About Thomas Joyce

Tom is a Red Sox writer for the Yawkey Way Report. He is a senior at Marshfield High School where he plays football and throws shotput. He is an aspiring sportswriter who previously wrote for CLNS Radio and BoSox Injection. Tom joined the staff in June, 2013.

Ty Buttrey Back on Track This Season

The prospect game is like battleship— filled with hits and misses.

Last year, it looked like the Boston Red Sox were ready to give up on 2012 MLB draft fourth round pick Ty Buttrey but now, they are glad they stuck with him. His numbers last year compared to his performance now are truly a tale of two cities.

ty buttreyIn his first full season of professional ball, Buttrey got knocked around on a consistent basis. Marred by injury and command issues, he went 0-5 for the Greenville Drive (Red Sox low-A affiliate), posting a 6.85 ERA in 11 starts.

On the contrary, this season he is one of the top pitchers in the system. Already promoted to high-A Salem thanks to four strong outings, he is keeping the ball rolling at the next level. To start the 2015 season, he is 4-0 in seven starts with a 2.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 39 innings.

His only flaw is command issues, but even those are inconsistent. Sometimes he can go out there and throw nearly 70% strikes, while other times he might walk six batters.

Of course if the occasional control issue is the 22-year-old’s only problem in the low minors, that is not the worst thing in the world. He strikes guys out at a high rate which is something that scouts look for in the lower levels, even more so than wins or ERA.

As a righty, Buttrey could go in a number of directions in his pro career but for now, the Red Sox will keep him as a starter. If all else fails, he could relieve, but his splits are not dominant one way or the other.

Buttrey might not be as dominant as Layne one way or the other which of course is an advantage as a starter. He still has a long ways to go but this season at least, he is putting himself back on track with the Ty Buttrey whom Boston gave a $1.3 million signing bonus to three years prior.

PawSox Catchers Have Diverse Roles

PawSox catchers

Before Ryan Hanigan fractured a knuckle and went on the disabled list, the Pawtucket Red Sox had four catchers, all of whom served the team in different manners.
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Now that Blake Swihart is out of the picture and up with the big league club it is a little different, but no two PawSox catchers are alike.pawsox catchers

Of course Swihart was the big-time prospect and the one fans knew most by name, but he was not the only one getting his work in for the PawSox.
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“All four of us do our catching stuff on a daily basis,” veteran catcher Matt Spring said before Swihart’s call-up. “You know, catching bullpen sessions and all that. Whenever my role changes back to that, I’ll be ready.”

The three catchers down in AAA right now are Matt Spring, Humberto Quintero and Luke Montz. Of the three, Quintero has the most big league experience and is the only one of the three that has caught a game this season.

On paper, Quintero is the first guy Boston would call up because he has so much big league experience. Montz on the other hand has a little bit of big league time and an injury prematurely ended his fight for a roster spot with the Oakland A’s last spring training. Now Montz is in a reserve role which consists of playing first base and left field.
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People might see 30-year-old Matt Spring as a career Minor League catcher, but as of late he has taken over the PawSox starting first base role. He has a hit in all but one of his ten games this year.

For the first time in his career, Spring has a chance to really make a name for himself as a regular contributor to the PawSox lineup.
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“I think that’s what all of us want to do,” Spring said. “Go out there and do whatever we can do to help and if it’s going out there and playing first base right now, I’ll fill that role whenever I can— whatever opportunity I have to get my name in the lineup.”

Kyle Snyder Flourishing in Second Career

Kyle Snyder

Former Boston Red Sox reliever Kyle Snyder’s playing days are long gone, but that does not mean he is shying away from the game.
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Joining the Durham Bulls staff as a pitching coach this season, from a coaching standpoint he might just bekyle snyder on the fast track to the majors— his ultimate goal. After all, he only started coaching in 2012.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and Snyder were teammates back in 2007 on the Red Sox World Series championship team, but in the near future, seeing them coach together is a definite possibility.
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Reflecting back on that World Series run which resulted in Jordan’s Furniture giving away a large array of inventory, there is no doubt that it was Snyder’s favorite year as a ballplayer.

“2007 was a great experience throughout the year, being the best team in baseball from start to finish,” he told Yawkey Way Report. “Being able to contribute to that team meant a lot to me.”
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The World Series championship run marked the first time he spent a full year in the big leagues, after winning the final spot in the bullpen late in Spring Training over Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen. Snyder went 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 46 outings.

A year prior, Snyder struggled a bit in his starting role for Boston, but a scoreless 4 2/3 inning relief outing helped Boston in deciding whether he should start or relieve.

“It was something I looked forward to when it started,” Snyder said. “Prior to that, I was a starter for most of my career. It was something I was called upon to do and something I relished. I really enjoyed the relief role throughout the year.”
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En route to a 96-win season, the Red Sox won 16 of their first 24 ballgames, putting themselves in position for a successful season.

“I think winning builds chemistry. We hit the ground running and it was that hot start we got in April that built the foundation in terms of the chemistry itself.”

