Red Sox minor league roundup: Daniel Nava returns to form; time for scorching Travis Shaw to move up?; Carlos Asuaje dominating

May 03, 2014 - 7:09 am

The natural reaction might have been to sulk for a bit. But that would have been a waste of time. Daniel Nava didn't lament his surroundings when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket just over a week ago. Instead, he took the feedback that he received from the Red Sox -- a need to improve his two-strike approach, to rediscover the swing that made him such a critical offensive contributor in 2013, to work on his defensive versatility -- and went about applying it. "With him, knowing his character and makeup, obviously there's going to be some disappointment there, but he's handled it beautifully. He's worked hard," said Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles. "He's jumped right into our routines. And the workouts he's done, the way he's played the game, he's staying aggressive at the plate, he's working counts, and the versatility in the outfield, he's working hard to make sure he keeps that up. He's had a great attitude." In the early paces of his time in Triple-A, he's also delivered a compelling performance. On Friday night, he went 1-for-3 with a grand slam and a walk. In seven games back in Triple-A, Nava is hitting .333 with a .414 OBP, .625 slugging mark and two homers. The reports for the Sox have been encouraging, suggesting a player who will be in position to help should the need arise sooner rather than later. "He's back to an approach we saw here last year," Sox manager John Farrell said. "Defensively, he's played all three outfield positions, including DH, but the disappointment of going down has been short-lived or hasn't filtered into his work between the lines, and he's swinging the bat well." For now, with Jackie Bradley Jr. having laid claim to the everyday job in centerfield, Nava wouldn't be summoned back to the big leagues unless an injury necessitated his call-up. But depending on what direction Grady Sizemore's performance takes, it appears that the Sox will be able to take comfort with the idea of a summons to the big leagues for Nava, given his resemblance to the player who broke out for them last year as opposed to the one who could not find his way against big league pitching this year. TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 WIN VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES) (BOX) -- Brandon Workman had overpowering stuff, allowing one run on four hits (three singles and a double) in 5 2/3 innings while punching out eight and walking three. The eight punchouts matched a season high. Workman now has 21 strikeouts and six walks in 20 innings in Triple-A. -- Infielder Ryan Roberts had his first multi-hit game with the PawSox, going 2-for-4 and driving in his first run in the seven games that he's spent in Triple-A. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-1 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS) (BOX) -- First baseman Travis Shaw continues to hammer right-handed pitching. The 24-year-old went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk -- all against right-handers -- and the left-handed hitter is now posting a robust .313/.441/.563 line with 11 walks and just five strikeouts in 59 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. Though he started slowly this year, Shaw has been a standout of late, with multi-hit games in six of his last 12 contests, hitting .380/.446/.614 with seven extra-base hits (three doubles, four homers), six walks and just two strikeouts in that time. Given that Shaw has been in Double-A since August 2012, this is the sort of run that could earn him an early-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket given the need to challenge a player who is now enjoying a run of dominance at his level. -- Shortstop Deven Marrero doubled for the third straight game, going 1-for-3 with the two-bagger (his eighth of the year) and a walk. While the 23-year-old has enjoyed tremendous success against left-handed pitching (.333/.500/.467), he's holding his own against right-handed pitchers as well, hitting .296/.345/.407 with six doubles in 58 plate appearances against righties. Though he has yet to homer this year, Marrero is enjoying an impressive all-around season, playing excellent shortstop defense while hitting for average (.304), showing the ability to hit the ball in the gaps (8 doubles), steal some bases (5 in as many attempts through 17 games played) and take his walks (9 in 78 plate appearances). It's an all-around game that suggests a player who projects fairly easily as an everyday big league shortstop. -- Right-hander Mike Augliera, who pitched at SUNY-Binghamton in college, threw seven innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on six hits (five singles and a double) while striking out three and walking three. Augliera performed in a fashion reminiscent of his college career, recording 12 outs via groundball. Augliera has now allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last three starts, with a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings in that time. -- Feats of Mookie: Maintaining (barely). Though Mookie Betts his second hitless game of the season and went 0-for-4 to end his 17-game hitting streak, he did negotiate a walk to extend his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 53 regular season contests. He still leads all of minor league baseball with a .412 average. -- Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson went 1-for-4 with a double, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 21. The 25-year-old is hitting .305/.370/.427. -- Left-hander Brian Johnson has been promoted from Salem to Portland. He'll make his Double-A debut on Saturday. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-2 LOSS AT LYNCHBURG (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Second baseman Reed Gragnani, 23, remained a hit-collecting machine. He went 2-for-3 for his third multi-hit game in his last four contests and his 10th in 18 games this year for Salem. He currently leads the Carolina League in average (.391) and OBP (.463). -- Right-hander Kyle Martin fired 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit (a single) and striking out one. However, he also issued a walk -- his third of the year against 27 strikeouts. -- Left-hander Cody Kukuk moved up from Greenville to Salem. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-1 LOSS AT AUGUSTA (GIANTS) (BOX) -- Right-hander Ty Buttrey, who joined Greenville out of extended spring training on Friday, could not make it out of the first inning in his full-season debut, though his inability to do so reflected as much on his defense as it did on his stuff. He opened the game by loading the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk, but he got grounders from the next two hitters. What could have been the end of the inning (had one turned into a double play) instead turned into a rally when second baseman Wendell Rijo made errors on both grounders -- one fielding error and one missed catch error. A groundball single followed, and though Buttrey bounced back to punch out the next two batters, he'd reached his pitch count while recording just two outs and permitting four runs (three earned) on three singles and a walk. -- Rijo now has six errors in 21 games at second base this year. -- Third baseman Carlos Asuaje went 2-for-4 with a double, and he's now 4-for-8 with two doubles and three homers to open May. The 22-year-old is hitting .370 (third in the South Atlantic League) with a league-leading .485 OBP, a .654 slugging mark that is second in the league. He has a startling 16 extra-base hits in 23 games -- tied for the sixth most in the minors -- and he has 15 walks against just 11 strikeouts. -- Right-hander Jonathan Aro allowed just two singles in 4 1/3 dominant innings of relief. The 23-year-old punched out five. Opponents are hitting just .151 against him in 15 innings. ty