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Minor League Notebook

Iglesias has winning attitude

Shortstop content to await his turn

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / April 22, 2011

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While Jed Lowrie is vying with Marco Scutaro for playing time in Boston, Jose Iglesias is biding his time in Pawtucket as the Red Sox’ shortstop of the future.

Ranked at the end of the last season by Baseball America as the club’s No. 2 prospect behind righthanded pitcher Casey Kelly, the 21-year-old Iglesias became the de facto top prospect when Kelly was traded to San Diego in December along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo (ranked the No. 3 prospect) and outfielder Reymond Fuentes (No. 6) in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez.

Asked if it was frustrating having Lowrie and Scutaro stacked on top of him in the majors — not to mention having the hot-hitting Yamaico Navarro (.315) with him in Pawtucket — Iglesias insisted it is quite the contrary.

“No, the most important thing is the team and the organization,’’ Iglesias said. “We have to win, no matter what. I feel great. [Lowrie and Scutaro], they’re doing a very good job and they’ve been in baseball for a long time. It’s a great example for a young guy like myself.’’

So Iglesias waits. He watches. And, more important, he plays every day.

Ranked the best defensive infielder among Sox prospects, Iglesias has shown he is capable of hitting, as well, going 11 for 40 (.275) in his first 11 games this season.

“He’s swinging the bat pretty well,’’ said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler. “He’s got a lot of discipline at the plate, but he’s an aggressive swinger, so when he gets into a hitter’s count, he can impact the baseball a little bit.’’

That was evident during spring training when he hit .320 (8 for 25) in 15 games.

“I had a good spring training,’’ Iglesias said. “I learned something every single day from guys like [Dustin] Pedroia, Scutaro, Adrian, David [Ortiz]. It was great.’’

Iglesias spent most of last year with Double A Portland, where he hit .285 with 13 RBIs, limited to 57 games because of a broken right hand. He played in 13 rehab games at Lowell and hit .350 with 7 RBIs.

“I’m working hard in the cage and focusing on what I have to do at the plate,’’ Iglesias said. “I just try to make simple what I have to do and get a good pitch to hit. That’s all, playing every day. That’s all I can do.’’

That’s all he hopes to do not just at McCoy Stadium, but at Fenway Park.

In the not-too-distant future.

Grand opening While no one in the organization may be wielding a hotter bat than Lowrie, Pawtucket second baseman Tony Thomas could be giving him a run for his money.

Thomas, acquired Feb. 11 in a trade with the Cubs for righthanded pitcher Robert Coello, leads the PawSox with a .375 average, having gone 12 for 32 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, and a team-leading 3 home runs and 11 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.

Eight of Thomas’s RBIs came on two swings of the bat, as he hit a pair of grand slams in his first three games with the PawSox. “I had two in my career previous to the first one here, but never that close to each other,’’ said Thomas, 24, whose first granny came in his first Triple A at-bat, April 9 at Buffalo. The second came in his 10th at-bat of the season April 11 at Buffalo.

“First Triple A career hit for me was a grand slam, so it couldn’t get any better than that, right? Then to do it again, in the same series, is mind-boggling. It’s amazing, very amazing.’’

Thomas, a nephew of former Patriots cornerback Maurice Hurst, spent all of last season with the Cubs’ Double A team in Tennessee, where the 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pounder ranked among the Southern League leaders in triples (11) and slugging (.485).

While he didn’t show it in spring training, going 0 for 7 in six games with the Red Sox, Thomas’s power is no accident.

“It’s just hard work in the offseason, a lot of leg exercises,’’ said the former Florida State standout who was the 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. “I’m making sure I use a lot of my legs, because that’s where a majority of my power comes from.’’

Hill in command When Milton native Rich Hill allowed a two-run homer in a 6-3 loss to Syracuse Wednesday night, it marked the first earned runs the lefthanded reliever allowed this season in 17 1/3 innings, a span that included seven spring training appearances with the Red Sox. Hill, 31, signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox this season. “He’s been outstanding,’’ Beyeler said. “He’s been pounding the zone and finishing hitters and that’s all you can ask for.’’ . . . Though they saw a five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday, the PawSox had four doubles to give them an International League-leading total of 36. Through 14 games, Josh Reddick led the team with six doubles, while Navarro and Daniel Nava have five apiece. The PawSox added two more yesterday in a 14-0 win over Syracuse. . . Alex Hassan, another Milton native, had an RBI double last night to extend his hitting streak to 12 games . . . Kolbrin Vitek had three hits for the second night in a row to help the Single A Salem (Va.) Red Sox score a 5-4 victory over Lynchburg Wednesday and improve to 9-2, marking the franchise’s best start. Vitek had eight hits and three walks in the three-game sweep of the Hillcats to improve his average from .148 to .300 as Salem won its fifth in a row and ninth of 10.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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