Results tagged ‘ Jackie Bradley Jr. ’
Believe it or not, the title does not refer to a trip to Connecticut. But indeed, I’ve had the privilege of heading up to Fenway a couple of time while the PawSox were on the road. I had only been there once in my life before this summer and I’m so glad that got to change. (And it didn’t hurt that I got to interview some pretty cool people…see below…)
I imagine most people reading this blog are familiar with Fenway, so I’ll spare just describing the experience. But I must admit that Yawkey Way sets the tone just as well as the new Mondor Way does at McCoy.
And while the sold-out crowds are awesome, Fenway (as most ballparks are) is even cooler when the place is empty.
Two things stood out when I visited in July:
- The Red Sox had one of the better promotions I had ever seen.
- There is a lot of Boston media. Here they are swarming the Red Sox’ new addition at the time, Drew Pomeranz:
Fortunately, I obtained some one-on-one interviews.
First and foremost I spoke with All-Star centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. He spent parts of each of the previous three seasons in Pawtucket and after he heated up at the end of his PawSox stint in 2015, JBJ has finally reached his full potential.
I spoke with JBJ about all sorts of topics, including his time with Pawtucket, seeing his good buddy Bryce Brentz succeed, being in a playoff race and the outfield celebration.
Last week, I was also able to catch up with Jackie’s current (and past) teammate, Travis Shaw. It was barely over a year ago when both men still played at McCoy.
Shaw has played mostly played third base this season after surprising many by both making the big league club out of spring training and then getting off to a tremendous start.
I asked Travis about his mentality coming into the season, his relationship with some PawSox coaches, how the fans have taken to him in Boston and if he is now recognized on the streets.
I caught up with Flemming (the brother of one of our current broadcasters…I’ll let you figure out which one) when the Giants were in town in July.
He spoke about some of his favorite PawSox memories, his younger brother and his favorite ballparks.
I caught up with Speier last week to discuss Boston’s push for the playoffs. He talked about the keys for the Red Sox down the stretch, the PawSox we might see at Fenway next month and some other notable players in the lower levels of the minors.
One point from Speier worth reiterating: Sandy Leon leads the majors in OPS (min. 100 AB)! It was just yesterday (well just shy of three months ago) when I sat down with him at McCoy. It’s worth noting that when I asked him about his offense in that conversation, he told me “I like to catch better than hit.” That still might be the case, but I bet he find hitting pretty cool by now.
He might not be Sandy Leon, but David Ortiz has also been incredible to watch up close this season. In fact, forget the fact that this is his final season…if you want to talk about clutch, he homered in all three games I attended this summer. (Somewhat kidding.) Here’s some shoddy proof (I promise that’s Big Papi pointing to the sky three times):
So, if you guys want me to keep coming to Fenway into the fall, I wouldn’t mind. I’m available. Although, I’m sure Ortiz will find a way to work his magic this October no matter what…as long as the Red Sox can find their way there.
Thanks to the Sox for letting me come out. Now it’s back to McCoy. Only nine home games left. Make sure to come by before it’s too late. As Speier and I discussed, there will be a handful of guys who will (also) make the 45-mile trip to Fenway next month.
by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)
Like much of New England, I got snowed in this weekend. More than two feet fell around my offseason home in Washington, D.C. Unlike New England, D.C. does not take massive snowstorms in stride. As of this writing the city is finally starting to dig its way out, but the weekend saw most residents holed up as the blizzard rolled through town. When we get a snowfall of this magnitude down here, you see some unusual things: cross-country skiers gliding down normally busy streets; snowball fights breaking out in traffic circles; and, for the first time in more than two decades, sledding on the hills surrounding the United States Capitol Building.
In many ways, baseball fans are on a similar ride – we are hurtling toward Opening Day 2016. With the PawSox’ opener 72 days away, we welcome you back inside the broadcast booth and into the 45 Miles From Fenway blog. From now until April 7, we will be your source for Sox news; join us here for winter ball updates, roster projections and reporting from Spring Training in Ft. Myers. We’re also a week or two away from a big announcement: we’ve created a new way to provide the very best Sox coverage to our fans. Stay tuned!
