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North Haven SportsBeat: Down on the Farm

Matt Barnes of Bethel earns promotion with Red Sox and several other players from the area continue to make major gains in the minor leagues.

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Matt Barnes of Bethel appears to be on the fast track to Boston. The first-round pick of the Red Sox in last summer's MLB draft has earned a promotion to the team's Class A affiliate of the Carolina League. Barnes who received a $1.5 million dollar signing bonus, made five starts for Greenville (S.C) in the South Atlantic League, going 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA. The right-handed pitcher out of UConn told the Boston Globe that he was elated with the promotion.

“I was extremely happy and, obviously, it happened pretty quick, so I can’t complain about that,’’ said Barnes.“Everybody wants to move up as fast as possible. I had just pitched that day and they called me in after the game and told me. My family was waiting outside and I was able to go out there and tell them. It was awesome.’’

Barnes didn't need a second chance to make a good first impression in Salem. In his first start for the Avalanche, Barnes struck out 12 in six innings of work and gave up just one run to record the victory.

Mike Olt of Branford is tearing up the Texas League. A first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2010 MLB draft, Olt is hitting .287 and has seven home runs in just 108 at-bats. The power-hitting third baseman who played at UConn is adjusting well to AA.

“Double-A is definitely a big jump from High-A," Barmes told ESPN Radio in Dallas. "I guess my first impression is there’s definitely a lot of work I have to do in order to continue to climb the latter,” Olt said. “You’ve got step up your game mentally and try to figure out what they like to throw in certain situations.” 

Curt Casali of New Canaan has found his hitting grove with the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers in the Midwest League. On April 26, the 10th round pick of the Tigers in the 2011 MLB draft went 3-for-4 against Quad Cities. On May 1, belted a tape-measure blast for his third home run of the season. Casali is hitting .297 in 64 at-bats.

Casali's former teammate at Vanderbilt, Jason Esposito (Bethany), has struggled in the early part of the 2012 season. In 26 games, the talented third baseman who played at Amity High School, is hitting just .237 with no home runs and 10 RBI. In the field, Esposito has made seven errors in just 73 chances.

Josh Zeid of Hamden is pitching for Houston's AA affiliate in the Texas League. The former 10th round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009  is 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA. He has struck out 12 hitters in 10.1 innings.

Max Russell of Orange is rounding into form playing for Inland Empire, the Angels' Class A affiliate in the Californina. is 2-3 with a 5.54 ERA. In 39 innnings of work, the former Amity High School star has struck out 24 hitters while walking just 12.

Dan Paolini of Stratford is trying to work his way up through the Seattle Mariners farm system. The gritty second baseman is playing for the team's Class A affiliate where he is hitting .264 with one home run in six RBI in 64 at-bats.

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