Here’s a look at the best and worst performances in the Red Sox minor league system for August. (SoxProspects.com prospect ranking in parenthesis)
Top offensive players in August
(8) Bryce Brentz, OF, Salem -- .309 AVG/.384 OBP/.555 SLG with 7 HRs
(30) Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF, Portland -- .347/.404/.579 with 5 HRs, 15 SBs
(34) Jose Vinicio, SS, GCL Red Sox -- .386/.403/.529 with 5 SBs
(60) Matt Marquis, OF, Lowell/GCL -- .333/.458/.500 with 3 HRs
(NR) Daniel Nava, OF, Pawtucket -- .319/.414/.649 with 7 HRs
Brentz has put up an impressive .306/.366/.580 line with 29 home runs combined in stops at Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem this season … Hazelbaker continues to show a great combination of power and speed, hitting 16 home runs and stealing 47 bases for the year, but he’s also struck out 134 times in 462 at-bats … With the rookie-level Gulf Coast League wrapping up on Aug. 27, 18-year-old Vinicio led the Red Sox contingent in games, hits, stolen bases and batting average … Marquis, a 41st-round draft pick in 2011, was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of high school, but struggled in his collegiate career after breaking his hand and transferring schools to be closer to his parents, both of whom were diagnosed with cancer. He’s breezed through short-season ball so far and has the makings of a big-time sleeper … Nava is making a push for a September roster spot with the big club, posting remarkable power and plate discipline numbers in August.
Top pitchers in August
(21) Junichi Tazawa, RP, Pawtucket/Portland -- 2-1, 1.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 22/3 K/BB, 16.1 IP
(53) Kyle Stroup, SP, Greenville -- 3-1, 1.64 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 16/2 K/BB, 22.0 IP
(NR) Matt Fox, SP, Pawtucket -- 3-0, 1.05 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 29/6 K/BB, 25.2 IP
(NR) Luis Diaz, SP, Lowell -- 1-2, 1.24 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 17/5 K/BB, 29.0 IP
(NR) Charlie Haeger, SP, Portland -- 3-0, 2.37 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 40/20 K/BB, 38.0 IP
With a stellar August, Tazawa has almost assured himself of a spot on Boston’s roster in September, but probably not until Pawtucket ends its postseason run … Stroup, a former Mr. Irrelevant from the 2008 draft, has been outstanding working out of the Greenville rotation since the calendar turned to June, going 4-1 with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in that three-month stretch … Fox undoubtedly put up the best pitching line for August in the entire system, holding opposing batters to a .118 average for the month … Diaz, a 19-year-old right-hander out of Venezuela, has been the most consistent pitcher on the Spinners’ staff in 2011, placing himself among the team leaders in wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP … Haeger, a 27-year-old knuckleballer picked up in free agency after being released by Seattle in July, has pitched well enough with Portland that Boston may consider bringing him back next year in a role with Pawtucket.
(18) Drake Britton, SP, Salem -- 0-3, 7.15 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 21/14 K/BB, 22.2 IP
(19) Oscar Tejeda, 2B, Portland -- .227/.250/.258 with 0 HRs
(39) Madison Younginer, SP, Lowell -- 0-4, 6.75 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 17/17 K/BB, 26.2 IP
(45) Dan Butler, C, Portland/Salem -- .200/.297/.262 with 0 HRs
(46) Chris Martin, RP, Portland/Salem -- 1-1, 6.11 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 13/4 K/BB, 17.2 IP
(NR) Seth Schwindenhammer, OF, Lowell -- .205/.256/.315 with 1 HR
Britton’s forgettable season continued into August and his season line now sits at 1-13 with a 7.07 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and 53 walks in 91.2 innings. The 22-year-old lefty is likely slated for a return stint with Salem in 2012, where he’ll need to show improved command, control and confidence … Tejeda’s struggles with advanced breaking stuff were on display at Futures at Fenway on Aug. 20. The 21-year-old second baseman will need to make significant strides in his plate approach in order to advance past Double-A … Younginer, a 20-year-old righty, has had a shaky season repeating short-season ball with Lowell. While he’s flashed some impressive stuff, his control needs work and his mechanics likely need some refinement … Butler is still in a transition period, having played only 19 games since his promotion to Double-A. He should get a chance to start for Portland in 2012 after participating in the Arizona Fall League with Scottsdale this fall … Martin is in a similar position, having struggled early on in making the tough jump from High-A to Double-A. After dominating two levels of A-ball in 2011, the 25-year-old reliever has posted a 24.55 ERA in two appearances with Portland … While Schwindenhammer won the skills competition at the NY-Penn League All-Star Game and minor league baseball’s “Moniker Madness” title for best name in the minors, he also has the worst strikeout rate in the organization, having struck out in a whopping 47.3 percent of his plate appearances.
As of Sept. 1, here are your batting leaders for players currently in the Red Sox system (cumulative stats, min. 200 plate appearances): Greenville OF Matty Johnson at .309, Brentz at .306, Greenville OF Brandon Jacobs at .306 and DSL Red Sox OF Ynoel Aguero at .303 … OPS leaders are Brentz at .946, PawSox C Ryan Lavarnway at .928 and Portland 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez at .905 … Lavarnway leads the organization with 31 home runs, followed by Brentz at 29, and Pawtucket 3B Will Middlebrooks and Salem 1B Miles Head, both with 21 … Greenville OF Felix Sanchez leads the system with 54 stolen bases, with Hazelbaker just behind him at 47 steals ... Among the pitchers, former Portland right-hander Stephen Fife, who was traded to the Dodgers in the Erik Bedard deal, still leads the system with 11 wins. Pawtucket RHP Alex Wilson and Salem LHP Chris Hernandez are second with 10 wins apiece … The system’s ERA leaders (min. 75 innings) are Salem RHP Jeremiah Bayer (2.73), Hernandez (2.90) and Wilson (3.05) .. The leaders in strikeouts are RHP Kyle Weiland with 126, Portland RHP Brock Huntzinger with 123 and Greenville RHP Keith Couch with 120.
Heading into the final weekend of the minor league season, only two Red Sox affiliates are in postseason contention. Pawtucket seems like a safe bet for the playoffs, with a decent lead in both the division and in the wild card standings. Greenville has clinched the wild card in the South Atlantic League, but needs Savannah to win the division to ensure that the wild card actually makes the postseason. The Sand Gnats currently have a one-game lead in the division over Augusta.
Several of the minor leagues have already named their postseason All-Star teams. Among the Red Sox prospects receiving honors so far are Middlebrooks and the recently traded Chih-Hsien Chiang in the Eastern League and Jacobs in the South Atlantic League … If the Sox are desperate for batters who can pound left-handed pitching, there is some hope at the upper levels of the system: Lavarnway has a 1.159 OPS against lefties in 2011 and several others have had similar success, including Portland OF Alex Hassan (1.034), Pawtucket INF Hector Luna (1.033), Rodriguez (1.032) and PawSox INF Drew Sutton (1.027) … If you’re looking for a preview of what players will make the system’s “best tools” lists this offseason, it could look something like this: Lavarnway (best bat and best present power -- followed closely by Brentz in the latter category), Greenville SS Xander Bogaerts (best raw power), Hassan (best plate discipline), Hazelbaker (best athlete), Sanchez (best speed), Pawtucket SS Jose Iglesias (best defensive player), Pawtucket OF Che-Hsuan Lin (best outfield arm), Middlebrooks (best infield arm), Lowell RHP Matt Barnes (best present fastball), Lowell RHP Raul Alcantara (best projected fastball), Britton (best curveball), Wilson (best slider), Portland RHP Stolmy Pimentel (best changeup) and Couch (best control).
Three minor leaguers received promotions to the big club in August -- Lavarnway, RHP Michael Bowden and RHP Scott Atchison … LHP Randy Williams was outrighted to Pawtucket to make room for Lavarnway on the 40-man roster … Among the players receiving minor-league level promotions in August were Tazawa, Wilson and Middlebrooks from Portland to Pawtucket; Butler, Martin and LHP Will Latimer from Salem to Portland; LHP Manny Rivera and RHP Jordan Flasher from Greenville to Salem; Johnson, RHP Andrew Jones and C Jayson Hernandez from Lowell to Greenville; RHP Mat Price from the GCL to Greenville; and Marquis, Alcantara and C Oscar Perez from the GCL to Lowell … To acquire OF/1B Conor Jackson from Oakland before the Sept. 1 postseason eligibility deadline, the Sox gave up 25-year-old reliever Jason Rice, who flashed a mid-90s fastball with Pawtucket this year.
Boston picked up three minor league free agents over the past month in OF Brett Carrol, LHP Greg Smith and LHP Trever Miller, and assigned all three to Pawtucket … The club also acquired the contracts of five independent league players in August in OF Joey Gathright, C Jeff Howell, LHP Robby Scott, RHP Matt Rusch and RHP TJ Hose … Boston also signed nine 2011 draft picks in August, including Barnes (1st round), C Blake Swihart (1st), LHP Henry Owens (supplemental), OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (supplemental), RHP Noe Ramirez (4th), INF Mookie Betts (5th), LHP Cody Kukuk (7th), RHP Matt Spalding (29th) and Marquis (41st) … Four Red Sox minor leaguers were released over the past month: RHP Kevin Millwood, OF Zach Daeges, RHP Clevelan Santeliz and RHP Chris Huseby.
PawSox OF Ryan Kalish’s season came to an end this past week when he had surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck. He’ll need three months of rehab but should be ready to go for spring training 2012 … Three other PawSox who had hoped for a chance with Boston in September spent large parts of August on the disabled list, including Sutton (finger fracture), INF Brent Dlugach (left shoulder sprain) and RHP Brandon Duckworth (elbow strain) … Portland RHP Caleb Clay has been out of action since Aug. 3 with back inflammation … Sea Dogs RHP Chris Balcom-Miller and INF Jon Hee collided on a play at first on Aug. 22, resulting in both players being placed on the DL with concussions … Salem 3B Kolbrin Vitek was placed on the DL on Aug. 31 with a strained oblique muscle that he suffered on Aug. 28. It’s likely Vitek has seen his last action of the 2011 season … Stroup has been on the DL since Aug. 20 with a left elbow contusion.