Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Carson Fullmer pitched for the White Sox Sunday. Why should you care?

Well, Fulmer was taken exactly one spot behind where the Red Sox selected Andrew Benintendi in the 2015 draft. This doesn’t mean by any means the Sox outfield prospect should immediately be rushed to the majors to keep pace, but it is another reminder that Benintendi’s time might not be far away.

Right now, Benintendi is doing his thing in Double-A Portland. After a slow start, he has seen his batting average and OPS climb to .277 and .819, respectively. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski already suggested last month every aspect of the 22-year-old’s game is major league ready with the exception of his offense.

And now, with the jump in offensive acumen, the front office’s acceptance for Benintendi to help at the major league level might be growing.

“He’s making steady progress in Double-A,” said Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen. ” The consistency of his at-bats day in and day out have gotten better and better and better. There’s usually a transition to every level. Again, that’s why you’re not banking on that performance. You’re not counting on offensive performance, but you’re hoping they can do those other things.”

As we sit here, there wouldn’t seem to be an overriding need for outfield help at the major league level, particularly with Brock Holt coming back to serve as the left-handed-hitting complement in left field. And it appears as though Blake Swihart might be on the verge of making some rehab assignment appearances while returning from his ankle injury.

But there’s still a ways to go.

Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007. Xander Bogaerts six years later. Few thought at this time of year either would be playing pivotal roles in the Red Sox’ October runs, but there they were.

Ellsbury didn’t find his way onto the big league roster back in ’07 for more than a few days until September call-ups in ’07, while Bogaerts’ first introduction to the bigs came on Aug. 20, 2013. By the time the World Series came around in each of those seasons, both players found themselves as starters.

In ’07, Ellsbury started his season with 17 games at Double-A before playing 87 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Bogaerts began 2013 by playing in 56 games with Portland before his 60-game stint in Triple-A

“Once we send him to Triple A you’re not always saying he’s going to be a completely finished product by the time he has to go to the major leagues,” said Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen. “You’re hoping you’ve built in enough depth that you’re not forced into a decision, but you have to have some understanding that it could end up that way. So you have to be comfortable with that when you send a guy to Triple-A.

“You don’t assume, especially on the offensive side, there is going to be a contribution. You want them to be able to go up and pick up the ball, run the bases very well and contribute any way. You’re not banking on any time of offensive performance. And most of our lineups that we’ve had, and this one would be the same way, it’s not like this player would have to carry an offensive load. You want them to be a productive hitter, a productive member of the lineup, but more than anything else you want them to play really good defense, be able to run the bases and do what the manager and the team needs them to do to contribute. So those are the bigger factors. Everybody focuses on the offense because they want the players to come up and hit right away, but that’s not usually the way it works.”

Then there is the notion that Triple-A wouldn’t be needed, a scenario Dombrowski recently hinted at. It’s a progression the Red Sox have executed before when calling up outfielder Josh Reddick at the end of July in 2009, while having also allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the 2013 season in the majors without any Triple-A experience.

While the players making such a move can have immediate success due to the lack of scouting reports, or an existence at the bottom of the batting order, there is also the flip-side. The ability for the player to overcome the eventual adversity they will face when jumping two levels is always a concern.

“That’s a risk you’re taking,” Hazen said. “If they’re good enough players they will figure it out. You’re never going to be 100 percent certain.”

The case for Benintendi being called upon to contribute during the pennant drive (and possibly beyond) hinges on injuries to Holt and/or Swihart, or one of the infielders, which would necessitate Holt moving into more of a utility role. Or perhaps the production at the position from the left side dips so dramatically, like it did when the doors opened for Ellsbury and Bogaerts, Benintendi is deemed the club’s best option.

There is also a scenario that could put Benintendi’s Double-A teammate, Yoan Moncada, in the mix for meaningful big league action when it counts the most. Except the case for the second baseman is slightly different than his Sea Dog brethren.

One of the staples for recent Red Sox postseason teams is to carry a designated pinch-runner. Consider it the Dave Roberts/Quintin Berry spot. Right now, Michael Martinez would fill that role, but considering he has just four stolen bases in his 237 big league games, there would seemingly be a need for an upgrade.

In 162 minor league games, Moncada has stole 92 bases in 104 chances. That would seem to be a pretty lethal weapon come the postseason.

With crunch-time on the Red Sox’ doorstep, and a legitimate pennant race upon us, it’s all something certainly to think about.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

A position switch for Yoan Moncada certainly seems inevitable, but according to Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen no such move is imminent.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

A position switch for Yoan Moncada certainly seems inevitable, but according to Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen no such move is imminent.

