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Game Preview: June 23, 2016 vs. Frederick

GAME INFO:

June 23, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 71 of 139

LewisGale Field

vs. Frederick Keys


ON THE MOUND:

RHP Michael Kopech (1st Game) vs. RHP Cody Jones (2-3, 2,65)

SOX LINEUP:

Joseph Monge                CF

Wendell Rijo                   2B

Rafael Devers                 3B

Nick Longhi                    1B

Danny Mars                    RF

Jordan Procyshen          C

Jayce Ray                        DH

Deiner Lopez                  SS

Bryan Hudson                LF

NOTES:

SHAKING YOUR KEYS: The Salem Red Sox begin the second half of the 2016 season by welcoming the Frederick Keys to LewisGale Field for a four-game series. The Red Sox and the Keys matched up only six times in the first half, with the series being split 3-3. The Keys won 2-of-3 from the Red Sox at LewisGale Field from April 11-13, and then Salem returned the favor by taking 2-of-3 from Frederick at NYMEO Field at Harry Grove Stadium from April 26-28. The two clubs will play 15 times in the second half of the schedule.

NEW FACE ON THE MOUND: The Red Sox will send Michael Kopech to the mound to open up the second half of the 2016 season. Kopech will be making his first start with Salem, and just his second start of the season after suffering an injury during spring training. In his rehab start with Short Season-A Lowell, the flamethrowing righty went 4.1 shutout innings, allowing four hits, four walks and registering four strikeouts. Kopech, the #5 prospect in the Red Sox system, spent the 2015 season with Low-A Greenville – registering a 4-5 record, 2.63 ERA, and an impressive 70 strikeouts against 27 walks in 65.0 innings.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA THIRD BASEMAN: After a slow start to the season, Rafael Devers has turned it on at the end of the first half and has hits in 16 of his last 21 games, dating to 5/24 at Potomac. In that span, Devers is 28-for-86 (.326 AVG), raising his season batting line from .180/.263/.293 to .233/.300/.335. Devers has further improved in June, batting .339/.379/.403 (21-for-62, 2 2B, 3B, 4 R, 7 RBI). No matter how things have gone at the plate, Devers has been rock-solid defensively – he has committed three errors in 188 total chances, good for a .984 fielding %. Devers was the pre-season #2 prospect in the Red Sox organization according to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.

IT’S TURBO TIME: Salem Red Sox reliever Jamie Callahan has had an up-and-down season, but has pitched extremely well in his last two outings. The last two times the righty has been called on from the bullpen he has delivered a combined 3.1 scoreless frames, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out four. He has lowered his season ERA from 4.80 to 4.32, and marks the first time this season that the Hamer, S.C. native has strung together two outings in a row of any length without issuing a walk.

WELCOME BACK, RIJO: One of the roster moves made during the All-Star Break includes the transfer of Wendell Rijo from Double-A Portland to Salem. The 20-year-old infielder hit .260 in 108 games with Salem in 2015, but just .186 in 51 games with Portland this year.

YEAH, BABY!: Red Sox outfielder Mike Meyers has been hitting at a torrid pace in his last six games, hitting at a 9-for-25 clip (.360 AVG) in the period dating back to June 11 at Wilmington. Meyers has seen his season batting line grow from .235/.307/.363 to .250/.313/.377. His season-long hitting streak is six games, from May 6-13.

SETTING FRANCHISE HISTORY: The Salem Red Sox made history with a win Sunday afternoon at Winston-Salem. The Red Sox victory officially crowned the 2016 squad as having the best first-half record of any team in the Red Sox era (2009-Present). The win also gave the team the second-best first-half record in franchise history, surpassing the 42-28 mark of the 2010 Red Sox, but keeping the team trailing the 1974 Salem Pirates, who ran wild over the Carolina Leauge to the tune of a 47-23 first half record.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The Salem Red Sox clinched the Carolina League Southern Division First Half Championship for the first time since 1988 with a 7-1 victory over Potomac on June 13. Salem will compete for the Mills Cup Championship in the Carolina League Playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Red Sox last won a division championship in 2013 when the squad won the Second Half.

Game Preview: June 15, 2016 vs. Potomac

GAME INFO:

June 15, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 66 of 140

LewisGale Field

vs. Potomac Nationals


ON THE MOUND:

LHP Daniel McGrath (1-2, 4.88) vs. RHP Boone Whiting (6-2, 3.26)

SOX LINEUP:

Danny Mars                   CF

Mauricio Dubon            SS

Mike Meyers                 DH

Rafael Devers                  3B

Jordan Betts                    1B

Jayce Ray                        RF

Jordan Procyshen          C

Deiner Lopez                  2B

Bryan Hudson                LF

NOTES:

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The Salem Red Sox clinched the Carolina League Southern Division First Half Championship for the first time since 1988 with a 7-1 victory over Potomac Monday night. Salem will compete for the Mills Cup Championship in the Carolina League Playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Red Sox last won a division championship in 2013 when the squad won the Second Half.

