Before we completely turn the page to what is normally the busiest month of the baseball season, let us take a quick moment to reflect back on the achievements of the past month as we present to you the Best of May from the Red Sox farm system, as voted on by me…for whatever that’s worth to you.
Pawtucket Red Sox
Batter: Bryce Brentz – It was a tough call here thanks to the efforts of Brock Holt, but Brentz is the choice based on his overall production. He appeared in 26 of the teams 30 games in May, highlighted by his 3-run walk off homer on the 17th to dispatch of the Gwinnett Braves. For the month Brentz equaled his April home run total with 5 and drove in 21 runs while scoring 11 times. He batted .288 with a .472 slugging percentage and he stole his first base at the Triple-A level.
Pitcher: Ryan Rowland-Smith – The PawSox bullpen was very strong in May and this honor could have easily gone to the likes of a Jose De La Torre or Anthony Carter, but Rowland-Smith was lights-out in his 9 relief appearances making him a no-brainer selection. Over 16 innings of work the Aussie yielded just one earned run and has only allowed 2 all season. He struck out 15 batters, walked only 4 and let up 7 hits. He went 1-0 in the month, earned his first save since 2011 and, if he keeps up at this rate, he may soon pick up a voucher for the Pawtucket-to-Boston shuttle.
Portland Sea Dogs
Batter: Xander Bogaerts – The Sox top prospect flipped the power switch on in May after going homerless with only 8 RBIs in April. Of his 28 hits in May 14 were for extra bases, including 2 triples and his first 5 long balls of the year. He plated 22 runners and scored 20 times himself while stealing 2 bases in the process. More importantly his walks went up from 10 to 16 while his strikeouts went down from 24 to 21. Bogaerts batted .277 in May with a .535 slugging percentage and .915 OPS.
Pitcher: Matt Barnes – It was more of a quiet storm for Barnes in May. He was steady despite not having any particularly eye-popping outings. In 6 starts he went 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP. He struck out 37 batters, walked 9 and lasted 5 or more innings in each start that he made.
Salem Red Sox
Batter: Blake Swihart – The catcher raised his average 36 points with a .324 May and showed an all-around improved patience at the plate, running up a .420 on-base percentage after drawing 12 walks. Swihart drove in 11 runs on the month and scored 8 times, had 6 doubles and 2 triples, and stole 4 more bases to bring his season total to 6, matching his stolen base total from a year ago.
Pitcher: Matt Price – The Virginia Tech product came into the season with only 3 1/3 innings of work in pro ball under his belt, but has continued to show improvement as he gains experience. In 7 relief appearances in May he went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 0.86 WHIP while converting the first two saves of his career. He whiffed 15 batters in 14 innings and allowed only 3 walks.
Batter: Mookie Betts – A league and organizational high 19-game hitting streak put Betts, who batted just .157 in April, in another stratosphere as he raised his batting average a whole 118 points in just 26 games. He showed a major power burst, slugging the first 6 home runs of his professional career to go with 13 doubles, 9 RBIs and 23 runs scored. Betts also went 8-for-8 on steal attempts and ended the month on a 4-game hit streak, picking up just one game after his 19-game streak was snapped.
Pitcher: Justin Haley – The start of May was not pretty for Haley after going 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in his first two starts. Two solid relief appearances and two very strong starts later and he seems to have righted a ship that was lost at sea. Over those four appearances Haley was 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA after allowing just 3 earned runs over 17 innings. He struck out 26 batters in 23 2/3 innings during May, including a season high 8 versus Charleston on the 24th.
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