Results tagged ‘ PawSox ’

With Kelly and Wright Added, PawSox Rotation Looking Robust

by Josh Maurer

At the beginning of this season, the PawSox starting rotation was being touted as one of the best in Minor League Baseball.  Guys like Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez were headlining a five-man group that fans felt could compete with some of the lower-end major league units.

But soon Barnes, Rodriguez and Steven Wright went to Boston.  And the names in the Pawtucket rotation were not turning as many heads every time the team rolled into a new city.

Now, after recent changes at made at the top by Boston, the PawSox starting pitching group seems as robust as it has all year.  How about this for a group of five: Brian Johnson, Joe Kelly, Steven Wright, Henry Owens and Keith Couch.  Zeke Spruill, a 40-man roster member and a reliever all season until last homestand, has also stayed in the rotation because of this week’s doubleheader in Rochester.

Pawtucket’s terrific starting pitching was on full display during last week’s seven-game homestand.  Today we’ll take a closer look at how well each starter pitched, starting with a man who many Red Sox fans are calling for to get a big-league opportunity.

Brian Johnson:

Johnson had one of, if not his best, start of the season last Wednesday against Rochester.  He allowed only one hit and one unearned run in 6.2 innings of work.  The lefty was in complete command of all his pitches, throwing 71 of his 93 pitches for strikes.  The only runner who scored reached base on Johnson’s own throwing error.

Brian currently ranks 1st in the IL in wins (8) and WHIP (1.07), 4th in ERA (2.57), T-2 in strikeouts (76) and 4th in opponent batting average (.207).  He has followed up his breakout season in Double-A last season with another gem of a first half in 2015.  A call up to the next level may not be too far away.

Joe Kelly:

Kelly made his PawSox debut on Sunday after being optioned from Boston a few days earlier (Justin Masterson took the right-hander’s spot in the big-league rotation).  The Red Sox were hoping for a quick turnaround from a man who was expected to be a huge part of their rotation this season but had struggled, especially of late (final three starts with Boston: 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 14.2 IP, 20 H, 11 R).

Kelly was sharp against Gwinnett on Sunday, tossing seven strong innings and allowing just five hits and two runs (one earned).  He struck out four of the first nine batters he faced, but then did not record a punch out after the third inning.  Still, pitching on a damp day at McCoy, the former Cardinals hurler made the Gwinnett batters look over-matched for much of the afternoon.

Steven Wright:

Wright’s first start after being optioned from Boston last week was perhaps his best ever in a Pawtucket uniform.  The knuckleballer was unbelievable on Friday night against Gwinnett, tossing a nine-inning complete-game and allowing just one run on four hits.  Wright took a two-hit shutout into the ninth, then allowed a single and an unlucky bloop double to plate the game’s lone run.

The amazing thing about Wright’s outing was his command of the knuckleball and ability to throw it for strikes.  Steven needed only 87 pitches to get through NINE innings, and 70 of those were strikes.  It was a brilliant performance, and one that could get him recalled to Boston in the very near future.

Henry Owens:

Owens could not hold an early 3-0 lead against Rochester on Thursday night, giving up two runs in the fourth and then a game-tying home run in the fifth inning to the Red Wings.  He lasted a season-high 6.2 innings and threw a season-high 103 pitches in the outing, giving up three runs and five hits while walking only one and punching out six. And check out the great camo-colored uniform he wore on Armed Services Night.

Owens’ command has improved greatly of late.  While he still leads the IL with 46 walks issued, the lefty has only issued four bases on balls in 19 innings over his last four outings (Last 3 starts (6/14-pres): 0-0, 2.84 ERA (19.0 IP, 13 H, 6 R/6 ER, 4 BB, 14 K).  Owens has been ridiculously hard to get hits against all season, and he still leads all IL hurlers in opponent batting average (.195).

