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Red Sox Minor Lines: Start paying attention to Thad Ward

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He’s the biggest breakout few are talking about

Portland G1 L 2-6

Brett Netzer, 2B: 2-3, 1 BB

C.J. Chatham, SS: 3-4

Bobby Dalbec, 3B: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI

Jhon Nunez, C: 2-2, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 RBI

Durbin Feltman: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (20 pitches)

Portland G2 L 3-4

Jeremy Rivera, SS: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB

Josh Tobias, 2B: 2-4, 2 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K

C.J. Chatham, SS: 0-4

Bobby Dalbec, 3B: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 K

Tanner Houck: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 0 K (65 pitches)

It was a really tough doubleheader on Monday for the Sea Dogs, who have been having a rough go of it lately in general. After losing both of these games, Portland has now lost eight in a row and 11 of their last 12. On this day in particular, things were even worse with Houck leaving the second game early after being struck with a line drive. I haven’t seen where on his body he got hit or how serious it could be, but it’s never great. It’s also not great that he wasn’t pitching very well before being hit. He’s now allowed multiple runs in four consecutive starts after allowing zero or one in three straight. In more positive news, Feltman is looking better of late, allowing just one run over his last five outings and 7 13 innings with six strikeouts and five walks (with four coming in one outing). The Red Sox could really use him knocking on the door for the majors at some point this summer.

Salem L 0-2

Jarren Duran, CF: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K

Marcus Wilson, RF: 0-4, 1 K

Ryan Fitzgerald, SS: 0-4

Pedro Castellanos, 1B: 1-3, 1 BB

Chad Hardy, LF: 2-3

Jake Thompson: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K (58 pitches)

Andrew Schwaab: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (33 pitches)

Even when the offense has nothing going — Salem managed just four hits on Monday — Duran still casually gets a double and a walk. He’s now hitting .405 with a 1.020 OPS while the lineup around him cools off tremendously all at once. He’s not much longer for High-A, so if you’re in the Salem area go see him while you can. Meanwhile, on the pitching side, Thompson was back out there for his second start and did look really good. This is interesting because he was supposed to be in relief full-time this year but has made two straight starts. I’m curious what sparked this change, though it’s hard to argue with these results even if he picked up the loss.

Greenville W 4-0

Cole Brannen, CF: 0-3, 1 K, 1 SB

Tyler Esplin, RF: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI

Jordan Wren, LF: 2-4, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 RBI

Triston Casas, 1B: 2-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K

Brandon Howlett, 3B: 1-4, 2 K

Thad Ward: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K (92 pitches)

The Drive have won a couple games in a row to prevent these last few days from being a total disaster for the Red Sox farm system. They got a nice day at the plate from Casas, who is coming around nicely as the year goes on and is showing the skills that made him a first-round pick last year. The story here was clearly Ward, though, who has been on fire throughout his first professional season. This start was at another level, though, and doing it in just 92 pitches makes it all the more impressive. If you haven’t been paying attention to Ward, you may want to start now.

Player of the Day: This obviously goes to Thad Ward, the team’s fifth round pick in 2018. As I alluded to above, the righty has been phenomenal all year long. Now through nine starts and 50 13 innings in 2018, the former Central Florida star has a 2.50 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 18 walks. He also hasn’t allowed a run over his last two starts spanning 14 13 innings with 14 strikeouts and just one walk. I’m assuming he’ll get a later-season promotion to Salem — Kutter Crawford was promoted in a similar situation with a bit less pedigree after 21 starts last year — and I’m very curious to see how he reacts to more advanced hitters.