Left-hander Brian Johnson allowed two runs in seven innings while reaching the 150 innings threshold for 2014 on Wednesday. (365DigitalPhotography.com / Portland Sea Dogs)

Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson's innings landmark; Jake Dahlstrand putting himself on the map; PawSox walk off; DSL Sox eliminated

September 04, 2014 - 9:43 am
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A brief look at the playoff action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 1-0 (BOX) -- Left-hander Edwin Escobar, acquired from the Giants in July for Jake Peavy, turned in his best start with the PawSox. He was brilliant for 98 pitches, recording 26 outs and steering his team to the brink of a series victory. However, he was denied the win by a Brandon Laird homer with two outs in the ninth. Still, the 22-year-old recorded his most strikeouts with the PawSox (7) while scattering six hits and walking none. The 8 2/3 innings matched a career high, and marked the third time in his pro career that Escobar has come within an out of a complete game. The outing marked the fifth time in six starts with the PawSox that Escobar had given up two or fewer runs while logging at least six innings. -- Until the ninth-inning game-tying homer, first baseman Travis Shaw was poised for the role of offensive hero. He went 2-for-3 with a solo homer (his 22nd of the year, most in the system) and walked twice. The 24-year-old has a chance to position himself as an interesting complementary corner infield option for the Sox given that he's a left-handed hitter who has shown the ability to make adjustments at a level. He posted solid if unspectacular numbers following his early-season promotion to Triple-A, hitting .262/.321/.431 with 10 homers in 81 games for the PawSox. However, whereas he dominated in Double-A this year -- hitting .305/.406/.548 with 29 walks and 23 strikeouts in 47 games -- he walked slightly fewer times (28) in roughly 70 percent more contests, while seeing his strikeouts more than triple (to 76). Yet on Wednesday, Shaw offered a glimpse of the type of impact he had made throughout his time in Portland this year. -- Left fielder Bryce Brentz went 3-for-5 with a double, giving him 12 extra-base hits in 25 games with the PawSox since his return from the DL. -- Though third baseman Garin Cecchini went 1-for-5, he made the lone hit count, sending a walkoff single up the middle against former Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen in the bottom of the 10th. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. In his 15 Triple-A games, he's now hitting .191 with a .230 OBP, .254 slugging mark, three walks and 20 strikeouts. GM Ben Cherington said on Wednesday that he expects Bradley back in the big leagues this month, and that questions about his coachability did not factor into the decision to send him to Triple-A. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-5 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS); TRAIL BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 1-0 (BOX) -- Left-hander Brian Johnson, the WEEI.com Red Sox Minor League Pitching Prospect of the Year, continued his run of remarkable consistency, tossing seven innings in which he allowed two runs on six hits with one walk while striking out eight. Johnson has now allowed two or fewer earned runs in 22 of 23 starts dating to April. After injuries limited him to 85 innings last year, the 23-year-old is now up to 150 2/3 innings and has shown no signs of diminished stuff in reaching that milestone. Indeed, two of his three highest strikeout totals (Thursday's eight-K effort and a 10-punchout game on Aug. 23) have come in the last two weeks. "To be honest, I feel great, Johnson said on the Minor Details podcast discussing his season. "It feels great to be normal and to not have people follow you around in a bad way. You don't have trainers following you around because you're the guy who got hit or the guy who got tendinitis. It feels normal, have a normal day, go about my baseball routine and just have fun." -- Second baseman Sean Coyle, who was the MVP of the Mills Cup championship series in 2013 with High-A Salem, went 1-for-4 with a homer that continued a season-ending power surge for the 22-year-old. Coyle has four homers and two doubles in his last 10 games. -- Center fielder Rusney Castillo got three at-bats and played five innings in the field, going 1-for-3 with an infield single to third, lining out to second and flying out to right. He's now 2-for-8 with a walk and strikeout in his first competitive game activity since early 2013. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-1 WIN (10 INNINGS) AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS); LEAD BEST-OF-THREE SERIES, 1-0 (BOX) -- Right-hander Jake Dahlstrand had the best outing of his professional career, firing seven shutout innings (matching a career innings high) while allowing two hits, walking none and punching out a career-high eight. The 22-year-old, a 2010 10th-rounder has been outstanding since his promotion from Greenville to Salem, recording a 2.31 ERA in 39 innings with 29 strikeouts and just eight walks and getting a ton of groundballs. And his stuff has been electric at times: He's been up to 97 mph with Salem (he was 92-97 mph on Wednesday), he's pitching with a ton of confidence, he has a great pitcher's build (6-foot-5 and north of 200 pounds) and he manages to use his height to get great angle on his fastball, which he leverages down in the zone with sink, resulting in 57.2 percent of the balls put in play against him to be on the ground. His fastball and a slider that has the potential to be a major league average pitch suggest the possibility of a big league bullpen future, a notable change of outlook for a pitcher who had never distinguished himself in the Sox system in his first four pro seasons. -- Catcher Jake Romanski launched the game-winning two-run homer in the top of the 10th, though there were enough questions about whether the scorched liner over the left-field fence was fair or foul that three Pelicans (including the manager) were ejected for arguing the injustice of the judgment. -- Center fielder Manuel Margot continued his pole vault in the Red Sox prospect landscape with a 1-for-4 day that included a double. The 19-year-old now has eight extra-base hits in 17 Carolina League contests following his promotion from Greenville. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-1 LOSS VS. DSL RANGERS; LOSE BEST-OF-FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, 3-1 (BOX) -- Outfielder Yoan Aybar went 1-for-4 with a triple to close out his postseason on a six-game hitting streak that included four extra-base hits (two triples, two doubles), underscoring the 17-year-old's surprising early signs of an ability to drive the ball in his pro debut. He hit .333/.357/.556 in the postseason. -- Left-hander Jhonathan Diaz saw his streak of eight straight starts of five innings come to an end, as he took the loss in permitting a pair of runs over four innings. The 17-year-old struck out four and walked one to wrap up a year in which he had a 1.79 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 18 walks in 75 1/3 innings. He allowed four or fewer hits in all but one of his 16 outings this year.

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