The PawSox were well represented at the Red Sox Baseball Winter Weekend, as documented in Rollin’ With Rick, Rick Medeiros’s always entertaining blog. The week before, we hosted Moonlight Madness at McCoy and had a great time interacting with fans. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Bob Kipper joined us and were as engaging and welcoming as ever. As The ProJo’s Brian MacPherson pointed out, Jackie is a more confident and relaxed man; he seems ready to seize hold a full-time role in Boston in 2016. I had a chance to sit down with Jackie and explore his newfound peace of mind and trace its roots to a Sunday in Detroit:
Josh made it to the Sox Winter Weekend and caught up Don Orsillo. Donny had a lot to say about his new digs in San Diego and looked back on his years in Boston:
One other moment stood out from last weekend at Foxwoods – and it involved a pair of former PawSox. Wade Boggs will finally have his day in the Fenway sun this summer when the Red Sox retire his number 26. Before his number could hang in immortality the Sox had to overcome one last hurdle: Brock Holt currently dons the number. In an emotional ceremony, Brock graciously returned 26 to Wade, once and for all.
Dave Dombrowski turned some heads when he mentioned that Bryce Brentz has a chance to figure in the Sox outfield plans in 2016 if he stays healthy. Bryce is a newly married man and played eight games in Puerto Rico this winter for Criollos de Caguas, a club that is managed by Alex Cora. In eight games, Bryce went 7-for-27 with a homer, a double and a .375 on-base percentage. Rusney Castillo and Pat Light were Brentz’s teammates with Caguas. Light tossed 11.1 innings with 10 strikeouts with eight walks.
Speaking of winter baseball, here is a look at some of the 2015 PawSox who took part:
Sandy Leon has played for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter league, and his club is in the championship series. In that set, he is 5-for-20 with two RBIs.
Aneury Tavarez, who was a bit of a late-season revelation for Pawtucket, spent most of the winter playing in his native Dominican but has joined Santurce for the championship series in Puerto Rico.
William Cuevas was a starter for La Guaira in the DR and pitched to a 4.07 ERA over 24.1 innings with 17 strikeouts and nine walks.
Lastly, PawSox skipper Kevin Boles has led the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League. The New York Times ran this great piece on Kevin and the ABL.
A few other notes:
The Red Sox are expanding the protective netting at Fenway, and hope to have it ready by Opening Day.
The Sox have no plans to test Blake Swihart at other positions, even as Christian Vasquez works his way back to health.
No one has a more harrowing story to tell from the 2015 offseason than PawSox’ ace Brian Johnson. Brian received encouraging news recently when an MRI of the left elbow that ended his 2015 season showed no structural damage.
I will leave you with this gem from last weekend. Apparently Carl Willis is a Billy Joel fan. Ruben Amaro? He may have some work to do…..
Until next time,
by Will Flemming
What a weekend for the PawSox in Allentown. The fact that the ballclub snapped an 11-game losing streak and took three of four from the Lehigh Valley in the span of 40 hours took a back seat to all of the news off the field.
Just before batting practice on Friday, the news that rocked Red Sox Nation began to trickle in from Boston: John Farrell had been diagnosed with Stage 1 Lymphoma. The immediate reaction within the PawSox clubhouse was a mirror-image of the scene at Fenway: first shock, then confusion, and lastly a whole lot of questions. I was standing by Kevin Boles on the field as he prepared to hit ground-ball fungoes when the players trickling out of the visitors’ clubhouse shared the news with the Pawtucket skipper.
You have to understand this about John Farrell: he has always been a great partner to Kevin and his entire staff. Throughout much of spring training, Boles and his coaches (Bob Kipper and Rich Gedman) are with the Major-League club. Farrell treats them with respect and accords them real responsibilities; he essentially acts as the patriarch of a big baseball family. Bolesy was a floored as anyone by the news, but as usual, he had the perfect way of articulating his feelings on the matter. Listen to what he shared with Josh before Saturday’s game:
Everyone in the PawSox family is thinking of John and encouraged that the early detection seems to offer a bright prognosis.
Sunday morning, the PawSox had every reason to be dragging. On top of the lingering emotions over the big-league skipper, the Sox had played two nine-inning games on Saturday. Pawtucket took Game One 5-2 thanks to Quintin Berry’s third home run of the roadtrip and a big two-run single from Allen Craig (more on those two later). In the nightcap, Berry scored again in the first inning Pawtucket fell behind 5-1 after three ininings as the IronPigs got to spot starter Mike McCarthy. But the Sox summoned an inspired rally in their seventeenth inning of a marathon day; they sent nine men to the plate, scored four times and had the bases loaded before striking out for the game’s final out.