Keith Couch:

Couch, maybe the forgotten man in the PawSox rotation, had arguably his best outing of the season last homestand when he no-hit Rochester for the first six innings of the contesst on Tuesday night.  Couch, who would end up allowing two runs in the seventh to tie the contest, pitched 6.2 innings on June 23rd and allowed just two earned runs and three hits.

While his season win/loss record stands at 3-7, Couch has generally pitched well enough to keep his team in the game when he has taken the ball.  He has pitched at least five innings and allowed three runs or fewer in seven of last nine starts (beginning May 12).  He should remain in the Pawtucket rotation moving forward regardless of changes made to the rest of the group.

Pretty impressive starting rotation, huh?  The PawSox will look for continued success from their hurlers in a difficult week in which they will play nine games in the next eight days (four at Rochester Monday through Wednesday, two vs. Scranton on Thursday and Friday, three at Syracuse Saturday through Monday).

Hope to talk to you on the radio from Rochester for Monday’s doubleheader.  Pregame coverage for game one (a continuation of a rain-suspended game from June 5th with the Red Wings leading 1-0 after two innings) begins at 4:50pm.

Have a great start to the week!

Josh M

Three Men Up: Bradley, Marrero and Aro Get The Call

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.:

Jackie Bradley dives for ball

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 2BHit 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).

Deven Marrero:

Marrero flipping ball playing D

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 6/1-6/6IND/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 KBatted 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).

Jonathan Aro:

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.

Steven Wright pitch2

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!

Josh M

Halfway Point Approaches/Hear From the “Strawman” and the “Spaceman”

by Josh Maurer

The PawSox return to McCoy Stadium Monday night to open a big seven-game homestand that begins with four games against Rochester. Pawtucket (34-36) will become very familiar with the Red Wings (35-33) over the next week and a half, playing eight of their upcoming 11 games against the North Division rivals.

The two teams are currently fighting for second place in the division standings, as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (41-30) has taken command of first at the moment with a great run in June. Rochester was swept in a four-game series by the PawSox back on April 16-19, the first home series of the season.

On Tuesday, Pawtucket will reach the halfway mark of the season as it plays game #72. While the team is currently under .500 for the campaign at 34-36, recent history suggests the squad still has a good opportunity to make a run at the postseason.

In 2014, the PawSox stood at 35-37 through 72 games but then finished 44-27 in the second half of the season and went on to win the Governor’s Cup championship. In 2013 the squad finished 36-35 in the second half. It will be interesting to see how this year’s club performs over the next two months.

Kevin Boles’ team is currently in a stretch of playing 26 straight days leading into the All-Star Break next month. I think the way the team performs during the next three weeks, while battling mostly divisional opponents, will go a long way towards determining whether or not it will remain in the playoff hunt in 2015.

Speaking of Boles, congratulations go out to the PawSox skipper for being named a coach for the International League team in next month’s Triple-A All-Star Game. He will work with Syracuse Manager Billy Gardner, Jr. during the game that will be played in Omaha, Nebraska.

Boles bundled in dugout

Bolesy told me he is very excited for the opportunity to get out there and see all the great players involved with such a high-level All-Star contest. I think getting to interact with some of the best players and coaches that Minor League Baseball has to offer has to be one of the best parts of participating in a game like that.

Over the past two weeks I’ve gotten to interact with two prominent figures from baseball’s past; two men who were often controversial yet each a terrific player in his own right.