TAKE THE LONGHI WAY HOME: Nick Longhi has also been strong offensively in June, including an exclamation point last night with his first home run of the season. On the month, Longhi is hitting .300/.390/.400 (15-for-50, 8 R, 2 2B, HR, 8 RBIs, 7 BB). He has performed better with each passing month of the 2016 season, raising his OPS from .724 in April, to .760 in May, to .790 thus far in June.

DANNY THE MARTIAN: In addition, Danny Mars has picked up his offensive output, recording hits in 13 of his last 15 games, dating to 5/28 at Lynchburg. In that span, Mars has recorded seven multi-hit games, including three in the series at Wilmington.The switch-hitting outfielder is 22-for-59 (.373 AVG) in that span. The Chipola College product has raised his season batting line from .239/.315/.314 to .275/.339/.367. Mars stole a season-high three bases Saturday at Wilmington.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA THIRD BASEMAN: After a slow start to the season, Rafael Devers has turned it on lately and has hits in 15 of his last 19 games, dating to 5/24 at Potomac. In that span, Devers is 23-for-70 (.328 AVG), raising his season batting line from .180/.263/.293 to .227/.299/.336. Devers has further improved in June, batting .348/.400/.435 (16-for-46, 2 2B, 3B, 4 R, 6 RBI).

PLACE YOUR BETTS: Jordan Betts is another Red Sox player who has flourished in June, hitting to the tune of a .304/.424/.478 line (7-for-23, 4 2B, 11 RBI, 7 BB). The bounceback comes after Betts hit just .176/.236/.197 in the month of May. The 11 runs batted in tallied by Betts in eight games in June surpasses his combined April and May total (seven), and is already the fourth-highest monthly RBI total of his career. The former Duke Blue Devil had 15 RBIs with Salem in June in 2015, and with Lowell in 2014 posted 20 in July and 12 in August.

SETTING THE TABLE: Salem’s offensive success this season has been predicated on Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon getting on base. The dynamic duo has combined for 139 hits, 107 runs, 60 RBI and 58 stolen bases. Both Moncada and Dubon were selected to the 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game. The Red Sox are an astounding 33-6 when Moncada and Dubon combine for at least two hits in a game compared to a 2-12 mark when both are in the lineup and fail to combine for two-plus hits. Monday was only the third time all season that neither had a hit, and Salem has a 1-2 record in such games. The team is 6-6 when one of the players is out of the lineup.

Game Preview: June 13, 2016 vs. Potomac

GAME INFO:

June 13, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 64 of 140

LewisGale Field

vs. Potomac Nationals


ON THE MOUND:

LHP Matt Kent (5-3, 3.57) vs. RHP Dakota Bacus (0-2, 4.82)

SOX LINEUP:

Yoan Moncada               DH

Mauricio Dubon            SS

Rafael Devers                3B

Nick Longhi                   1B

Danny Mars                    RF

Joseph Monge                CF

Jordan Procyshen          C

Deiner Lopez                  2B

Bryan Hudson                LF

NOTES:

THE LONLIEST NUMBER: The Salem Red Sox magic number to clinch their first first-half championship since 1988 currently stands at one. The Red Sox will clinch a playoff birth with either a win or a Myrtle Beach loss.

TAKE THE LONGHI WAY HOME: Nick Longhi has also been strong offensively in June, including an exclamation point last night with his first home run of the season. On the month, Longhi is hitting .317/.429/.439 (13-for-41, 8 R, 2 2B, HR, 6 RBIs, 7 BB). He has performed better with each passing month of the 2016 season, raising his OPS from .724 in April, to .760 in May, to .868 thus far in June.

DANNY THE MARTIAN: In addition, Danny Mars has picked up his offensive output, recording hits in 13 of his last 14 games, dating to 5/28 at Lynchburg. In that span, Mars has recorded seven multi-hit games, including three in the series at Wilmington.The switch-hitting outfielder is 22-for-55 (.400 AVG) in that span, and the only game he failed to get a hit in was the rain-shortened five-inning contest at Lynchburg on Sunday. The Chipola College product has raised his season batting line from .239/.315/.314 to .280/.342/.374. Mars stole a season-high three bases Saturday at Wilmington, and has successfully stolen 10 bases in a row.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA THIRD BASEMAN: After a slow start to the season, Rafael Devers has turned it on lately and has hits in 14 of his last 18 games, dating to 5/24 at Potomac. In that span, Devers is 22-for-65 (.338 AVG), raising his season batting line from .180/.263/.293 to .228/.301/.340. Devers has further improved in June, batting .366/.422/.463 (15-for-41, 2 2B, 3B, 4 R, 4 RBI).

