More Stars In The Making for Boston

Prospect Josh Winckowski made his big league debut on March 7th against the Atlanta Braves. He quietly pitched a scoreless inning in relief. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and just 22 years old, there have reports from camp that Winckowski has some really good pitches. He was an acquisition from the New York Mets as part of a three-team trade. Furthermore, this is an example of Chaim Bloom’s ability to find undiscovered talent and more stars. Coming from the Tampa Rays, they do that all of the time. He was second in command there and looks to have a good start on this rebuild for the Sox.

Who is Josh Winckowski?

Josh Winckowski

One thing Bloom recognizes is that you have to have a good bullpen. The reason rests on starters on strict pitch counts and the advent of the opener. Guys like Josh Winckowski are very valuable, as was reflected in how quickly he was plucked in the draft. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Winckowski in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He came out of Estero High School in Florida. Winckowksi pitched three years in the minors before being traded on 1/28/21 to the New York Mets. He was part of a prospect package to free up financial space for the Mets to try to sign Trevor Bauer. As a result the Mets were part of a three team trade that the Red Sox made for Andrew Benintendi.

Going Forward

The Sox just reassigned 12 players to the minors. Winckowski was one of those names. He leaves with the scoreless inning under his belt as a lasting impression. With a little seasoning and getting more familiar with the Red Sox organization, he should get the call to Fenway soon. He will benefit with all of the others who will be assigned to Worcester this year. Worcester is the new home of AAA baseball with brand new Polar Park to open this year. The Sox players will have access to a state of the art facility to help them in their development.

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

Jarrendurranfuturestar

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.

Who Is Hot In Red Sox Spring Training Camp Right Now

The Red Sox have played about a half baker’s dozen of spring training games so far. One player swinging a hot bat is Bobby Dalbec. He hit two homers a game against the Minnesota Twins on March 3rd. He looks poised and comfortable at the plate so far. The Red Sox will count on him to anchor first base and be a key cog in the lineup to go along with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. Having Alex Cora as his new manager should help him with his fielding as well.

Who Is This Guy

Bobby Dalbec hit .263 with eight home runs and had 16 RBIs last year during a 60 game shortened pandemic 2020 season. Dalbec played collegiately at the Univeristy of Arizona and also played in the Cape Cod Baseball League during the 2014 season. As Boston’s 4th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Dalbec showed versatility in college playing third base, first base and also threw relief pitching. Added to the big league roster on August 30th following a trade of Mitch Moreland, Dalbec made his MLB debut that day and hit his first major league hit as a three run homer. 

Going Forward

Baseball America rated Dalbec Boston’s number three prospect in 2020. He will hopefully be part of a new nucleus of players going forward that Chaim Bloom will build around. Boston is definitely looking for more leaders since the retirement of Dustin Pedroia. Only time will determine how Alex Verdugo and other youngsters pan out. Two other new key pieces that should help are Marwin Gonzalez and Kike Hernandez. Both have been in postseason play with their previous teams. Players like them should help with young Dalbec’s development. Although it is early in camp so far, Dalbec has looked the part of a major leaguer.

Bradley Jr. Departure Marks End of an Era

Red Sox fans woke up on Thursday morning to yet another player leaving, as Jackie Bradley Jr. packed his bags for Wisconsin.

Bradley signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers this week. Jackie’s return to Boston seemed less and less likely as the offseason went on, with teams like Houston and the Mets also showing interest in the 30 year old center fielder.

bradley red sox players

JBJ’s new colors draw an era of Red Sox history to a close. Not just because the Sox lost their #1 CF over the last decade, but he was also the last one remaining from the 2018 Champion, “Win Dance Repeat” outfield.

Superman in the Outfield

After being called up in 2013, Bradley Jr. became notorious for his highlight reel catches and his cannon of an arm in center. Fans could always expect a JBJ catch or throw to home to fill their Twitter feeds. Jackie made the 2016 AL All-Star team, hitting .267 and 26 HRs while also having a 29 game hitting streak early in the season. JBJ won his first Gold Glove in 2018 after being snubbed in previous years, one of the many pieces of hardware he claimed that season.

Mr. ALCS

Not well known for his presence at the plate, no one could have expected JBJ’s strong performance in the 2018 American League Championship Series. It all started in Game 2, when Jackie slapped a three-run double against the monster to give the Sox the lead. This was a huge moment in the series, as it prevented Boston from going down 2-0 before heading to Houston. Down in H-Town, Bradley left his mark again with a grand slam in Game 3 and a two-run homer in Game 4 which would give the Sox the lead. JBJ went only 3 for 15 in the series but without those 3 hits, the Sox might have not prevailed against the Astros. Jackie took home ALCS MVP as Boston would go on to win the World Series.

Closing the Farm

Bradley Jr. was a homegrown player for Boston. He was drafted in the 2011 MLB Draft, the same draft the Red Sox drafted Mookie Betts. These two ended up creating one of the best outfields in baseball along with Andrew Benintendi, another Red Sox selection from the 2015 Draft. This trio became known for their post win dances in 2016, known as “Win Dance Repeat.” All three of these guys were also core pieces to the 2018 World Series run, as each had iconic moments along the way. With the exit of Betts via trade to LA, the dominos started to fall. With a new GM in Chaim Bloom, it was clear that a new look was coming to Boston. Benintendi was dealt to Kansas City in February, as JBJ’s signing is coming just a month after. Losing two fan favorites in just two months, it is clear that a memorable era in Sox history has now come to a close.