During the last homestand, four-time World Champion Darryl Strawberry was at McCoy Stadium as part of an appearance with his “Strawberry Ministries.” Darryl’s life has really taken on new meaning in recent years, as you’ll hear in the interview below, having become an ordained minister along with his wife Tracy.

strawberry

He doesn’t spend much time thinking about baseball these days. Check out the conversation from the PawSox Insider show:

When the PawSox were in Charlotte last week, the Knights had brought in former Red Sox Cy Young Award winner Bill Lee to sign autographs for fans and meet with players from each team. “The Spaceman” is still his old outlandish self; he is not afraid to say anything and everything that comes to his mind.

bill lee

We chatted before Tuesday’s game about everything from his current relationship with the Boston brass to his thoughts on Eduardo Rodriguez’s electric start to his MLB career and even how Bill would turn around the big-league Red Sox. Check out the interview below:

Reports say Boston catcher Ryan Hanigan may join the PawSox to begin an MLB rehab assignment this week at McCoy. Hanigan fractured his knuckle back on May 1st, prompting the Red Sox to call up Blake Swihart from Pawtucket.

Hanigan

Blake has been Boston’s number one catcher ever since, although his injured his foot on Saturday night in Kansas City. One wonders what the Red Sox will decide to do with the catching situation once Hanigan is fully healthy.

On Monday night, righty Zeke Spruill will try and make a strong first impression as he moves into the PawSox starting rotation and gets the ball for Kevin Boles.  Spruill has been a reliever all year (save for one start earlier this month that was suspended by rain), however previously in his career he had been mostly used in a starting role.

Zeke Spruill pitching

Hope to see you at the ballpark this week. If not, Will and I will look forward to talking with you on the radio. Happy homestand!

Josh M

Be The Ball: Masterson Looks Strong, Danny Noonan Comes to Charlotte

by Will Flemming

danny noonan

This isn’t Russia. Is this Russia? No, it’s Charlotte.

Caddyshack was the comedy soundtrack of my childhood.  I watched it more than any other film, memorized most of the script, and quoted it constantly to friends and family.  ‘Big hitter, the Lama… long.’ ‘A flute with no holes is not a flute; a donut with no hole is a danish.’ ‘Hey baby you must’ve been something before electricity.’

So when I learned that Wednesday was Caddyshack night at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, a lot of memories came back to me.  All the times I watched it on family vacations, the countless laughs I shared with my brother, my father and my uncles re-living the hilarity at Bushwood Country Club.

Michael O’Keefe, the actor who played Danny Noonan, would be at the ballpark.  I took a flier and reached out to Tommy Viola, the fabulous director of media relations with the Knights to see if I could have a few minutes with Noonan. Tommy almost immediately replied: “Not a problem at all. I’ll be happy to set you up with him.”

This was an interview for which I would not need much preparation.  Even though I had never met O’Keefe, it felt like I was going to sit down with an old friend.

Sure enough, around 3:30 on Wednesday, Michael walked into the press box at BB&T.  Tommy made an introduction, and we settled into the auxiliary broadcast booth.  I was tempted to open with “This isn’t Russia. Is this Russia?” We launched into an effortless, fascinating conversation.  We spoke for 15 minutes before recording the official interview.  Michael told me about his stint on Homeland, how he was in awe of the preparation and professionalism of Claire Danes from the moment he set foot on the set.  He spoke of his commitment to meditation, and the ways in which it has impacted his life and his perspective as a new father.  He even shared some great behind-the-scenes stories about Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase.

You can hear our full interview here; I am so grateful to Michael for being friendly, gracious and generous with his time.  Later in the evening, I introduced my uncle Luther – who lives in Charlotte and had initially introduced me to Caddyshack – to O’Keefe, which was a wonderful, full-circle moment.

On Tuesday, Justin Masterson – one of the few players currently with the PawSox old enough to remember Caddyshack as I do – put forth another strong outing.  He went six innings and allowed just two runs in the band-box that is BB&T Ballpark.  His second consecutive steady start begged an obvious question: what is next for Masterson?

NESN’s Zach Cox explored the decision facing the Red Sox as Masterson’s time on the DL draws to a close.

The Globe’s Pete Abraham indicated in his piece that the Sox are likely to make a decision soon, and that John Farrell thinks Masterson has done enough to warrant a spot on the Boston roster.

