The Battle of the Rookies at the Trop

Last night, baseball fans saw not one, but two players make their Major League debut in the same game. Wander Franco and Connor Wong both made their debuts last night at Tropicana Field in Florida. Wander Franco may have come out of the gate hot, but Connor Wong and the Sox got the last laugh. Boston beat Tampa Bay 9-5 in a thriller of a game. The battle of the rookies will continue tonight, as the Red Sox look to take game 2 from the Rays.

battle of the rookies

Going into the 9th inning on Tuesday night, the game was tied 5-5. Boston was leading in the game following a 5 run 3rd inning. Then, Franco smashed a three run shot to left field to tie it up. Due to the MLB extra innings rule, Connor Wong came into the game to run for JD Martinez at 2nd base. The game broke open with a Rafael Devers double that scored Wong and Bogaerts. From there, the Red Sox secured the 9-5 victory.

The Battle of the Rookies Continues Tonight

The battle of the rookies is a fun thing, especially when it’s within the divisions. For Wander Franco and the Rays, this was a huge moment for their organization. The same can be said for Connor Wong and the Red Sox, however, Franco’s call up was more special, as he has been ranked in the top 5 for prospects since 2019. The last player to have a highly anticipated debut was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019. Franco was on the field sporting number 5 for the Rays, out of respect to his favorite player, Albert Pujols. In his first at bat against Eduardo Rodriguez, he worked a walk after being down 0-2 in the count. In his next at bat, Franco blasted a 3 run shot to left to tie the game. The 20 year old third baseman didn’t disappoint in his debut, going 2-4 in the game. Franco hit his first homerun, first RBI, first run, and was walked in the game.

On February 10th, 2020, the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price for Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. Verdugo has made a name for himself here in Boston, while Downs and Wong have been doing well in the minor leagues. Well, following the Red Sox move to place Kevin Plawecki on the injured list, it was time for Wong to come up to the big leagues. Sporting the number 74, Wong made his debut as a pinch runner for JD Martinez. The 25 year old from Texas didn’t get a chance to play defensively last night, but Red Sox fans might be able to see him in the field soon, as Wong can play multiple positions.

Coming Up For Boston

After last night’s extra innings victory, the Red Sox look to continue their winning ways tonight against the Rays. Last night’s win allowed the Red Sox to be 1.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East. A win today will allow them to continue to hold down first place in the division. Garrett Richards will have the ball for Boston, and Rich Hill will be going up for Tampa Bay. Nick Pivetta is still slanted to pitch Thursday’s final game for Boston.

The Red Sox will welcome the Yankees to Fenway Park starting Friday night. It looks to be a special game on Friday, as Boston is honoring long time second baseman, Dustin Pedroia. This past offseason, Pedroia announced his retirement from baseball. The beloved second baseman will be greeted with cheers on Friday night. Following the Yankees series, the Red Sox will welcome back Andrew Benintendi and the Kansas City Royals for a four game set before heading back on the road to Oakland.

Making Jarren Duran a Future Star

The recent news of Jackie Bradley Jr.’s signing with the Milwaukee Brewers was hard. It reminded fans of when Jacoby Ellsbury left before him. It is never easy to see your favorite players go away. There is reason for optimism though as new kid, Jarren Duran, is knocking on the door looking to be the team’s future center fielder. Duran is rated the fastest runner in the Red Sox prospect list. He has been compared by Red Sox Manager Alex Cora to a Grady Sizemore-like player. The Sizemore Cleveland prime years of course, not the end of his career Boston days.

His Baseball Background

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The 2018 MLB draft saw the Red Sox draft Jarren Duran in the 7th round. He played collegiately at California State University out of Long Beach, CA. Standing 6’2 and 212 lbs along with batting left and throwing right, the 24-year-old Duran is in camp as a non-roster invitee. He played second base in college and didn’t start playing the outfield regularly until the age of 21. Sounds like a similar story to Mookie Betts who played second base before making the majors in the outfield, doesn’t it? That will be as far as the comparisons go so far as Duran still has some seasoning to do. It may benefit him to go play some at the new AAA site in Worcester at beautiful new Polar Park.

2021 Camp Production So Far

Duran got off to a nice start with a homer against the Baltimore Orioles back on March 4, 2021. As of this writing, Duran has been wearing #93 in camp so far. He has been to the plate 11 times where he has hit a whopping .455 with two home runs and three RBI’s. His OPS has been a staggering 1.682. The expectations to replace Bradley are lofty, so I feel a stint in AAA would help ease some of the pressure. Also service time plays a factor sending a young player down for a couple of weeks to gain an extra year of team control over his contract. Another factor will be the delay of the minor league season until May. That means he would have to have alternate camp like experience for a month like last season’s experience in Pawtucket.

Christian Vazquez: Defensive Superstar in the Making

As soon as I saw the Spring Training video of Christian Vazquez shooting down Trevor Plouffe attempting to steal second base, I knew he was special, (the video is titled ‘Vazquez throws out Plouffe’ and can be found on MLB.com). They don’t just hand out the nickname “Little Yadi” to anyone. Vazquez emerged as the potential catcher of the future just a few years ago. Now, he is 26 years old, and we are still waiting to see if he can get the starting job behind the plate.

