Jalen Beeks Continues Eastern League Dominance

In a farm system notorious for developing young players, southpaw Jalen Beeks now finds himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At age 23, the 5’11” hurler has done nothing but produce since joining the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.jalen beeks

Like Andrew Benintendi, Beeks attended Arkansas. While a Razorback, Beeks also excelled, boasting a 1.07 WHIP and a 1.98 ERA in 81.2 IP his senior year. This impressive performance followed an elbow injury his junior year.

He was drafted in the 12th round in 2014. He played two-and-a-half seasons of rookie ball and A-ball. Beeks was called up to Portland in July 2016 and finished the season 5-4 with a 4.68 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. This was after going 4-4 in 13 starts with a 3.07 ERA for High-A Salem.

But this season, he has been nothing but dominant. In seven starts, Beeks is 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. He’s averaging almost six innings per start and 1.2 strikeouts per inning. And if it wasn’t for one start against Trenton back in April, Beeks would be 5-0 with an ERA of 0.51.

Baseball Mechanics and Jalen Beeks

Scouts look to his mechanics as a way to marginalize hitters. SoxProspects.com’s scouting report says Beeks “throws from the first-base side of the rubber. High three-quarters arm slot and stiff delivery with a lot of moving parts. Utilizes a high leg kick, then trunk twist and pause as he rocks back before coming forward. He also has an arm hook behind and lands stiff on his front side.”

When combined with Trey Ball and Teddy Stankiewicz, Beeks solidifies Portland’s rotation as one of the best in the Eastern League. The three starters have combined for a 2.91 ERA this season, and have led Portland in an already tight division race.

As for Beeks, however, his performance thus far is nothing short of spectacular. And while the Red Sox may call on Triple-A journeyman for rotation help, the young lefty could soon be called up to Pawtucket.

The pride of Prairie Grove, AR will strive to continue his dominance of the Eastern League.

Will New Under Armour MLB Jersey Contract Spike Sales?

In December, a deal was finalized with the MLB making Under Armour jerseys the official on-field game wear. Additionally, Fanatics will oversee product licensing rights to manage and manufacture the merchandise. The new MLB Jersey contract is the first change in several years.

MLB Jersey Contract

The deal will begin in the 2020 MLB season and will give Under Armour exclusive rights for a 10-year period. Through the agreement, they will provide all 30 MLB teams with all their on-field uniforms. This includes jerseys that will feature the company’s branding, as well as base layers, game-day outerwear gear, and other apparel.

Although financial details were not disclosed, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called the deal a “watershed moment for the brand” during an interview with Fortune Magazine.

Implications of the MLB Jersey Contract

And that’s exactly what Major League Baseball wants. Kids buying UA jerseys.

Despite their falling stock, there’s no doubt that Under Armour is most popular among children and millennials. As a millennial, I love Under Armour’s product, and while it may seem like just another manufacturer, the impact this could have on jersey sales is huge.

Even though Majestic and Russell are good brands, the logo recognition of Under Armour will do wonders for MLB jerseys.

Under Armour’s move an obvious measure to compete with not only the other brands but also to get its stake into the Big Four merchandise platform. Their clients already include the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper.

Because of the brand loyalty that exists for UA, this deal will spike MLB jersey sales and be a positive for the game. As a UA consumer, I am pumped about the new MLB Jersey Contract.

What Are The Red Sox Third Base Options?

Since the days of Mike Lowell, the Boston Red Sox third base situation has been in a constant state of change. First were Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis. There was promise of Will Middlebrooks and, briefly, Jose Iglesias. Next came the Xander Bogaerts experiment and the Pablo Sandoval signing, followed by the Travis Shaw rise and fall.

red sox third base

This season, it’s been even more of a revolving door. After an impressive spring, Pablo Sandoval got his job back. When Sandoval was injured in late April, Marco Hernandez received some playing time. Then when Hernandez went down, journeyman Josh Rutledge got the opportunity. Since his struggles, however, former top draft pick Deven Marrero has been on the field. All of these injuries and slumps inconveniently happened while the original backup, Brock Holt, is recovering from vertigo.

