A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-43): L, 8-4, at Rochester (Twins)
— Knuckleballer Steven Wright allowed six runs, although only three of those runs earned, in five innings of work as Rochester snapped a 3-3 tie with three unearned runs in the fifth inning and rolled to complete a four-game series sweep of the PawSox. Wright’s final line was: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO (95 pitches, 64 strikes). Wright’s flutter ball also caused two wild pitches and two passed balls charged to catcher Matt Spring.
Wright was on the mound in the fifth with a runner aboard with two outs when the game’s pivotal error was charged to first baseman Allen Craig as he ranged towards the foul line a few paces to his left but could not handle a hard-spinning grounder. A run scored and the inning continued, with three hits and two more runs to follow, ending Wright’s evening.
The 30-year-old Wright, who also allowed a home run in the third inning, has made six starts for Pawtucket this year, in addition to having three different stints in Boston. Wright is 2-3 with the PawSox with a 3.00 ERA over 39 innings, striking out 34 while walking 13. In Boston as a starter, Wright allowed three earned runs or less in all four of his starts and he has now done the same in five of his six starts with Pawtucket.
— Center fielder Rusney Castillo reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk, while also scoring a run on a Travis Shaw single in the third inning. The 27-year-old Castillo now has hits in five of his six games since re-joining Pawtucket on June 24, with four of the six contests being multi-hit games. Castillo’s season-long batting average in Triple-A sits at .310 to go with a .364 on-base percentage.
— Second baseman Jeff Bianchi also reached base three times, as the 28-year-old utility man went 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. Bianchi’s triple was down the right field line to leadoff the third inning and he came home to score on a Quintin Berry ground out. Over 21 games with the PawSox this year, Bianchi is hitting .311 with a .382 on-base percentage.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (28-51): L, 2-0, vs. New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
— Eastern League All-Star selections were announced on Thursday, with Portland getting five players selected to the game set for Wednesday July 15, to be played at the Sea Dogs’ home park, Hadlock Field. Portland’s five All-Stars are: shortstop Marco Hernandez, second baseman Carlos Asuaje, third baseman Jantzen Witte, RHP William Cuevas, and LHP Robby Scott. Portland manager Billy McMillon and his staff will lead the Eastern Division at the event.
— Hernandez continued his All-Star caliber first half on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a double to raise his average to .313, currently sixth highest in the league. Hernandez has hit in 13 of his last 14 games, as well as 22 of his past 25. It was also the 18th double of the year for Hernandez, five off the Eastern League pace.
Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers joined the WEEI.com Farm Report podcast on Wednesday and raved about Hernandez, who was acquired by Boston last year as the player to be named later sent from the Chicago Cubs in the Felix Doubront trade.
“Great addition,” Hyers said. “[The] first time I met him was spring training, and he came in with a great attitude. Very confident. Another guy who loves to play, incredible work ethic. Good teammate. [His success] is not a surprise, I saw a really quick bat, a guy who didn’t swing at a lot of bad pitches in spring training. [He] had a plan going into the season really trying to work gap-to-gap [and] keep the ball up the middle, and I think that focus and that plan really helped him adapting to Double-A. Recently he’s really picked it up and been really consistent. You look at his splits, being a left-handed hitter vs. left handed pitching, it doesn’t fall off. He hits lefties, righties, and the last month has been really consistent for us.”
Hernandez this season is hitting .315 against left-handed pitching and .312 against right-handed pitching.
— RHP Luis Diaz hurled a quality start, but got no run support as his record dropped to 0-7 (6.37 ERA) with a final line of: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO (93 pitches, 53 strikes). Diaz, 23, has allowed three earned runs or less in four of his last five starts. The 6-foot-3 Diaz was promoted to Portland in 2014 and made 13 starts for the Sea Dogs, going 3-4 with a 3.72 ERA. However, Diaz won three of his first four starts with Portland in 2014 and he has now gone 24 starts without a victory dating to last year.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (40-37): L, 8-7, at Myrtle Beach (Cubs)
— RHP Ty Buttrey (Boston’s No. 27 prospect at MLB.com) had his worst start of the season in terms of runs allowed giving up seven, five of them earned, in five innings of work as Salem dropped their fifth straight game. Buttrey (6-2, 3.13 ERA) got through two innings scoreless, but ran into problems in the third and fourth as he allowed a combined five hits and two walks, to go with hitting a batter, a balk, and a wild pitch. A fielding error by first baseman Jordan Betts in the third inning didn’t help matters, as Betts could not field a slow, high chopper that he was charging.
It could have been even worse for Buttrey as it appeared Salem got the benefit of an erroneous runners’ interference call at the plate on a throw home from shortstop Mauricio Dubon to catcher Jordan Procyshen, who dropped the ball before a sliding runner could get to the plate. The runner was ruled out and in two ensuing showdowns with the home plate umpire, Myrtle Beach had both their manager and assistant coach ejected.
