Red Sox minor league roundup: The peculiar year of Brandon Jacobs; Matt Barnes' adversity and development; Sergio Gomez dominates

June 30, 2013 - 5:57 am
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Outfielder Brandon Jacobs punctuated a 3-for-4 night for High-A Salem with a two-run walkoff homer and a walk. Jacobs told Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times that it was his first walkoff homer since middle school. With 10 homers, Jacobs is now tied for the Salem team lead with Sean Coyle -- though it's taken Jacobs roughly twice as many games (71) as Coyle has played (36) to reach double digits. Nonetheless, the fact that Jacobs has reached that power plateau is intriguing. His year has been rough. The 22-year-old is hitting .227/.313/.414 after posting almost identical numbers while spending all of last year in Salem (.252/.322/.410), a year when he was restricted due to his recovery from a broken hamate. In that sense, it's difficult to view Jacobs' year as anything but a disappointment. Still, while that is the overall sense of his season, there have been specific areas in which he's shown some progress. He's hitting a homer per every 29.1 plate appearances, up from one every 37.5 last year; he's walking in 9.3 percent of his trips to the dish, up from an 8.0 percent rate last year. His extra-base hit frequency is likewise up slightly, as he's bumped that number up from 8.8 percent of plate appearances last year to 9.6 percent this year. In other words, there are areas in which Jacobs has made incremental forward strides this year, albeit in a campaign where those silver linings have typically been difficult to glimpse. TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 12-4 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-3 with a two-run single and a walk. The hit with runners in scoring position came as something of a departure in the shortstop's early stages in Triple-A. In 20 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, he's 3-for-20 (all singles, no walks) for a .150/.150/.150 line. With the bases empty, by contrast, he's hitting .308/.419/.654. -- Jeremy Hazelbaker ended a stretch of 16 straight games without a homer, going 2-for-4 with his seventh longball of the year after entering the contest in place of outfielder Mitch Maier, who suffered an injury while playing outfield. Still, despite a power outage that has seen Hazelbaker hit just two homers in his last 52 games (after launching five in the season's first 18 contests), the 25-year-old has a solid .286/.355/.427 line. -- Right-hander Chris Carpenter, in his return to Pawtucket after a four-game rehab stretch in Lowell, gave up four runs in two innings of work. He did not strike out a batter. -- Third baseman Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-4 with an infield single to second, a flyout to right, two strikeouts (both looking) and a walk. The walk was his first since being sent back to Triple-A. -- Reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith, who is 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in 25 games (43 2/3 innings), underwent surgery for appendicitis. The timing would seem inconvenient for the left-hander, given that, according to Chris Cotillo of SportsReelBoston.com, Rowland-Smith has a July 15 opt-out in the minor league deal he signed with the Sox this spring. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-5 WIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS) (BOX) -- Matt Barnes gave up a pair of homers while yielding five runs (four earned) in five innings. He struck out five and walked two. His ERA is now 5.19. He's given up nine homers this year in 67 2/3 innings after yielding just six in 119 2/3 in his first full pro season over two levels of Single-A last year. He's also seen a rise in his walks from 2.2 per nine to 3.3 per nine. Still, he's punching out 11.0 per nine -- up from 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 2012 -- underscoring the notion that he has the fastball power and command upon which a solid career as a big league starter can be built. For now, however, it appears that 2013 is a development year in which Barnes is having to struggle while trying to add a breaking ball to incorporate with his low- to mid-90s fastball and a changeup that has shown considerable improvement over the course of his professional career. -- Garin Cecchini went 2-for-4 with a double and walk. Among qualifying players for full-season affiliates this year, Cecchini is second in all of the minors in OBP (.470) and eighth in average (.351). -- First baseman Travis Shaw continued his recent surge, going 1-for-3 with a double and walk. Over his last 14 games, he's now hitting .315/.383/.556 with four doubles and three homers in 14 games. -- Right-hander Noe Ramirez, a fourth-round pick of the Sox in 2011, was promoted to Portland after a strong season out of the bullpen in High-A Salem. He had a 2.11 ERA, 44 strikeouts and just nine walks in 47 innings spanning 21 appearances. His 1.7 walks per nine innings represented the best total in the Sox organization for anyone with at least 40 innings pitched this year. He did not yield a homer in Salem. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-5 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. CAROLINA (INDIANS) (BOX) -- Keury De La Cruz is collecting hits in bunches. He went 3-for-4 with a double on Saturday, and now has four straight multi-hit games with at least one RBI in each of those contests. Also of note: for just the second time this year (and the first since April), the notoriously aggressive 21-year-old has now worked walks in back-to-back games. He's hitting .297/.328/.442 for the year, ranking sixth in the Carolina League in average and first in RBI (56). -- Right-hander Matt Price continued his dominance, tossing a scoreless ninth to earn the victory, punching out two (albeit with two walks). In his last 10 appearances dating to May 31, Price has a 0.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts (and six walks) in 10 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .114 against him in that span. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-3 LOSS (COMPLETION OF SUSPENDED GAME), 5-3 WIN AT KANNAPOLIS (WHITE SOX) (BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2) -- Feats of Mookie: Refusing to slump. Mookie Betts went 0-for-4 with a walk in Game 1, but bounced back in the second game with a 2-for-3 contest that included a double and a walk to push his average back over .300 (.302). With 24 doubles, Betts is tied for fourth in the South Atlantic League in the category. He's second in the league in OBP (.431) and ninth in OPS (.931). -- Right-hander Justin Haley continued his strong stretch, working around command difficulties (five walks) to permit one run in five innings. In his last six starts, the newly turned 22-year-old has a 2.72 ERA in 33 innings with 31 punchouts and 18 walks. -- Right-hander Kyle Kraus allowed two runs in two innings while recording five strikeouts to earn the save in the nightcap. In 22 1/3 innings for Greenville, the 23-year-old has a 1.61 ERA while issuing just two walks (0.8 per nine innings -- best in the Sox system among pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched) and striking out 24. He has yet to give up a homer at the level while registering an amazing 3.67 groundouts per flyout. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 2-1 WIN VS. VERMONT (ATHLETICS) (BOX) -- Sergio Gomez continued his impressive start to Lowell's season, turning in his third straight dominant outing. The 19-year-old right-hander tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four and walking none. In three games with Lowell, Gomez has struck out 20 and walked just one in 15 2/3 innings, with a 1.15 ERA and .154 opponents' batting average. The six innings matched a career-high for a player whose strike-throwing approach has permitted him to be efficient while navigating the lower levels of the Sox' system. -- Right-hander Kyle Martin continued his strong pro debut, tossing two scoreless innings while allowing one hit and striking out three. Martin has now thrown six shutout innings for Lowell, striking out five while producing a 3.67 groundout to flyout ratio. The 6-foot-6 right-hander changed his arm slot this year at Texas A&M from a sidearm delivery to a more three-quarters motion, with a consequent spike in groundball rates during his college season that now appears to have carried over to pro ball. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT GCL TWINS (BOX) -- Bryan Hudson, a 15th-round selection out of high school in Georgia this year, extended his hitting streak to four games and his on-base streak to encompass all five of his professional contests by going 1-for-4 with a double. In those five games, he's hitting .385/.467/.615 with two walks and three doubles. -- Right-hander Willie Ethington, a 19-year-old who was a 2012 17th-rounder, scattered four hits over five innings while striking out four and walking one. Ethington has seven punchouts and one walk in seven GCL innings thus far. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS (WALKOFF, 10 INNINGS) AT DSL ROYALS (BOX) -- Shortstop Javier Guerra went 1-for-2 with a double and walk and was hit by a pitch. The 17-year-old has struggled in his pro debut, hitting .153, but has walked more times (18) than he's struck out (14) en route to a .333 OBP.