Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Lars Anderson still flexing, Anthony Ranaudo takes a step forward, an eye-opening debut in the Dominican

June 03, 2012 - 12:53 pm
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A thumbnail look at some of the noteworthy performances from a Saturday schedule that featured eight games played by five Red Sox affiliates, including the first Dominican Summer League game of the season... TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS, 7-6 WIN AT LEHIGH VALLEY (GAME 1 BOX, GAME 2 BOX) -- Lars Anderson went 4-for-7 with a homer and a triple in the doubleheader. The homer was his seventh of the year and his fourth in his last seven games. During that stretch, Anderson has elevated his slugging percentage 102 points, from .379 to .481, with his OPS climbing from .733 to .862. -- Darnell McDonald went 3-for-8 with two doubles, collecting the first hits of his rehab assignment. He is now 3-for-16 in five games. -- Mark Prior tossed a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one, in his first game with an affiliate this season. -- Clayton Mortensen tossed two scoreless innings. He struck out three, walked one and did not allow a hit. In his last two outings, he has six punchouts in 3 1/3 innings. In 21 1/3 minor league innings this season, he's struck out 22, walked 10 and has a 1.69 ERA and .149 batting average against. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-3 WIN, 3-2 LOSS AT ALTOONA (PIRATES) (GAME 1 BOX, GAME 2 BOX) -- Anthony Ranaudo struggled early, allowing three runs in the first two innings, but then settled to retire 11 of the last 13 batters he faced, allowing only two groundball singles in the process. The right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits (six singles and a triple) in five innings, walking one (his lowest allowance in Double-A) while striking out four to earn his first Double-A win. Considering that he entered the game having walked 13 and struck out 10, the performance was the most promising to date for the right-hander this season. Still, he threw just 52 of 88 pitches (59 percent) for strikes. -- Bryce Brentz went 2-for-6, with one of those hits being a blast to center field for his seventh homer of the year. He also drew a walk, something that has been happening with increased frequency of late, as the outfielder has five walks in his last nine games. He is now hitting .307/.361/.495/.855, and since May, everything about his performance has underscored the belief by Red Sox officials that he is a future middle-of-the-order big leaguer. -- Jeremy Hazelbaker went 3-for-7 with a homer, going deep for the third time in six games. The 24-year-old started slowly this year, but he's been on a strong run of late, hitting .308/.373/.596/.969 with four homers in his last 14 games to pull up his season line to .241/.316/.380/.696. Hazelbaker is repeating this year in Portland, where he hit .269/.360/.445/.806 a year ago while hitting 17 homers and stealing 47 bases. -- Shannon Wilkerson went 4-for-7, and is off to a 12-for-36 (.333) start in Double-A. After swiping 16 bags (without getting thrown out) for Salem, he also successfully stole his first base in Double-A. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS, 6-4 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (GAME 1 BOX, GAME 2 BOX) -- Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-7 with a double in each game, giving him a streak of four straight contests with a double. He also walked twice, improving his OBP to a minor league-best .496 after 50 games. -- Michael Almanzar went 2-for-4 in Game 1, lifting his average up to .302 with a .337 OBP, .444 slugging mark and .781 OPS. Almanzar currently has a nine-game hitting streak in which he's had multiple hits in five contests, including four of his last five. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 10-4 WIN VS. CHARLESTOWN (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Blake Swihart went 2-for-2 with a triple and two sac flies to drive in a career-high five runs. Since May 1, he's now hitting .313 with a .341 OBP, .482 slugging mark and .823 OPS. -- Left-hander Henry Owens, in his first start since May 23 (he was skipped his last time through the rotation as part of the Red Sox' normal rest cycle), improved to 5-2 by allowing three runs in five innings, permitting six hits (four singles, a triple and a homer to slugging Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez) while striking out five and walking none. It marked the first time this year that Owens did not walk a batter. After walking 21 in his first 29 1/3 innings this season (6.4 per nine innings), Owens has issued just three free passes in his last 14 innings over three starts. Meanwhile, though his strikeout rate has gone down in that span to one per inning, he has struck out at least a batter an inning in nine of his 10 appearances this year, and his 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings ranks second in the minors (to fellow Sox prospect Matt Barnes) among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched this year. As has often been the case in his first pro season, Owens cruised in stretches but then fell prey to one bad inning, giving up all three of his runs in the fourth. The fourth inning has been a frequent tripping point for the 2011 supplemental first rounder, as he has a 14.46 ERA in the fourth inning, but a 1.91 combined ERA in the first, second, third and fifth. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-7 WIN AT METS (BOX) -- Outfielder Manuel Margot, a 17-year-old whom the Sox signed for an $800,000 bonus, went 3-for-5 with a triple, homer and six runs batted in. At the time that they signed him last summer, the Sox viewed him as a very athletic player with a line drive stroke, good instincts and the chance to stick in center field. Obviously, the initial returns are promising. -- Switch-hitting shortstop Raymel Flores, whom the Sox signed for a $900,000 bonus last summer, went 2-for-4 with a double, walk and three runs.