Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Scorching Jose Iglesias goes deep, Anthony Ranaudo unveiled

May 16, 2012 - 6:59 am
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Jose Iglesias had been hitting like crazy since the last day of April, but the 22-year-old shortstop had been spraying line drives around the park. Even during a stretch of 11 games that included seven multi-hit contests, he had totaled just two extra-base hits. And so, Tuesday represented a notable milestone for Iglesias. The shortstop cleared the left-field fence for his first homer of the year, lining a fastball off of Rays prospect (and UMass alum) Matt Torra just over the left field wall in Durham. It was part of a 3-for-5 night in which Iglesias matched a season high for hits while delivering just his second career homer, the continuation of a stretch in which Iglesias has gotten the best results of his career. Your browser does not support iframes. Since April 30, when Iglesias collected a pair of hits to nudge his average up to .200 for the season's first month, the shortstop has been on a tear. In 12 games, he's hitting .388 (fifth in the International League in that stretch) with a .423 OBP (10th in the league), .510 slugging mark and .933 OPS (11th). For the first time, he's showing in a sustained stretch -- dating to even before the start of the hot streak -- that he has adjusted to the level of competition in an advanced league that features pitchers with legitimate breaking balls and, in many cases, big league experience. For the season, Iglesias now has a line of .262/.322/.315/.637. It's not a spectacular performance, but it nearly replicates the league average (.250/.326/.376/.702) at a level that features much older competition. And the more recent performance -- which is also noteworthy for the fact that Iglesias has struck out just four times while walking three times over this stretch of 52 plate appearances -- lends credence to the notion that the shortstop can be more than a defensive hitter who is a zero in the lineup. TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN AT DURHAM (RAYS) (BOX) -- Like Iglesias, Che-Hsuan Lin started to get hot at the end of an otherwise tough April and has been hitting ever since. He went 2-for-3 with a walk on Tuesday, and in his last 14 games, he's hitting .372 (seventh in the International League since April 30) with a .491 OBP (third), .488 slugging mark and .979 OPS (10th). The 23-year-old now has a better-than-league-average line of .264/.359/.382/.741, and given his excellent defense in center field, the performance is intriguing. Lin has struggled with being too passive at times throughout his minor league career, something that has driven high walks totals and solid OBPs despite low batting averages. But hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez and PawSox hitting coach Gerald Perry have been working with the native of Taiwan to be ready to hone that passiveness into selectivity with a readiness to take some rips at pitches that he can handle, with positive results to date this year. "He's really worked on his approach at the plate," said farm director Ben Crockett. "He's someone who does such a good job of taking pitches and working the count that sometimes it can work against him. He's really trying to make the adjustment of being ready to attack, and I think it's paid off a little bit in the numbers and will continue to be a focus for him." -- Mark Melancon delivered another perfect inning in which he struck out a batter and got two groundball outs. He's now 12 scoreless appearances into his time in Pawtucket, having struck out 20 and walked none. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-5 WIN AT READING (PHILLIES) (BOX) -- Anthony Ranaudo made his long-anticipated Double-A debut after opening the year in extended spring training while working his way back from a minor groin injury that he suffered in late-March. The right-hander struggled with his command at times in a four-inning effort that saw him allow four runs on four hits (including two homers) while walking three and striking out two. His fastball ran from 89-94 mph, averaging about 92 (though the stadium gun had him at 96 mph on one occasion). While it was far from a dominant debut, it would probably be a mistake to read too much into the right-hander's first outing of the year, which functioned (somewhat literally) as an opportunity for the 22-year-old to get his legs under him. The right-hander told the Portland Press-Herald that he struggled to manage "a big wave of emotion" during a first inning in which he required 25 pitches. --Bryce Brentz kept mashing, going 2-for-5 to improve his line to .298/.338/.443/.781 this year. Brentz is now 10-for-14 in his last three games, and over the past nearly three weeks, he leads all of Double-A with a .460 average in his last 13 games. In that span, he also ranks among the top five among all Double-A hitters in OBP (.491), slugging percentage (.700) and OPS (1.191). -- Kolbrin Vitek went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, giving him an extra-base hit in consecutive games. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 8-6 WIN, 4-1 LOSS AT CAROLINA (INDIANS) (GAME 1 BOX,GAME 2 BOX) -- Sean Coyle had an unusual eight-game hitting streak come to a halt in the second game of the double header. In the first contest, he went 1-for-3 with his fifth homer of the year. That gave Coyle his eighth straight game of precisely one hit, the result being a hitting streak in which he had just a .250 average but with a .385 OBP (thanks to seven walks) and a .594 slugging mark, as five of his eight hits were of the extra-base variety (two doubles, three homers). Coyle is one of the most challenging players in the Red Sox system for whom comparisons can be identified. He's among the shortest players in the system (listed at 5-foot-8), but he doesn't get cheated often on his swing, as evidenced both by the fact that he strikes out roughly one of every four trips to the plate and that he has one extra-base hit for every 10 plate appearances in his pro career. Though he is the second-youngest position player on the team (older only than Xander Bogaerts), Coyle leads the team with five homers. While playing against older competition, the 2010 third-round pick (who was signed to a $1.3 million bonus more typically seen by first-rounders) demonstrates above average power, approach and defensive ability for his position. He projects as a big leaguer, but with few parallels given his size and skill set, it is difficult to say exactly what kind of big leaguer. -- Michael Almanzar went 3-for-7 with a double while driving in three runs over the double header. With the performance, he is hitting .290 with a .327 OBP, .439 slugging mark and .767 OPS. All of those marks are the highest of his professional career by a fairly significant margin (save for Almanzar's dominant debut in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in 2008, when he was 17). While he is still not walking (5 in 113 plate appearances), he has cut down significantly on his strikeouts while adding power, suggesting better management of his plate appearances and an improved understanding of the pitches he can drive. He is punching out once every 5.9 plate appearances this year after having whiffed once every 4.5 plate appearances prior to 2012. Meanwhile, he has one extra-base hit per 9.4 plate appearances, up from a career rate of one per every 16.5 plate appearances. -- Though right-hander Brandon Workman allowed three runs on five hits before getting pulled after throwing 78 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings, he continued to show swing-and-miss stuff, punching out six and walking two. He now has 28 strikeouts (against seven walks) in 24 2/3 innings, though it is worth noting that he's also permitted four homers to date this year en route to a 2-1 record and 3.65 ERA. -- Xander Bogaerts was lifted in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the double header, two innings after he was hit by a pitch on the back of the leg. He did not play the second game, but he did coach first base. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-2 WIN VS. ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES) (BOX) -- Miguel Pena, who threw six perfect innings in his previous outing, allowed just one run on two hits in six frames on Tuesday. The left-hander struck out a season-high eight and walked three. In seven games this year, he's now 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA, 37 strikeouts and six walks in 37 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .192 against him. -- Garin Cecchini hit his first homer of the year in his 130th at-bat, but his first longball of the year was merely the punctuation mark on a 3-for-5 game in which the 21-year-old also had two steals. Through 33 games this year, Cecchini's season harbors a number of similarities to the 32 contests he played in 2011 in Lowell before his season ended with a non-displaced wrist fracture when he was hit by a pitch. In Lowell, Cecchini hit .298/.398/.500/.898 with three homers, 12 doubles, a triple, 12 steals and two caught stealings in 32 games. This year, in 33 games in Greenville, he's hitting .298/.366/.427/.793 with one homer, 12 doubles, a triple, 14 steals and two caught stealings. In both seasons, he overcame slow starts to perform as one of the better players in the league for a stretch. This year, since April 13, he ranks seventh in the South Atlantic League with a .346 average while also featuring a .409 OBP, .490 slugging mark and .899 OPS over his last 26 games. -- Keury De La Cruz, after going 0-for-9 in his previous two games, went 2-for-5 and launched his seventh homer of the year, improving his season line to .326/.372/.572/.944. His seventh homer of the year (in 148 plate appearances) gave him a new single-season career-high, surpassing his previous mark of six homer in 219 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League in 2010. LINKS -- Outfielder Scott Podsednik told Pawtucket play-by-play man Steve Hyder that he wants to play "until they rip the jersey off my back." -- Mike Antonellis, play-by-play announcer of the Sea Dogs, talked to outfielder Bryce Brentz about both his extraordinary hot streak and teammate Anthony Ranaudo. To listen to the interview, click here. -- Salem broadcaster Evan Lepler offered an interesting breakdown of some of Jackie Bradley Jr.'s early-season numbers, with particularly insightful analysis of the dazzling outfielder's seemingly high total of four errors.