Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson dominating; Felix Doubront's missing velocity; Garin Cecchini goes deep

June 11, 2014 - 8:00 am
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS) (BOX) -- Felix Doubront made his second rehab start (and first for Pawtucket), going 4 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on six hits and a walk while fanning three. Doubront threw 75 pitches with 44 going for strikes. Most of the six hits he allowed were struck well, with the Bats clubbing two doubles in the opening inning while scattering three line-drive singles and a ground ball single throughout the rest of Doubront's outing. According to the Providence Journal's Tim Britton, Doubront's velocity, which had been a cause for concern prior to his injury, dipped considerably, with just four of his 75 pitches hitting 90 miles per hour or higher on the stadium gun, while his fastball sat around 87-88 mph. "It'€™s a process. It was nice and easy and trying to control my pitches," Doubront told Britton. "€œI'm looking for strength and trying to get my fastball a little bit more velocity. Right now, I feel good where I am." Despite the decline in velocity and the solid contact made off of the left-hander, Doubront insists that he is healthy and making progress towards a return. "Health is first, and results I can fix later," Doubront told Britton. "I don't feel anything -- no shooting soreness or shooting pain [in my shoulder]. It'€™s strong. Better than before." At a time when Doubront's stuff has been less than overpowering and his results on the year have been mixed, Brandon Workman may be making a case to take the left-hander's spot in the rotation. For more on that situation, click here. -- Garin Cecchini had his third three-hit performance of the season, going 3-for-5 and smacking his second home run of the season, a line drive solo shot to right field. It'd been 162 plate appearances since Cecchini's last home run. He also singled twice and scored the winning run in the 10th inning. Cecchini's power has taken a hit as he's moved through the system to the upper levels of the minors. Last season in 66 games in Double-A, the third baseman averaged an extra-base hit once every 15 1/2 plate appearances, while he averaged one every nine plate appearances in the first half of the season with Salem and once every 11 plate appearances in 2012 with Single-A Greenville. This season, through 57 games in Triple-A, that number has decreased further, with Cecchini racking up 10 extra-base hits in 225 plate appearances, or one extra-base hit every 22 1/2 plate appearances. His slugging percentage has fallen to .342, a number that had sunk as low as .318 a couple of days ago. -- Travis Shaw continues to show he's adjusting well to a higher level, going 3-for-5 on the afternoon, his first three-hit game since being promoted to Triple-A. Shaw is hitting .290 with a .324 OBP in 16 games with the PawSox, though there are a couple things that stand out about his performance. In 47 games with Portland this season, Shaw had impressively drawn 29 walks while striking out just 23 times. Those numbers have not carried over to Pawtucket. In just 68 plate appearances since joining the PawSox, Shaw has fanned 22 times (that's almost one-third of the time) while drawing only four walks. While the hits have been coming for Shaw, the power has dropped off a bit. While he does have a home run and three doubles, Shaw is slugging just .387 as compared to his .548 mark with Portland this season. -- Feats of Mookie: Modestly streaking. Playing center field for the sixth straight game, Mookie Betts went 1-for-5 with a single and a run batted in. Betts has reached base safely in all eight of his games in Triple-A and in 12 straight, including his time with Portland. He's hitting .258 while posting a .378 OBP with Pawtucket. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-1 WIN AT ALTOONA (PIRATES) (BOX) -- Left-hander Brian Johnson continues to sail through Double-A. The 23-year-old, a 2012 first-rounder, allowed one run on four hits and one walk while punching out six in six innings. In seven Double-A starts, he's pitched at least five innings in every outing and has yet to give up more than two earned runs, working to an ERA of 1.96 with 7.6 strikeouts per nine and 2.6 walks per nine, along with an opponents' batting average of .201. He's pitched at least six innings in each of his last four starts, with a 1.44 ERA in that time. Johnson has been among the most consistent and impressive pitchers in the Red Sox system thus far this year, earning a quick promotion from High-A Salem and showing no signs of struggle in his transition to Double-A. While he's worked comfortably at 88-91 mph, locating his fastball to both sides of the plate in a fashion that's allowed him to set up his curveball and changeup, one scout noted that he saw Johnson ramp up his velocity to 93 mph towards the end of a recent outing, suggesting that he has the ability to dial up something extra but also underscoring the notion that he is someone who, at a