Jackie Bradley Jr. will always be remembered by this generation of fans for not just his defensive talent and hustle on the field, but also his big smile and great personality off it. Excited to see the Brew Crew come to Boston someday for Jackie to get his much deserved ovation.

Thanks for everything, JBJ. Go kill it in the navy and gold.

Leadership Is The Key For Return To Success

Last year brought dismal results for the Red Sox as we all know. We embark on a new year with an old/new leader back in the dugout. Alex Cora is back after a year long suspension and vibes have been positive so far. Despite his wrongdoings of past, he is great with the players, media, and front office. He said he learned from his mistakes and the Red Sox definitely need his spark to help this crop of new Red Sox players to learn to win again. The players all speak glowingly of him and that is the bottom line when trying to run a clubhouse.

New/Old Leadership

Another key piece is Chaim Bloom, the Chief Baseball Officer himself who was open to a reunion with Cora. This move shows that he doesn’t have an ego and and is open to collaborating on what is best for the team to win. Bloom is a very smart baseball individual and his time in Tampa brings him great experience. He also made the best of the situation last year in having to trade Mookie Betts. Yes, baseball is a business. As one of the old sayings goes, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Offseason Moves

One of the key moves Bloom made this offseason is the one with his old team Tampa. The Red Sox announced on February 17th 2021 that they traded pitchers Jeffrey Springs and Chris Mazza — both who were designated for assignment by the Red Sox to open spots on the 40-man roster — to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league catcher Ronaldo Hernández and another prospect. They key piece here was Hernandez who is considered a top level prospect. Did the student pull one over on the teacher? Another move wasn’t player related, but involved the hiring of a minor league coach. The Red Sox brought in Bianca Smith, the first black woman to be a coach in major league history. Another brilliant move to bring in another voice and different perspective on things that others may have missed. She has a collegiate softball background as well as modern baseball technology and analytical awareness. She was an intern an intern with the Cincinnatti Reds and Texas Rangers prior to this post.

The Outlook Ahead

No one will expect the Red Sox to be contenders this season. The key focus will be on development and taking strides to get better. Rebuilding a core nucleus around Rafeal Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale will be needed. Cora and company will be the people to help this process forward. Here’s hoping to a better baseball season and to better health to all so we can finally have some baseball fun again in our lives.

Four Game Set Begins at Yankee Stadium

After a home stand that saw the Red Sox go 2-5, they will head to Yankee Stadium for a four game set against the New York Yankees. What looked to be a promising home stand for Boston turned into a nightmare. At 6-13, and in last place in the AL East, they need to find a groove, and fast. This upcoming series against the first place Yankees will determine how the rest of this season goes. So far, it’s looking like a sinking ship.

For a team that won a World Series in 2018, this is not a good start. Granted, this is a 60four game set game season due to COVID. However, the Red Sox need to have everything clicking from their pitching to their offense. During the home stand, we did see several players step up, from Alex Verdugo to Kevin Pillar. Now, if only our pitching was consistent, this team would be all set.

Red Sox Hope To Do Better at Yankee Stadium With Four Game Set

After being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox head to Yankee Stadium to face the red hot Yankees. Friday’s starting pitcher for the Red Sox hasn’t been announced yet, but the Yankees will be sending out their ace, Gerrit Cole. At 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA, Cole has been a huge help to the Yankees rotation. He has yet to pitch against the Red Sox this season. Last time out for Cole, he pitched 4.2 innings, and took a no decision against the Rays.

Saturday night’s 7pm matchup to kick off the four game set is between Nathan Eovaldi and James Paxton. Eovaldi, who is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA, last pitched on August 9th against the Blue Jays. He went six innings, allowing three hits and three runs while striking out ten batters. For Paxton, this will be his second time facing the Red Sox in 2020. Last time he faced Boston, he only went three innings, allowing three runs off of seven hits in a 9-7 Yankees victory. Paxton is currently 0-1 on the season, with a 7.84 ERA.

Sunday Night Baseball heads to the Bronx, which means Sunday’s 7pm game will be on ESPN. The Red Sox have yet to name a starter for this game, however, the Yankees will have JA Happ on the mound. Happ, who is 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA, has only pitched in two games this season. Last time out for Happ was against the Phillies. He went three innings in that game, allowing four runs off of three hits.

Monday’s finale will have Martin Perez pitching for Boston. The Yankees have yet to name a starter for Monday night’s game. Perez, who is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA, will get his first taste of the Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry. He last pitched against the Rays, taking the loss after pitching 5.2 innings, allowing two runs off of three hits.

The Road Ahead

After a short trip to Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox head back to Fenway Park to take on Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies for two games. After that very short home stand, they are back on the road to face the Orioles and the Blue Jays. The Red Sox will be finishing August at home against the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.

We are a few weeks away from the MLB Trade Deadline. Usually on July 31st, MLB moved it to August 31st for this season. Since the season has started, the Red Sox have struggled at certain points during the season. It’ll be interesting to see who comes and who goes come August 31st. Obviously, pitching is a huge priority for Boston. Right now, with Boston in last place, the question is, are they buyers or sellers?