SETTING THE TABLE: Salem’s offensive success this season has been predicated on Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon getting on base. The dynamic duo has combined for 134 hits, 103 runs, 58 RBI and 57 stolen bases. Both Moncada and Dubon were selected to the 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game. The Red Sox are an astounding 32-6 when Moncada and Dubon combine for at least two hits in a game compared to a 2-12 mark when both are in the lineup and fail to combine for two-plus hits. Monday was only the third time all season that neither had a hit, and Salem has a 1-2 record in such games. The team is 6-5 when one of the players is out of the lineup.

HITS ON PARADE: In a 10-6 victory over Wilmington Thursday night, the Salem Red Sox matched four franchise hits records. The 21 hits in a game tied the Red Sox era record, set on August 16, 2014 vs. Myrtle Beach. Salem also recorded 18 singles, tying the all-time Salem record. Rafael Devers’ 5-for-5 performance matches the club record for most hits in a nine-inning game and matched club record for most singles in a single game, while setting a new high-water mark for the Sox era.

Game Preview: June 4, 2016 vs. Lynchburg

GAME INFO:

June 4, 2016 – 6:05 pm

Game 56 of 140

LewisGale Field

vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans


ON THE MOUND:

LHP Daniel McGrath (1-1, 5.40) vs. RHP Nick Pasquale (1-1, 2.35)

SOX LINEUP:

Yoan Moncada               2B

Mauricio Dubon            SS

Jordan Betts                  DH

Nick Longhi                   1B

Danny Bethea                 C

Joseph Monge                CF

Franklin Guzman          RF

Bryan Hudson               LF

Deiner Lopez                  3B

HELLO HILLCATS, OUR OLD FRIENDS: The Salem Red Sox begin a new series and complete an abbreviated homestand by welcoming the Lynchburg Hillcats to LewisGale Field Saturday evening. The unusual 1-2-1 series begins with a game at Salem, before moving to Calvin Falwell Field in Lynchburg for two games on Sunday and Monday, before returning to LewisGale Field on Tuesday for the series finale. Tonight marks the 11th contest between the geographic rivals this season, and the series has been competitive, with the Red Sox owning a 6-4 advantage. By Tuesday, the Hillcats and the Red Sox will have played 14 games in 28 days.

DANG, DANIEL: The Salem Red Sox will send Daniel McGrath to the rubber to make his fourth start of the season, and his second since being activated from the Disabled List on Sunday, May 29. In his first start back from the DL, the southpaw went 4.0 innings against the Hillcats, allowing one run on three hits, walking four and striking out two, getting a no decision. This season, the Australian has a 1-1 record with a 5.40 earned run average in 11.2 innings, holding opposing batters to just a .214 batting average against. McGrath has been plagued by walks, issuing seven free passes and striking out only five, a trend he hopes to reverse.

CREATING A DEVERS-ION: Rafael Devers had an up-and-down month of May, ultimately finishing with a .245/.301/.351 batting line with two home runs and 14 RBIs. The Salem third baseman finished the month on an upswing, getting hits in six-of-his-last-seven games, going 7-for-24 (.292 AVG) in that span to raise his batting line from .143/.242/.286 to .195/.273/.310 in May. Devers has further improved in three games in June, batting .313/.313/.438 (5-for-16, 2 2B, R, RBI). In his last 11 games, Devers is 12-for-40 (.300 AVG) at the plate.

DOUBLE VISION: In the final three games with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Salem Red Sox offense exploded for 14 doubles, including a season-high six in game two of a doubleheader Thursday. The Red Sox now lead the Carolina League with 109 two-baggers, and trail only the High Desert Mavericks (110, TEX) for the lead among all High-A teams. Yoan Moncada had seven doubles in the three games to bring his season total to 20, tied for second in all of Minor League Baseball. Salem has three players ranking in the top-20 in two-base hits among all High-A players in Moncada (t-1st), Andrew Benintendi and Nick Longhi (t-18th, 13).

BRILLIANCE IN THE BULLPEN: The Salem Red Sox bullpen was been lights-out since the start of the weekend series with the Hillcats Friday night. In 24.2 innings across six games, the bullpen has allowed only four earned runs (1.46 ERA) and 11 total hits, while striking out 29 batters. Ben Taylor (2.0 IP), Yankory Pimentel (3.0 IP), Taylor Grover (2.0 IP), and Mario Alcantara (4.0 IP) combined for 11.0 shutout innings of work from Saturday-Monday, at one point retiring 26 consecutive Hillcats batters.

FLASH! AHH!: Salem has been aggressive on the bases this season, stealing 116 bases in 144 attempts (81% success). The Red Sox lead all of MiLB in team stolen bases, three ahead of the Hickory Crawdads (Low-A TEX, 113) . Yoan Moncada leads the Carolina League with 32 swipes, and is second behind Yefri Perez of the Jacksonville Suns (33) for the MiLB lead. After starting the year by successfully stealing 18 of 29 bases (62%), the Sox have been far more efficient, swiping 98 of their past 115 bags (85%).

A KIND OF MAGIC: The Salem Red Sox magic number to clinch their first first-half championship since 1988 currently stands at eight with 15 games to play by virtue of owning the tiebreaker with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans by clinching the first-half series with the doubleheader sweep Thursday. The Red Sox took 3-of-4 from Myrtle Beach to extend their divisional lead to 7.5 games. The magic number means that any combination of Red Sox wins and Pelicans losses that equals eight for the rest of the first half clinches the division for Salem.

Despite Slump, Devers Continues Progression

Rafael Devers  RBI ground out in 1st inning scoring Andrew Beniintendi

There was never a doubt that Rafael Devers could hit. When then-Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington and company signed him as an international free agent on August 9, 2013, they viewed his as the top bat available in international market.

In his first taste of full-season ball at the tender age of 18 in 2015, Devers was a force in the middle of the Greenville Drive lineup. In 115 games, Devers hit .288/.329/.443 with 11 home runs – an impressive performance without even considering that he did so while being 3.5 years younger than the average South Atlantic League player.

As solid as Devers was offensively with Greenville in 2015, his game was not without its holes. His 4.7 percent walk rate was well below the league average of 8.1 percent. In 72 games at third base with the Drive, Devers committed 10 errors for a .949 fielding percentage.

The script is different in 2016 for Devers, however, who has struggled some at the plate, but excelled in some of the areas that he struggled with in 2015. The bat has come and gone in spurts, and Devers has struggled at times sputtering to a .195/.273/.310 line through the end of May.

“Right now we’re working on showing a better path with his swing,” Salem Red Sox hitting coach Nelson Paulino said. “He knows he has power and he tries sometimes to take a big swing … but he needs to stay shorter with his swing and have better pitch selection.”

Devers and Paulino have worked hard with together to refine his approach and break out of his funk. The pair worked together last year in Greenville, and have developed a great working relationship.

“When he tries to hit the ball 700 feet, that doesn’t work,” he continued. “He has to put his mind to hit gap-to-gap [then the power will come].”

The hard work has paid off in the month of June, with Devers off to a 5-for-16 (.313) start with two doubles, bumping his average above the Mendoza line for the first time since mid-May.

Though the strikeouts have been present for Devers this season, his approach at the plate is seemingly refined from where it was in Low-A as well. That has been true even when the now 19-year-old has not been getting his hits.

Devers has improved his walk rate to 9.3 percent, more in line with the Carolina League average of 9.5 percent. The uptick in walks without a significant increase in strikeouts is a positive sign in Devers’ development, he is watching more balls go by – balls that last year he was either swinging and missing at, or putting into play for outs.

As for the batting average struggles, there are encouraging signs on that front. His average has been weighed down by an abnormally low .226 batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

BABIP is a stat that takes into account the batting average for a player on all balls hit that a fielder has a chance to make a play on, so home runs and strikeouts do not count. As a general rule of thumb, most players will have a BABIP of .290-.310, and anything significantly higher or lower than that will start to trend toward that mean, though there are some rare exceptions.

The conclusion that you can draw from that – which is backed up by watching Devers hit all season – is that he has been getting somewhat unlucky at the plate. Time after time this season, he has hit the ball hard only for it to go right at a well-positioned infielder, or for an outfielder to make a great catch on. In the long ebbs-and-flows of the baseball season, those tough-luck plays will even out and his batting average will recover.

And then there is the question of his fielding. In 45 games this season at the hot corner, Devers has committed just three errors in 155 chances, for a .981 fielding percentage. Raw errors and fielding percentage are not always the best ways to view fielders, but the advanced metrics such as Range Factor have loved his play in the field this year as well.

“I think a lot of it is confidence,” said Red Sox minor league infield coordinator Andy Fox, a former major leaguer who won a pair of World Series titles. “Last year being his first full season, [he made the adjustment of] living in a different city, and engraining himself into pro baseball and having that confidence.”

