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Red Sox Minor Lines: Nicholas Northcut’s homer streak continues

And Jaxx Groshans hits two himself.

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Worcester L 2-6

Yolmer Sánchez, 2B: 1-5, 2 K, 1 E

Jeter Downs, SS: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 K

Triston Casas, 1B: 1-4, 2 K

Rob Refsnyder, CF: 1-4, 1 R

Ryan Fitzgerald, 3B: 1-2, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 R, 2 RBI

Connor Wong, C: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 E

Jaylin Davis, RF: 0-4, 1 K

Brian Keller (SP; L): 3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (77 pitches)

Eduard Bazardo: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (8 pitches)

Tyler Danish: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (12 pitches)

Phillips Valdez: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K (18 pitches)

It was mostly a lackluster day for Worcester, though Ryan Fitzgerald saved it from being a total loss of a day. The utility man jumped into the consciousness of Red Sox fans with his monstrous spring training, and he picked up right where he left off when the Triple-A season kicked off. A stint on the COVID list slowed him down a bit upon his return, but he’s heating back up and now has seven homers on the season to go with a 1.029 OPS. That last mark is tops among qualified Red Sox prospects, regardless of level, and seventh among qualified hitters in the International League. Whenever the Red Sox go back to a four-man bench — it needs to be done by the end of this month at the latest — he should get a long look as a potential sparkplug for a bench role, even not being on the 40-man.

Portland L 3-5

Nick Sogard, SS: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K

Cameron Cannon, 2B: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 E

Devlin Granberg, CF: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 2 K

Pedro Castellanos, LF: 2-4, 1 RBI, 2 K

Tyreque Reed, RF: 2-4, 1 K

Jay Groome (SP; L): 3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 2 K (74 pitches)

Jake Thompson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K (28 pitches)

Jacob Wallace: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K (38 pitches)

It was a somewhat quiet day for the Portland offense, who did get 10 hits but they were all singles, resulting in three runs. So we’ll focus on the pitching. Specifically with Groome, this was clearly a rough outing. The lefty has been up and down this season, which is starting to become a bit of a concern for me. Last season I was able to mostly brush it aside, as the goal for 2021 was to stay healthy for a full season and not completely bomb. He passed that test, and showed some really intriguing flashes towards the end of the season. This season, he’s also had some flashes, including his previous start to this one in which he struck out 10 without issuing a walk over 5 23 innings. But he’s still struggling with consistency. Of his five starts this season, one was great, one was good, one was a disaster, one was fine, and then this one was bad. I’m certainly not suggesting it’s time to give up on him, but Groome is burning his second option year in 2022. He needs to take that next step, and it needs to happen soon.

Greenville W 8-7

Tyler McDonough, LF: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 E

Ceddane Rafaela, CF: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 R

Matthew Lugo, SS: 2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 CS

Alex Binelas, 3B: 0-3, 1 BB

Nicholas Northcut, DH: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 K

Jaxx Groshans, C: 3-4, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI

Brian Van Belle (SP): 3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K (80 pitches)

Ryan Fernandez (SV): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (17 pitches)

Just to get it out of the way, Northcut is bananapants right now with his home run power. This was his third straight game with a homer, fourth in five games, and sixth in eight games. He also has 11 on the season, which is tied for the second most in all of minor-league baseball. Absurd. But in this particular game, he was outshined by Groshans, who hit his second and third homers of the season. He hasn’t played all that consistently this season, splitting time with Stephen Scott behind the plate, but maybe this will get him more of a look. There’s probably not a major-league future for the 2019 fifth rounder, but the offense has some sneaky intrigue if he can make strides behind the plate.

Salem PPD

Player of the Day: Jaxx Groshans

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