Red Sox minor league roundup: Mark Melancon puts up a zero, Sean Coyle shows pop and Will Middlebrooks keeps crushing

April 21, 2012 - 5:56 am
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It was a big night for a number of position prospects in the Red Sox system, with noteworthy contributions from Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts and Sean Coyle. That said, the most important performance of the day might have been a single scoreless inning, that turned in by right-hander Mark Melancon in his Triple-A debut. None of the reliever's four appearances in the big leagues this year occurred without at least one run being scored. In Pawtucket, he has a chance to hit the reset button, particularly now that he is working with a 0.00 ERA rather than a 49.50 mark. TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 15-10 WIN VS. DURHAM (RAYS) (BOX) -- Another day, another terrific line for Will Middlebrooks, who is amidst the best stretch of his career. He went 2-for-4 with a homer (his third straight game with a longball), a walk, three runs and four more runs knocked in. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .395/.435/.837/1.272 with six homers and 19 RBI. Overall, he is tied for fourth in all of the minor leagues in both homers (6) and RBI (20). Middlebrooks only has one other streak of homers in three straight games, that coming last June 26-28 when he went deep in three consecutive contests while on a rehab assignment with the Lowell Spinners. One interesting note on Middlebrooks' power this year -- in contrast to a year ago, when most of his power was from center to right-center, Middlebrooks is pulling more homers this year, including his three-run bomb to left in Pawtucket on Saturday night. That was his fourth homer to left this season. -- Mark Melancon made his first appearance in Triple-A, striking out two and allowing a single in a scoreless inning of work. He needed just 11 pitches (eight strikes) to blitz through his inning of work. -- Alex Hassan clubbed his first homer in Triple-A, a grand slam, to cap a 2-for-4 night. -- First baseman Mauro Gomez went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and a walk. He's now hitting .356/.397/.661/1.058 for the season, though most of his damage has come at home. He's hit all four of his homers at McCoy Stadium, .500/.542/1.091/1.633 in 24 plate appearances. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-5 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS) (BOX) -- Juan Carlos Linares left the game after grounding out in the top of the first inning due to a groin injury. He was replaced by Bryce Brentz, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles up the middle. This is the second time in less than a week that Linares has been forced from a game with a leg injury; last weekend, he left a game due to cramping in his hamstring. -- Kolbrin Vitek went 4-for-5, matching his pro high for hits (previously achieved twice, both while with the Lowell Spinners in 2012). He improved his average by 41 points, from .267 to .308. -- Right-hander Chris Balcom-Miller got off to an excellent start this year, allowing two runs in 11 innings. However, he has now been shelled in each of his last two outings, giving up a total of 11 runs (10 earned) in 3 2/3 innings in consecutive starts against Binghamton. Command was Balcom-Miller's undoing on Friday, as he walked five (while striking out one) in two innings of work. He also allowed five hits (including one homer and a double) to yield six runs. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 13-4 WIN AT POTOMAC (NATIONALS) (BOX) -- Second baseman Sean Coyle had a ridiculous night, going 3-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and six RBI, five of which came with two outs. In his last five games, Coyle has joined the hit parade currently taking place in Salem, going 9-for-21 with three walks. On the year, he his hitting .286/.344/.464/.809. That line, achieved at a time when he is one of the youngest players in the league (he turned 20 just before spring training), represents a very impressive start in High-A, a league that typically challenges younger players who are accustomed to the cozier parks of the Single-A South Atlantic League and who are accustomed to less talented pitchers. The six runs batted in were tied for the second most in Coyle's career. He drove in seven last Sept. 5 for Greenville. -- Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-3 with a triple, running his Carolina League-best hitting streak to nine games. -- Right-hander Brandon Workman made his first start of the season, and was hit hard in his Salem debut. He threw 80 pitches (55 strikes) in 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits (including two homers and a double) and a walk. Workman struck out four. The 23-year-old went 6-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 131 innings spanning 26 starts for Greenville last year, striking out 115. He was taken by the Sox in the second round of the 2010 draft. -- Left-hander Manny Rivera relieved Workman and tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking two and striking out five. He's now tossed 9 2/3 straight innings without an earned run. -- Catcher Christian Vazquez was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, his first two extra-base hits of the year. A year ago, Vazquez blasted 18 homers and drove in 84 runs in Greenville in his age 20 season. Sox officials speak extremely highly of Vazquez's defensive skills, and so if he shows that the performance in 2011 was not a mirage, then he represents an interesting and oft-overlooked part of the catching depth that now flows throughout the Sox system. Vazquez was named the Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 3-2 LOSS VS. AUGUSTA (GIANTS) (BOX) -- Third baseman Garin Cecchini got thrown out trying to steal second, ending his season-opening streak of eight straight stolen bases. He was also picked off. -- In defeat, left-hander Mickey Pena posted a solid line, allowing one run on five hits and a walk in five innings to improve his ERA to 3.07. He struck out four. An oddity: Pena, who earlier in the season recorded 12 groundball outs and one via flyball, recorded no outs via grounder on Friday. LINKS -- Good stuff from Middlbrooks with Aaron Goldsmith, who offered this insight in discussing his defensive work: '€œWhen I moved from shortstop to third base after my first year of pro ball, I swore I wanted to be one of the best third basemen in the game, and that'€™s something I work on day-in and day-out.'€ -- And...a Cup of Coffee from SoxProspects.com