The confidence boost is on full display when watching Devers in the field. It seems like every game the 6-0, 215-pound Devers is sprawling out to make a diving stop on a ground ball or a great catch on a screaming liner.

Fox further praised Devers by saying: “I think the best thing for Rafael this year has been that he hasn’t swung the bat like he did last year, but it hasn’t affected him defensively and that’s part of being a pro, being able to separate the game into offense and defense.”

As confidence continues to build for Devers on both sides of the ball, the sky could be the limit for the player ranked as the #2 prospect in the Boston organization before the season started. His youth, enthusiasm, talent, and drive to succeed will continue to carry him through the Red Sox system and perhaps one day, to Fenway Park.

Game Preview: June 3, 2016

GAME INFO:

June 3, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 55 of 140

LewisGale Field

vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans

 

ON THE MOUND:

RHP Travis Lakins (5-2, 4.63) vs. RHP Jonathan Martinez (3-3, 3.88)

SOX LINEUP:

Yoan Moncada               2B

Mauricio Dubon            SS

Mike Meyers                  RF

Nick Longhi                   DH

Rafael Devers                3B

Danny Mars                   CF

Jordan Betts                  1B

David Sopilka                 C

Bryan Hudson               LF

CREATING A DEVERS-ION: Rafael Devers had an up-and-down month of May, utlimately finishing with a .245/.301/.351 batting line with two home runs and 14 RBIs. The Salem third baseman finished the month on an upswing, getting hits in six-of-his-last-seven games, going 7-for-24 (.292 AVG) in that span to raise his batting line from .143/.242/.286 to .195/.273/.310 in May. Devers has further improved in three games in June, batting .273/.273/.455 (3-for-11, 2 2B, R). In his last 10 games, Devers is 10-for-35 (.286 AVG) at the plate.

DOUBLE VISION: In Thursday’s doubleheader with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Salem Red Sox offense exploded for nine doubles, including a season-high six in game two. The Red Sox are now tied with the Lynchburg Hillcats for the most doubles in the Carolina League (103), and trail only the High Desert Mavericks (109, TEX), Stockton Ports (104, OAK), and Visalia Rawhide (104, ARI) for the lead among all High-A teams. Yoan Moncada had four doubles on Thursday alone to bring his season total to 17, tied for 13th in all of Minor League Baseball. Salem has three players ranking in the top-15 in two-base hits among all High-A players in Moncada (t-5th), Andrew Benintendi and Nick Longhi (t-15th, 13).

BRILLIANCE IN THE BULLPEN: The Salem Red Sox bullpen was been lights-out since the start of the weekend series with the Hillcats Friday night. In 20.2 innings across six games, the bullpen has allowed only three earned runs (1.31 ERA) and nine total hits, while striking out 25 batters and walking just two. Ben Taylor (2.0 IP), Yankory Pimentel (3.0 IP), Taylor Grover (2.0 IP), and Mario Alcantara (4.0 IP) combined for 11.0 shutout innings of work from Saturday-Monday, at one point retiring 26 consecutive Hillcats batters.

FLASH! AHH!: Salem has been aggressive on the bases this season, stealing 114 bases in 141 attempts (81% success). The Red Sox lead all of MiLB in team stolen bases, two ahead of the Hickory Crawdads (Low-A TEX, 111) . Yoan Moncada leads the Carolina League with 31 swipes, and is second behind Yefri Perez of the Jacksonville Suns (33) for the MiLB lead. After starting the year by successfully stealing 18 of 29 bases (62%), the Sox have been far more efficient, swiping 96 of their past 112 bags (86%).

A KIND OF MAGIC: The Salem Red Sox magic number to clinch their first first-half championship since 1988 currently stands at 10 with 16 games to play by virtue of owning the tiebreaker with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans by clinching the first-half series with the doubleheader sweep Thursday. The sweep extended the Red Sox’ lead over the second-place Pelicans to 6.5 games.

Game Preview: May 28, 2016 at Lynchburg

GAME INFO:

May 28, 2016 – 6:30 pm

Game 49 of 140

Calvin Falwell Field at Lynchburg City Stadium

at Lynchburg Hillcats

ON THE MOUND:

LHP Matt Kent (2-3, 4.35) vs. RHP Mitch Brown (1-4, 5.23)

SOX LINEUP:

Joseph Monge          CF

Bryan Hudson          LF

Mauricio Dubon       SS

Nick Longhi               1B

Rafael Devers            3B

Danny Mars              DH

Ben Moore                  C

Franklin Guzman     RF

Deiner Lopez              2B

SERIES AT A GLANCE: The Salem Red Sox square off against an increasingly familiar opponent tonight as they continue a four-game Memorial Day weekend series with the Lynchburg Hillcats. The season series has been intensely competitive between the geographic rivals, with Salem sweeping Lynchburg at LewisGale Field from May 10-12, and then Lynchburg taking 2-of-3 from Salem at Calvin Falwell Field from May 17-19. Tonight’s game marks the eighth of 26 scheduled contests between the teams, and is part of a stretch from May 10-June 7 that sees the Red Sox and the Hillcats play 14 games against one another in 28 days.

