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September 23, 2013

Betts turning heads with ability to get on base

Red Sox minor league second baseman Mookie Betts got off to a tough start right after being promoted from Single-A Greenville to High Single-A Salem in July.

The 20-year-old went just 2 for his first 14 with Salem.

“Starting off it was real tough,” Betts said. “I didn’t know what to expect going in and once I started struggling, I thought it was only down hill from there.

“But talking to (manager) Bill (McMillon) and (hitting coach) Nelson Paulino, they told me, ‘Just stick with what you were doing in Greenville. It’s the same game. Just go out and play and respect the game.’ And that’s what I did.”

Great results followed.

The Red Sox presented Betts with their 2013 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year award.

Betts batted .314 with a .417 OBP, 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 36 doubles and four triples in 551 plate appearances between Greenville and Salem. He also stole 38 bases.

He actually hit for a higher average after his promotion to Salem, batting .341 in 51 games.

Clearly, the second baseman improved a great deal from 2012 when he hit .267 with just nine extra base hits in 292 plate appearances for Lowell.

Betts, listed at just 5-foot-9, 156 pounds, has recorded a .395 on-base percentage in 847 minor league plate appearances.

“When I was real young, probably about 8 or 9, I had a coach who (told) me, ‘No matter how you get on base, you can go out there and steal bags,’” Betts said. “From then on, it just kind of stuck with me — just get on base, try to create something with my legs.”

Betts didn’t have a favorite baseball team growing up.

“I didn’t really watch a whole lot of baseball,” Betts said. “I’ve always been a basketball guy. I somewhat kind of watched (baseball) and watched how guys did things. Terry Shumpert is my uncle. He really (eventually) got me into it.”

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