Matt Barnes, RHP
Barnes had a rough June, at least on the surface, as he posted a 6.86 ERA on the month. However, that's not an accurate reflection of how he pitched most of the time, as Barnes really only had one awful start, and then strung together quality performances. Barnes gave up seven runs in 1-1/3 innings in his first start of June, but then allowed just eight more in total over his next four starts. You'd like Barnes to do better than a 4.00 ERA, sure, but it's a whole lot better looking than what his month suggests when you include that first abomination of an appearance.
He struck out 29 overall in June in just 19-2/3 innings while walking only 10. He also induced more than twice as many outs on the ground as in the air. Barnes' command of his secondary stuff still needs improving, though, as you likely could have figured out the five homers, the ERA, and his hit rate that now sits above 10 per nine. Outside of that initial June start, though, he made strides toward that goal in the last month.
Drake Britton, LHP
Britton is picking things up at just the right time for a couple of reasons. The trade deadline is in just a few weeks, and Britton could be a pitcher the Red Sox deal in order to upgrade the big-league roster. Britton only has one option year left after 2013, so the fact he's pitching well at Double-A means he could use his last option while at Triple-A, whether that's while in the Red Sox organization or outside of it. This mean, if the Red Sox do want to keep Britton, they won't necessarily be forced into a trade like they were with Stolmy Pimentel, who couldn't climb the organizational ladder fast enough before running out of options.
The southpaw Britton only struck out 5.4 batters per nine in June, but he succeeded despite the lack of swing-and-miss in his game thanks to a low walk rate and an ability to keep the ball both on the ground and in the park. Over his last 10 starts, dating back to May 14, Britton has a 2.95 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 24 walks in 61 innings, all while inducing 1.4 times as many ground outs as air outs, and with just one long ball yielded. He looks like a pitcher ready to tackle Triple-A, but that might not happen for a bit yet, as there's no room at the level at the moment.
Noe Ramirez, RHP
Ramirez managed to escape High-A Salem without giving up a single home run over 47 innings of work. He also walked just nine of the 182 batters he faced, allowing him to strike out nearly five times as many hitters as he handed out a free pass to. That's all to the good considering the 10 homers in his last nine appearances in 2012, and is also why he's found himself in Double-A in just his second year as a pro.
Ramirez has only relieved, but is still stretched out for multiple innings of work. That means he'll still be able to get plenty of work in, and he'll need it, too: that's not meant as a knock against Ramirez, but just as a reminder that he's got the control, but needs to keep hammering away on that command. Double-A hitters are a different, more difficult beast to slay than their High-A brethren, and Ramirez was immediately reminded of that when he gave up his first homer of the year in his first taste of the Eastern League. If he can keep the ball down in the zone consistently, with his control, good things will happen.
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