or non-contact, as evidenced both by his punchouts (all five of which were swinging) and the six ground ball outs he elicited. If he can become consistently pitch efficient with his bad-contact-inducing stuff, then he could become a consideration for big league spot starts at various junctures this season -- particularly if the Sox could benefit from a left-handed starter -- but in order to position himself thusly, he needs to show the ability to work deeper into games on a consistent basis. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-3 WIN AT NEW BRITAIN (TWINS) (BOX) -- Brandon Workman looked a lot like he did throughout the 2012 season, attacking the strike zone (72 percent of his 65 pitches were strikes), getting swings and misses (9, to be exact) with a great strikeout-to-walk rate (7-to-1), shrugging off a moment of adversity (a first-inning two-run homer) to work deep into an effective outing. Workman logged six innings, giving up two runs on only three hits and getting six groundball outs (two of which came on a double play). Among the impressive talents in the Sox' Double-A rotation, which also features Matt Barnes, Drake Britton and Anthony Ranaudo, Workman's consistency, advancement of his pitch mix, ability to throw a full complement of pitches reliably for strikes and self-awareness on the mound suggests that he's the one who is closest to big league ready. Indeed, given that he will have to be added to the 40-man roster after the season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, there is a very real chance that Workman could see action in the big leagues at some point this year. His terrific start, which includes a 16-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate in just 11 innings, suggests a pitcher who has a chance to leave behind Double-A, does nothing to detract from that perspective. -- Kolbrin Vitek, a 2010 first-round pick of the Sox, matched a professional best by collecting four hits (one double) in five at-bats. He also stole a pair of bases. It was his fourth career four-hit game, as he'd accomplished the feat once last year in Portland and twice in 2010 with Lowell. -- Daniel Bard combined the ability to throw strikes (14 of 23 pitches) with the ability to get some swings and misses (4), primarily on a slider that had good sharpness. He allowed two hits, walked none and had a strikeout. -- Xander Bogaerts had a rough day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with a strikeout and grounding into a double play. He did accept his second walk of the season. In seven games with Portland this year, Bogaerts is 6-for-31 (.194) and has yet to collect an extra-base hit -- a dramatic contrast to a year ago, when he collected 15 extra-base hits in 23 games in Double-A. Still, the season-opening power outage verges on meaningless. Offensive success is notable, even surprising, in Portland and the Eastern League in April, given that brutal weather makes it extremely difficult to drive the ball. More accurate player evaluations (particularly those based off of statistical profiles) of everyone in Portland -- but especially someone like Bogaerts who has never before opened a season in a cold-weather climate -- typically must wait until at least May. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: DAY OFF -- Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times offered a good look at outfielder Brandon Jacobs, and his resolve in the face of disappointment after being assigned back to Salem (where he spent all of last year) to start 2013. '€œThe first day, I was a little shocked and a little upset,'€ Jacobs told McFarling. '€œI think everybody would be upset if they got sent down from a place where they had their goal set. '€œBut the day after that, it was just like, '€˜I'€™ve got to go out there and play. Whether it'€™s Lowell, Greenville, Salem, Portland, Pawtucket '€” wherever it is '€” it'€™s my job to go out there and perform and show that I can play at any level.'€™ '€ SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: POSTPONED (RAIN) AT LEXINGTON (ASTROS)