Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie mashing in Triple-A; Garin Cecchini rebounding; Drake Britton's uncertain future

August 12, 2014 - 9:39 am

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 15-9 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Feats of Mookie: Hitting ... and hitting ... and hitting. Mookie Betts went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a walk, and so in five games since his return from the big leagues to Triple-A, he has a five-game hitting streak with a .409/.500/.636 line. He has shown an uptick in strikeouts and a decrease in walks since he started shuttling to and from the big leagues. I his first 23 games in Pawtucket prior to his late-June debut, Betts hit .322/.425/.444 with 16 walks (15.1 percent) and 13 strikeouts (12.3 percent) in 106 plate appearances. In his two trips back down to Triple-A, he's hitting .348/.416/.609 with eight walks (10.7 percent) and 15 strikeouts (19.5 percent) in 26 games (77 plate appearances). His seemingly more aggressive approach might be resulting in an increase in strikeouts, but it's also resulted in an increased frequency with which he's driven the ball. The 21-year-old has one extra-base hit for every seven trips to the plate in his last 16 games, compared to one for every 17.7 plate appearances prior to his callup. -- After he snapped a 21-game stretch spanning more than a month without a multi-hit contest on Friday, Garin Cecchini appears to be turning a corner in a challenging season in Triple-A. He went 3-for-6 with two doubles while matching a career-high by driving in five runs.  In 96 games this season, Cecchini is hitting .246/.319/.335 with just 20 extra-base hits, 33 walks and 82 strikeouts. There's little question that, to date in 2014, he's been unable to sustain his characteristic approach that combines tremendous hand-eye coordination and plate discipline. It's been the first sustained struggle of his professional career, and probably his life. But as someone who has grown up surrounded by the game (given his family background in which he was coached by his mother and father through high school, while his younger brother is a Mets prospect), the first encounter with adversity represents a potentially crucial opportunity to learn. If Cecchini can emerge from his months-long funk to finish strong, then while his statistics may not ultimately show it this year, the 2014 campaign could prove one of his most significant from a player development perspective. -- Catcher Blake Swihart went 2-for-6. Since his 0-for-3 debut in Triple-A last week, he's hit in five straight games, going 7-for-22 with a double, triple and homer. -- Left-hander Drake Britton's yearlong struggles may have reached a new low. One outing after he allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning, he gave up five runs on four hits (including a double and homer) and a walk while again lasting just two-thirds of an inning. In 48 innings this year, Britton has been shelled, with his ERA now at 6.75 with more walks (32) than strikeouts (27) while giving up 1.5 homers per nine innings. He hasn't had back to back appearances in which he's escaped without allowing a run since June 17 and 20. This is the fourth straight month in which he's had an ERA above 6.00, explaining why pitchers like Tommy Layne and Edwin Escobar have been getting the call in front of Britton when the Sox have needed a pitcher from Triple-A. Lefties are hitting .290/.380/.484 against the 25-year-old, making it difficult to see him profiling as a specialist out of the bullpen in the near future. The net result? Britton's spot on the 40-man roster could be in considerable jeopardy. He's out of options after this year, and his struggles this year make it difficult to see a bullpen role for him out of spring training next year. Given the lack of roster flexibility that he'd have, it's not difficult to imagine the Sox opening a spot on the 40-man for either one of the players they must protect this winter (such as Matt Barnes) or a player who comes from outside of the organization by seeking either to trade Britton or by designating him for assignment. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF DAY SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 12-5 LOSS VS. ROME (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Right-hander Jamie Callahan could not back up one of his best starts of the season. After he tossed six scoreless innings last week, the 19-year-old endured a 1 2/3 inning, seven-run mauling on Monday. He allowed four hits (including a three-run homer), walked four and struck out none. While the outing was Callahan's shortest of the year, it represented just his third-highest run yield. He has given up five or more runs in nine of his 22 starts, with frequent big innings suggesting a challenge to compartmentalize his struggles. Regarded as a potential breakout candidate this year, the 2012 second-rounder has instead seen his ERA soar to 6.57 with 7.6 strikeouts and 4.6 walks per nine innings, a struggle that suggests that he might end up repeating in Greenville next year. -- First baseman Sam Travis went 1-for-4 with his first homer in Greenville as well as a walk. The 20-year-old, a 2014 second-rounder, is now hitting .361/.425/.556 with five extra-base hits, four walks and five strikeouts in nine games since his promotion from Lowell. His strength, approach and ability to drive the ball to all fields is rapidly putting Travis on the radar as perhaps the Red Sox' top slugging prospect in full-season ball. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 2-0 WIN VS. WILLIAMSPORT (PHILLIES) (BOX) -- Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson, a 25-year-old purchased from the indy leagues last month, continued to outperform the New York-Penn League competition. He tossed seven scoreless innings, permitting just three hits, walking none and punching out six, and in five starts spanning 29 innings for Lowell, he has a 2.48 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just seven walks. -- Catcher Alixon Suarez accounted for essentially all of the Spinners offense, collecting two of Lowell's three hits while going 2-for-3 with a homer and double. Though he's hitting just .215/.282/.398 this year, he's been hot of late, going 8-for-19 with two homers, a double and a triple in his last six games. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS VS. GCL ORIOLES (BOX) -- First-rounder Michael Chavis went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk, giving him 12 straight games reaching base (13 if Saturday's suspended game is included, in which Chavis collected a pair of hits before rain came in the third inning) in which he's raised his line from .099/.188/.163 to .190/.304/.278. The 18-year-old is hitting .306/.432/.417 in that stretch. -- Outfielder Trenton Kemp continued to show the ability to damage the ball when he makes contact with it. The 18-year-old, taken this year in the 15th round, went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts. He is 6-for-26 (.231 average) with one walk and 13 strikeouts in August, with five of those six hits going for extra bases (four doubles and a homer). DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 7-2 LOSS AT DSL ORIOLES (BOX) -- Right-hander Gerson Bautista, who entered the game having allowed just three earned runs in his first 11 games (52 innings), yielded a season-high four runs on six hits and two walks on Monday. His ERA more than doubled from 0.52 to 1.13.