Tonight in Charlotte, the PawSox give the ball to Keith Couch and hope to salvage the finale of this three-game series.  The status of Bryce Brentz is unknown; he left the game with a left thumb injury last night after singling in the go-ahed run in the seventh.  You can watch the play here:

In the last three games (all losses after a four-game winning streak) the PawSox have left 31 runners on base.  The bright side, of course, is that the Sox are giving themselves myriad opportunities to score.

A few other notes from Charlotte: in the 106th home game at their new home, the Knights welcomed their millionth fan.  We will have an in-depth look at one of the IL’s crown jewels later in the week – and explore the many ways it offers a glimpse into what PawSox fans could have in downtown Providence.

It is easy to imagine a scene like this in Providence

It is easy to imagine a scene like this in Providence

A night after his older brother won the NBA championship with the Warriors, Trayce Thompson had a big night.  He’s now hit four of his nine homers against the PawSox.

And Kevin Boles has been named the manager for the International League in the All Star Game in Omaha.  A well deserved honor for the skipper.  We’ll get Bolesy’s thoughts on the honor and share them on the broadcast tonight.

Josh and I will talk to you at 6:50 tonight on WHJJ and throughout the PawSox radio network.

Until then, be the ball.

Barnes Is Back, Plus Lots of Other Roster News

by Josh Maurer

The search for answers with the big league club in Boston has had John Farrell and Ben Cherington shuffling the roster frequently in recent days.  By nature of the business, all of that movement is making a big impact on the PawSox roster.

So as the team heads south to Charlotte on Tuesday, I thought I’d try to catch you up on some upcoming changes to the Pawtucket club.

Matt Barnes was optioned back to the PawSox on Sunday morning.  Barnes, who allowed a game-winning home run Saturday to Toronto’s Russell Martin, had been given a key setup role in the Boston bullpen this season but had a few shaky outings in June.

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes

Overall in 15 relief appearances for the Red Sox, Barnes went 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings of work.  Even though he began the season in the PawSox starting rotation, I would expect Barnes to be in the bullpen with the team for the near future.

Travis Shaw, who got an at-bat with Boston on Sunday afternoon, was optioned back to Pawtucket Monday so the Red Sox could activate Craig Breslow from the Paternity Leave List.  Shaw rejoins the PawSox for Tuesday’s game in Charlotte after his second one-game stint in the big leagues.

That also means that reliever Heath Hembree will stay with Boston for now.  Hembree pitched well in two appearances against the Blue Jays last weekend, pitching a total of four scoreless innings and allowing only one hit.

Hembree pitching Fenway

Heath Hembree has earned a spot in the Boston bullpen after two strong outings last weekend

Justin Masterson will make the fourth start of his MLB rehab assignment (and third with the PawSox) on Tuesday night in Charlotte.  The Knights new home, BB&T Field, is a hitter’s paradise and thus should provide a great test to see if Masterson is ready to return to the major leagues.

masterson pitching

Carlos Peguero, who was designated for assignment by Boston when the team traded for Alejandro De Aza, cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent.  Peguero then decided to sign a minor league deal with the Red Sox and has been assigned to Pawtucket.

Brandon Workman underwent successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Monday.  The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, FL.  Workman had been with the PawSox coming out of spring training and was expected to be in the team’s bullpen, but never pitched in a game this season before being shut down with the elbow injury.Brandon_Workman_KellyOConnor_061513_4_xxerzwsw_slvxq8yv

Jeff Bianchi was designated for assignment by Boston for a second time this season, as the Red Sox needed to recall a pitcher for Monday’s game with Atlanta (Robbie Ross re-joined the Boston bullpen for his fifth different stint this season).  Should Bianchi clear waivers, it’s quite possible he will be back with the PawSox in a week or so.

Jeff Bianchi hitting

Jeff Bianchi played well with the PawSox earlier this season before his promotion to Boston

-Former PawSox infielder Luis Jimenez has had his contract purchased by a team in Korea.  The man known as “Lucho” was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List on June 6th.  In 14 games with Pawtucket, Jimenez hit a pair of home runs but was only batting .140.  I wish him all the best.

