Mookie Betts is seeing everyday action in center field in Pawtucket. (365DigitalPhotography.com / Portland Sea Dogs)

Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts getting primed for center; Derrik Gibson's surprising surge towards big leagues

August 17, 2014 - 10:48 am
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A brief look at Saturday's action in the Red Sox farm system: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-4 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Feats of Mookie: Getting primed for center field. Mookie Betts went 0-for-4 but walked and stole a base (his 11th in 15 attempts in Triple-A). He also once again started in center, where he's made nine of his 10 starts -- the other came at DH -- after being sent down to Triple-A following a week-long callup in early August. The everyday role in center reflects both upon the fact that the Sox have more crowding in Triple-A in the corner outfield spots with Bryce Brentz back in Pawtucket, but more significantly, it underscores the notion that the Red Sox see Betts' likeliest path to the big leagues with them as that of an everyday center fielder, particularly in light of the struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. -- At the time of his first big league callup on Memorial Day weekend, Alex Hassan was hitting .217/.318/.303. In 56 games since that first exposure to the big leagues, he's hitting .328/.414/.529 following a 3-for-5 performance on Saturday that included his seventh homer and 26th extra-base hit in that stretch, boosting the 26-year-old's overall line to .281/.373/.433. -- Catcher Blake Swihart went 2-for-4 and, for the first time in his nine Triple-A contests, walked. He also stole a base. The 22-year-old is hitting .297/.316/.486 with four extra-base hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts with the PawSox. -- Derrik Gibson continues to perform like someone who now has a major league future. The second baseman/center fielder went 2-for-4 with a walk on Saturday. He's hitting .313/.352/.521 with five extra-base hits, three walks, eight strikeouts and two steals in 13 Triple-A games. He's a good runner who can play multiple positions and who, despite limited power, can spray the ball around the field, particularly against lefties. In short, after seemingly stalling out in Double-A in 2012 and 2013, Gibson has reasserted himself as a player who has performed his way into a potential big league role at the age of 24, long after he'd disappeared from the Red Sox' top prospect lists. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 1-0 WIN (10 INNINGS, WALKOFF) VS. RICHMOND (GIANTS) (BOX) -- On a night when the Sea Dogs managed just six hits, scorching outfielder Keury De La Cruz had half of them, going 3-for-4 with a double and a steal. In 14 games this month, the 22-year-old is hitting .388/.456/.633 to boost his line in 57 games this year to .303/.330/.438. -- It did not take right-hander Keith Couch long to reassert himself in Double-A following a roughly seven-week stretch on the DL. In his fourth start back with Portland, Couch tossed eight shutout innings (his longest outing of the year) while permitting just two hits and three walks while tying a season-high with seven strikeouts. He's now 7-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 64 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 86 2/3 innings this year. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 17-9 WIN VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (BOX) -- One day after he went 0-for-4 in his Salem debut, Manuel Margot went 3-for-5 with a homer and a pair of strikeouts. The 19-year-old is the first teenage position player to reach Salem since Xander Bogaerts in 2012. -- Corner infielder Jantzen Witte snapped a five-game, 0-for-19 stretch in dramatic fashion, going 4-for-5 with a double and homer. Witte became the fourth player in the minors this year to reach the 40 doubles plateau. In the wake of his recent slump, the 24-year-old is hitting .269/.319/.440 in Salem, and .303/.376/.502 between Greenville and Salem. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-3 LOSS AT SAVANNAH (METS) (BOX) -- On the one hand, right-hander Jamie Callahan got off to a horrific start, walking four batters (and allowing one hit) in a two-run first inning, and he ultimately walked seven in his five innings of work. On the other hand, he settled after the first to deliver four scoreless frames after that rough first and permitted just four hits (three singles and a double) and two runs in his start. Bigger picture: In a very difficult year that has seen the 19-year-old go 3-12 with a 6.43 ERA in 23 starts, he's gone five or more innings with three or fewer runs allowed in four of his last five outings. And while he's still showing a vulnerability to big innings, he's shown an ability to recover from them as well. In short, it's been a hard year, but one in which there have been glimpses -- albeit fewer than expected -- of a player who was viewed as one of the top 25 prospects in the Red Sox system entering the year. That said, his 5.0 walks per nine innings suggest that what seemed a reasonably well-defined floor as a future big league reliever (with a starter's ceiling) has been altered, given that this year's struggle to throw strikes somewhat diminishes the odds that he will indeed reach the majors. -- Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin went 3-for-4, and he's 5-for-8 in his last two games. Still, that performance has bumped his line up to only .225/.315/.287 for the year. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 6-1 LOSS AT HUDSON VALLEY (RAYS) (BOX) -- Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a sac fly. The 20-year-old has four multi-hit games in his last eight contests to improve to .296/.319/.377. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 11-10 LOSS, 2-1 LOSS AT GCL TWINS (BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2) -- Michael Chavis completed the first game having gone 2-for-4 with a double. His steady statistical climb continues, as he's hitting .228/.324/.337 thanks to a .389/.463/.556 line in August. -- Third baseman Rafael Devers, for the first time since arriving in the GCL, appears to be in a slump. After he went 0-for-3 on Saturday, he's 0-for-12 in his last three games, dropping his line to .303/.363/.492 in 33 games -- though, of course, all of those represent remarkable numbers for a 17-year-old in his first pro season. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-3 WIN AT DSL MARINERS (BOX) -- Center fielder Yoan Aybar snapped out of a 2-for-31 funk with a 3-for-5 contest that included a stolen base. The athletic 17-year-old is now hitting .271/.320/.414 with 20 extra-base hits and six steals in 53 games this year. -- Right-hander Gerson Bautista allowed one unearned run on three hits in five innings. It marked the ninth time in 13 outings in the DSL that the 19-year-old has not permitted an earned run this year. He currently leads the DSL with a 1.03 ERA.