“We played very, very well together.”

Zeke Spruill Ready to Help the Red Sox

Zeke Spruill

Pitching may be among the Boston Red Sox top priorities—and they might not have to look much further than their own system to find quality talent.

Guys like Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Eddie Rodriguez may highlight the system as top prospects, but reliever Zeke Spruill, among others, could be zeke spruillinteresting options for the big league club. Once a starter now working in relief, Spruill gives the PawSox flexibility as a multi-inning reliever.

For the past two seasons, he logged big league time with the Arizona Diamondbacks— 32 innings in 12 appearances (three starts). His 4.24 ERA in the big leagues might not stand out, but as far as relievers go, he is an innings eater.
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Coming over to Boston from an Arizona Diamondbacks club who lost 98 games last year, it is fair to say he is glad he has a chance to contribute to a winning organization.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me,” he said of the trade prior to Friday’s game.

The Red Sox have yet to call Spruill up, but it is only a matter of time before they need his services at the next level. After all, most of the relievers they call up only pitch in long relief.

“I don’t know about it giving me an edge or anything like that,” says Spruill. “But it does give me more availability to pitch more if necessary.”
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Without a say in the matter, Spruill is not a full-time reliever; a role he is still getting adjusted to. This past off season, he worked to tune things up a little bit in order to have a more successful season.

“My delivery,” he said was what he worked on the most. “Being able to throw all of my pitches from the same arm slot and making sure I’m staying calm and collective on the mound. You’ve got to make sure you’re even-keeled.”
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Matt Barnes Stretching His Arm Back Out

Matt Barnes
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Pitching two scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in relief on April 25th, the effects of the big league club renting PawSox starting pitcher Matt Barnes still linger.

En route to the big league club’s 5-4 loss against the Baltimore Orioles that Saturday, Barnes allowed two hits and struck out one. Closer Koji Uehara gave up a solo shot in thematt barnes tenth, taking home the loss in a heart breaker.

On Friday, Barnes had his first start since April 19th and gave the PawSox four sharp innings on a strict 75-80 pitch limit.

In the first inning, he gave up a solo home run, but it was the sole blemish on a rather productive outing. He went four innings and gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven. In all, PawSox pitching fanned 13 batters in the loss. Barnes got a no-decision for his efforts.
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“It was fine,” Barnes said of his arm following the outing. “It’s just one of those things where you have to dial it back up a bit, but it feels good.”

So far this season Barnes has not been able to throw a full outing for Pawtucket. Before being called up to Boston, Barnes was working on getting his arm back up to par after fighting for a spot in the bullpen this spring. His efforts were unsuccessful, although he fanned 18 hitters in 13 innings.

Manager Kevin Boles is pleased with the way Barnes is pitching, but he held off in giving a time and date as to when he would be pitching a full outing without any limits.
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“We’ll see about that,” he said. “We shortened up his pitch count since he threw two innings in the big leagues. We’re going to do right and build him up over time. Again, it’s a quality arm and the versatility he shows starting and relieving is impressive.”

Jeff Bianchi Hopes to Help Red Sox

Jeff Bianchi

Defensively speaking, the Boston Red Sox might just have one of the best MLB infielders stashed away in the upper Minors.
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Lifetime, 28-year-old PawSox utility man Jeff Bianchi might be a .216 hitter in 162 big league games, but it is his defense that gives him pride.

Defense and versatility landed jeff bianchiBianchi a job with the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers, only spending time in the Minor Leagues to rehab an injury.

In the field, he plays second base, third base, shortstop and left field and plays them well. Playing in just 100 games in 2013, he posted the ninth highest defensive WAR in the National League (2.0). While he was not creating many runs, he prevented them which was good enough for the Brewers.
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“I think defense is very important,” he said. “I take pride in going out every day and getting my work in. I’m just trying to get better every day. I’ve been bouncing around from short, to second, to third and in the outfield. I got a start at first recently.”

“Yeah, guys who can do it nowadays, it’s a very valuable tool on a ballclub,” Bianchi said of versatility. “Take being in Milwaukee for example, if you can play a couple of different positions and play them well, you have a chance to stick around for a while. I’m trying to get reps at different positions and do what I can to help this team.”

Even with a strong performance this spring, Bianchi did not have much of a chance to make the Red Sox team this year because there was not a utility job up for grabs. For now, he is working a number of different positions, but is usually in the PawSox lineup—somewhere.
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“I just need to take it a day at a time.” Bianchi said. “If you start looking too far ahead, you start playing some mind games. Right now, there’s a reason why I’m here and it’s for me to get better. Everyone wants to get to the big leagues, but the fact of the matter is I’m here so I have to make the best of my opportunity.”

While Bianchi did not get much of a shot to make the team out of the gate, he is confident that he could contribute to the Red Sox at one point this season. He picked Boston as a place to contribute for one simple reason.
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“It feels great to come over to an organization like this,” he said. “It’s been a good transition so far. I mean, here we want to win and so far we’re doing it. It’s just a great organization, I’m happy to be here.”