In addition, the offensive and defensive production at third base for the Red Sox leaves a lot to be desired no matter who is on the field. Obviously, some of this is due to their inexperience, but when a contending team like the Red Sox needs consistent production, ironically changes tend to be made.

Currently, the Red Sox do not even have a third baseman who qualifies with enough at-bats to be ranked for batting average. The only players remotely close are Rutledge and Sandoval, who are batting .281 and .213 respectively. Sandoval, if healthy, would be third-to-last in the AL in batting average as of today. In the field, Hernandez and Sandoval rank in the top ten in errors committed, despite only playing in a combined total of 23 games.

Current Red Sox Third Base Options

So who will end up being the answer at third base? One could argue it will be Sandoval when he returns from the disabled list simply because he was the starter. It most likely will not be Rutledge or Hernandez full-time because they are just utility infielders by trade.

If not Sandoval, the Red Sox are left with few options. They could stick with Marrero because of his sound defense, but lose pop in the lineup. Considering they are already last in the American League in home runs, that is not a good idea.

Another option would be to ride it out until the trade deadline, see what Panda has to offer, then try to acquire somebody like David Freese, Danny Valencia, or even free-agent Brett Lawrie or old friend Will Middlebrooks.

The last option is unlikely but possible. Top infield prospect Rafael Devers is currently hitting .333 with a .403 SLG and a 1.007 OPS. He only has 4 errors in 27 games at Portland as well.

Ultimately, Dave Dombrowski will need to make a decision soon – as the Red Sox struggle to find offensive consistency.

Which Red Sox Player Has The Most Swag?

At this point, we’ve all seen the #WinDanceRepeat routine. We’ve all seen the Salt Bae’s Red Sox playerand the cool hairdos. But which Red Sox player has the most swag?

Is it Benintendi with his flow and boyish good looks? Or is it Mookie and his Jumpman cleats? Maybe JBJ and his janitor throw and sexy walk-up songs? The possibilities are endless, especially in the outfield.

Part of me wants to say Hanley is the Red Sox player with the most Swag because of the ease by which he hits and his obvious enjoyment of life. But I’m also partial to Xander Bogaerts and his plethora of arm sleeves and other baseball gear.

What about the pitchers? I see Chris Sale and his ultimate “I’m in charge” attitude as being a keystone of Red Sox player swagger. Although David Price, when healthy, can also walk to the mound like no one will stop him.

Perhaps the best way to settle this is by letter grading the current lineup.

Red Sox Player Swag Grades

Dustin Pedroia: It’s hard to have the grit he does and also nonchalant swag, but he can still make everything look cool and easy. Swag Grade: B

Andrew Benintendi: His hair and schoolboy demeanor bode well with his social media presence and dance moves. Swag Grade: A

Mookie Betts: The way he snarls, bowls, and throws the salt bae leaves little to be desired. Add that to his hot bat and Jordan brand apparel. Swag Grade: A+

Hanley Ramirez: The guy has sweet braids, baggy pants, and a whole lot of power. Swag Grade: B+

Mitch Moreland: Other than a cool nickname, not much there. Swag Grade: C-

Jackie Bradley Jr: A strong arm mixed with great athletic instincts yields little complaints. Swag Grade: B+

Pablo Sandoval and Marco Hernandez: No. Swag Grade: D

Brock Holt: Yes. Yes. Yes. Brock Star for life. Flow bro to Benintendi. Swag Grade: A-

Christian Vazquez: Another strong arm, good music taste. Swag Grade: C+

Sandy Leon: The Venezuelan Santa Claus is everything you want in a mythical figure. Swag Grade: B

Chris Sale: Don’t interrupt him and don’t give him the wrong clothes. For that reason. Swag Grade: A-

David Price: Cool dog, Tennesee accent, nice shoes. Swag Grade: A

Overall Consensus: The Red Sox player with the most swag is probably Mookie Betts. Maybe a future award will be called MSFP (Most Swag-Filled Player)

Good luck there, Mike Trout.

Ryan Flaherty’s Maine Roots

Most who have listened to Red Sox/Orioles games have heard of Baltimore utility player Ryan Flaherty’s Maine background. But few know the backstory of how the kid from Portland made it to the show.

Flaherty grew up surrounded by baseball. His dad, Ed, is the coach at the University of Ryan Flaherty's maineSouthern Maine and a local legend. He won two national championships with the Huskies in 1991 and 1997. In fact, the University just named the field there after the elder Flaherty.

Making an Impact

Flaherty played high school ball for the Deering Rams and was a standout in football as well as baseball. A 2005 graduate, he led Nova Seafood to the American Legion World Series Championship in 2004 and won the Telegram League batting title. Flaherty also won the Maine Gatorade and John Winkin baseball award as a senior along with Legion Tournament MVP. To make his resume more impressive, Flaherty was a finalist for Maine’s prestigious football award, the Fitzpatrick Trophy.

Ryan Flaherty’s Maine childhood transitioned into a college career at the “Harvard of the South”—Vanderbilt University. While with the Commodores, Flaherty played alongside fellow big leaguers David Price and Pedro Alvarez. He received an honorable mention his freshman year and a Second-team All-America selection. During his final season with Vanderbilt, he hit .542 in the NCAA Tournament. His consistent performance at the plate led Coach Corbin to coin him “the model of consistency.”

Big League Success

The Chicago Cubs chose Flaherty in the first round (41st overall) of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. In four seasons of minor league ball, Flaherty batted .279 with an on-base percentage of .347, slugging percentage of .455, and 182 RBI. He also hit 38 home runs and 79 doubles. While in the Cubs organization he was ranked as the 8th best prospect.

Despite this, Flaherty was Rule 5 eligible and was subsequently selected by the Baltimore Orioles. He has continued his consistent performance and has become one of Buck Showalter’s primary utility options.

To this day, he is the only active major league player born in Maine, as Charlie Furbush is currently a free agent. In 2012, he became the first Mainer to hit a postseason home run.

The Red Sox Need A Consistent Lineup

Minutes after I finished musing about manager John Farrell’s strengths, I realized that the Red Sox lineup is very inconsistent. One minute I look up and Dustin Pedroia is hitting sixth. Then I look up again and he’s leading off.

red sox lineup

Likewise, I feel like I’ve seen a different outfield combination every night. Granted there’s been a lot of injuries, but it’s still not helping the team’s lack of hitting. There needs to be a change. One of the reasons why the Red Sox lineup succeeded so much in 2016 is because it was consistent. Sure, you had a platoon in left field and an occasional off day, but it was predictable. Now, I look up and I see seemingly a different catcher and third baseman every night. Not to mention left field/center field.

For a team that is already missing the offensive production of David Ortiz, a solid and cohesive lineup is essential for success. Let alone the impact on defense. Here are my suggestions.

Red Sox Lineup Suggestions

  1. Keep Pedroia and Betts near the top of the lineup. Preferably leadoff and third respectively.
  2. Continue to bat Benintendi second, as he seems to be handling the pressure well, batting .327.
  3. Hanley stays in the clean-up spot. The guy hits bombs and is the only real power threat on the team other than maybe Betts.
  4. Put Mitch Moreland fifth because he can slap the ball the other way to drive in runs.
  5. Bogaerts needs to stay in the six hole, even though he’s one of the best hitters on the team. I think it suits him well to hit after Moreland matchup wise as well as RBI wise.
  6. Whether the third baseman is Sandoval, Hernandez, Holt, or whoever, they should bat seventh, again mainly based on match-ups.
  7. Jackie Bradley, who’s been struggling offensively this year, should bat eighth unless Leon is catching, then Bradley should bat ninth.
  8. Should Vazquez be catching, he should bat ninth.