When the next morning dawned, the Sox girded themselves for the series finale – and sought a series win. But before David Buchanan and Wiliam Cuevas took the mound, the final domino fell from Boston: Bob Kipper would be joining the Red Sox as their bullpen coach after Dana LeVangie was named the interim bench coach for interim skipper Torey Lovullo. Kip’s phone was ringing off the hook with congratulatory calls and he scrambled to iron out logistics. By the time the game began, the PawSox dugout essentially became a receiving line for Kip. Bob could be seen grinning ear to ear, shaking hands and hugging one Pawtucket player after another. Here’s a view inside the dugout before the game (with Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez congratulating Bob):
As we have said many times in this space and over our airwaves, it is almost impossible to overstate how respected Bob is by his players, by his collegues and by yours truly. Bob’s stint comes at a great time for the pitching staff in Boston; you can be certain that Eddie Rodriguez, Henry Owens and the many other pitchers with whom he worked in Pawtucket will benefit from time with Kip in the ‘pen. Josh and I are indebted to Bob for his generosity, the information and time he shared with us and, more broadly speaking, for just being as great to be around as he was all season.
William Cuevas – one of Kip’s newest pupils – gave Bob one last outing to savor on Sunday in Allentown. For the third time since joining the club, Cuevas went at least five innings and allowed two or fewer runs. We’ve quickly learned that Cuevas is a great kid to have around; his journey from Venezuela is a fascinating one and he brings a joie de vivre to the ballpark each day. Here is the conversation I had with Cuevas on Wednesday in Scranton:
Cuevas’s start was just one element of an uplifting weekend in Pennsylvania; the PawSox offense really came to life, too. In four games, the Sox ripped 41 hits and plated 24 runs (in fact, in a span of the last five games, the PawSox have ten or more hits three times – that after they did not post double-digit hits from July 26 until Friday night, the 14th of August). Three names warrant extra mention: Allen Craig, Quintin Berry and Sandy Leon. Berry blasted his third home run in a six-day span, has gotten on base in 15 of his last 37 plate appearances and scored seven runs. Leon is 7-for-his-last-20 and belted a three-run, ninth-inning homer on Friday night. And then there’s Craig, who looks more and more like the man who was a National League All Star in 2013. He is 7 for his last 11 with RBIs in four straight; over his last five games, Allen is 9-for-19 with one line drive after another; he has ripped three doubles, driven in five runs and scored three times. In his last eight games, Craig has raised his on-base percentage 22 points.
The Sox also played fabulous defense, highlighted by this incredible Berry grab:
A few other notes and links before the PawSox look for the second straight series win (which, remarkably, would be the first time they’ve won back-to-back sets all year):
John Tomase wrote this fascinating examination of the Indians’ long road developing pitchers and explored how it may offer the Sox a guide in the year to come.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has made some spectacular plays in the last week, and yet none may have been more athletically jaw-dropping than the one he couldn’t quite make last night:
Travis Shaw is certainly making the most of his opportunity in Boston; he blasted his fifth homer last night at Fenway:
Consider this: Shaw hit five homers in 77 Pawtucket games and posted a .249/.318/.356 slash line. He’s matched the homer total in 21 Boston games and has slashed to the tune of .328/.365/.621.
Is there a scenario that sees the Red Sox break Spring Training in 2016 with Shaw the everyday first baseman and Bradley an everyday outfielder? That seemed virtually impossible a month ago; it is at least more plausible today, and that is a true credit to the work both have done.
Amazingly, the PawSox have twenty games remaining including tonight’s. Josh and I will talk to you on the PawSox Radio Network at 6:50.