Jimenez batting

Luis Jimenez had been with Milwaukee, Boston, Pawtucket this season…and now he heads to Korea.

Lots of news for a three-day period, right?!?  The PawSox series in Charlotte begins at 7:05pm on Tuesday night.  Our radio pregame coverage gets underway at 6:50 on WHJJ and across the PawSox Radio Network.  Will and I will talk to you then!

Josh M

Let There Be Light: Hard-Throwing Righty Joins PawSox Pen

by Josh Maurer

Thursday night was the Triple-A debut of reliever Pat Light, a Red Sox first-rounder in 2011 who was converted this season from being a starting pitcher.  Light, a New Jersey native, earned a save in the PawSox’ 5-3 win over Toledo with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

In 21 appearances with Portland this season, Light went 1-1 with 3 saves and a 2.43 ERA (29.2 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 11 BB, 32 K). After a few early blips on the radar screen, he really seemed to settle into his relief role and excelled after the end of April. Over the final 17 games he pitched with the SeaDogs (from 4/26-6/7), Light was 1-1 with a 0.98 ERA (18.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 9 BB, 19 K).

Light pitching old

Over his first three seasons in the pros, Light had only made 1 career relief appearance. In 2014 he combined with Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem to go 8-6 with a 4.83 ERA (71 ER/132.1 IP) in 25 starts. Coming into this season Light was ranked the 30th best prospect in system by Baseball America.

Light throws a fastball that comfortably sits in the mid-to-upper 90s on the radar gun, in addition to a split-finger fastball and an occasional slider.  His stuff was impressive on Thursday for sure, and it really makes me look forward to seeing what he’ll be able to do at the back-end of the PawSox bullpen for the next little while.

As we get ready for three more games with Toledo at McCoy Stadium this weekend, here are some news and notes for your reading enjoyment:

Travis Shaw has officially caught fire.  Shaw is batting .351 his last 20 games played (26-for-74) with two home runs, four doubles and a triple.  He has driven in nine runs during those 20 games and now leads Pawtucket with 26.

Shaw congrats at plateShaw has also started at 3rd base the last five games and has continued to impress with his glove at the hot corner.  He has only been charged with one error in 28 games played at third (in 76 total chances).

-It’s been a good week for Garin Cecchini.  The team-leader in RBI in 2014 has picked up six in the last six games played, including a grand-slam home run at Syracuse last Sunday afternoon against stud right-hander A.J. Cole.

On Wednesday, Cecchini delivered a walkoff RBI double in the ninth against a lefty (Jarret Casey) to win a game for the PawSox and avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Knights. In his last six games, Cecchini is 6-for-23 (.261) with two homers and a double.

-Reliever Jonathan Aro has become one of the best stories in the Red Sox organization these days. Aro, 24, was in Low-A with Greenville at this time last season. In fewer than 12 months, the native of the Dominican Republic has not only made it to Triple-A but has become one of the best relievers in the PawSox bullpen.

Aro pitching old

Over his last 5 appearances (starting on 5/21), Aro has pitched 12.0 straight scoreless innings (8 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 K). He has pitched multiple innings in all 7 appearances with Pawtucket and continues to get a lot of swings and misses with his fastball.

-Here’s a tip of the cap to PawSox infielder Mike Miller, who was promoted late last month from Portland after injuries had landed both Sean Coyle and Jemile Weeks on the disabled list. Miller has started 17 of the team’s 18 games since he was called up (12 at 2nd base and 5 at shortstop).

Miller batting

Mike Miller has stabilized the middle of the infield for the PawSox in recent weeks with some terrific glove work

Miller’s glove has been spectacular and he has teamed up with Deven Marrero to form one of the best double-play combinations in the IL. After a slow start with the bat Miller has started to heat up offensively, going 6-for-16 with a home run and two doubles in his last five games played.

