Red Sox minor league roundup: A strike-throwing machine in Salem

April 21, 2014 - 7:21 am

With three of the Red Sox' four affiliates having Sunday off, this is the briefest of roundups... TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: OFF DAY DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 10-8 LOSS AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX) (BOX) -- Right fielder Kevin Heller maintained his status as a doubles machine in the first two-plus weeks of the season, going 1-for-3 with his eighth double of the year and a walk. The 24-year-old is now hitting .364 (third in the Carolina League) with a .481 OBP (tops in the Carolina League), .636 slugging mark (second in the Carolina League) and 10 extra-base hits (tied for the league lead). Heller already has more extra-base hits this year than he did last year (8) in 45 games between Single-A Greenville (35 games), High-A Salem (3 games) and Double-A Portland (7 games). -- On the one hand, right-hander Kyle Martin has been hit hard, as he's saddled with a 5.68 ERA with opponents hitting .357 with six extra-base hits in 60 plate appearances against the 2013 ninth-rounder. On the other hand, he's struck out just over one of every three batters he's faced, punching out 21 and walking just two, and he has yet to permit a homer in 48 2/3 professional innings. At the least, the fact that he's been a strike-throwing machine suggests that, since he adjusted from a low arm slot to a more over-the-top delivery that made him a strikeout and groundball machine last year, he's been able to repeat the delivery in a fashion that has allowed him to pour pitches into the strike zone. He posted a 1.25 ERA in his pro debut in Lowell and Greenville last year, allowing seven runs with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks in 36 innings. To date in Salem, his fastball has been flatter than it was last year, resulting in hard contact, but some Sox officials feel he has a chance to be an interesting sleeper pitching prospect given his ability, when his delivery is right, to work at the bottom of the strike zone with a fastball, curveball, changeup and slider. -- Right-hander William Cuevas, who had been off to a solid start (11 innings, three runs, 11 strikeouts, one walk in his first two starts), got shelled for eight runs on seven hits and a walk while recording just two outs. He allowed a pair of homers. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY