Red Sox minor league roundup: Wendell Rijo's power surge; Drake Britton struggles; dominance in the DSL

August 02, 2014 - 6:43 am
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-2 LOSS VS. SYRACUSE (RAYS) (BOX) -- Catcher Dan Butler went 2-for-3 before being lifted in the ninth inning, shortly after David Ross left Friday's game in Boston due to his foot injury. Butler, 27, is hitting .227/.306/.338 in 76 games this year, with respectable numbers against lefties (.244/.337/.329) while struggling against righties (.219/.291/.343). He's regarded highly enough for his defensive abilities and leadership that during the offseason, there were some in the Sox organization who gave consideration to Butler as a potential tandem partner with David Ross as a big league catching solution before the signing of A.J. Pierzynski. For more on Butler, here he is on a Minor Details podcast. -- Lost amidst the roster shuffle was the fact that Drake Britton's struggles in Pawtucket this year have pushed him behind Tommy Layne on the team's reliever depth chart. Britton's yearlong struggles continued on Friday, when he allowed two runs on three hits (including two homers, the sixth and seventh he's yielded this year) in 2 1/3 innings, with his ERA bumping up to 5.52. Britton -- who has walked more batters (29) than he's struck out (26) in 45 2/3 innings this year -- has shown a greater willingness to attack the strike zone of late, having walked just one batter in his last five games spanning eight innings. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-1 LOSS VS. TRENTON (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Second baseman Sean Coyle went 1-for-4, smashing his 13th homer of the year. Coyle has tailed off since his scorching first half, with a .232/.279/.357 line in 16 games since the break with four walks and 21 strikeouts. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (BOX) -- Corner infielder Jantzen Witte had his first career four-hit game, going 4-for-5. The 24-year-old improved to .279/.329/.449 on the year. However, Friday marked his eighth straight game without a double. He's now dropped from status as the minor league leader in doubles to third in that category. -- Catcher Jordan Weems continued the best stretch of his career, going 2-for-3 and getting hit by a pitch to improve to .338/.424/.419 in 22 games since his promotion to Salem. He's reached base three or more times five times in his 22 games since the promotion after having accomplished that feat just four times this year in 50 contests in Single-A Greenville, where he was hitting .166/.283/.215 at the time of his promotion. -- In his first Carolina League start, Jake Dahlstrand allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, walking three and punching out four. The 22-year-old had a strong season in Greenville, going 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 5-1 LOSS VS. ROME (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Second baseman Wendell Rijo went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. The 18-year-old has 14 extra-base hits since the beginning of July, tied for fourth in the South Atlantic League during the run. The other four players with that many extra-base knocks are all at least 20 years old, underscoring the distinctiveness of Rijo's oncoming power display. Rijo is hitting .274/.367/.560 since July 1, and .265/.354/.435 for the year. He can hit -- of that there's no question. Still, there's refinement needed to his game, particularly attention to detail on the baserunning and defensive sides. -- Right-hander Jason Garcia, 21, threw 3 2/3 no-hit innings as a piggyback starter while walking one and punching out four. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 6-3 WIN AT STATEN ISLAND (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Outfielder Danny Mars went 2-for-5, with the 20-year-old recording his 12th multi-hit game in 30 contests in his pro debut. The switch-hitter has a .347/.409/.484 line this summer, including a .382/.427/.528 line against right-handers. -- Bryce Brentz played all nine innings in right field, going 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. He's 1-for-8 in Lowell and 2-for-26 with four walks and seven strikeouts overall in nine games on a rehab assignment. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. GCL TWINS (BOX) -- Shortstop Javier Guerra went 2-for-5. Over an eight-game hitting streak, he's hitting .333/.353/.455, improving to .303/.320/.443 for the year. He did commit his sixth error of the year. -- Right-hander Gabe Speier maintained his roll in his return from Tommy John surgery. He threw four shutout innings, allowing one hit, walking none and punching out five. In 12 innings spanning five outings, he has a 1.50 ERA with eight strikeouts and one walk while getting groundballs in volume. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT DSL YANKEES (BOX) -- Left-hander Enmanuel De Jesus had a dominant outing, throwing five shutout innings in which he allowed four hits, walked none and punched out a season-high eight. In his last two outings, the 17-year-old has 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings, giving him 45 strikeouts (against 15 walks) in 46 innings overall this year. De Jesus represents an interesting young left-hander who uses his size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) to create good angle on his fastball; he also shows a good feel for his secondary pitches. -- Outfielder Yoan Aybar is heating up again. The athletic 17-year-old went 2-for-4 with a double and a steal. He's 8-for-16 with two doubles and two triples in his last four games, restoring his season line to .297/.349/.468 -- in a league where the average line is .246/.342/.334. That suggests that as a very young 17-year-old (Aybar did not turn 17 until July), he's making uncommonly sharp contact and then flying out of the box. His 19 extra-base hits are tied for the 16th-most in the DSL, while his slugging mark ranks 24th in the league.

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