-Closer Heath Hembree continues to pitch lights-out ball for the PawSox. He has only allowed a run in 2 of his 18 appearances, each time allowing game-winning run in 10th inning (5/9 @ COL, 5/21 @LOU). Otherwise, Hembree has been unblemished in Pawtucket and has been clocked at 98 MPH in recent outings.

Hembree pitching

I sat down with Hembree for last week’s PawSox Insider show, and here is the audio of that conversation:

Keith Couch gets the ball for Manager Kevin Boles on Friday night. Don’t forget, the first 4,000 fans aged 14 and under get a free PawSox Mini-Bat. Hope to see you at the park this weekend…the weather is making it feel like summer!

If not, as always, Will and I will talk to you on the radio.  Have a great weekend!

Josh M

JBJ Destroying IL Pitching

by Josh Maurer

While casual Red Sox fans may not have noticed based upon his limited at-bats at the big league level in 2015, Jackie Bradley, Jr. has made incredible offensive strides since last season.  He is, at present, one of the best hitters in the International League and I think a candidate for league MVP.

Jackie Bradley dives for ball

In 31 games played for Pawtucket, Bradley is hitting a robust .349 with three homers, ten doubles, 17 runs scored and 12 driven in.  He is only two plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league leaderboard in batting average, in which he would currently rank third among all IL hitters.

In recent weeks Jackie’s offensive numbers are even better.  Since April 25th, Bradley has reached safely in 16 consecutive games he has played for Pawtucket.  During his last 14 PawSox games (beginning 4/27, with a two-week MLB stint mixed in the middle) he has gone 24-for-57 (.421) with eight multi-hit efforts, 4 walks, 3 HR, 4 doubles, 6 RBI and 9 runs scored.

What’s been perhaps most impressive recently has been the rejuvenation of Jackie’s power stroke.  Bradley belted his third home run of the season on Monday night in Scranton.

Just a few days earlier, he took MLB-rehabbing Masahiro Tanaka deep on an impressive swing at McCoy Stadium. He also doubled against Tanaka in that outing on May 27th during which he collected one of his five three-hit games for the season.

As always, Bradley is playing a gold-glove caliber centerfield that is a joy to watch.  Despite two largely unsuccessful MLB call-ups thus far in 2015, Jackie has kept a great attitude about him during his time in Pawtucket and the results are speaking for themselves.

Jackie Bradley makes catch

Bradley has proven just about everything he can at the minor league level.  Now the next step is for him to get another regular shot in the Majors and to produce to his potential.  Only time will tell if and when that happens, but I’m betting that it will sooner rather than later.

Here are a few other notes as the PawSox get set to play game two of a seven-game road trip Tuesday night in Scranton:

-Kudos to Allen Craig for his great offensive work since being optioned to Pawtucket.  Craig has hit safely in 14 of 17 games played since joining the PawSox on May 12, with multiple hits in 6 of those games.  In his last 10 games (5/21-pres), the MLB veteran is 13-for-32 (.406) with 9 walks, a home run and 3 RBI.

Allen Craig in batters box

Craig has really turned on some pitches over the past few days.  He has found a home in the Pawtucket cleanup spot in the order where has batted the past four games.

-Veteran Luke Montz has come back this year from missing nearly two full seasons due to injuries.  After showing a bit of rust at the outset of the year, Montz’s bat has sprung to life recently.  In his last 8 games (5/20-pres), Luke is 8-for-28 (.286) with 4 BB, 1 homer, 4 doubles and 8 RBI.

Here is an interview I did with Montz for last week’s PawSox Insider show, in which he discusses his long road back to full health:

Couch pitching

Tuesday night Keith Couch takes the ball for the PawSox at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm, while our radio coverage begins at 6:20.  Talk to you on the radio!

Josh M

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