Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes takes a first step forward; Luis Diaz striking out everyone; DSL diamonds in the rough

July 23, 2014 - 7:54 am

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS) (BOX) -- Matt Barnes didn't shy from the fact that his first half had been disappointing. Prior to his start on Tuesday, the right-hander took to Twitter for a public declaration of intent: "1st start of the second half. Time to turn it around and finish strong" Barnes was anything but dominant on Tuesday, but given that he entered the All-Star break with a 4-7 record and 5.06 ERA, the 24-year-old appeared to be in need of a toehold for the stretch as much as anything. That he got, as Barnes tossed 6 1/3 innings in which he was charged with two runs (one in the sixth, one in the seventh after he'd left the game, after he sailed through five shutout innings to start the contest) on three hits (two doubles and an infield single) while walking three and striking two. The outing marked the third in 15 starts in which Barnes pitched more than six innings. Though his strike percentage (61 percent of his 102 pitches) was unspectacular, he commanded a 93-95 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and employed an 85-87 mph changeup liberally to garner weak contact throughout the start. The 2011 first-rounder elicited just four swings and misses in the outing, and he's averaging just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his last eight starts. One interesting facet of those strikeout numbers: He's struck out 20.1 percent of the left-handers he's faced, compared to just 12.8 percent of right-handers. That speaks in part to the effectiveness of his changeup against lefties, while also highlighting the long-noted absence of a consistent breaking ball to handle same-handed hitters. But, given what Barnes has done against lefties (.238/.332/.338 line, as opposed to a .338/.384/.484 line by righties), the raw materials of success may not be as far away as his first-half struggles might suggest. -- Feats of Mookie: Catalyzing. Mookie Betts had his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a triple, driving in three runs and scoring two. -- Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-5, and he's now reached base multiple times in four straight games, going 7-for-17 with a homer and walk during that stretch. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-3 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS) (BOX) -- Right-hander Luis Diaz continued his strikeout surge, punching out seven in seven innings while allowing three runs on five hits (including a pair of homers). The 22-year-old now has 29 strikeouts in his last four starts spanning 24 2/3 innings (10.9 per nine innings) after he accumulated just 6.1 strikeouts per nine in his first 16 starts of the year between High-A Salem (13 starts) and Double-A Portland. He's limited his opponents to three or fewer earned runs in all seven of his starts with Portland while averaging just over six innings an outing and limiting walks to 2.2 per nine innings, showing good command of a three-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, changeup) with a good understanding of how to employ the change to disrupt the timing of his opponents. On Tuesday, for instance, he worked primarily at 91-93 mph with his fastball, threw a changeup around 80-81 mph and featured a mid-70s curveball with 12-to-6 break. His stuff lacks a wow factor, but even the possibility of an average three-pitch mix and an understanding of how to use it could give him a path to being a big league starter. -- Ryan Lavarnway, in his second rehab game with Portland, went 1-for-3 with an opposite-field homer and a walk while serving as DH. -- Catcher Blake Swihart went 2-for-5, his third multi-hit game in his last five contests. He's hitting .296 with a .352 OBP and .485 slugging mark. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-0 WIN AT LYNCHBURG (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Right-hander Pat Light dominated, allowing just two hits (both singles) while walking three (two after he returned to the mound for the seventh inning), striking out five and eliciting nine groundballs. The outing continued an upward trend for the 23-year-old, who has a 2.25 ERA in his last five starts -- a stretch that includes one struggle (five runs in five innings) and four outings of no more than one run allowed in at least five innings. In that span, Light has trimmed his ERA from 7.01 to 5.33. -- Carlos Asuaje, playing left field, went 2-for-4 with a homer, his first extra-base hit in four contests since a promotion from Greenville. The versatile 22-year-old now has 12 homers, 24 doubles and 10 triples on the year, a total of 46 extra-base hits on the season that ranks second in the Sox system to Salem teammate Jantzen Witte (50). -- Outfielder Aneury Tavarez went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks -- his first multi-walk game since he was in Lowell in 2012. Over the last two years, the 22-year-old -- who shows an intriguing ability to impact the ball when he makes contact -- has a 4.2 percent walk rate between Greenville and Salem. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 7-5 LOSS VS. VERMONT (ATHLETICS) (BOX) -- Outfielder Bryan Hudson went 3-for-5 with a double, his first multi-hit game since July 2. Though he's hitting just .208/.304/.267, the 19-year-old has a solid ratio of 14 walks to 19 strikeouts in his 115 plate appearances, with the possibility that added strength, in combination with his speed, could create the possibility of offensive improvement. -- Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went 2-for-4 for his second straight multi-hit game and his fourth in seven contests. He's hitting .385 (10-for-26) with one walk and two strikeouts as well as one extra-base hit -- and inside-the-park homer -- during the recent hot streak. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: RAINED OUT DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. DSL ORIOLES (BOX) -- Center fielder Yoan Aybar continues to show the makings of a diverse skill set. The 17-year-old hit a rocket for a triple to right field, giving him six triples (tied for seventh in the league -- teammate Luis Alexander Basabe is pacing the DSL with 11 three-baggers) and 15 extra-base hits on the year, good for a .302/.355/.468 line on the year. The left-handed hitter continues to do virtually all of his damage against righties -- he's hitting .327/.364/.525 against righties and .200/.323/.240 against southpaws. -- Luis Alexander Basabe went 2-for-4 with a double, and the 17-year-old now has 18 extra-base hits on the year, tied for fifth in the DSL. The switch-hitter owns a .284/.408/.480 line in 40 games.