“No,” said Hazen when asked if the Red Sox on the verge of introducing another position to the 21-year-old second baseman. “We want him to get comfortable at second base. He’s showing very well at second base right now. He’s developing at Double-A. We want him to go day in and day out, learn a position, master a position. We’ll tackle that as we need to.”

The timetable for Moncada moving off second base — a maneuver that would seem to be just a matter of time due to the prospect’s progression and Dustin Pedroia’s presence — is line with Hazen’s previously stated blueprint.

When asked in spring training how the organization approached such a move, the GM said, “”No. 1, we have to make sure the base position is always taken care of first. So we won’t just rush into a decision to move a guy around until the base position is in a good spot. So wherever that primary spot is, we usually like to take care of that first, and if that comes along the way we like it to, great. Sometimes that happens in Double-A and sometimes that happens in Triple-A. When we get to that point, that’s where we more start exploring the opportunity to be exposed to different places.

“We’re taking care of the base position. You need to be a good defender at the major league level. One of the downsides of switching positions is that if you end up being mediocre at multiple positions that doesn’t fly that great with the major league staff, who want proficiency. So we need to make sure that base position is proficient. And usually at the lower minors, in Double-A, we’re still working on those things. So for a young kid especially who has limited reps, we want to make sure that that base position is taken care of.”

At this point, the Red Sox may be looking to cover themselves at second base if anything were to happen to Pedroia over an extended period of time. But even if such a scenario took place, the likelihood would be that the club initially utilizes Aaron Hill and/or Marco Hernandez at the position.

For now, Moncada’s most likely path to seeing major league time this season may simple be as a September call-up, getting the opportunity to help the club with his base-stealing acumen. (The switch-hitter is 43 for 52 in stolen base attempts this season.)

Offensively, Moncada is hinting he might not be far from being major-league ready.

With Double-A Portland, he is hitting .325 with five homers, seven stolen bases and a 1.039 OPS in 20 games. In his last four games Moncada has reached base 11 times in 18 plate appearances, drawing a pair of walks in each contest.

All of this after garnering MVP honors for the Futures Game in San Diego during the All-Star Game festivities.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system Sunday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (50-45): W, 6-0, vs. Charlotte (White Sox)

Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system Sunday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (50-45): W, 6-0, vs. Charlotte (White Sox)

— In Pawtucket’s third straight win, Roenis Elias threw 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, letting up only two hits while striking out four. The southpaw didn’t allow a hit until the end of the fourth inning.

“His effort level was under control and his breaking ball was really good today,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles told MiLB.com. “He got those guys swinging early.”

Elias, 27, is 7-1 in his last 10 starts, pitching at least five innings in all of those appearances. He is 7-4 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 15 minor league outings this season. His 76 strikeouts rank second among Pawtucket pitchers.

— Marco Hernandez did more than enough on offense to secure the win for Pawtucket, going 1-for-4 with a season-high four RBIs. His second home run of the year came in the third inning, driving in three. He also drove in a run with a ground out in the opening frame.

The 23-year-old infielder has hit safely in his last three games and is slashing .315/.362/.444 this season. He ist third on current PawSox in RBIs.

— Chris Marrero blasted his second home run in two games, tallying his 18th homer in the seventh to push Pawtucket’s lead to six. Marrero, 28, has hit six home runs in his last 10 games and is batting .294/.350/.525 this season.

— Relief pitcher Noe Ramirez came into the game in the ninth inning to collect the save, pitching a hitless final frame and fanning two. The 26-year-old right-hander is 3-for-4 in save appearances. He is 1-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 18 appearances.

Teddy Stankiewicz

Teddy Stankiewicz

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (34-59): L, 5-4, vs. New Hampshire (Blue Jays)

— Teddy Stankiewicz had another quality start, despite failing to record the win. The right-hander surrendered three runs on five hits in six innings, striking out five and walking just one. Stankiewicz, 22, has held opponents to no more then four runs in his last seven starts, yet holds a disappointing 2-7 record with a 5.08 ERA.

— Ryan Court had the lone multi-hit game for Portland, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. He singled to left field to bring home Yoan Moncada in the fifth inning. Since being signed to a minor league contract on May 2, the 28-year-old first baseman is .306/.385/.398 in 61 games with both Pawtucket and Portland. His OBP is third best on the team, and his 26 runs ranks fourth.

— Yoan Moncada, the top overall Boston prospect at MLB.com, extended his on-base streak to 14 games, going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs. He is averaging .394 in his previous 10 games. Moncada, 21, is averaging .311/.424/.528 in 81 total minor league games.

