Farm notes: Betts continues to impress

June, 2, 2014
6/02/14
10:36
PM ET
While he certainly cooled off in mid-May after an out-of-this-world April, Double-A Portland second baseman Mookie Betts remains one of the top stories in the Red Sox organization, posting a line of .362/.448/.562 with 6 home runs and 22 stolen bases at the end of May. That’s enough to put him among the top 10 players across all minor league levels in hits, batting average, runs, total bases and on-base percentage, as well as 11th in OPS and stolen bases. And that’s all while seeing his first professional game action in center field.

TOP PROSPECTS
Here’s how the other top position prospects in the system fared offensively in May. (SoxProspects ranking as of June 1 in parentheses)

Notes: Swihart started 22 games behind the plate in May -- he’s yet to allow a passed ball in 2014 and has thrown out 16 of 31 would-be base-stealers (52%) ... Vazquez, who has one of the best catching arms in the minors, has thrown out just 13 of 20 (39%) ... While it was mildly surprising to see Dominican phenom Devers open the season in the Dominican Summer League, he went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBIs in his professional debut on May 31 ... Coyle missed three weeks in May with a hamstring injury, but hit the ground running upon his return ... Ramos landed on the disabled list on June 1 with an undisclosed injury ... Shaw earned a promotion to Triple-A on May 26.

Here are the lines for the system’s top pitching prospects from May.

Notes: At the close of May, Owens was ninth in all of the minor leagues with 68 strikeouts ... Webster and Ranaudo were both firing on all cylinders in May, and according to Red Sox manager John Farrell, both were under consideration to be called upon to replace injured starter Clay Buchholz in the major league rotation ... Workman, now with Boston, recently met the rookie eligibility threshold and will graduate from prospect status this week ... Johnson has dominated after an early May promotion to Double-A, effectively and confidently utilizing a mix of his fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup ... After receiving the call from extended spring training on April 26, Ball has not fared well in six starts, failing to make it out of the first inning in two of his last three appearances ... Following a bout of control issues, Britton hit the PawSox disabled list on May 25 with left elbow inflammation.

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS
Another top hitting performer in May was Low-A Greenville first baseman Jantzen Witte, who hit .389/.477/.648 with 3 home runs for the Drive. At 24, he’s older than his competition in the South Atlantic League, and his BABIP has not been sustainable, but the 2013 24th-round pick should earn a promotion to High-A in the near future.

Other hitters of note in May were Greenville infielder Carlos Asuaje, who posted a .907 OPS; Salem utility player Jonathan Roof, who has thrived after being selected from Philadelphia in the Triple-A phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, and Salem infielder Reed Gragnani, a 2013 draft pick out of the University of Virginia who is hitting .341 for the season.

On the pitching front, the top performer of the month was Greenville right-hander Jonathan Aro, who went 1-0 with 2 saves, a 0.42 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 25 strikeouts and 5 walks in 21.1 innings. The 23-year-old was signed as an international free agent in June 2011. He had a fine season with Short-A Lowell in 2013, posting a 2.14 ERA in 54.2 innings, and is now working as a piggyback start in Greenville. While he has limited projection, Aro could develop into a workable middle reliever.

Other top pitchers over the last month included Portland starter Keith Couch, who went 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA; Sea Dogs reliever Robby Scott, who allowed zero runs in 10.1 innings; Salem righty Justin Haley, who posted a 2.32 ERA and three wins for the month, and Greenville reliever Joe Gunkel, who struck out 23 batters and walked only three in 17 innings.

ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS
As of June 1 (cumulative stats, minor league only, min. 150 plate appearances or 35 innings pitched for non-counting stats)

Batting average
1. Jantzen Witte, .364
2. Mookie Betts, .355
3. Reed Gragnani, .341

OPS
1. Jantzen Witte, 1.042
2. Mookie Betts, .994
3. Carlos Asuaje, .977

HR
1. Travis Shaw, 12
2(t). Corey Brown, 8
2(t). Brandon Snyder, 8

SB
1. Mookie Betts, 22
2. Manuel Margot, 18
3. Matty Johnson, 15

ERA
1. Justin Haley, 2.20
2. Keith Couch, 2.26
3. Henry Owens, 2.52

Strikeouts/9 IP
1. Cody Kukuk, 9.72
2. Henry Owens, 9.51
3. Corey Littrell, 9.47

Walks/9 IP
1. Keith Couch, 1.55
2. Mike Augliera, 1.90
3. Mike McCarthy, 1.74

Saves
1. Noe Ramirez, 6
2. Alex Wilson, 5
3(t). Drake Britton, 4
3(t). Jose Valdez, 4
3(t). Jonathan Aro, 4
3(t). Kyle Martin, 4

PLAYER MOVEMENT
Nine players got the call to Boston from the minor leagues from May 1 to June 1: Britton, Workman, Cecchini, infielder Brock Holt, reliever Alex Wilson, outfielder Daniel Nava, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, outfielder Alex Hassan and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa. Minor leaguers who received level promotions included Shaw and outfielder Shannon Wilkerson from Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket; Johnson from High-A Salem to Portland; LHP Cody Kukuk from Greenville to Salem; and right-handers Ty Buttrey and Taylor Grover, left-hander Daniel McGrath, infielder Aneudis Peralta, and outfielder Forrestt Allday from extended spring training to Greenville.

Mike Andrews is the founder and editor-in-chief of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

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