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Minor League notebook

Doubront on the up and up

Lefty promoted to Pawtucket

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 21, 2010

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The Red Sox wanted to challenge Felix Doubront in spring training and the schedule afforded them the perfect opportunity.

The 22-year-old lefthander from Venezuela was one of the starters designated to hit the road for a series of split-squad doubleheaders. While the more established pitchers stayed in Fort Myers, Doubront endured long bus rides. But the reward was getting a chance to face big league lineups.

He excelled, throwing seven scoreless innings in three appearances before being sent to minor league camp. Doubront’s work included two strong innings against the Rays.

“We thought that was a great sign for him,’’ player development director Mike Hazen said. “You saw that consistency from him and he has carried it over into the regular season.’’

Doubront started the season with Double A Portland and was 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA through eight starts. Doubront allowed 39 hits over 43 innings and struck out 38.

Now comes another challenge as he was promoted to Triple A Pawtucket yesterday.

Portland manager Arnie Beyeler said the confidence gained in spring training helped Doubront advance.

“These guys kind of show us when they’re ready to get out of here,’’ he said. “By maturity, showing up and punching in every day. Getting their work in and not letting one day be different from another. When that maturity takes place, and they start to figure that out, then they’re ready to get out of here.’’

Sea Dogs catcher Juan Apodaca, who knows Doubront well, agreed with that assessment.

“He’s more confident,’’ Apodaca said. “He’s throwing all his pitches down in the zone. He’s getting ahead in the count more than last year. He’s pretty good.’’

Doubront is an example of the need to have patience with young pitchers. He had a rocky 2007 season, getting demoted from Single A Greenville to short-season Lowell after 11 starts. But a strong 2008 season led to him being invited to major league spring training in 2009, and he has since emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the organization.

“He’s lefthanded and he has three pitches that are big league average,’’ Hazen said. “You don’t find too many of those guys.’’

Doubront will slide right into the Pawtucket rotation, taking the spot vacated when righthander Randor Bierd went on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Doubront feels like he’s ready. He gave up only four earned runs over his last 24 1/3 innings at Portland.

“I’ve been throwing the ball good,’’ he said. “I’m seeing the results now. I’m throwing all my pitches.’’

Pawtucket’s rotation has been weak, putting Doubront in a good position should the big league team need help later this season.

“He was very impressive at the Double A level,’’ Hazen said. “We felt like this was the right time. Everything he has done the last two years has led up to this.’’

Strong position
With Lars Anderson now at Pawtucket and Anthony Rizzo getting adjusted at Portland, first base is a deep position in the organization. But don’t forget about Christopher McGuiness.

McGuiness was hitting .282 with a .408 on-base percentage, 14 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs through 33 games for low Single A Greenville prior to last night’s game, and may be due for a promotion.

The 22-year-old was taken in the 13th round out of The Citadel last June and was a New York-Penn League All-Star at Lowell, which earned him a late-season promotion to Greenville.

“He’s an interesting kid,’’ said Hazen, citing McGuiness’s compact lefthanded swing and advanced approach at the plate. “He has done what we hoped he would do at that level. He has a lot of offensive potential.’’

Place on leave
Jason Place, the Sox’ first-round pick in 2006, has not played for Portland since May 12 and is on a leave of absence.

Hazen said Place is dealing with personal issues and is still considered a member of the organization. He would not comment further.

Place has hit only .236 over five professional seasons and was at .127 with Portland. He was in an 0-for-18 slump when he left the team and returned home.

Place was signed to a $1.3 million bonus when he was drafted out of Wren High School in Piedmont, S.C.

Taking a look
General manager Theo Epstein took in the Georgia Tech-Boston College game at Chestnut Hill yesterday. The annual amateur draft starts June 7 and the Sox have six of the first 143 picks. Georgia Tech shortstop Derek Dietrich is one of the best prospects in the Atlantic Coast Conference. BC junior Mickey Wiswall, an infielder from Stoneham, is a lefty hitter with power and could be getting a look . . . Pawtucket outfielder Daniel Nava is off to a hot start, hitting .318 with 14 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs through 37 games. He also has lofty ambitions. According to Pawtucket broadcaster Dan Hoard, Nava leaves a ticket for every game for Erin Andrews, the ESPN sideline reporter and “Dancing With The Stars’’ contestant. Good luck with that, Daniel.

Globe correspondent Dan Hickling contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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