Results tagged ‘ Will MIddlebrooks ’

He Helped Develop Will Middlebrooks’ Defense

Watch Will Middlebrooks play for a night and it’s easy to walk away talking about what he does with a bat. Unfortunately, his eye-popping power can take attention away from what he can also do with his glove.

A third baseman with all the tools necessary to develop into a Gold Glove winner, Middlebrooks was once a shortstop before sliding over to third. “I take tons of pride in my defensive play,” Middlebrooks said. “When I moved from shortstop to third base after my first year of pro ball, I swore I wanted to be one of the best third basemen in the game, and that’s something I work on day-in and day-out.”

After shredding International League pitching in April, Middlebrooks made his Major League debut on May 2, 2012 against Oakland. (Kelly O’Connor)

One of the men Middlebrooks credits for developing his defensive abilities is former Angels’ shortstop, Gary DiSarcina. “It all started with Gary,” Middlebrooks said back in April.

After growing up in Billerica, Ma., DiSarcina played 12 seasons (1989-2000) with the Angels and was a 1995 All-Star. He was a standout at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (where he is now in the school’s Hall of Fame) and actually played his final professional game right here at McCoy Stadium as a member of the PawSox in 2002.

Gary DiSarcina

In addition to his playing and front office career, DiScarcina also worked for NESN as a Red Sox pre- and post-game analyst. (Los Angeles Times)

DiSarcina managed the short-season Lowell Spinners from 2007-09 and was then promoted as the Red Sox Minor League infield coordinator. Now working for the team he spent nearly all of his pro career with, DiSarcina has been promoted from being the Angels’ Minor League field coordinator to special assistant to General Manager Jerry Dipoto.

DiSarcina has risen quickly and has proven to be someone to keep an eye on — when you’re not watching Middlebrooks at third base.







Middlebrooks & Anderson Home Runs Nominated

It’s that time of the year for the MiLBY Awards from In the competitive category of “Home Run of the Year,” the PawSox have two nominees: Will Middlebrooks homering in four straight games and Lars Anderson smacking a home run off the video board at McCoy Stadium.

Click Here to Vote 

The PawSox have also been nominated in the following categories:

Not only do the PawSox have five nominations for the MiLBY Awards, but they might be the only minor league team in the county to have been featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays twice. Jason Repko was the No. 1 play for his tumbling catch into the bullpen, while Lars Anderson made the list for his scoreboard busting homer.

Can we count on your vote?



Left: Photo taken of the video board at McCoy Stadium seconds after Anderson’s blast. (Jillian Souza) Right: Will Middlebrooks hit .330 with nine homers and 27 RBI over 24 games with Pawtucket in 2012. (Kelly O’Connor)

Back from Vacation, Fall League Begins

After a fun visit to my homeland of St. Louis, it’s back to work at rainy McCoy Stadium. A vacation is always nice, but a vacation after broadcasting over 150 baseball games is the best kind. I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else, but there’s no doubt that those who work in sports sacrifice friends, family, and a social life in order to live out their dreams.

I love going home to my parents and their two dogs. Buddy (left) and Lilly (right) are Australian Shepherds I could play with all day!

Tuesday night was Opening Day for the prospect driven Arizona Fall League. The following Red Sox minor league farmhands are in the AFL playing for the Surprise Saguaros:

Additionally, Portland Sea Dogs’ hitting coach Dave Joppie is serving as one of the team’s hitting instructors. In the first game of the season, Brentz finished 1-for-4 with a triple while Huntzinger was dealt the loss (2 runs, 4 hits, 2.0 IP). It was 84 degrees at first pitch.

Last year the PawSox very own Arnie Beyeler managed Scottsdale in the AFL where he worked with players such as Alex Hassan,Will MiddlebrooksMike Trout, and Bryce Harper.



Bryce Brentz entered 2012 as the Red Sox No. 5 prospect and seems destined to open 2013 with the PawSox. (Kelly O’Connor)

PawSox Win the 2012 I.L. Wildcard

It took 142 games to nail down a post-season berth, but who cares.

Saturday night the PawSox shutout the North Division champion Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 2-0, and in doing so, won the wild card.