ON THE MOUND FOR THE SOX: Salem will send Matt Kent to the bump, who looks to right the ship for the Red Sox and maintain his domination of the Lynchburg Hillcats. Overall, Kent is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA in seven starts with Salem, however, the southpaw is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts against Lynchburg. The Texas A&M product has surrendered just four hits in 12.0 innings against the Hillcats this season, while registering 11 strikeouts against only four walks. Kent began the season with Low-A Greenville, before being promoted.

MONGE, MONGE: Thursday night’s contest saw the Salem Sox debut of Joseph Monge, becoming the second position player called up from Low-A Greenville this season. Monge (pronounced YO-sef MOAN-hay) went 0-for-4 in his High-A debut, but went 1-for-3 with a double Friday night in Lynchburg. The 21-year-old native of Bronx, N.Y. was hitting .338 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 37 games with the Drive before his promotion. In April, Mitchell Gunsolus played in seven games for Salem before returning to the Drive.

FLASH! AHH!: Salem has been aggressive on the bases this season, stealing 111 bases in 135 attempts (82% success). The Red Sox lead all of MiLB in team stolen bases, eight ahead of the Hickory Crawdads (Low-A TEX, 104) . Yoan Moncada leads the Carolina League with 30 swipes, and is second behind Yefri Perez of the Jacksonville Suns (32) for the MiLB lead. After starting the year by successfully stealing 18 of 29 bases (62%), the Sox have been far more efficient, swiping 93 of their past 106 bags (88%). The Red Sox had stolen 23 straight bases without being caught since May 18 before Rafael Devers was thrown out at second in the sixth inning Wednesday night at Potomac.

WHO NEEDS THE LONG BALL: A year after setting a Red Sox record-low in home runs with just 55, Salem has once again struggled to hit the ball out of the park. The Red Sox 16 homers are tied for the fewest in the league with Carolina. Before Rafael Devers slammed a third inning, three-run home run Thurdsay, Salem’s last home run was on May 14 against Wilmington a drought of 103.2 consecutive innings.

COMEBACK KIDS: The Salem Red Sox have made a habit of late-inning dramatics as of late, winning 10 games in their final at-bat this season. Sunday’s win over Winston-Salem was the eighth time that the Sox have won when tied or trailing after seven innings. Six of Salem’s last 10 victories since a May 10 comeback vs Lynchburg have come in its last at-bat.

MAY DAY: The Red Sox have posted a 16-9 record in the season’s second month, the best mark in the league. A victory tonight would match most May wins for Salem in the Red Sox era, tying the 2015 and 2012. Salem’s franchise record for wins in May is 22 set in 1974.

Game Preview: May 23, 2016 vs. Winston-Salem

GAME INFO:

May 23, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 44 of 140

LewisGale Field – Salem, Va.

vs. Winston-Salem Dash

PROBABLE PITCHERS:

LHP Matt Kent (2-2, 4.05) vs. RHP Thad Lowry (2-3, 4.19)

SOX LINEUP:

Yoan Moncada           2B

Mauricio Dubon         SS

Mike Meyers               LF

Nick Longhi                1B

Danny Mars                CF

Jordan Procyshen       C

Jordan Betts                3B

Franklin Guzman        RF

SERIES AT A GLANCE:

The Salem Red Sox complete their four-game series with the Winston-Salem Dash and look for another series win Monday night at LewisGale Field. This evening’s skirmish is the 16th matchup between the Red Sox and the Dash, by far Salem’s most-played opponent thus far. Today’s contest is the final time that Winston-Salem will play at LewisGale Field in the first half, with the Dash’s next trip to Salem coming from August 30-September 1. The game also marks the 14th game of a 21-game stretch without a scheduled day off.

ON THE MOUND FOR THE SOX:

Salem will send Matt Kent to the bump, who is coming off his two best starts of the season his last two games out. The southpaw faced the Lynchburg Hillcats in both outings, and allowed a combined one run on four hits and registering 11 strikeouts in 12.0 innings pitched. With the two quality starts, Kent lowered his season ERA from 5.91 to 4.05, and his opponent’s batting average against plummetted from .375 to .294. Overall, Kent is 2-2 in six starts with Salem in 2016, sporting the 4.05 ERA and a 23:7 SO:K ratio in 33.1 innings pitched. The 2015 13th-round pick thrives on weak contact and groundballs, and sports a 1.27 GO:AO ratio.