by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)
The PawSox close down their eight-game roadtrip today with the finale in Norfolk at 12:05. In many ways, it’s fitting that Henry Owens will take the ball; other than the torrid hitting of Jackie Bradley, Jr. (who is 12-for-30 with four homers, ten RBIs and 5 runs on the trip), Owens has been the story of the Southern swing. In fact, you could argue that Henry’s development has been the most important development of the last two months for the PawSox. Consider these numbers: over his last seven starts, Henry has tossed 46 innings, allowed only 26 hits and 14 runs. He’s struck out 43 (including nine in consecutive starts) and, perhaps most importantly, has walked only 12 (five starts with two walks and a pair with just one). He continues to hold opponents to the lowest batting average against in the International League (.187) and has the third most strikeouts (94). Owens turned 23 on Tuesday, and we had a chance to sit down and chat with the lefthander. Here’s that conversation:
A couple other notes from Norfolk before the pregame show kicks off on WHJJ:
On Tuesday night, the sky above Harbor Park looked like an oil painting; a spectacular sunset danced through cotton clouds that hung above the Craford Bay in right field. I was lucky to snap this picture, which instantly became the favorite I’ve ever taken in a ballpark:
As Josh has made his big league dream come true this week (and done a fabulous job even as the Red Sox have struggled) it’s been a treat to work with Mike Antonellis. Mike, who is the voice of our AA affiliate in Portland, has displayed a great knowledge of the game, a sense of humor and a passion for broadcasting. When the Rangers or Padres call for Josh next, we will be on the horn to Mike.
– Ben Cherington met with the media yesterday in Houston. As Tim Britton chronicles, he admitted the Sox will be sellers without saying exactly as much.
– Speaking of Owens, John Farrell intimated that Henry is going to make his big league debut in 2015.
– It’s been a deflating road trip to day the least; Gordon Edes chronicles the carnage.
– On the brighter side, first-round pick Andrew Benintendi has now hit 4 homers and walked 14 times. He’s been on a roll lately.
– Clay Buchholz will be out several weeks after receiving a platelet rich injection from Dr. James Andrews. How much the Sox will push him in what is an evaporating season remains a big question.
Mike and I will talk to you at 11:50 on WHJJ,
by Josh Maurer
With less than one week remaining until the Triple-A All-Star break, the PawSox certainly have the look of a team that could use the three days off. Perhaps they’ll be able to gain some momentum before the mid-summer stoppage as they play the final six games against Lehigh Valley, starting with a three-game series at Coca-Cola Park on Tuesday night.
The last (and only) time these teams have met this season was the very first series of the year in which Pawtucket took three of four from the Iron Pigs. The final two of those games went a combined 29 innings and included an epic 16-inning affair on April 12 in which three position players pitched.
Has it really been nearly three months since these divisional rivals met? Well, the squads will certainly get well reacquainted over the next six nights. Entering the home-and-home series the PawSox hold a slim two-game lead over Lehigh Valley in the North Division for fourth place.
Speaking of the All-Star break, the Major League All-Star teams were announced Monday and the Red Sox will be represented in Cincinnati by a popular former PawSox infielder, Brock Holt. Brock spent most of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 playing in Pawtucket and has since turned himself into one of the premier utilitymen in baseball.
Holt is one of the great success stories to come up from the PawSox in recent years. He first proved his big-league value by learning to play all over the diamond (almost literally, everywhere but pitcher and catcher), then became an everyday player because of his consistency and productivity at the plate.
Holt hit .281 for Boston in 2014, and this season is batting .295 in 66 games played. The “Brock Star” made national headlines last month when he hit for the cycle in a game at Fenway against Atlanta, becoming the first BoSox player to do so in 19 years.
Brock is a relentless worker and a great clubhouse guy. A huge congrats to him on his well-deserved All-Star selection.
Also, you can now vote for Xander Bogaerts for the AL’s “Final Vote” selection to the mid-summer classic. The young shortstop and former PawSox has had a breakout season for Boston, currently hitting .302 in 80 games in 2015. Many feel he should have already been included on the American League roster without needing a fan vote.
Back in the International League, it was announced Monday that Jackie Bradley, Jr., who was recently optioned back to the PawSox from Boston, has been named to the IL All-Star team to replace Brian Johnson on the roster.
I’ve written extensively about the fantastic season JBJ has had for Pawtucket, and I am happy he’ll get an opportunity to be recognized for all of his accomplishments. Granted, I’m sure Jackie would rather be playing in Boston right now, but while he awaits his inevitable return to the Major Leagues this is certainly a nice honor to receive.
Starting this Tuesday, representatives from the new PawSox ownership group are beginning what they are calling “Listening Tours” throughout the state of Rhode Island to help facilitate dialogue about their proposal for a new downtown ballpark in Providence. Here is the information on those tour stops:
Representatives of the PawSox ownership group will embark on a 39-city and town tour of the State of Rhode Island this summer to engage in community conversations about the vision of the proposed Providence multi-purpose ballpark.
The “Listening Tours” will be a facilitated discussion between PawSox representatives andmembers of the community. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the design, function and any other aspects of the proposed ballpark.
