Red Sox minor league roundup: Why Allen Webster will have something to prove next year; an oddity for Rubby De La Rosa; Miguel Pena keeps cruising; Manuel Margot's memorable homer; Mookie Betts denied a feat

August 22, 2013 - 7:53 am
Allen Webster once again showed stuff against which his opponents could do little. He allowed just three hits (two singles and a double), struck out seven and got six groundball outs in 5 2/3 innings. But his ongoing struggle to throw strikes continues to limit him. He threw just 61 of 104 pitches (59 percent) for strikes while walking three and yielding three runs. That is in line with a season in which he's likewise thrown 59 percent of pitches for strikes in Triple-A, helping to explain why in 19 starts this year, he has recorded exactly one out in the seventh inning.  Though he's moved beyond his extreme midseason command woes, the 23-year-old has pitched fewer than six innings in each of his last four starts. Still, the remarkable upside remains apparent. In his last six starts, he has a 2.91 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 11 walks in 34 innings while holding opponents to a .195/.270/.268 line with one homer and six doubles. He has the stuff to shut down opposing lineups, and the potential pitch mix to work through lineups a third time. But in 2013, the still-young -- and still relatively-new-to-pitching -- right-hander has yet to transform the dazzling raw materials into sustainable success that would allow him to thrive right now at the major league level. The pieces may yet come together, but for now, Webster seemingly requires more development time, and almost certainly will open next year back in Pawtucket as a depth option -- albeit one with tremendous upside -- for the Sox. TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-3 WIN AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES) (BOX) -- Things that are not easy to do: Rubby De La Rosa threw just four of his 13 pitches for strikes, yet still managed to record four outs on Wednesday. The right-hander, working out of the bullpen in Pawtucket, walked two in 1 1/3 innings but elicited four groundball outs (two on one pitch, when he inspired a double play grounder). To date, De La Rosa's high-octane stuff has yet to translate to big strikeout numbers in relief. In seven innings out of the bullpen in the big leagues and Triple-A, he has punched out just three. -- Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4, and he's now 3-for-8 in two games back with Pawtucket. -- Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker went 2-for-4 with a double and a steal, his 35th of the season. It is the 26-year-old's fourth straight year of 35 or more steals; he's swiping bags at an 80 percent clip. On the year, he's hitting .261/.315/.376. But that overall line reflects in no small part on the fact that he's a clear platoon player at this point, with a .191/.234/.261 line against fellow lefties and a far more solid .289/.347/.423 line against righties, traits that would seem to offer the possibility of a big league role as an outfielder off the bench. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-2 WIN VS. NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS) (BOX) -- Left-hander Miguel Pena was strong in his Double-A debut, tossing seven shutout innings in which he permitted five hits (three singles, two doubles) while walking two and striking out three. Dating back to his time in High-A Salem, the 22-year-old now has made eight straight starts of at least six innings, with a 1.70 ERA and .213/.293/.290 opponents' line. His strikeout totals in that time have been modest (5.3 per nine innings) and, in light of the low swing-and-miss numbers, his walk rate (3.2 per nine) is higher than desirable, but he continues to render opposing hitters uncomfortable thanks to a willingness to pound his fastball inside to set up a four-pitch mix (fastball, curve, slider, change). Pena has not allowed a single homer during this eight-start stretch. -- Catcher Christian Vazquez celebrated his 23rd birthday by going 3-for-4. At a time when it would be understandable for him to be wearing down, he's instead thriving, hitting .410/.441/.475 over 15 games in August. His line for the year is up to .289/.372/.396. -- Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 0-for-3 but did coax a walk, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base by walk or hit to 30. He has a .420 OBP in Portland and a .446 OBP for the year between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-0 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS) (BOX) -- Second baseman Mookie Betts went 0-for-2 with a walk, thus extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base by walk or hit to 19. However, the 20-year-old was finally thrown out on a stolen base attempt, the first time in 18 tries that he's been caught since his promotion last month to High-A. He's now 35-for-38 on the year (92 percent success rate) in stolen base attempts. -- Sean Coyle, serving as DH while alternating days at second with Betts, did not put a ball in play in his four plate appearances, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, but he did walk. The 21-year-old now has nine walks in eight games since returning, after having walked just 13 times in 36 games in April and May (before the DL stint that kept him out of Salem for all of June and July). SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-2 LOSS VS. ROME (BRAVES) (BOX) -- Justin Haley's streak of 14 straight starts without permitting more than three earned runs came to a halt, as the right-hander was roughed up for six runs on seven hits (two homers, a triple and four singles) in five innings. The 22-year-old did, however, punch out seven and walk just one, giving him 28 strikeouts and just five walks over 25 innings in his last four starts. The two homers were one more than the deceptive right-hander had permitted in his prior 11 outings (spanning 61 2/3 innings). -- Outfielder Kendrick Perkins sustained his impressive August, going 1-for-4 with a solo homer. The 21-year-old now has a .291/.371/.455 line this month. SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 5-4 LOSS AT CONNECTICUT (TIGERS) (BOX) -- Outfielder Manuel Margot made his first homer in the States an interesting one, as he had a three-run, inside-the-park homer as part of a 2-for-5 day that also included a steal. The roundtripper resulted from the Connecticut left fielder crashing into the wall while trying to make the catch and staying down. The dynamic 18-year-old is hitting .265/.346/.333 with 15 steals in 21 attempts this year. -- Right-hander Ty Buttrey allowed three runs (though none earned, thanks to three errors) on four hits and one walk in five innings. He struck out two. The 20-year-old, a 2012 fourth-rounder, has consistently shown a willingness to attack the strike zone (2.4 walks per nine innings) but, despite a fastball that can get into the mid-90s, has incited a modest 4.9 strikeouts per nine. Still, he hasn't given up hard contact (no homers allowed) for most of his first extended professional exposure, resulting in a 2.28 ERA and .247 opponents' batting average. ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 2-1 WIN VS. GCL RAYS (BOX) -- Right-hander Pat Light tossed a pair of scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout in his second rehab outing in the GCL. Light had missed three months due to hamstring woes before he started his rehab assignment on Saturday. -- Bryce Brentz continued to make hard contact on his rehab assignment, going 1-for-3 with a double. He's now 3-for-10 in the GCL, with all three of his hits being for extra bases (two doubles and a homer). -- Outfielder Kolbrin Vitek, in his rehab assignment from Double-A Portland for a concussion suffered last month, went 0-for-1 with a strikeout while playing three innings in his second of back-to-back games. He's 2-for-7 with a double and three strikeouts in the GCL. DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 1-0 WIN VS. DSL DODGERS (BOX) -- Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe is putting together an interesting finishing push, showing the ability to adjust to a level in which, at 16, he's one of the youngest players. He went 2-for-4 with a double, and in August, the switch-hitter is hitting .317/.446/.383 with an equal number of walks (13) and strikeouts (13) while stealing nine bases (and getting caught twice) in 17 games. While his numbers for the year are comparably modest (.227/.388/.325), the fact that he's showing year-ending improvement (after a rough month of July) at a young age offers the first hint of a player with intriguing raw tools who is capable of being challenged in his future player development. -- For the first time all season, right-hander Jose Almonte did not walk a batter. He tossed five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three while recording 10 groundball outs. Almonte, considered one of the top prospects whom the Sox signed during the 2012-13 international period, has a 2.50 ERA with 7.7 strikeouts and 3.9 walks per nine as a 17-year-old in his first pro season. -- Right-hander Victor Ramirez, 18, recorded all three of his ninth-inning outs by punchout en route to his 15th save of the season. In 29 2/3 innings, Ramirez has a 0.91 ERA with 31 strikeouts and just six walks.