Buttrey, 22, had allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts, a total of 18 innings with 14 strikeouts over that span in late June. A fourth-round draft pick by Boston in 2012, Buttrey has now made 10 starts for Salem after being promoted from Single-A Greenville in late May.
— Right fielder Kevin Heller had a big night at the plate, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Heller had a two-run single in the third, plus run-scoring singles in the seventh and ninth as he raised his average to .310 on the season. Heller has an eight-game hitting streak going, which he’s raised his average 44 points. A 40th round draft pick by Boston out of Amherst College in 2012, the 25-year-old Heller began the year in Double-A Portland but was demoted after hitting just .132 in 13 games.
— Three of Boston’s former international signees had strong offensive nights as well, as the Salem offense piled up 15 hits in the loss:
Third baseman Jose Vinicio, a 21-year-old international signee by Boston in 2009 for $1.95 million, went 3-for-4 with a double and now has a seven-game hit streak over which he’s raised his average 26 points to .294.
Second baseman Wendell Rijo (Boston’s No. 16 prospect at MLB.com), a 19-year-old international signee by Boston in 2012 for $575,000, smacked two doubles and now has 19 two-baggers on the season, tied for third-best in the Carolina League.
DH Tzu-Wei Lin, a 21-year-old international signee by Boston in 2011 by Boston for $2 million, was 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to five games and pick up his fourth multi-hit game over that span. Lin has raised his average from .267 to .283.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (41-36): L, 4-3 in 10 innings, at Hickory (Rangers)
— Third baseman Rafael Devers (Boston’s No. 4 prospect at MLB.com) gave Greenville a short-lived lead in the 10th inning with a solo home run, his sixth of the season, before Hickory came back with two runs in the bottom of the tenth for the win. Devers, 18, finished 2-for-5 and is hitting .305, 10th best in the South Atlantic League.
— Shortstop Deiner Lopez had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 10th, but could not cleanly field a potential double-play ball and had to settle for one out at first base. A few batters later, RHP Ryan Harris allowed a two-run walkoff bloop single to left that fell between three defenders and Harris was charged with both a blown save and a loss.
— Yoan Moncada (Boston’s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) went 1-for-4 with a walk, playing second base and hitting in the leadoff spot of the order. Moncada, a 20-year-old Cuban who was signed in March for $31.5 million, did strike out twice, but he has now reached base in five of his last six games and has raised his average from .200 to .230 over that span.
Tim Hyers also weighed in on Moncada’s progress on the WEEI.com Farm Report podcast this week.
“We’ve talked about managing the strike zone, managing your swing, preparing every day to be a professional and to go and compete,” Hyers said. “I think he’s learning a lot about himself, learning some of his strengths and some of his weaknesses. The biggest adjustment I’ve seen with his balance, body control, and overall control at the plate, which is getting better, and some of his numbers are starting to turn around now because of that. It’s a big learning curve for him because it’s that day-to-day battle, new competition, and he’s responded well. Working really hard. He’s starting to ask a lot of the right questions in seeing how the game is played over here.”
SHORT SEASON LOWELL SPINNERS (10-3): L, 5-2, at Connecticut (Tigers)
— Third baseman Victor Acosta singled, to go with a stolen base, and now has hits in all nine games he’s played this season as he’s started, going 15-for-35 to lead the New York-Penn league with a .429 average. A 19-year-old Venezuelan, Acosta was 6-for-16 in the playoffs last year with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox as he helped that team win a championship. In 2013, Acosta hit eight home runs for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, the most by a Boston prospect in that league since statistics started being kept in 2006.
— It was a sloppy defensive effort for Lowell on Wednesday, as Acosta picked up his third error of the season, and more significantly errors by right fielder Jordon Austin and first baseman Josh Ockimey in the fifth inning led to three unearned Connecticut runs, charged to starter Daniel Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a 19-year-old, 6-foot-5 RHP, Gonzalez finished four innings with five runs allowed on six hits, one a home run. Through three starts this year Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA.
— Center fielder Luis Alexander Basabe had the only multi-hit game for Lowell, going 2-for 4 along with swiping his third stolen base. Basabe, signed along with his twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe for $450,000 each out of Venezuela in 2012, has hits in 9 of his last 10 games and is hitting .286 after an 0-for-8 start to the year.
ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (9-0): W, 3-1, vs. GCL Orioles
— Third baseman Rafael Oliveras went 2-for 3, picking up RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a ground out, to go with a run scored. A 20-year-old Puerto Rican who was drafted in round 35 by Boston in 2013, Olvieras has four multi-hit games out of his seven games played this season, and is off to a 10-for-23 (.435) start to the year with five RBIs and seven runs scored.
— RHP Carlos Caceres pitched three scoreless innings of relief and struck out five batters, giving him seven strikeouts in six innings with the GCL Red Sox this season. Last year with the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Caceres made 17 appearances and went 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA, striking out 25 over 28 2/3 innings with six saves.
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