NOTES:

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER: Three members of the Salem Red Sox bullpen sport sub-2.00 earned run averages in the month of May. Mario Alcantara (1.59 ERA, 2 ER/11.1 IP), Taylor Grover (1.08 ERA, 1 ER/8.1 IP), and Ben Taylor (0.79 ERA, 1 ER/11.1 IP) have all been dominant this month. Austin Maddox (2.35 ERA), and Yankory Pimentel (2.79 ERA) have also had splendid months.

LEADER OF THE PACK: Even after a day off Sunday, Yoan Moncada not only leads MiLB players in runs scored (42) and steals (tied, 30), but he ranks among the MiLB leaders in walks (tied-second, 33), OBP (third, .454), and total plate appearances (tied-13th, 188). Moncada is the consensus number one prospect in the Boston organization and is a top-10 prospect in all of baseball according to all major rankings.

MAY FLOWER: When the calendar turned from April to May, Nick Longhi kicked his offense into another gear. Longhi is hitting .333/.426/.491 in the month of May, with five doubles, two triples, 10 walks, 11 runs scored and 14 RBIs. The first base prospect’s torrid stretch has raised his season batting line from .292/.354/.371 to .308/.383/.418. The 30th-round pick in 2013 has multiple hits in five of 16 games played this month.

COMEBACK KIDS: The Salem Red Sox have made a habit of late-inning dramatics as of late, with each of their last three wins coming in their final at bat. Salem has now won 10 games in their final at bat this season, and Sunday’s win was the eighth time that the Sox have won after trailing or being tied after seven innings. The Red Sox have won four out of their last nine games in their final at bats.

FLASH! AHH!: Salem has been aggressive on the bases this season, stealing 103 bases in 125 attempts (82% success). The Red Sox lead all of MiLB in team stolen bases, eight ahead of the Hickory Crawdads (Low-A TEX, 95) . Yoan Moncada leads the Carolina League with 30 swipes, and is tied with Yefri Perez of the Jacksonville Suns for the MiLB lead. After starting the year by successfully stealing 18 of 29 bases (62%), the Sox have been far more efficient, swiping 85 of their past 96 bags (89%).

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: The Salem Red Sox have shown a much more selective approach at the plate in the month of May, and have sported a team on-base percentage of .349 in the month. The Red Sox as a team have improved their collective walk rate from an already stellar 10.9 percent in the month of April to a downright gaudy 11.2 percent in May. The rest of the Carolina League has averaged a walk rate of approximately nine percent this season, meaning the Red Sox have walked about 25 percent more than the average of other teams.

Game Preview: May 20, 2016 vs. Winston-Salem

GAME INFO:

May 20, 2016 – 7:05 pm

Game 41 of 140

LewisGale Field – Salem, Va.

vs. Winston-Salem Dash

PROBABLE PITCHERS:

LHP Jalen Beeks (4-1, 2.57) vs. RHP Spencer Adams (4-2, 4.00)

SOX LINEUP:

Yoan Moncada           2B

Mauricio Dubon         SS

Jordan Procyshen      DH

Nick Longhi                1B

Rafael Devers              3B

Danny Mars                CF

Mike Meyers               RF

Ben Moore                    C

Bryan Hudson             LF

SERIES AT A GLANCE:

The Salem Red Sox head back home to the friendly confines of LewisGale Field Friday night to begin a new four-game series with the Winston-Salem Dash. The Sox look to keep the momentum in their favor after an exciting 10-inning victory last night against the Lynchburg Hillcats and extend what is now a three-game home winning streak. Tonight’s skirmish is the 13th matchup between the Red Sox and the Dash, by far Salem’s most-played opponent thus far.

ON THE MOUND FOR THE SOX:

Salem will send Jalen Beeks to the bump, making his eighth start of the season and the third against Winston-Salem. Against the Dash this season, Beeks has tossed 11.0 innings, allowing four runs (three earned runs), striking out 10 and walking only three. Last time out, Beeks was shaky but effective against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, throwing 4.0 shutout frames, but needing to strand 10 runners on base to do so, allowing six hits and a season-high four walks in the process. The southpaw is 4-1 on the season, with a staff-leading 2.57 earned run average, the fifth-best mark in the Carolina League this season.