Jose Sermo

Jose Sermo

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (55-37): W, 7-6 in 11 innings, vs. Potomac (Nationals)

— Jose Sermo doubled home a run in the 11th inning to give Salem its fourth walk-off win this year. He smacked a two-bagger over the left fielder to bring home Mike Meyers from second base and end the game. It was Sermo’s only hit of the game. The 25-year-old signed with the Red Sox on June 23 and is slashing .214/.266/.414 in 20 games.

— It was a rough outing for left-hander Trey Ball, who was pulled after 3 2/3 innings. Boston’s No. 16 prospect at MLB.com allowed three earned runs on six hits and walked five batters. Ball, 22, has not recorded a win since June 26, and is 5-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 starts. His 48 walks lead the Salem pitchers by a wide margin.

— Top prospect Rafael Devers finished Sunday’s game 3-for-5 with a walk, a double and a run. He drove home a run in the fifth inning on his 20th double of the season. Boston’s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com, the 19-year-old Devers is hitting .263/.325/.409 in 85 games with Salem.

— Relief pitcher Mario Alcantara pitched three innings of relief, allowing just one hit while walking two and fanning one. He has held opposing teams to less three hits since giving up three on June 4. Alcantara, 23, is 7-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 21 games.

Josh Ockimey

Josh Ockimey

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (48-44): L, 3-2, vs. Hagerstown (Nationals)

— Josh Ockimey drove in both Greenville runs on Sunday. His eighth-inning double tied the game at 2 before Hagerstown scored the decisive run in the top of the ninth. Ockimey, 20, finished 1-for-3 with a walk. The 2014 Red Sox draftee is in the midst of a cold streak, averaging .158 in his last 10 games. As a whole, he is batting .263/.392/.498 in 80 games. He is Boston’s No. 14 prospect at MLB.com.

— Austin Glorius got the start for Greenville, giving up two runs on four hits in four innings. He struck out three and walked just one. It was just the second start of the season for the 23-year-old righty, who is 2-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 21 outings.

— Adam Lau came in to repalce Glorius in the fifth inning and pitched three innings of scoreless ball. He let up just a single, struck out five and walked three. Lau, 22, now has posted seven consecutive scoreless relief outings. He is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and .107 WHIP. Opponents are averaging just .147 when facing Lau.

Tyler Hill

Tyler Hill

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (18-11): L, 7-4, vs. State College (Cardinals)

— Tyler Hill came a double short of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-5 with a run and three RBIs. He drilled his second home run of the year in the opening inning. The 20-year-old also tripled in the ninth inning to knock in another run and continue a late rally. He also gunned down a baserunner at third base in the fifth inning to save a run.

Drafted by Boston in 2014, Hill has been the best batter for Lowell. He is averaging .485 in his last 10 games and is slashing .375/.430/.594 in 25 games. He leads all Spinners batters in RBIs (17), triples (4) and runs (17).

— Kevin Steen struggled on the mound for Lowell, surrendering five runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also fanned five and walked four. It is the fourth consecutive start where Steen, 19, allowed more than three runs. Boston’s No. 24 prospect at MLB.com is 1-3 with a 6.49 ERA in six starts.

— Steven Reveles went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs. His two-bagger in the ninth sparked a late rally where the Spinners drove in two runs. The 23-year-old has hit safely in the last three games and is hitting .250/.283/.295 in 13 games.

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier
Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes won’t get to model his American Flag blazer again for President Obama this week.

Despite being a member of the World Series-champion Royals last year, Gomes wasn’t invited to Thursday’s meet-and-greet at the White House with President Obama. Gomes told FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal that he’s crushed by the snub.

“I’ve been sent down. I’ve been non-tendered, whatever,” Gomes told Rosenthal. “But this is probably the worst news of my professional baseball career.

“I’m not trying to throw an egg on anyone’s face. But a lot of people are asking me, ‘Hey, are you going to wear that American flag jacket? Is Obama going to ask you to make that speech again?’ It would be pretty cool. This is probably going to be Obama’s last championship team before he leaves office.”

Gomes met Obama after the Red Sox won the title in 2013 and sported the aforementioned patriotic apparel. He played an integral role on that team. The Royals left him off the invite list because they said they could only include a limited number of guests, and Gomes wasn’t on their postseason roster. He joined the club on Aug. 31 in a waiver deal and batted just .167 in 12 games.

The 35-year-old opened this year in Japan, but returned in May. Reports at the time erroneously claimed he was retiring. Gomes told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he didn’t plan to hang them up, though he has yet to hook on with another team.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

NEW YORK — The Red Sox continue to wait.

David Price has had his moments this year. He has looked very good at times.

But he has yet to really dominate an opponent and win a game on his own. Such was the case Sunday night against the Yankees when he once again did just enough to lose in a 3-1 defeat.

David Price Red Sox Yankees

Red Sox lefty David Price had reason to hang his head on Sunday against the Yankees. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — The Red Sox continue to wait.

David Price has had his moments this year. He has looked very good at times.

But he has yet to really dominate an opponent and win a game on his own. Such was the case Sunday night against the Yankees when he once again did just enough to lose in a 3-1 defeat.

Considering that the Yankees pounded Price for 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings, it could’ve been worse. But fact is, the Red Sox gave Price a 1-0 lead in the first on Dustin Pedroia’s solo homer, and he gave it back during a three-run fourth.

“I’m definitely not satisfied,” Price said. “It was a bad fourth inning. Even when I was ahead, I couldn’t execute whatever pitch I was throwing to get an out. That’s tough. They gave me a lead there in the first inning with a home run by Pedey, and I couldn’t capitalize.

“That’s all it takes, one bad inning, one bad pitch. At this level, that’s enough to lose your team a ballgame. That was the case today. Those are always the tough ones.”

Price struck out only one batter, an indication that he lacked put-away pitches against a Yankees lineup that may be among the tougher in the league to strike out, but also entered the game 12th in the American League in runs.

“Not executing, again. You guys are tired of hearing it and I’m tired of saying it,” Price said. “I’ve got to execute.”

He had a chance to escape the fourth with only one run allowed, but the Yankees strung together three two-out hits to take a commanding 3-1 lead before turning the game over to their dominant bullpen.

Price (9-7, 4.36) identified one trouble spot.

“My fastball in to righties,” he said. “I didn’t throw a good one the entire game — the 100-plus pitches, I didn’t throw a good fastball in to a righty the entire day. Whenever I don’t command that pitch on that side of the plate, that’s when it causes a lot of problems for myself.”

Price had a chance to extend a season-long six-game winning streak, but failed.

“I wish we would have lost the first one or the middle game and won the last one,” he said. “We’d won six in a row, I’d heard, our longest winning streak of the year, and to be the guy that goes up there and doesn’t help us win that seventh one, that’s tough.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

NEW YORK — If David Price is planning to embark on a dominant second-half run, it didn’t start Sunday night.

Red Sox left-hander David Price leaves the mound after a disappointing performance vs. the Yankees on Sunday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox left-hander David Price leaves the mound after a disappointing performance vs. the Yankees on Sunday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — If David Price is planning to embark on a dominant second-half run, it didn’t start Sunday night.

Once again tasked with protecting a slim lead, Price once again faltered against the Yankees. He allowed three runs in the fourth and generally struggling to put away one of the more pedestrian offenses in the American League in a 3-1 loss that snapped Boston’s six-game winning streak.

Price needed to be perfect to outduel Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, and he wasn’t close. After Dustin Pedroia gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the first, Price struggled right from the start, allowing a line drive to left by leadoff Brett Gardner that Brock Holt snared with a diving catch.

The Yankees peppered Price for 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings, including two each from Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran atop the order.

That said, the Red Sox carried a 1-0 lead into the fourth before Price faltered. Didi Gregorius started things with a one-out single and scored on Starlin Castro’s double to left. Price had a chance to keep the game tied, but after striking out Rob Refsnyder, he allowed RBI singles to Austin Romine and Ellsbury.

Price was lifted with two outs in the sixth after allowing singles to Gardner and Ellsbury, leaving the mound after a disappointing performance that left his ERA at 4.36 and at least temporarily dashed hopes that he’d start the second half the same way he finished the first, with eight strong innings against the Rays.

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Tanaka, pitched like the real ace. After Pedroia’s homer in the first, he silenced the Red Sox on three hits and seven strikeouts the rest of the way.

The Yankees then turned things over to their dominant bullpen, with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman combining to toss three hitless innings.

Closing Time note

Sunday marked just the third time that Price has pitched at least five innings without recording at least two strikeouts.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Dustin Pedroia continued a strong season by blasting his ninth home run of the year in the first. What looked like a good omen instead ended up being the team’s only gasp of offense.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— What is up with Price? Brought to Boston to anchor the staff, he continues to look no better than average and continued struggling to find put-away pitches. Four of his 11 hits came with two strikes. The defeat dropped his record to 8-8 and the Red Sox are only 11-9 in his starts.

— More Price: He’s not handling the AL East. He entered the game with a 5.43 ERA against division rivals and the team’s record in his starts against them fell to 4-7.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had a chance to cut down Austin Romine at the plate in the fourth, but his throw sailed to the backstop, allowing New York’s third run to score.

— It was bad luck, but Pedroia deflected Romine’s RBI single, which allowed a run to score.

— The heart of the order — Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz, and Hanley Ramirez — went a combined 0-for-11 with four strikeouts.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase