Red Sox minor league roundup: Long-term focus with Will Middlebrooks; Henry Ramos streaking; Daniel McGrath overpowering the GCL; Manuel Margot avoids disaster

July 09, 2013 - 6:01 am

A look at the action in the Red Sox system on Monday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS (RESUMPTION OF GAME SUSPENDED ON 4/10) AND 5-2 LOSS (SEVEN INNINGS) AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES) (BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2) -- Will Middlebrooks drove in the only run for the PawSox in the completion of the rain-shortened game, but otherwise was unproductive, finishing the day going 1-for-7 with a single, an RBI and a run scored. Middlebrooks is now batting .283/.321/.523 in 13 games since being demoted, striking out eight times and drawing three walks while driving in 16 runs. Though he had only one hit on the day, Middlebrooks managed to hit the ball to all fields, singling to left and grounding out to the shortstop and the third baseman while flying out to right, grounding to second and reaching on an error by the center fielder. In the first game, Middlebrooks saw only seven pitches in three at-bats, but managed to get a look at 20 pitches in four at-bats in the second game, including a nine-pitch battle that resulted in a fly ball to center that was misplayed and resulted in a run for Pawtucket. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington underscored to reporters on Monday in Seattle that the team is taking a longer-term view with Middlebrooks. His long-term development, for now, is being put ahead of the team's short-term needs created by injuries to Stephen Drew (which resulted in the move of Jose Iglesias from third to short in the big leagues). "When we sent will down we had a long conversation with him and then followed up a few days later in Pawtucket, we felt like the best thing for Will and the best thing for the Red Sox long term was for him to spend a period of time in Pawtucket and really get back to doing the things consistently that he was doing before he got called up last year and the things he did for most of the year last year. And he agreed with that ultimately," Cherington told reporters. "We just felt like rather than shorten that time period up because of need, we committed to a plan, let's carry it out. There's no exact timeline on it, but the plan was going to be more than a few days and give him a chance to kind of get his feet back underneath him again rather than yanking him back up to fill an injury need. We just felt like what was best for him and what was best for the team was to let him keep working on the things that he went down to work on and he's done that. He's doing that in Pawtucket, we know in time when he does that everyday he's going to be a very good player." --  Xander Bogaerts, who ranked fourth in Baseball America'€™s midseason top 50 prospects list, finished the day 2-for-5 with a walk and two singles between the two games. The shortstop boosted his average to .270 through 25 games with the PawSox, while drawing his 13th walk in 103 plate appearances, raising his OBP to .369. B ogaerts has managed to draw walks in 10 of his last 12 games while striking out only four times in that same stretch. In a unique turn of events, Bogaerts gets credit for playing in the April 10 game despite being called up in mid-June, thanks to the almost-three-month delay between the second and third innings of that postponed game. -- With the big-league bullpen a little short-handed at the moment, the Red Sox could recall Pedro Beato at some point if needed. Beato threw 2 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings in the first contest of the day for Pawtucket, using only 19 pitches to retire seven batters. The reliever had run into a bit of trouble recently, allowing four runs (three earned) over his last three innings before his outing on Monday, giving up three hits while walking five over that span. Overall, however, Beato has been solid for Pawtucket, pitching to the tune of a 2.18 ERA in 41 1/3 innings and 25 appearances for the PawSox, striking out 34 and walking 18 while opposing batters are hitting only .219 against him. -- It'€™s worth noting that Jackie Bradley Jr. did not play in either of the two games, and with both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino ailing and Daniel Nava having trouble manning center field, it'€™s likely Bradley could be on his way out west. -- Outfielder Bryce Brentz was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right knee sprain on Monday. Brentz suffered the injury while sliding into second base on Friday; he's been on crutches since suffering the injury in the seventh inning of that contest. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-1 LOSS VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS) (BOX) -- Garin Cecchini, who also appears on Baseball America's midseason top 50 prospects list, extended his hitting streak to six games with a 1-for-3 day on Monday, singling and drawing a walk while driving in the club'€™s only run in the ninth inning. The third baseman is hitting .571 over the life of his streak, and has struck out only twice in those six games while drawing three walks. In 16 games with Portland, Cecchini has fanned only 14 times while drawing 13 free passes. Cecchini is now batting an absurd .414/.521/.586 in Double-A this season, scoring 14 runs and driving in eight through 58 at-bats. -- Pete Hissey had one of only four hits for Portland on the afternoon, singling to center in his last at-bat on the day and striking out twice. Hissey has recorded only four hits in his last six games while failing to drive in a run in that stretch, and has drawn only one walk in his last nine contests. His line on the season has fallen to .259/.320/.378 through 48 games on the season, with his OPS falling below .700 for the first time since May 15 and his average sinking below .260 for the first time since his sixth game of the season. -- Derrik Gibson recorded his second multi-hit game in his last four contests and the only multi-hit day of any batter in the Portland lineup, going 2-for-3 while scoring the Sea Dogs'€™ only run. The light-hitting shortstop raised his average to .220 for the first time since May 31 with the two-hit day, and has compiled a .220/.305/.325 line through 44 games on the season. He also committed his ninth error of the season on Monday, but was also part of a nice 4-6-3 double play in which he bare-handed the ball while receiving a throw from the second baseman before tossing it to first to complete the double play. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-6 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (BOX) -- Blake Swihart had not drawn a walk in six games prior to Monday, but the catcher worked two free passes while reaching base four times and finishing the day 2-for-3. Swihart has recorded two multi-hit games in his last three contests, but is in the midst of a rough patch at the plate, batting only .167 over his last seven games. Despite the slump, Swihart is still batting .277/.359/.424 through 65 games, while he was hitting only .265/.310/.382 through 65 games in Greenville last season, showing a considerable amount of promise. Swihart joined the Minor Details podcast to discuss his development in his second full professional season. To listen, click here. -- With a three-hit day, Henry Ramos extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Ramos knocked in a run and scored twice (including the winning run in the tenth) while singling twice and clubbing his 13th double of the season. Ramos is hitting .351/.371/.561 with six doubles, two home runs and eight RBI over the life of the streak, and has managed to bring his slash line up to .276/.351/.444 through 82 games. -- A change of scenery has done third baseman Stefan Welch well. The 24-year-old, who was acquired from the Pirates back in early June, was hitting just .149 with Pittsburgh'€™s Double-A team, but has hit .289/.398/.378 through 26 games with Salem. Welch went 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored on Monday, knocking in the winning run in the bottom of the tenth with a single to center. -- Outfielder Keury De La Cruz was named the Carolina League player of the month for June. De La Cruz hit .387/.415/.523 with 27 RBI through 28 games last month. -- Also honored on Monday was pitcher Mike Augliera, who was named the Carolina League pitcher of the week after his impressive performance on Thursday in which he allowed only four hits through eight scoreless innings. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 4-3 LOSS AT BROOKLYN (METS) (BOX) -- Center fielder Manuel Margot and left fielder Aaron King gave the team a scare when they collided in pursuit of a flyball to left-center, but both emerged relatively unscathed and stayed in the game. The 18-year-old Margot went 0-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly; he's reached base in 19 straight games. King went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk; the converted pitchers has at least one hit in all eight games he's played for the Spinners. -- Right-hander Jamie Callahan, a second-round pick of the Sox in 2012, allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in five innings while striking out a career-high five. Four of those punchouts came on swings and misses. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS AT GCL RED SOX (BOX) -- Left-hander Daniel McGrath, signed out of Australia in 2012, is dominating to such a degree that he may force the Sox to consider a promotion to Lowell at some point in the not-too-distant future. One day after turning 19, McGrath tossed five shutout innings, permitting just one hit while punching out a career-high nine. He did walk four (also a career-high), but that seemed like a reflection of the fact that his opponents simply couldn't hit against him. In four starts, McGrath has carried forward a standout performance in extended spring training, forging a 1.37 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 19 2/3 innings. Opponents are 9-for-63 (.143) against him. Since he signed, the 6-foot-2 McGrath has improved his condition considerably and become noticeably leaner than he was when he signed as an amateur. His fastball is sitting at 88-90 mph and has bumped 91 and 92 mph. He shows the ability to command three pitches (fastball, curve, change) in a fashion that stands out in the GCL, showing not only the ability to get swings and misses, but also to work efficiently enough that he's worked at least 4 2/3 innings in each of his four starts, despite standard pitch count restrictions. -- Outfielder Bryan Hudson continued to be one of the Sox' most interesting early-season performers in the GCL, going 1-for-1 with a double and two walks. The 15th-rounder has reached base in all 10 of the games in which he's played, forging a .320/.485/.520 line with five doubles, eight walks and 10 strikeouts. -- A pair of pitchers made their pro debuts. Right-hander K.J. Trader, a 39th rounder out of high school in Delaware, allowed two hits, two walks and a run while striking out one while recording two outs. Left-hander Rob Smorol, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Red Sox last week after wrapping up his four-year career at Rutgers with a 3.63 ERA as a senior starter in 2013, made his pro debut, getting a groundout for the final out of the eighth inning. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS AT DSL ASTROS (BOX) -- Left-hander Dedgar Jimenez continued his attack on the strike zone. In five innings, he punched out five and walked none. The ginormous (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) 17-year-old has 23 strikeouts and three walks in 25 innings thus far this year. However, he did give up multiple runs (three, to be exact) for the first time this year, as the Astros bunched four of their five hits together in the second.