A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-59): L, 2-1, vs. Buffalo (Blue Jays)
— Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the PawSox got leadoff singles from Rusney Castillo and Travis Shaw and scored a run on a Garin Cecchini sacrifice fly, but stranded the potential tying run at second base and fell by a final score of 2-1. The PawSox have lost six games in a row and are just 3-17 in July.
Shortstop Marco Hernandez was the final batter of the game, striking out on a 3-2 fastball as Pawtucket batters finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Hernandez, 22, singled in the game but finished 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and has whiffed 10 times in the seven games since his promotion from Double-A on July 16. The 6-foot lefty bat led the Eastern League with a .326 average at the time of his call-up, with just 49 strikeouts in 68 Double-A games.
— Castillo, 28, returned to the lineup for the first time since July 19 as he sat out four games in Norfolk. Castillo scored Pawtucket’s only run of the game and reached base twice, putting his season long slash line at .282/.337/.389 through 38 games in Triple-A with three homers and seven doubles.
— Allen Craig, in the DH spot on Friday, and second baseman Jemile Weeks both reached base twice for Pawtucket. Weeks led off the sixth inning with a double, but was stranded at third as Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out with one gone in the inning and Castillo grounded out to end the frame.
— LHP Edwin Escobar (Boston’s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a bunt single and a walk but retiring six batters on balls put in play. It was the first action for Escobar since July 19 when he pitched the final three innings with one run allowed. Acquired last summer from the San Francisco Giants in the Jake Peavy trade, the 6-foot-2 Venezuelan has lowered his ERA from 12.54 to 8.40 over his last three outings after allowing runs in a stretch or five out of six appearances. Escobar’s season began on June 9 after starting the year on the DL with elbow inflammation.
— RHP Heath Hembree made his third straight scoreless appearance, striking out one while also hitting his first batter of the year as he worked the top of the ninth. Hembree, 26, was the other return piece in the Peavy trade from last July and is currently on a rehab assignment (shoulder inflammation). In 24 2/3 innings with the PawSox this year, Hembree has struck out 24 while walking just four with just five earned runs allowed.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (37-63): W, 10-5, vs. New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
— Portland had a season-high 21 hits — 17 singles and four doubles, as the Sea Dogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead by the fourth inning. Seven different players had multi-hit games, including third baseman Oscar Tejeda (4-for-4 with a double, walk, RBI, and two runs scored), shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin (3-for-5 with two runs scored), DH David Chester (3-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored), and catcher Tim Roberson (3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored).
“Our record might not show it,” Roberson told the Portland Press Herald, “but we’ve got good players in this locker room and they can swing the bat.”
— First baseman Sam Travis (Boston’s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-5 for his fourth multi-hit game in his last six and raised his season-long Double-A slash line to .294/.357/.402 through 27 games. The 21-year-old Travis, selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, is hitting .341 in July with a .402 on-base percentage, driving in 13 runs and scoring 10.
— RHP Simon Mercedes (Boston’s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) continues to struggle, as the reliever retired just one of the six batters he faced, walking the first two batters, with two wild pitches in the mix, and then allowing a three-run homer deep to right field. Signed for $800,000 in the 2011 international signing period, Mercedes has allowed earned runs in five of six appearances made this month. On the season Mercedes is 2-2 with a 4.53 ERA, striking out 44 in 59 2/3 innings with 58 hits allowed to go with 28 walks.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (51-48): W, 9-4, vs. Wilmington (Royals)
— LHP Trey Ball (Boston’s No. 9 prospect at MLB.com) picked up the victory (8-8, 3.69 ERA) with a final line of: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO. Ball allowed two runs in the first on three hits and then a solo home run to leadoff the second before settling down to retire nine of the next 10 batters he faced. An unearned run scored in the fifth after an error and two singles, but Ball left the bases loaded as he got a foul pop-out to close out the inning.
Selected by Boston in the first-round (seventh overall) of the 2013 draft out of high school in Indiana, Ball is 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA over six starts post All-Star break, with 17 strikeouts to 15 walks over those 33 2/3 innings. Ball’s eight wins are tied for the second-most in the Carolina League, with his ERA ranking 11th. His 45 walks this season are the third highest total in the league.
— Kevin Heller, batting cleanup as the DH, hit a bases loaded double in the bottom the first to plate three runs and give Salem a 3-2 lead, as Heller at that point had reached base in nine straight at-bats in the series against Wilmington. Heller, 25, finished 1-for-3 to put his slash line in Salem this year over 55 games is .310/.418/.435. In July, the outfielder has surged to a .349/.481/.460 line with 13 RBIs and eight runs scored. Selected by Boston in the 40th round of the 2012 draft out of Amherst College, Heller has spent time with Double-A Portland in each of the past three seasons, hitting just .132 there in 13 games to start 2015 before being demoted back to Salem.
— Right fielder Cole Sturgeon blasted a two-run home run in the third inning to give Salem a 6-3 lead, his first homer since April 23. Sturgeon was demoted from Double-A Portland on July 22 after hitting just .213 over 30 games with the Sea Dogs. Selected in the 10th round last year out of the University of Louisville, Sturgeon has a five game hitting streak.
— Eight of nine Salem starters had a hit in the game, including: catcher Jordan Weems (3-for-4, two runs scored), third baseman Jordan Betts (2-for-4, run scored), and center fielder Forrest Allday (1-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored)
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (50-48): L, 8-3, at Augusta (Giants)
— Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston’s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) hit his fifth home run of the season and fourth in his last 10 games, a solo shot to left-center field. Moncada finished 1-for-4 with a walk, putting his season slash line at .270/.362/.423. Moncada, 20, has reached safely in 10 straight games and is hitting .325 in July with a .427 on-base percentage, 20 runs scored, 11 RBIs, and nine steals. The switch-hitting Cuban is hitting .270 against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.
— RHP Ben Taylor, Boston’s seventh-round draft pick this year, made his second start for Greenville and pitched three innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go with a strikeout. After a perfect first inning, Taylor allowed a double and hit a batter to start the second and then walked two including one with the bases loaded. Taylor, a 6-foot-3 22-year-old, was drafted out of the University of South Alabama and was promoted quickly from Short-Season Lowell after just four outings there where he struck out 17 in 10 innings of work out of the bullpen.
— Catcher J.T. Watkins reached base twice, finishing 1-for-3 with a run to stretch his hitting streak to six games. Watkins, 25, is off to a .379 (11-for-29) start with Greenville in his first seven games with three doubles, three RBIs, and five runs scored. Drafted by Boston in 2012 in the 10th round out of the United States Military Academy at West Point and is a commissioned second lieutenant in the Army. Watkins played 17 games with Lowell in 2012 before returning to military duty, and although he has been granted opportunity this season to pursue his baseball career, Watkins may be recalled for active military duty at any time over the next six years.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (17-17): L, 5-3, vs. Auburn (Nationals)
— RHP Jake Cosart (Boston’s No. 21 prospect at MLB.com) had a no-decision final line of: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO (74 pitches, 49 strikes). The 21-year-old Cosart allowed a leadoff home run in the first and a run in the second after a double and two wild-pitches. Cosart recovered to strand the bases loaded, and then finished his day by retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced. Selected by Boston in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Seminole State College, Cosart has limited damage in three of his last four outings, going five innings and allowing two earned runs or less around a start on July 13 where he was touched up for five earned runs.
— Center fielder Andrew Benintendi, Boston’s first-round pick in this year’s draft, went 1-for-2 with two walks from the third spot of the batting order and has now reached base safely in 11 straight games. The winner of the Golden Spikes Award this year, given to the best amateur player in the country, the 21-year-old Benintendi is now 16 games into his professional career and has put together a slash line of .255/.435/.529 with four home runs and a triple.
— Boston’s third and fourth-round selections in this year’s draft, catcher Austin Rei and right fielder Tate Matheny, have struggled at the plate to start their professional careers. Rei did have his first double Friday on a 1-for-4 night, but the 21-year-old backstop is hitting just .108 (4-for-37) out of the gate for the Spinners. The 21-year-old Matheny went 0-for-5 Friday and is hitting .203 (12-for-59) with three doubles in his first 16 games.
— Mariano Rivera Jr., the son of the legendary New York Yankees‘ closer, pitched the final two innings for Auburn and earned his first professional save. Rivera has allowed 14 earned runs over his first 16 minor league innings, but did hit 94 mph on the LeLacheur Park radar gun as he allowed an unearned run and one hit in his two innings to close out the Spinners on Friday.
“I’m very happy. First professional save — that’s really cool,” Rivera told the Lowell Sun. “I’ve had three bad starts but I’ve been doing well out of the pen.”
Rivera was drafted this year in the fourth round out of Iona College by the Washington Nationals.
ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (19-8): Postponed due to rain vs. GCL Twins. Next action on Saturday (doubleheader) vs GCL Twins.
For more, check out the weekly WEEI.com Red Sox Farm Report Podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable