Jhonny Peralta, Sandoval Homer in Pair of Wins

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Backed by a Jhonny Peralta home run, the Pawtucket Red Sox earned a pair of 5-2 victories over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Saturday night at McCoy Stadium in front of a sellout crowd of 10,032.

Pawtucket smacked three home runs and outhit the RailRiders (49-32), 13-3, in the first game and followed that up with a second win just hours later thanks to a pair of blasts.

Jhonny Peralta

In the first game, Jhonny Peralta debuted at third base and went 2-for-5 with a double and a solo home run to left.

Red Sox utility man Brock Holt (vertigo) began another rehab assignment in the second game, batted leadoff and served as the designated hitter. Holt went 1-for-3 with a soft line drive single over short.

Rehabbing Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (inner ear infection) went 1-for-8 in the two games with a no-doubt, solo homer yanked to left in the second game.

PawSox outfielder Bryce Brentz continued his recent surge by combining to go 4-for-7 with a home run, two doubles and a walk. Brentz now has 18 home runs this season, including five this week.

First Game

PawSox starting pitcher Jalen Beeks threw the first three innings Friday and stacked up five strikeouts over the three frames of one-hit ball. Right-handed reliever Jamie Callahan (W, 1-1) retired all six batters he faced with a trio of strikeouts, and righty Austin Maddox (S, 2) stranded two in a scoreless ninth.

RailRiders reliever J.R. Graham (L, 0-1) allowed two runs on four hits over two stanzas.

Before the game was suspended Friday, Peralta pulled a one-out double to left in the first inning, and, two batters later, Brentz clobbered a two-run shot to left-center — his 18th homer of the season and his fifth of the week.

After the game’s resumption Saturday, the RailRiders tied the game in the fifth when designated hitter Jake Cave blasted a two-run shot to right-center.

PawSox left fielder Ryan Court, however, pushed Pawtucket back ahead with an opposite-field, two-run long ball in the bottom of the sixth, making it 4-2.

Peralta hit a solo homer to left in the eighth to add an insurance run.

Second Game

Following, Héctor Velázquez (W, 5-1) worked six-plus innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts. Right-hander Brandon Workman (S, 2) entered, fanned two and buttoned up the victory.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Dietrich Enns (L, 0-1) retired the first 10 batters he faced but ceded three runs on four hits and a walk in five frames.

The PawSox broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when Sandoval crushed a solo homer over the left-field bullpen and became the first Pawtucket batter to reach against Enns.

Aneury Tavarez bounced a two-run single up the middle in the fifth to stretch the lead to 3-0.

In the sixth, Pawtucket first baseman Matt Dominguez hammered a two-run blast to center to make it 5-0.

The RailRiders climbed on the board in the seventh on a two-run long ball from left fielder Devyn Bolasky.

The PawSox continue their four-game series Sunday at 6:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. PawSox right-hander Shawn Haviland (4-5, 3.86) is scheduled to oppose RailRiders righty Chance Adams (5-2, 2.27). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 5:35 p.m.

The four-game home series runs through Monday at McCoy Stadium. Box seats are sold out for Monday’s game, and other seats are going fast. Fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.

Scouting Report: Cole Brannen

After the Boston Red Sox drafted Tanner Houck in the first round, they drafted outfielder Cole Brannen 63rd overall.

Cole Brannen

The 6’1” left-handed hitter is known for his speed and athleticism. As a senior in high school at Westfield (GA), Brannen batted .439 (36-for-82). This came with a total of 23 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. He also scored 42 runs and stole 22 bases, drawing 26 walks against only 11 strikeouts. There is definitely some potential for power, but I think the Red Sox will let him develop based on his young age.

In the summer of 2016, he competed in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field and in the Nike Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.

Due to his tremendous exposure, Brannen had originally committed to play ball at Georgia Southern, but told reporters “I made up my mind. I’ve known for a long time that’s what I want to do. I want to play ball. I’ve wanted to play professional baseball since I was three years old. That’s always been my goal. I’ve worked hard. I’ve put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. God’s given me a lot of things that I can do that a lot of people can’t do. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for him. I’m very thankful and blessed for all the things I’ve gotten to accomplish.”

Breakdown

There is no question that the hit potential is there. But in addition to that, Brannen’s athleticism allows him not only to steal bases and advance but also to play any of the outfield positions.

However, Brannen doesn’t have a ton of experience against high-level pitching, so there will definitely be at least a few periods of adjustment. Additionally, his swing is a tad lofty, so long-term power as he ages is no guarantee. Despite that, I still see him as a potential plus-hit for average tool.

It is unclear what the Red Sox plan to do with Cole Brannen long-term. But short term, he’ll probably play the rest of the season in the Gulf Coast League. Should he still be with the organization next season, he’ll probably split time between Lowell and Greenville based on his performance.

Right now, I feel comfortable comparing him to Danny Mars or Aneury Tavarez, both of which are other outfielders in the farm system. Brannen’s absolute ceiling would be comparable to Jackie Bradley Jr, but perhaps with less defensive ability.

Scouting Report: Danny Mars

In June 2014, a 20-year old junior college outfielder named Danny Mars was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.

Mars was nothing short of spectacular while playing at Chipola College. During his 2014 season, he hit .380 with 35 RBI in 48 games. Upon being drafted in the 6th round, Danny Mars played the rest of the year in Lowell. He batted .311 while with Lowell.

danny mars

By 2015, Mars became a mainstay in Greenville, where he hit .283 in 41 games. Last season, he hit .293 with High-A Salem with 54 RBI in 108 games. In the fall, he joined the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League in order to get more at-bats.

It paid off, as Mars was promoted to Double-A Portland for 2017, where he normally bats in the lead-off position. As of May 23, Mars was slashing .314/.364/.449 with an OPS of .813 in 31 games.

If he continues to produce, Mars could see Pawtucket by year’s end. But because the system is crowded with talented outfielders, this remains to be seen.

Danny Mars in the Future

Overall, Mars has an athletic, average sized frame with room for added strength. His speed is one of his best tools and he has the ability to be a threat on the bases. His injury in early 2015 stunted some of his development, but he has since eased into a career .287 hitter.

According to SoxProspects.com, Mars has the potential to be a solid outfielder.

Saying: “Versatile and athletic enough to play all three outfield spots, but other tools profile best in center field. Takes good routes and gets good reads on balls.”

It’s hard to know for sure how he will develop and when he could end up in the big leagues. Especially considering the minor depth chart has the likes of Rusney Castillo and Aneury Tavarez on it. Let alone the Killer B’s up in Boston.

But one thing is for certain, Danny Mars can play. And if the Portland Sea Dogs love having him hot lead off, I don’t blame them.

Red Sox Prospects To Watch This Summer

Following key trades over the past year, Red Sox prospects have been hard to find. But as May begins, here are five young players to watch through the summer months.

Danny Mars – Portland, OF

The sixth round draft pick in 2014 is second on the team in average (.313) and slugging red sox prospects(.500). At 23, the Mars is already excelling beyond expectations at Double-A, meaning that by the end of the year he could find himself in Pawtucket. However, the Red Sox young and talented outfield already poses a roadblock to Mars.

Jalen Beeks – Portland, LHP

So far in 2017, the southpaw from Arkansas is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in four starts. Beeks (pictured above) is also averaging 6.5 K’s per game and has a WHIP of 1.08. After spending the second half of 2016 in Double-A as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Beeks makes his way to Pawtucket as well.

Aneury Tavarez – Pawtucket, OF

Tavarez, on the other hand, has already been called up to Triple-A this season. While with the Sea Dogs, he was batting .377 with 6 stolen bases. But like Mars, he also faces the reality of a crowded outfield not only at the big club but also with the PawSox. Never the less, he is one of the most well-rounded Red Sox prospects in the entire organization.

Shaun Anderson – Greenville, RHP

In 27.2 innings pitched with Greenville this season, Anderson has 24 K’s, averaging just under one per inning. And with a 0.98 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP, the young righty could move quickly through the low minors in a bullpen role. Anderson’s professional role is ambiguous because he pitched for Florida in college and was the closer simply because the staff was so deep.

Josh Ockimey – Salem, 1B

Ockimey is a Cherington draftee whose ascension through the minors has been steadily progressing. But so far this season, the 6’1″ 215-pound infielder has excelled with Salem, batting .347 with a .549 SLG. Scouts also point to Ockimey’s impressive power and work ethic. By season’s end, I  project that he could play his way into Double-A games.

Sea Dogs Earn Series Victory Over Trenton

After splitting a twin bill on Saturday afternoon, the Portland Sea Dogsseries victory entered Sunday’s rubber match with an opportunity to earn the series victory against the Trenton Thunder and take over the #1 slot in the Eastern League.

However, it did not start out looking that way. Early in the game, Trenton got to Portland starter Trey Ball. They scored two runs apiece in the second and fourth inning. In the fifth, Mike Ford doubled for Trenton to bring home Thairo Estrada, extending the lead to 5-0. That would be all for the Sea Dogs tall lefty. He was replaced by Luis Ysla.

As the innings waned, Portland’s bats emerged. In the bottom of the sixth, former Chicago Cub Mike Olt led off the inning with a solo home run. It would be a sign of things to come from the journeyman infielder. Later on, shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin also hit a towering home run; this one down the right field line.

After Heiker Meneses hit into a line drive double-play to end the seventh, Austin Maddox threw a scoreless eighth to keep the game at 5-2. However, the heart of the Sea Dogs order—Olt, Rafael Devers, and Nick Longhi—went down in order in the eighth.

Following another scoreless inning by Sea Dogs reliever, Jamie Callahan, the home team had one final chance to come back and earn the victory. To begin the inning, Lin reached first on an errant throw. Catcher, Jake DePew, then popped out. However, #9 hitter, Joseph Monge, smacked a long 2-run home run down the left field line that barely stayed fair, prompting a visit from Trenton manager. Finally, the top of the order was up with only one out and only a one-run deficit. The speedy Aneury Tavarez doubled on a softly hit ball through the left infield gap. Meneses followed with a single and advanced on a stolen base after a Cole Sturgeon strikeout. This put both the tying and winning run in scoring position with two outs for Mike Olt.

And wasting no time, Olt smashed the ball into right-center field, but it was almost caught by Trenton’s Rashad Crawford. However, the ball fell to the warning track and plated both Meneses and Tavarez, giving Portland the victory.

The fog horn blew and Portland improved to 9-5, giving them sole position of first place in the division. They opened up a series against last-place Hartford on Monday with Jacob Dahlstrand taking the mound.