Red Sox minor league roundup: Stephen Drew getting closer; Sean Coyle, Blake Swihart tears continues; Deven Marrero slumping

May 29, 2014 - 7:04 am
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A brief look at Wednesday's action in the Red Sox farm system: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Stephen Drew went 1-for-3 with a single and two strikeouts in his first game with the PawSox while playing seven innings at shortstop. He saw 18 pitches through his three at-bats. "€œIt'€™s about coming in and getting games in. That'€™s the total key right now," Drew told the Woonsocket Call. "€œWhere I am right now is trying to get my body as many reps as fast as I can so I can play nine innings every day. I think I've prepared as best as I can. Playing games and nine innings, I think that'€™s the key to getting back up there."€ Drew, who is 4-for-11 with a walk and six strikeouts in his four rehab games, will serve as the DH for the PawSox on Thursday. -- Making his second start since slotting into Brandon Workman's place in the rotation, Chris Hernandez was lights-out, tossing seven shutout frames and allowing just three hits while striking out eight. Hernandez hadn't fanned eight or more batters since April of 2012. Hernandez also walked three. The 25-year-old is 1-3 with a 3.32 ERA in his four starts this season. -- Garin Cecchini seems to be adjusting well to life in the top part of the lineup. The third baseman was recently shifted into the two hole in the order, and has a hit in all five games since making the move, going 1-for-4 on Wednesday (though it should be noted that Cecchini has just one hit in each of those contests). Cecchini's production, however, has dropped off slightly as of late, with the 23-year-old hitting .250 with a .300 OBP over his last 15 games. He's been unable to come up with an extra-base hit since May 7. Cecchini nonetheless still leads current PawSox hitters with a .287 batting average and a .365 OBP. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-8 LOSS (COMPLETION OF SUSPENDED GAME), 4-2 LOSS VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS) (BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2) -- Sean Coyle went 2-for-4 in the first game and 1-for-3 with a double in the following contest to extend his hitting streak to nine games in which he has a .455/.500/.697 line, improving to a season average of .359 with a .412 OBP and .551 slugging mark. The 22-year-old must be added to the 40-man roster this winter if the Sox want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. If he can sustain anything like his early-season performance -- combining right-handed pop with baserunning acumen and the ability to play second and third -- then the resurrection of his prospect status may ultimately either force the Sox to add him to the 40-man or put Coyle in position to be taken by another team. Of course, the trick for Coyle is sustaining his hot streaks. After all, a year ago, he enjoyed as impressive a start to the year as anyone in the Red Sox system, launching nine homers in his first 17 games while hitting .324/.372/.789 in 17 games. But injuries and performance struggles sabotaged his campaign in High-A Salem, creating questions about whether his considerable talent was more than a mirage. With his early performance this year, Coyle is once again giving evidence that his tools could come together in a way that yields a future big league impact player -- even if it's impossible to suggest with certainty that he will do so. -- Catcher Blake Swihart had his second three-hit game and third multi-hit game in a four-game span, going 3-for-5 with a double in the first game. His recent 8-for-18 run has pushed his average back over .300, with a 22-year-old now enjoying a .301/.335/.490 line for the season. -- Outfielder Henry Ramos had a tough all-around day, going a combined 1-for-7 with a pair of strikeouts and fouling a ball off his leg that forced his exit from the second contest. He did, however, contribute an outfield assist, showcasing the formidable arm that represents part of his interesting skill set. -- Shortstop Deven Marrero went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in the second game, and he's hitless in his last three games, going 0-for-13, and 1-for-24 with eight strikeouts dating to a May 20 game in which he suffered a jammed thumb. In the process, the 23-year-old has seen his line tumble to .256/.346/.388. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (BOX) -- Though right-hander Simon Mercedes took the loss, he allowed just two runs (one earned) in six innings while punching out four, walking two, permitting three hits (two singles and a solo homer) and getting nine groundball outs. Opponents are hitting .228 against Mercedes, whose 1.72 groundouts-to-airouts would rank as the second-best mark in the Carolina League if he had enough innings to rank among the league leaders. Of the 114 balls that have been put in play against him, 56 percent have been on the ground. Despite an unspectacular 3.76 ERA, Mercedes is showing the ability to get opponents either to put the ball on the ground against him or to get swings and misses (he has 8.6 punchouts per nine innings this year), suggesting a player who is pitching better than what his ERA or some of his line scores might suggest. He does, however, need to improve his defense -- Mercedes committed a pair of errors (leading to two unearned runs) on Wednesday, and has already committed five errors in his 10 appearances this year. -- Third baseman Jonathan Roof went 3-for-4 with a homer (his fourth of the year) and a double, improving the 25-year-old's line to .303/.386/.459 for the year. The homer came against a lefty, giving Roof a line of .382/.477/.636 against southpaws this year. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 7-5 WIN AT CHARLESTON (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Second baseman Wendell Rijo went 3-for-5, matching his total number of hits from his previous 12 games. The 18-year-old did, however, strike out twice. He's whiffed in 29 percent of his plate appearances in May after having done so in just 21 percent of his plate appearances in April. -- In his second start, right-hander Joe Gunkel permitted five runs on three hits (single, double, homer) in five innings while walking one, hitting a batter and punching out five. The 22-year-old, taken in the 18th round of last year's draft, saw his ERA nearly double from 1.29 to 2.45, with the five earned runs exceeding the number that he'd permitted this year prior to Wednesday. Still, his overall season numbers (12.0 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.9 walks per nine, .147 opponents' batting average) point to why one Red Sox evaluator said recently that he was scouring the country "for the next Gunkel," a late-round pick with a chance to become a big league contributor. -- Right-hander Jonathan Aro, 23, followed Gunkel with four hitless innings of relief in which he walked one and struck out three. Aro has had a spectacular start to the year, with a 1.13 ERA, 38 strikeouts (10.7 per nine innings) and 12 walks (3.4 per nine) along with a .130 opponents bating average in 32 innings. In his last three appearances as a piggyback starter, he has thrown 12 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing four hits, two walks and striking out 14. -- First baseman Jantzen Witte continued his impressive early-season performance, going 2-for-4 with a homer (his fifth) and a walk. He's second in the South Atlantic League in average (.347), OBP (.439) and slugging (.566). -- Infielder Carlos Asuaje went 2-for-5 with his fourth homer of the year (all in May), delivering his 15th multi-hit game of the year but his first in two weeks. But while his average has fallen in May (down from an April mark of .365 to a .268 mark in May), the 22-year-old has nonetheless been taking his walks and continuing to get on base at a steady clip (.408 OBP).

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