relatively young stage of his professional career, shows an uncommon understanding of his abilities and craft. -- Deven Marrero had his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-5, but he was also throw out attempting a steal for the third straight game. That Marrero has been gunned down with that kind of frequency comes as a surprise, given that he'd been 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts in 2014 prior to this stretch, and 68-for-77 (88 percent success rate) in his professional career. -- Derrik Gibson went 3-for-3 with a walk and a steal (along with a caught stealing), his third straight multi-hit game and his sixth in eight contests this month. The versatile 24-year-old is now hitting .517 with a .611 OBP and .586 slugging mark this month, boosting his average for the year to .312 with a .398 OBP, 19 walks and 24 strikeouts. -- David Chester, a 25-year-old making his Double-A debut, went 3-for-4 with a double. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 9-7 LOSS AT FREDERICK (ORIOLES) (BOX) -- Left-hander Cody Kukuk had a mess of an outing, lasting just 1 2/3 innings while allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks while striking out none. Six of the hits were singles, but Kukuk did himself few favors with his control issues, with just 27 of his 50 offerings (54 percent) finding the strike zone, resulting in the elevation of his pitch count to the point where he had to be pulled before making it through two innings. Kukuk is now 1-4 with a 6.18 ERA since his early-season promotion to High-A, with 8.1 strikeouts and 6.8 walks per nine innings -- marks reminiscent of his performance in Greenville in 2013, when he racked up 9.5 strikeouts per nine but walked 6.8 per nine. His stuff is elite -- a left-hander who can dial his fastball as high as 98 mph, with the ability to get swings and misses on his changeup and slider -- but it remains to be seen when, or whether, he will be able to harness it. Still, given that Kukuk is an athletic 21-year-old 6-foot-4 left-hander who is essentially in his second year of pro ball (the 2011 seventh-rounder out of high school was suspended for most of 2012), the Red Sox will be patient in making judgments about how close he might be able to come to his considerable ceiling. -- Catcher Carson Blair sustained his offensive roll, going 3-for-5 with a homer. It was his second three-hit game of the year, both of which have come in his last three games, and he's amidst a seven-game hitting streak that includes five multi-hit games. During the seven-game run, Blair is 14-for-30 (.467) with four doubles, two homers and five walks, pushing the 24-year-old's season line to .227/.354/.477 with six homers in 35 games. -- Though Justin Haley gave up a homer to the first batter he faced (after entering with two runners on in the second), the piggyback starter settled to dominate from that point forward. The 22-year-old logged 6 1/3 innings in which he was charged with two runs on six hits while punching out seven and walking none. In 61 1/3 innings in High-A, Haley has a 2.05 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine. The homer he gave up was just his second of the year, and Carolina League opponents are hitting just .229 against him. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-5 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Right-hander Jamie Callahan allowed two runs in four innings while punching out five and walking two. The 19-year-old did yield a homer, the third time in four starts that he's been taken deep. For the year, the 2012 second-rounder is now 2-5 with a 6.63 ERA, with opponents hitting .326 against him. -- Center fielder Manuel Margot went 3-for-4 and stole a pair of bases, with the 19-year-old boosting his total number of steals to 21 (in 25 attempts) this year. It was his third three-hit game of the year, but his first since April. -- Outfielder Kendrick Perkins went 3-for-3 with a double, triple and sac fly, with the 22-year-old improving his line to .333 with a .379 OBP and .514 slugging mark. He has 10 extra-base hits -- including four homers -- in his 32 games in Greenville this year. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-6 WIN VS. DSL REDS (BOX) -- Third baseman Rafael Devers went 1-for-4 with a single and a walk while driving in two, extending his hitting streak to encompass all nine games this season. The 17-year-old hitting prodigy is hitting .441 with a .545 OBP and .735 slugging mark. He ranks fourth in average, fourth in OBP and fifth in slugging in the DSL, while his 13 RBIs are tied for second in the league. -- Shortstop Carlos Tovar, an 18-year-old out of Venezuela, reached base in all five plate appearances, collecting a hit and four walks. The right-handed hitter is batting .241/.361/.276. -- Luis Alexander Basabe, playing right field, went 0-for-2 but walked three times. The 17-year-old has reached base multiple times in eight of the nine games in which he's played, hitting .303 with a .478 OBP and .576 slugging mark.

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