Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts, game-changer; Henry Owens' obscene dominance; Anthony Ranaudo rolling; Rafael Devers stays in DSL … for now

June 21, 2014 - 5:18 am
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN AT SCRANTON WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Feats of Mookie: Game-changing. Mookie Betts drove in two of the PawSox' three runs on the night with a 3-for-5 day, clubbing his third double since joining Pawtucket. Most significantly, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the bases loaded with the PawSox down by a run, Betts put up a 10-pitch at-bat against former All-Star Heath Bell, eventually hitting a single up the middle to drive in two runs and give Pawtucket the lead and eventual victory. Betts now has multiple hits in five of his last seven contests, and is hitting .378/.425/.595 over his last nine games.  The 21-year-old has shown that he can handle Triple-A pitching, batting .324 with a .403 OBP and six extra-base hits in 68 at-bats with the PawSox, reaching base in every game at the level. Betts has been striking out more than usual, however, fanning at least once in each of his last seven games. He's also gone four straight contests without drawing a walk, and has actually fanned more times than he's walked in Triple-A (11 strikeouts to nine walks). Betts has never finished a season at any level with less walks than strikeouts. -- Anthony Ranaudo was solid through seven innings, allowing two runs on just four hits. He struck out six and walked two. The righty had been excellent in his previous two starts and had gone 15 2/3 innings without allowing a run, and added another 2 2/3 innings to his scoreless streak on Friday before allowing a solo home run, just the fourth home run he's allowed in 83 2/3 innings this season. Since May 15, Ranaudo leads the International League with a 1.23 ERA, allowing just six runs over 44 innings and seven starts. He's held the opposition to just a .183 average in that span. The dominant stretch has helped Ranaudo to shave his ERA down to 2.58 through 15 starts. Ranaudo is averaging about 4.1 walks per nine innings on the season, but he's cut that number down to three per nine over his last seven outings. -- Travis Shaw continues his solid production since earning a promotion to Pawtucket, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored, his first triple with the PawSox. After going 15 straight games without an extra-base hit, Shaw now has two in his last two contests. The first baseman's power has dropped off considerably since making the jump to Triple-A; he's slugging just .398 in 24 games with Pawtucket, though he ranked sixth in the Eastern League with a .548 slugging mark before the promotion. -- Will Middlebrooks played five innings at third base and went 1-for-3 with a single on the night. The third baseman is 4-for-23 in his seven rehab games with the PawSox (all his hits were singles), while he's drawn one walk and fanned six times as he works his way back from a fractured finger. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-2 WIN (RESUMPTION OF GAME SUSPENDED BY RAIN ON 6/11), 3-0 WIN VS. ALTOONA (PIRATES) (BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2) -- Henry Owens was terrific in the second game, tossing a complete game shutout (seven innings, thanks to the quasi-double-header), allowing just five hits and two walks and striking out eight. He used 98 pitches to get through the seven innings with 64 going for strikes. He improved to 9-3 on the season with the victory. It was Owens' second complete game of the season, but his first was just a six-inning rain-shortened contest. It was the fifth time in his 14 starts that he's fanned eight or more batters. Altoona batters were unable to generate much hard contact against Owens, with just one hit going for extra bases. The lefty was able to generate 16 swinging strikes and all eight of the hitters he fanned went down swinging. He showed no signs of fatigue as the night wore on, retiring the side in order in the seventh and ending his evening with back-to-back strikeouts. With the shutout, Owens now owns an ERA under 2.00 with a 1.99 mark through 14 starts and 86 innings this season. He leads the Eastern League in ERA, strikeouts (89, averaging over one per inning), WHIP (1.03) and opponent batting average against (.178). While Owens has been pretty spectacular all season long, his past five starts have been off the charts. Owens has allowed just run over his last 35 2/3 innings (that's a minuscule 0.25 ERA), walked two or fewer (eight overall) in each of those outings while tossing at least seven scoreless innings in four of his last five outings. -- First baseman David Chester rebounded from going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the first game by going 2-for-2 with two singles and a walk and drove in a pair of runs in the second game. The 25-year-old is hitting .318 with a home run, two doubles and seven runs driven in through six games since being promoted to the Sea Dogs. -- Blake Swihart has reached base safely in eight straight games, drawing two walks in the second game of the twin bill after going 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored in the first game. After drawing just six walks through his first 36 games of the season (just four percent of plate appearances, averaging a walk every 24 plate appearances), he's drawn nine free passes in his last 21 contests while striking out just 11 times. He's hitting .291 with a .335 OBP on the season, but has posted a .366 OBP over his last 21 contests. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-1 LOSS AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX) (BOX) -- Starter Corey Littrell suffered his fourth loss of the season, allowing three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings while walking two and punching out six. He allowed two home runs, bringing his total to seven allowed in 65 2/3 innings this season. Littrell has allowed home runs in only five of his 13 starts this season, and this was just the second time he's allowed multiple home runs in an outing. The 22-year-old ha struggled to find consistency after posting a 2.20 ERA through his first six starts. Since May 5, he's compiled a 5.92 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in eight outings. -- Reed Gragnani was just about the only member of the Salem lineup to get anything going against Winston-Salem, following up an 0-for-5 showing on Thursday by going 2-for-3 with a single, double, a walk and RBI. While the second baseman has come down to earth somewhat (meaning he's no longer hitting close to .400 like he was through the first month or so of the season), he's shown no signs of slumping. Over the last month, Gragnani is hitting .273 with a .404 OBP, drawing 17 walks while fanning just 11 times in 77 at-bats. The switch-hitting Gragnani went to the opposite field with his double (his 13th of the season and 18th extra-base hit in 2014), smacking a ground ball to right field off of a left-handed pitcher. He also went to the opposite field with his single with a line drive to left off of a righty. The 23-year-old has had much better luck against right-handers, however, batting .350 and slugging .465 against righties while slashing just .227/.358/.341 versus southpaws. -- Jantzen Witte went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single, his first hit since being promoted to High-A. The third baseman is now 1-for-7 in two games and eight plate appearances since joining Salem. Witte, who was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, hit .330 with a .418 OBP and .554 slugging mark in 65 games with the Greenville Drive. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 21-1 WIN VS. SAVANNAH (METS) (BOX) -- Teddy Stankiewicz was excellent on Friday night, even if he didn't need to be as the Drive tied a franchise record with 21 runs scored and set a franchise record with the 20-run margin of victory. For the second straight start, Stankiewicz allowed no earned runs, but he did allow an unearned on on Friday night. Also for the second straight outing, he allowed just two hits, this time through six innings of work. He also walked a pair and punched out three. The 20-year-old has shown flashes of dominance throughout the season, but seems to have really found his groove recently. In five of his last six outings, Stankiewicz has allowed two earned runs or less, and he's posted a 2.25 ERA since May 16 while holding hitters to a .212 average over that span. -- First baseman Tim Roberson led the hit parade with a 4-for-6 day, smacking four doubles and driving in seven runs, easily a career-high for the 24-year-old. With the four-hit day, Roberson managed to boost his slugging percentage a total of 93 points, beginning the day at .295 and finishing with a .388 mark. He had just two extra-base hits with the Drive prior to Friday. Roberson is back in Greenville after spending 40 games with Salem, where he hit .219/.276/.338. -- Wendell Rijo joined in on the fun with three hits, including a triple, and a couple of RBIs. The second baseman has been getting hot again after a rough month of May during which he hit just .217/.293/.325. Over his last 14 contests, Rijo is hitting an even .300 with six extra-base hits. -- Carlos Asuaje drove in three runs with a couple of singles and a walk. The 22-year-old infielder is riding a hot streak, hitting .341 with a double, four home runs and 11 RBIs over his last 11 games. Asuaje is batting .311/.421/.556 with a team-leading 50 runs driven in through 65 games. -- Remarkably, this is the second time the Drive has scored 21 runs in a game this season. They accomplished the feat on April 27 as well. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-7 WIN VS. TRI-CITY (ASTROS) (BOX) -- Third baseman Jordan Betts had a huge night, going 3-for-3 with a double and a home run in just his fourth professional game. Betts, a Duke University product who was drafted in the 18th round earlier this month by the Red Sox, showed off some of the power he displayed in college, where he finished 15th in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a .318 average, while also ranking sixth in slugging percentage (.515) and second in doubles with 20 in 2014. The 22-year-old was also the first Duke player to be named to an All-ACC team in back-to-back years. Though his performance on Friday night may be reminiscent of another Red Sox prospect with the same last name, the two are not related. -- Serving as the designated hitter, 20-year-old Mike Meyers came through with the winning hit in the ninth inning on Friday night, sending a ground ball to center field with one out and runners on first and second. He finished the evening going 2-for-5 with a strikeout. Meyers, who was drafted out of high school in the 12th round of the 2012 draft, has struggled to begin the season, going just 4-for-27 with no extra-base hits and just one walk in contrast to seven strikeouts through his first seven games. The outfielder hit .256/.316/.326 between the Gulf Coast League and a very short stint with the Spinners in 2013. - Franklin Guzman, a 22-year-old outfielder, hit his first home run of the season and singled in his fifth game with the Spinners. Guzman, who spent 2013 with the Dominican League Red Sox and hit .254 with a .678 OPS, has six hits in 17 at-bats with the Spinners. He's also drawn a pair of walks and fanned five times. He's put together multi-hit performances in back-to-back contests. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 6-4 WIN VS. GCL TWINS (BOX) -- Javier Guerra, an 18-year-old shortstop who served as DH on Friday, went 2-for-4 with a triple while driving in two runs. Guerra is perhaps the most interesting Red Sox prospect in the GCL, a left-handed hitting shortstop with the defensive tools to stay at the position who shows a calm approach in the box, stays back and has good pitch recognition with the ability to hit line drives to all fields (his triple was to the opposite field). The three-bagger was the first of his career; last year in the Dominican Summer League, all nine of Guerra's extra-base hits were doubles en route to a .248/.356/.290 line. -- Jose Vinicio, in the Gulf Coast League on a rehab assignment after suffering an injury two games into his season with High-A Salem, went 2-for-3 with a double and was caught stealing. -- Left-hander Dedgar Jimenez, the Red Sox' 2013 DSL Pitcher of the Year, earned the win with four innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits (four singles and a double) while walking one and striking out one. Jimenez, listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, is a strike-thrower who works in the low-90s who cuts an imposing figure on the mound. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS VS. DSL YANKEES (BOX) -- Third baseman Rafael Devers went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts; his line now sits at .371/.465/.614 for the season. Though Ben Badler of Baseball America reported that the Red Sox would be promoting Devers to the Gulf Coast League this weekend, industry sources say that Devers will remain in the DSL at least through the weekend. He will move up to the GCL in the relatively near future, but his promotion is dependent on the acquisition of a travel permit; the exact duration needed to acquire the permit is imprecise, resulting in some uncertainty about when the talented 17-year-old will be able to head to the States. Nonetheless, the larger point is that his play has already forged a path to the more advanced league. -- Center fielder Yoan Aybar, an athletic 16-year-old whom the Red Sox signed last summer, went 2-for-4 with a double, giving him five doubles in nine games. He's reached base in all nine contests in which he's played, hitting .409/.458/.591 against righties and .333/.405/.485 overall. -- Shortstop Carlos Tovar extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in four at-bats. The 18-year-old is hitting .317/.429/.492 during the streak. Alex Speier contributed to this report.

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