PawSox players celebrating on the field after Saturday night’s won over the Yankees. (Jillian Souza)

As Pawtucket heads back to the Governors’ Cup playoffs for the second straight year, here are some facts, figures, and observations about this 2012 PawSox club:

  • 68 players have played for the PawSox this season — 70 is the franchise record set in both 1995 and 2006 (“so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance”).
  • 21 different players have been promoted to Boston this season (not including 10 called-up from injury rehab).
  • Five players in the Boston’s lineup Saturday night had played for Pawtucket in ’12.
  • Three of the Red Sox five pitchers Saturday had spent time with the PawSox this year.
  • The members PawSox six-man Opening Day rotation are currently spread over four different time zones:
      • Justin Germano: traded to the Cubs on July 19
      • Brandon Duckworth: signed with Japan
      • Doug Mathis: also signed with Japan
      • Alex Wilson: now in the PawSox bullpen
      • Aaron Cook: in Boston’s rotation
      • Ross Ohlendorf: opted out of his contract, signed with the Padres
  • Since August 1, the PawSox have received seven players from Double-A Portland currently on the active roster. They had 23 games of Triple-A experience, combined.
  • Pawtucket has won seven of its last eight games. During that time the PawSox…
      • Rotation has gone 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA (11 ER/50.2 IP) with six quality starts
      • Closers have gone 5-for-5 in save situations
      • Are hitting .271 (overall this year, Columbus leads the league batting .269)
  • Somehow I haven’t mentioned yet some of the position players now in Boston:
      • Mauro Gomez: 2012 International League MVP
      • Will Middlebrooks: We knew he wouldn’t last long
      • Ryan Lavarnway: Hit a league-best .405 in June
      • Pedro Ciriaco: The club’s offensive spark plug and played three positions
      • Jose Iglesias: One scout told me, “the best shortstop in all of baseball.”

The PawSox will host Scranton-Wilkes/Barre in the playoffs on September 5 and 6 in a best-of-five series. The two clubs will then travel to Rochester, Ny. to finish the series at Frontier Field.

A Red Sox vs. Yankees post-season will happen after all.




Ryan Lavarnway’s 2012 Quotes

Like any top prospect, it was a matter of “when” not “if” for Ryan Lavarnway. The question was answered Wednesday afternoon when it was made official that the PawSox catcher had been called-up to Boston.

Because he left for Boston shortly after Tuesday’s game in Rochester, I never had the chance to talk with Ryan after he received the good news. However, I did have the opportunity to interview him a number of times of the course of the season, and here are some of his most insightful responses to my questions over the last few months.

On being known as more than just a catcher who can hit:

“Catching is something I take a lot of pride in and that I’ve devoted a lot of work to over the last couple of years. Being known as a complete player is something I’ve been striving towards and I think I’m getting really close to people recognizing.

How he reacts to having a game where he hit the ball hard but finished 0-for-4:

“You try to focus on the process, and that’s having a good approach, having good at-bats, and making solid contact. Once it leaves your bat it’s out of your control. The more you try to control things that are out of your control, that just leads to frustration. Controlling the way you react to things is what keeps you successful.”

In his first full season as a catcher, Ryan Lavarnway threw out 32% of opposing base stealers. (Kelly O’Connor)

Perception versus reality: his skills behind the plate:

“I think a lot of time the recognition lags a little bit behind the actual results – which is maybe how it needs to be – but I feel very comfortable behind the plate.”

On his defensive improvements this year:

“My body has gotten used to catching everyday. I feel solid. I feel like my footwork is great, I’m receiving the ball well, throwing the ball well, blocking the ball well, and I’m excited to see where this year goes.”

How he likes catching everyday for the first time in his career:

“I’m loving it. It’s great to feel like I can make a positive impact on the game even if I don’t happen to get a hit that night. Defense doesn’t slump.”

How he has improved as a catcher since Opening Day:

“It’s continuing to working on consistency. Everyday going out there and trying to be that Type-A player. Throwing out runners, blocking balls, installing confidence in [the pitchers] that they can spike a pitch when they need to, and presenting the pitches well the the umpire.”

At the time of his August 1 call-up, Lavarnway was batting .295 with eight home runs and 43 runs batted in for the PawSox. (Kelly O’Connor)

Describing his approach during June where he hit a career-best .405 with 18 RBI over 21 games:

“I finally remembered my mindset from last year. It took a little longer to come back than I would’ve liked, but I feel like I have the right aggression level up there now.”

On not seeing many good pitches to hit:

“I know a lot of times these teams aren’t going to want to let me beat them, but I have to at least trick myself into thinking they’re going to throw something that I can hit.”

No one knows if we’ll ever see Ryan Lavarnway at McCoy Stadium again. If he follows in the steps of Will Middlebrooks … we know how that turned out. No matter what the future holds for Lavarnway, he was a special player to not only watch, but also to get to know.

Baseball players, like most athletes, have the reputation of being nothing more than “jocks.” However, in Ryan’s case, there’s no doubt in my mind that if he never discovered baseball, he would have still found tremendous success in another walk of life.



With almost the same look on his face, the first words Ryan ever said to me were, “have you ever seen the movie ‘American Psyscho?'” He passionately argues that I resemble Christian Bale from the movie, but, unfortunately, not from “Batman.” (Kelly O’Connor)

De La Torre Joins PawSox in Lillibridge Trade

In the last two days the PawSox have received two new pitchers.

Tuesday, Nelson Figueroa was signed by the Red Sox and assigned to Pawtucket, and today Jose De La Torre is joining the club in Indianapolis and will be active for this afternoon’s game against the Indians.

The 26-year-old right-hander was acquired by the Red Sox in a 1-for-1 trade with Cleveland for Red Sox utility man Brent Lillibridge on Tuesday.

A native of Puerto Rico, De La Torre made a total of 34 appearances (one start) for Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus prior to the trade. Combined, he went 7-1 with a 2.80 ERA while walking 19 and striking out 42. His final two appearances in the International League came against the PawSox on April 28 and 30 where he tossed 1 2/3 scoreless.

De La Torre is in his sixth professional season and has a career 2.86 ERA having made 202 minor league appearances (14 starts). (Buffalo Bisons)

A former New York Mets’ farmhand, the righty spent parts of 2010 and ’11 with Triple-A Buffalo, and missed all of 2008 because of Tommy John surgery.

Random fact on De La Torre: he pitched at Texarkana Junior College in Texarkana, Tx. — the hometown of Red Sox third baseman, Will Middlebrooks.

For a detailed look at De La Torre and what makes him stand out, take at look at Marc Normandin’s article from

After joining the Red Sox on June 24 in the Kevin Youkilis trade with the White Sox, the departed Lillibridge had just 16 at-bats over 10 games before being shipped off. With Lillibridge gone, PawSox starter Zach Stewart remains the only piece of the Youkilis deal still under contract with the Red Sox.



Gomez Called Up, Gets First Big League Start

If such an award existed, Mauro Gomez would have a strong case for PawSox mid-season MVP. Among International League batters, he ranks second in average (.311), is tied for third in homers (19), is third in RBI (55), leads in extra-base hits (46), is tied for first in doubles (26), and is second in total bases (172).

Yesterday afternoon the first-year Red Sox farmhand received the good news that he had been called up to Boston for the second time this year. Not only is he now with the Red Sox, tonight in Oakland he will make his first Big League start, playing third base.

Yes, third base.

Gomez made his Major League debut on May 13 of this year at Fenway Park against Cleveland. Overall, he appeared in two games finishing 0-for-2. (Kelly O’Connor)

A position he hasn’t played since 2009 when he was a member of the Rangers’ High-A Bakersfield club, Gomez gets the start because of soreness in Dustin Pedroia’s right thumb. With Pedroia out of the lineup tonight, and Will Middlebrooks struggling with a hamstring injury, Nick Punto will start at second base, Gomez at third.

Once he finds someone’s glove to borrow, this should be a July 4th worth remembering for Gomez.



My guess is Gomez looked something like this when he found out that he’d be going back to the Major Leagues. (Kelly O’Connor)