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Streak puts Almanzar in elite company

Red Sox prospect reaches in 16 straight plate appearances
July 25, 2012
Michael Almanzar joined baseball legend Ted Williams in the record book Wednesday night with the kind of performance that comes around once in a lifetime.

On the surface, the Red Sox prospect's 3-for-4 performance in Salem's 6-1 win over Myrtle Beach looks like nothing more than a solid night at the plate. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll uncover a streak that puts him in elite company.

By recording hits in his first three at bats Wednesday, Almanzar -- the son of former big league pitcher Carlos Almanzar -- reached base in 16 consecutive plate appearances.

While the Carolina League record book does not include an entry, Almanzar tied the modern-day Major League record set by Williams who recorded six hits, drew nine walks and was hit by a pitch in September 1957. Then 38, Williams went on to win the American League batting crown with a .388 average and finished second behind Mickey Mantle in MVP balloting.

"I don't ever remember a streak like this," said Salem hitting coach Rich Gedman, who spent 11 years behind the plate for the Red Sox between 1980-90. "If anybody I knew had one it would have been Wade Boggs, but apparently the history books say Ted Williams.

"(Almanzar's) approach to baseball has been outstanding. Anytime you're mentioned in the same conversation as Ted Williams and what he accomplished, it's pretty special."

When Almanzar flied out to center field in his final at-bat of Saturday's 7-4 loss to Wilmington, nobody foresaw the streak on which he was about to embark. But the native of the Dominican Republic went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks against the Blue Rocks on Sunday and was 3-for-3 with a solo homer and a hit by pitch in Monday's opener of this three-game series.

One night later, Almanzar went 4-for-4 with a walk in a 4-3 loss, extending the streak to 13 plate appearances. On Wednesday, he singled to right field in the second inning, then doubled the right-field line and stole third in the third. Leading off the fifth, the 21-year-old corner infielder took an 0-2 pitch to right field for another base hit.

The 12 consecutive hits matched the Carolina League record set by Burlington's Kenneth Kuhn in 1958.

Almanzar was jammed on an 0-1 pitch and popped to second base to end the eighth inning. He had a chance to tie the all-time baseball mark held by Frank Ward, who reached in 17 straight games, reportedly in 1893.

"He's had singles and doubles and home runs," Gedman said. "He's hit the ball to left field and right field and center field. ... Over the last five games, his focus has been outstanding. Seven or eight of his hits were with two strikes. The streak is one of those things that may never happen again. It puts a smile on your face. It's an amazing streak."

Almanzar is 21-for-38 (.553) during a 10-game hitting streak with four homers, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored. He's also walked seven times and been hit once during that stretch.

When Almanzar -- who signed with the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2007 -- started the hitting streak on July 16, he was batting .289 with a .335 on-base percentage. He's upped those marks to .316 and .369, respectively.

"His swing can be long, but he's working hard on it," Gedman said. "He's a tall guy with long arms and long legs; there can be a lot of moving parts. But as long as he keeps all of his upper body level and stays on the ball, he has a chance to be successful."

Overshadowed by Almanzar was Keith Couch (7-8), who scattered 10 hits en route to his second career complete game. Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect, slugged a three-run homer, his second in as many games and 14th of the season.

Myrtle Beach starter Randy Henry (5-6) surrendered six runs -- three earned -- on nine hits and two walks while fanning three batters over five innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to