Red Sox minor league roundup: Bryce Brentz, Sean Coyle keep slugging; Mookie Betts, Manuel Margot keep amazing; Anthony Ranaudo struggles

August 26, 2013 - 8:40 am

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Sunday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Bryce Brentz, less than six weeks removed from surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his knee, made an impactful return to Pawtucket, obliterating a fastball down the middle and driving it well over the fence in center at McCoy Stadium. When Brentz underwent the procedure, it seemed like an open question whether he would be able to return to the field at all this year. But now, not only has the 24-year-old returned, but he's done so in a fashion that exceeded what seemed like any reasonable expectations. Between his six games in the GCL on a rehab assignment and his one game back in Pawtucket, Brentz has shown an immediate ability to impact the baseball. After his 1-for-3 day that also included a walk on Sunday, Brentz is now 5-for-20 -- with all five of his hits going for extra bases (three homers, two doubles) -- and two walks against five strikeouts, good for a line of .250/.318/.800. "You want to end your season on a good note, healthy," PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Providence Journal. "He'€™s ready to do that.'€ Sunday was a step in that direction, as Brentz crushed his 17th homer in Pawtucket this year and his 19th overall, continuing to show well above-average power: Your browser does not support iframes. -- In his first four starts in Triple-A, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo gave up five earned runs in 23 1/3 innings. On Sunday, he matched that yield in just three frames, getting tagged for eight hits (including the first homer he's given up in Triple-A and two doubles) while walking two and striking out one. To date, the 23-year-old has shown a willingness to attack the strike zone (2.1 walks per nine) and an ability to keep the ball in the park (just the one walk in 26 1/3 innings) that have allowed him to post a solid 3.42 ERA at the highest level of the minors, but he has been generating relatively modest strikeout totals (5.5 per nine, down from 8.7 per nine in Double-A this year) while opponents have hit .302 against him. -- Infielder Brock Holt is amidst a well-time hot streak as he prepares for a likely Sept. 1 callup. Holt went 1-for-3 with a walk while blasting his third homer of the year and his second in four days. He has a nine-game hitting streak, with a line of .351/.385/.568, boosting his season line to .265/.329/.322 in that time. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-2 LOSS AT TRENTON (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Corner infielder Michael Almanzar went 2-for-5 with a homer, and the 22-year-old has now gone deep three times in 19 August contests, matching his total from 54 games in June and July. However, Almanzar is performing like a player who is selling out his offensive approach in order to generate more power. His 22 strikeouts this month are his most of any season this year, while his five walks would be his fewest of any month in 2013. On the year, he has a .270/.333/.430 line. -- Garin Cecchini went 0-for-4 but walked in his fifth and final plate appearance to extend his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 34. The 22-year-old is 2-for-17 in his last five games, but he has a streak of eight straight games walking at least once. That consistency has been enough to permit Cecchini to maintain a .443 OBP for the year (forged in 121 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland) -- surpassing the recently slumping Allan Dykstra (.440 OBP) for the title of the full-season minor leaguer with the highest OBP this year.  -- Left-hander Chris Hernandez once again turned in a strong start for Portland, allowing two runs (one earned) in six innings while punching out five and walking two. He also got 10 groundball outs. In four starts since being sent down to Double-A, Hernandez has a 2.08 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks in 26 innings. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-5 WIN AT CAROLINA (INDIANS) (BOX) -- Sean Coyle is amidst a late-season power surge that is reminiscent of his performance in Salem at the start of the year. The 21-year-old, who has been serving as DH for the last 10 games while managing a sore elbow, went deep for the third straight game on Sunday as part of a 3-for-5 contest. Though he's played just 47 games this year in Salem thanks to a DL stint of more than two months, Coyle still ranks sixth in the Carolina League in homers with 14. Overall, his 16 homers at three levels are second only to Brentz (19) in the Red Sox system. Unquestionably, Coyle has holes in his swing, as evidenced by his 62 punchouts in 218 plate appearances (28.4 percent of plate appearances). But his considerable raw power at a middle infield position makes him a still-intriguing prospect. -- Coyle and Mookie Betts give the Sox intriguing prospect depth at a position where the organization does not have a short- or long-term need given the presence of Dustin Pedroia, now signed through the 2021 season. Betts added to his impressive list of feats on Sunday, going 2-for-5 to improve his streak of consecutive games reaching base by hit or walk to 23, a span in which the 20-year-old is hitting .409/.480/.670 with five homers, nine steals, 11 walks and nine strikeouts. Betts did get thrown out attempting a steal on Sunday, his second straight failed stolen base attempt, and he's now 17-for-19 (89 percent) in Salem and 35-for-39 (90 percent) on the year between Greenville and Salem. Still, that represents a fairly trivial quibble in the context of a player who, since his July 9 promotion to High-A, ranks third in the Carolina League in average (.325), eighth in OBP (.393), first in slugging (.546) and second in steals (17) while walking more (18 times) than he has struck out (17). Jon Meoli of recently had a good look at a breakthrough season that has caught even Betts off guard. -- Right-hander Matt Price did not allow a hit for the second straight outing since returning from the DL, this time tossing a pair of shutout innings while walking two and striking out one. The 24-year-old improved to 6-0 with a 2.55 ERA, 48 strikeouts and 21 walks in 49 1/3 innings while holding opponents this year to a .186 average. Given that he had almost no professional experience prior to this year thanks to the loss of one year to recovery from Tommy John and another due to suspension, the fact that the 2010 eighth-round pick is older than a typical High-A prospect is somewhat less relevant than might typically been the case. For now, he looks like a potential big league arm with the potential to emerge as a reliever thanks to a fastball that can touch the mid- and even high-90s along with a swing-and-miss changeup that allows him to neutralize lefties. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-2 LOSS AT LEXINGTON (ROYALS) (BOX) -- Left-hander Cody Kukuk punched out seven in just 3 2/3 innings while giving up two runs (neither earned) on four hits and three walks. The seven punchouts pushed the 20-year-old into triple digits in that category for the year, as he has 104 punchouts in 101 2/3 innings, showing impressive stuff (evident in both his strikeouts and .199 opponents' average) but considerable inconsistency en route to a 4.43 ERA in the 2011 seventh-rounder's first full professional season. -- Second baseman Reed Gragnani went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk, giving him five doubles in his last six games after he had just two extra-base hits in his first 28 contests as a professional after the Sox drafted him this summer out of the University of Virginia. Gragnani has shown a sound plate approach while being thrown into everyday duty at a full-season affiliate (rather than the typical first pro summer at a short-season affiliate), hitting .248 with a .338 OBP thanks to 13 walks against 18 strikeouts in 34 contests. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 11-9 LOSS AT HUDSON VALLEY (RAYS) (BOX) -- Clay Buchholz threw just 19 of 38 pitches for strikes while retiring two of the seven batters he faced in his first rehab start, but the right-hander said that he feels encouraged by the fact that his rehab has tracked almost precisely with what Dr. James Andrews outlined for him in a late-July visit to the renowned orthopedist. -- Manuel Margot is the second youngest position player in the New York-Penn League. He's not playing like it. The 18-year-old went 4-for-4 with a double, triple and walk on Sunday, with his singles coming to the pull side and both of his extra-base hits coming to right. In seven games since his return from a hamstring injury, the dynamic outfielder -- who possesses legitimate five-tool potential -- is hitting .469/.500/.688. Not surprisingly given his youth, he still needs to learn to hone his aggressiveness (on Sunday, he got thrown out trying to steal a base and also made a wild throw into the infield on a triple that resulted in a run scoring), but his level of performance at a young age in an advanced league suggests a player with the potential to become an elite prospect. In 39 games, Margot is now hitting .301/.375/.390 with 15 steals (in 23 attempts). He seems almost certain to open next year in Greenville, though he has a chance to push his way to High-A Salem as a 19-year-old at a relatively early stage of the 2014 season. -- Jake Romanski, a 22-year-old taken in the 14th round out of San Diego State, went 3-for-4 while launching a pair of homers, his first two in 10 games as a professional. He's 5-for-8 in two games this month after going 4-for-28 (.143) in eight prior games with Lowell. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: OFF DAY -- Daniel Bard is expected pitch in a game before the end of the minor league season. Ryan Hannable reports (via twitter) that Bard is slated to pitch in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League on Monday. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: OFF DAY