Ever since Vazquez reached the Major Leagues in 2014, it’s been clear that he struggles Christian Vazquezin the batter’s box. Vazquez has a career .233 batting-average in just 347 at-bats. Vazquez has showed signs though, as he crushed a home run over the Monster against Yankees RP Dellin Betances last year. Betances is one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball, and the fact that Vazquez could hold his own against him and go yard attests to his hitting ability. He simply gets overwhelmed at times against big league pitching.

Christian Vazquez vs. Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon emerged last season as the everyday catcher for Boston. He found success in our lineup, producing a .310 average. Leon only made one error behind the plate last year, and threw out 42% of potential base runners. Most Sox fans will see these numbers and immediately see Sandy Leon as the starter this year too, but not so fast.

Leon was one of the streakiest hitters on the team last year. He was the best hitter on the team at times, while at other times he couldn’t make contact. When he wasn’t hitting well, he was basically a liability. Not to mention, Sandy Leon was absolutely awful in the playoffs. He went 1-10 with 5 K’s against Cleveland in the divisional series. I have not seen enough consistent production from Leon to tag him with the Opening Day start this year; I’m also not John Farrell.

The Case for Vazquez

Christian Vazquez has the most raw talent in the Red Sox catching core. He can take over a game from behind the plate with his framing, and his blocking is advanced beyond his competition. Vazquez is a defensive beast, and it is very apparent when watching him work behind the plate in-game. He is the glue that holds the Red Sox defense together. Blake Swihart has shown an inability to improve upon his receiving thus far, and some say he has caught a case of the yips this spring. Sandy Leon has been a hit or miss in all aspects of his game. Who does this leave? Christian Vazquez, (or Mini Yadi).

Vazquez is dedicated to his craft. He is ready for the challenge that awaits him. We’re talking about a guy who is not only compared to Yadier Molina, but works out with him and his brothers in the offseason. Don’t forget, Molina is only a career .285 hitter. Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon have been inconsistent producers at catcher. Don’t get me wrong, Leon belongs in the lineup against lefties. John Farrell has already come out and said that Hanley Ramirez will DH against righties this year. Does this mean that against lefties we will see Leon DH, and Vazquez behind the plate? Sure, he still needs to improve his hitting. Once he does, there is no question as to who will be catching every day in Boston.

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.”

Which Pitchers Will Make their Red Sox Debut in 2015?

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With Spring Training rolling around the corner, fans will have an opportunity to get a glimpse at some new, young talent; a look at some guys who could potentially make an impact on the Boston Red Sox this year. Of course, there will be the same young players who could impact the team, but there are even younger, even newer players to keep an eye out for.
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In terms of pitching, the Red Sox top three pitching prospects are all set to start off the 2015 season as members of the Paw Sox rotation. Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez are all left-handed starting pitchers who were dominant in their time with the Red Sox organization last year.
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red soxTo the surprise of many, Henry Owens is not a power pitcher despite standing tall at 6ft7. He is more of a finesse guy and the power pitchers of the bunch being Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson who occasionally top out at 97 MPH and 95 MPH respectively. Right now, Owens and Rodriguez are on the 40-man roster but if Johnson pitches up to his ability, there is no reason why he should not get the call.

Although no new relievers are on the 40-man roster right now, things could soon change. Slated to start off the 2015 season in Pawtucket are two relievers who could end up helping the big league club if they make their MLB debuts this season— 2011 fourth round draft pick Noe Ramirez and Cuban defector Dalier Hinojosa.
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Ramirez spent most of his year last year in AA Portland where he posted a 2.14 ERA in 42 outings totaling 67.1 innings. Hinojosa on the other hand, was a Paw Sox reliever the entire season and despite struggling early, he turned his year around by posting a 1.57 ERA in his final 23 innings of work.

Working in their favor is the fact that they can be stretched out and give a team multiple innings in relief. Working against them is that neither of them are on the 40-man roster— yet.
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Reviewing 2014 Red Sox Rookie Position Players

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After an abysmal 2014 season, the Boston Red Sox look to turn things around in 2015. Five rookie position players saw a good chunk of playing time last year for Boston, which is why it is worth taking a look to see why underdogs can thrive as well.
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The two big time prospects headed into the season were Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., neither of whom produced nearly was well as expected. While Bogaerts hit well at times and played adequate defense at shortstop, his bat went missing in action during the summer months as he hit just .157 in 248 at-bats from June through August.

Jackie Bradley Jr. on the other hand, was excellent defensively but failed to pull his weight at red sox rookiethe plate, posting the lowest OPS among all qualifying outfielders in Major League Baseball. Defensively though, he was another story—but Boston still went ahead and signed Cuban defector Rusney Castillo to fill the void in center field.

Younger players who the Red Sox were not expecting as much from ended up being the ones who gave them more production.
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Very few people would have thought Christian Vazquez would be the Red Sox starting catcher headed into the 2015 season, but that is the case. He hit .254 with a .312 OBP off of righties last season while gunning down 52% of the runners who tried to steal off of him in 54 games—not bad for a rookie catcher.

Drilling his way into the lineup by playing every single position except for the batteries, Brock Holt etched his way into the big league picture by doing everything that was asked of him and then some. Although he hit .281 with four homers and 12 stolen bases in 106 games last year, he would not be coming into the 2015 season projected to be the utility man if it weren’t for his versatility.
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Who could forget about Mookie Betts? Switching from second base to the outfield, the top prospect was originally not expected to make his big league debut until 2015, but his consistent bat earned him playing time for Boston. Showing off power, speed and plate discipline, he has the right stuff which is why he is projected to post the highest WAR on the team this year.