Hard throwing relievers are always a hot commodity on the free agency market and the trade market as well. Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, they acquired one recently when they dealt Jake Peavy to San Francisco. In addition to starting pitcher Edwin Escobar, the club landed a hard-throwing reliever of their own. Heath Hembree, a 25-year-old reliever, was the other piece of Boston’s haul. Hembree is known to bring the heat with his fastball and has the type of stuff that screams closer in addition to set-up man.
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On July 30th, he made his Paw Sox debut earning the save. Since then, he has been promoted to the big club. Topping out at 95mph with an incredible slider, it is easy to tell why the Red Sox wanted this guy in the first place. Although he is happy to be here, he did not see it coming.
“I was a little shocked at first but I guess this time of year things like that happen it was bittersweet leaving some good friends and a good organization but I am excited to go out and have an opportunity here.”
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He was happy to get his first outing out of the way with Pawtucket about a week ago as well.
“It was good, it was good. I was anxious to get the first one under my belt, so I was glad to get it done and get that last guy to pop out.”
Of course Hembree is a great pitcher all-around, but he realizes where his strength is.
“I’m a fastball pitcher, so I try to attack hitters with that,” said Hembree. Although his velocity is down from where it was in past years, his command is impressive. Striking out 48 men while walking 14, Hembree shows command which will transfer over at the next level. Even when a pitcher has great stuff, and everything going for them, command can be a killer.
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Hembree is a selfless guy who does not have any goals of when he should be where.
“Just to finish healthy and end the year strong,” Hembree said of his goals for this year. Of course, he is definitely the type of guy who could be the next Red Sox closer, but he seems to be taking it one step at a time.
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It is always tough to be a top prospect as a reliever, but Hembree puts that myth to rest. Easily the top relief prospect in the Red Sox system, when it is all said and done, anything is possible for him. A potential successor to Koji Uehara at closer? Who knows, he could be, but for now he is taking it on a day-by-day basis.