The first of the community meetings begins next Tuesday, July 7th at 5 pm at the Smithfield Senior Center on William J. Hawkins, Jr. Trail in Greenville. That kick-off meeting is followed by two on Thursday, July 9th on Aquidneck Island, specifically at the Portsmouth Senior Center, 110 Bristol Ferry Road at 5 pm and the Middletown VFW Hall at 52 Underwood Lane at 7 pm. Dr. Charles Steinberg, Senior Advisor to Boston Red Sox President and CEO, Larry Lucchino, will facilitate all three.
Tuesday, July 7th at 5pm – Smithfield Senior Center, William J. Hawkins, Jr. Trail, Greenville
Thursday, July 9th at 5 pm – Portsmouth Senior Center, 110 Bristol Ferry Road, Portsmouth
Thursday, July 9th at 7pm – Gilbert-Burton VFW Post, 52 Underwood Lane, Middletown
Finally, below is the audio of an interview I did with PawSox infielder Travis Shaw for this past week’s Insider show. Travis has had quite the past month, having had his first extended time in the big leagues following a red-hot stretch in Pawtucket. He is very candid about all of his recent experiences in the conversation:
Will and I look forward to speaking with you on the radio this week from Allentown. Lets hope the PawSox get a few back in the win column before the break. Thanks for reading!
by Josh Maurer
On Thursday morning the Red Sox promoted three Pawtucket players – Jackie Bradley, Jr., Deven Marrero and Jonathan Aro – to replace Dustin Pedroia (disabled list), Joe Kelly (optioned) and Erik Kratz (designated for assignment). So today I thought I’d take a close look at the season all three of those players have put together for PawSox.
Jackie Bradley, Jr.:
Simply put, Jackie has been an MVP candidate in the International League (and perhaps the favorite for the award). He is the overall IL leading vote getter (among position players) for the Triple-A All-Star Game. Bradley is currently second in the league in batting average (.322), second in on-base percentage (.398) and fourth in slugging percentage (.468).
Mix all of that in with his usual gold glove-type defense and you can make an easy argument that Jackie has been the best player in the IL this season. Check out the catch Bradley made at McCoy Stadium on Tuesday night:
UPDATE: Here is a great column from terrific baseball writer Richard Justice speaking about Bradley’s promotion. I agree with just about all of his points.
Here are the bullet points on Bradley from the PawSox game notes:
Had 6th 3-hit game of season on 6/23 vs. ROC…Has started 27 of team’s 28 games since return from MLB (5/25-pres, day off 6/14), those 27: 32-for-106 (.302), 14 BB, 3 HR, 9 2B…Hit walk-off RBI 2B in 12th in on 6/12 vs. TOL…Had 19-game on-base streak & 9-gm hitting streak snapped 6/6 in SYR…15-game stretch from 4/27-6/2: 9 multi-hit, 26-61 (.426), 3 HR, 5 2B…Hit HR and 2B on 5/27 vs. M. Tanaka (SWB) in 1st 2 inn of game…Promoted to BOS on 5/10, played in 6 games, went 0-for-11 w.2 K, optioned back 5/22 (R. Castillo recalled)…Promoted to BOS on 4/28, optioned back 4/29 (DNP)…Hit leadoff in 18 of first 19 games (4/9-4/27).
Marrero has had somewhat of an up-and-down campaign, both with his bat and his glove. He has gone through some extreme hot and cold streaks offensively, and at the time of his first big-league promotion was just 4-for-23 (.174) with five strikeouts in his last six games played for Pawtucket.
Deven has also made a PawSox-leading 15 errors, most of which have come at shortstop. It’s interesting – Marrero has the ability to make spectacular plays at short but this season has shown some very atypical lapses in being able to complete the routine ones. I don’t think the error totals are anything to worry about long term; I assume his recent defensive issues will be temporary.
Here is Marrero’s in-season summary from the PawSox game notes:
Snapped a 0-for-8 with a 3-for-4 night on 6/23 vs. ROC; Has 5 multi-hit games over last 14 games played (only had 1 multi-H gm from 5/16-6/6)…Had 8 SBs on 5/16, only 1 since…6/7 at SYR: 3-for-4, BB, HR off D. Fister…9-game stretch from 5/29-6/6: 4-for-29, 2 BB, 4 K…Batted 2nd in 5 straight games from 6/1-6/6…IND/LOU trip 5/18-5/24 (5 games): 3-for-22, BB, 8 K…7-game stretch from 5/9-5/15: 10-for-23 (.435), 4 BB, HR, 2B, 4 RBI…Started 19 str games before off day 5/18 in Indy (4/28-5/17)…9-game stretch from 4/29-5/8: 3-for-32, HR, 2 RBI, 11 K…Batted above 6th in batting order for 1st 2 times in Triple-A career on 5/2 & 5/6 (2nd)…Played 3B for the first time in career 5/6 at TOL…Played first career game anywhere other than at SS when started at 2B on 4/25 at SWB…Reached base safely in 1st 9 games (4/9-4/19, .321 BA).
Aro is the most interesting promotion of the bunch. At this time last season the right-hander was pitching for Low-A Greenville in the South Atlantic League. After beginning this year with Double-A Portland, he earned a quick promotion to Pawtucket in May and after a couple of shaky early outings Aro has been unhittable.
Aro has not given up a run since May 18th, tossing eight straight scoreless appearances that spanned at total of 19 innings. Most impressive has been his strikeout/walk ratio: which in 22.1 innings pitched has been 30 punch outs and just 3 bases on balls.
He has shown the ability to miss a lot of bats despite not generally throwing his fastball harder than 92-93 miles per hour. Aro has advanced through the Boston system about as quickly as any player in recent memory. It will be interesting to see how fast he adjusts to MLB hitters.
Here are the Aro vitals from the PawSox game notes:
Last 8 appearances (5/21-pres): 0-0, SV, 0.00 ERA (19.0 IP, 10 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 27 K)…Recorded first Triple-A save with 3.0 scoreless IP on 6/19 at GWN (2H, 1BB, 5K)…Pitched multiple innings in his first 9 appearances with PAW…Made Triple-A debut on 5/15 vs. COL and allowed 3R and 4H in 2IP (inherited 5-0 lead in 7th inn)…Promoted to PAW on 5/14…Appeared in 8 games with Portland (all in relief) and went 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA (22.1 IP, 15 H, 12 R, 7 ER, 8 BB, 19 K)…Held opponents to a .181 batting average.
So there you have the information on the three newest members of the Boston roster. In other news, Pawtucket has announced that recently-optioned pitchers Steven Wright and Joe Kelly are going to join the PawSox rotation.
Wright will start on Friday night at McCoy Stadium against Gwinnett, while Kelly will make his Pawtucket debut on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 versus the G-Braves. They join Brian Johnson, Henry Owens and Zeke Spruill in the five-man rotation, with Jess Todd moving to the Pawtucket pen.
Thursday night is Armed Services Night at McCoy; one of the most moving and inspirational nights to be held at the ballpark annually. Make sure to get your tickets at pawsox.com, or come in person to the box office prior to the contest – first pitch is slated for 7:05pm.
Hope to see you at McCoy this weekend. If not, as always, Will and I will speak to you on the radio with all the broadcast coverage. Thanks for reading!
by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)
It’s Draft Day in Major League Baseball. Assuming Kevin Costner doesn’t take over for Ben Cherington tonight (which would mean the Sox will have drafted Mike Trout with the 7th pick, packaged their 10th and 12th round picks to move up and pick Gerrit Cole, and swapped an organizational bullpen arm for Andrew McCutchen), Boston will pick 7th in the first round of the amateur draft. Baseball is so different from the other major sports in two main regards: first, it is far more difficult to project what impact any of tonight’s selections will have (since the body of work against high-level competition is so much smaller than in football or basketball); second, it will take much longer for tonight’s draftees to make a measurable impact in MLB (on average, three to five years).
The difficulty of projection and longer incubation period does not mean we can’t have some fun considering whom the Sox may take later tonight. Most of the speculation has centered around three main players: Andrew Benintendi, a centerfielder from Arkansas some describe as “a Jacoby Ellsbury clone with a strong power/speed combination”; Alex Bregman, the LSU shortstop who is a close friend of Blake Swihart’s (who attended Blake’s Boston workout in 2011) and the player most evaluators view as the safest pick in the top 10 with the longest track record of proven success; and Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer. Here’s Keith Law’s report on Fulmer:
“There are three guys from Vanderbilt who have a chance to go in the top 10 this year: the Walker Buehler, Dansby Swanson and Fulmer. Of those three, Fulmer has the most volatily, possessing the most explosive stuff/tools but the most question marks as well. Fulmer’s arm is lightning-quick, and he uses his natural arm strength to sit 92-94 mph and touch the high 90s. The curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch, a power curve with very hard spin that he buries down in the zone. He also has better command of it than he does his fastball.”