NOTES:

LEADER OF THE PACK: Yoan Moncada not only leads MiLB players in runs scored (41), stolen bases (tied, 28) and walks (33), but he ranks among the MiLB leaders in OBP (fourth, .460), and total plate appearances (ninth, 179). Moncada is the consensus number one prospect in the Boston organization and is a top-10 prospect in all of baseball according to all major ranking systems. Moncada is hitting .328/.460/.504 with three home runs and 23 RBIs hitting exclusively from the leadoff spot. His 11 doubles this season are third on the team.

MAY FLOWERS: When the calendar turned from April to May, Nick Longhi and Danny Mars kicked their offense into another gear. Longhi is hitting .340/.438/.509 in the month of May, with five doubles, two triples, 10 walks, 11 runs scored and 13 RBIs. The first base prospect’s torrid stretch has raised his season batting line from .292/.354/.371 to .310/.387/.423. Meanwhile Mars has hit .264/.339/.377 in May, which while unspectacular on the surface shows a great improvement in patience and power compared to April. The switch-hitting outfielder has a double, triple, and home run to go along with 14 RBIs and seven walks this month, to raise his batting line from .263/.326/.325 to .263/.331/.346.

LEFT IS RIGHT: Salem sports a starting rotation with four southpaws, all of whom have been solid as of late. Dating back to May 11, lefty starters for Salem have a cumulative 1.06 ERA (4 ER/34.0 IP). In the last four starts made by lefties, the cumulative ERA drops to 0.41 (1 ER/22.0 IP). Trey Ball and Matt Kent spun 7.0 and 6.0 scoreless innings in their last starts, respectively. Each earned a 71 game score, the highest game scores for Salem starters this year. Ball also recorded a 70 in a 6.0 shutout inning, two hit performance at Winston-Salem on May 6th. Kent has allowed just one run in his last 12.0 innings across two starts.

FLASH! AHH!: Salem has been aggressive on the bases this season, stealing 93 bases in 115 attempts (81% success). The Red Sox lead all of MiLB in team stolen bases, two ahead of the Hickory Crawdads (Low-A TEX, 91) . Yoan Moncada leads the Carolina League with (28) swipes, and is tied with Yefri Perez of Jacksonville for the MiLB lead. After starting the year by successfully stealing 18 of 29 bases (62%), the Sox have been far more efficient, swiping 74 of their past 88 bags (86%).

UNCHARTED WATERS: With the two losses Wednesday to the Lynchburg Hillcats, the Red Sox lost consecutive games for the first time since April 21-23, when the club dropped three in a row to the Winston-Salem Dash. In the 20-game stretch between back-to-back losses, Salem was 17-3, a stretch including an eight-game winning streak and a five-game winning streak. It was the first time Salem has been swept in a doubleheader since April 16, 2014 at Carolina.

Goodbye, Benny Baseball

Goodbyes are bittersweet in Minor League Baseball. When a player gets promoted to the next level, one can’t help but be happy and sad at the same time. It’s great to see a talented player progress in his career and get one step closer to the ultimate dream of making the majors, but selfishly you are going to miss seeing that player compete every day.

With Andrew Benintendi getting promoted from Salem to the Portland Sea Dogs, those mixed emotions are in full force today. It was evident that Benintendi was not challenged by the competition in the Carolina League – not anymore and not at any point this season.

Everyone knew that Benintendi had an elite bat – that’s why Boston spent the seventh overall pick on him in the June 2015 Draft. What we learned quickly in Salem this year is that he plays a great centerfield and is a good baserunner, too. The term “five-tool player” is often thrown around lightly, but Benintendi is just that.

He departs High-A leading the team in batting average (.341), hits (tied, 46), doubles (13), triples (7), RBIs (32), intentional walks (2), slugging percentage (.563), and OPS (.976). His .413 on-base percentage is second on the team to only Yoan Moncada (.462).

The advanced statistics love Benintendi’s performance in Salem as well.  The statistic weighted runs created (wRC+), which measures multiple offensive categories and assigns a rating to a player based on their performance relative to league average (where league average is 100), rates Benintendi’s performance a 167. That means he was 67 percent better than the average Carolina League hitter.

For reference, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper sports a 167 wRC+ this season.

He was clearly ready to take on the next challenge, which awaits him in Portland. The adjustment from High-A to Double-A is one of the hardest jumps to make in the minors, but if anyone is ready to do so after only 34 games it’s Benintendi.

One of Salem’s front office employees jokingly asked how many wins Benintendi has been worth so far. Since WAR isn’t a stat in the minors, based off a quick glance at his numbers a good estimate would be about 2-3 additional wins for Salem in only 34 games played. That’s a rate that puts him in the elite company of Harper and Mike Trout, comparatively speaking.

It has been an absolute privilege to get to watch such a talented player as Benintendi for the short time he was here, and we wish him nothing but the best as he continues his journey toward Fenway.

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