Cherington spoke earlier this week about the nuance involved in the draft and the club’s approach, saying “I think the draft is really difficult. I think one of the hardest things we do is try to project amateur talent and (director of amateur scouting) Mike (Rikard) and his staff have been working hard, really hard, to do that all spring. “So whatever our selection is on Monday night, as Mike said before, is going to be based on what we feel is the best player for the Red Sox, not with any particular vision on when that player might get there.”
A little on Mike Rikard – in his first year as the Red Sox’ director of amateur scouting – from NESN’s draft preview:
“Rikard, who was promoted to Red Sox director of amateur scouting over the offseason when Amiel Sawdaye was promoted to vice president of amateur and international scouting, is entering his first draft in his new position. He, like Cherington, noted Boston’s open-mindedness, saying the Red Sox are “still considering a lot of options” with their first-round selection. “I think this draft class may be a little non-typical, just because there still is some uncertainty in front of us,” Rikard said. “There maybe hasn’t been those guys at the top of the draft that have kind of solidified themselves. So there is some gray area as far as what maybe the teams may do in front of us, but we’re trying to just continue to weigh out all the options and we’ll continue to do so for the next few days.”
No matter what happens tonight, remember this: pay no attention to the immediate grading of drafts. In my opinion, nothing could be less valuable – we simply DO NOT know what these players will become. A quick glance back at knee-jerk draft grades uncovered a B- grade for Oakland selecting Addison Russell (who has emerged as a young star for the Cubs), and an A+ for the Mariners after they selected Dustin Ackley with the second pick in 2009 (Ackley is a career .242/.305/.342 player who has faced demotion back to AAA). Having said all that, one scout reviewing the 2009 draft 3 hours after the completion of the first round certainly nailed on thing:
25. Los Angeles Angels — Mike Trout (OF) from Millville Senior High School (NJ); Trout hit .531 with 18 HR’s this season, and is an extremely good switch hitter that could possibly turn into the best position player of the draft in 5 years. At this pick in the draft, Trout is an absolute steal.
One other thing to remember: As hard as it is to project and develop young baseball players, you need look no further than yesterday’s box scores to underscore the impact the draft can have on big-league teams. Gerrit Cole (the first pick in 2011) pitched the Pirates to a series win; Kris Bryant (the Cubs’ top choice in 2013) has set the NL ablaze and was a homer shy of the cycle yesterday; Joe Panik (the Giants’ first choice in 2011) extended his hitting streak to 12; and Matt Wieters (the 5th overall pick in 2007) came back from Tommy John and hit his first homer since May.
Even though the PawSox won just two of six on their most recent three-city roadtrip, the ballclub enjoyed a tremendous power surge. Pawtucket blasted ten homers in the six contests (including two three-homer games). If you missed any of the homers, here is a mashup of all ten radio calls:
If you include the final two games of the last homestand, the Sox have ripped 13 big flies over an eight-game stretch. Pawtucket leads the International League with 46 homers, but has scored the fourth fewest runs in the circuit (209). Ten of the Sox’ 44 hits in June have been homers, including four two-run shots, Cecchini’s slam and five solo blasts.
Kevin Boles has to be particularly encouraged by Cecchini, who hadn’t homered (or driven in a run) since April 13th and has now left the yard in consecutive games.
Last week also featured Allen Craig’s first homer of the season, and the continuation of his surge since he was outrighted to Pawtucket. In the 21 games Craig has played with the PawSox, he has at least one hit in 17 and two hits or more in eight.
I had a chance to sit down for an extended conversation with Allen over the weekend. You can listen here:
In spite of all the homers, the best play of the week came when the PawSox were in the field. We’ve grown accustomed to special defense from Jackie Bradley, Jr. But this play took our breath away:
One last thing: my brother David – the voice of the PawSox from 2001-3 and now a broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants – had a special week. For the third time in five years, he had the honor of visiting the White House with the World Champion Giants. I thought Pawtucket fans might enjoy a couple shots from his day.
The PawSox begin a seven-game homestand tonight at 7:05 with the Charlotte Knights in town. Josh and I look forard to talking to you then.
Thanks for reading,