Rutledge Homers in PawSox Series Opener

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On a star-studded night at BB&T Ballpark, the Pawtucket Red PawSox Series OpenerSox fell to the Charlotte Knights in the series opener, 3-1, on Tuesday.

In a game that featured a pair of big leaguers on rehab assignments (including a 2016 All-Star), a consensus top-5 prospect and a former first-round pick, the Knights (5-7) used a pair of first-inning home runs to coast by the PawSox (6-6) to kick off the three-game set. Pawtucket has now lost three in a row.

Before Tuesday’s series opener, the PawSox added a pair of players on MLB rehab assignments. Jackie Bradley Jr., who suffered a right knee sprain with the Red Sox in Detroit on April 8, batted second and played center field before leaving after his five scheduled innings. In the first inning, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Two innings later, Bradley struck out looking against Charlotte starter and 2015 first-round pick Carson Fulmer. Bradley tracked down two fly balls in center — one moving back and one jogging in during the third inning.

Rutledge, meanwhile, batted third as the designated hitter. The 27-year old, who suffered a left hamstring strain in late March during spring training, clocked a solo home run in the first inning. He later struck out swinging and grounded out to short.

Fulmer (W, 2-1) allowed just one run on five hits and a walk in six innings and outdueled PawSox starter Shawn Haviland (L, 2-1), who settled in after the first frame and logged seven innings. Haviland ceded just the three runs on nine hits and a walk to go along with eight punchouts.

Pawtucket, however, only mustered three singles after the second inning and hit into a pair of double plays. Flame-throwing Knights righty Zack Burdi (S, 2) secured the save in the ninth by striking out three consecutive PawSox hitters after allowing back-to-back singles to start the stanza.

PawSox center fielder Rusney Castillo (2-for-4) and left fielder Junior Lake (2-for-2, BB) each posted multi-hit nights.

In the top of the first inning, Rutledge lifted an opposite-field home run to right to crack open a 1-0 lead.

But, the Knights countered in the bottom of the first. Leadoff man and former Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada mashed a home run to right field. Two batters later, center fielder Willy Garcia pulled a two-run shot to left to vault Charlotte in front, 3-1.

The PawSox continue their three-game series in Charlotte against the Knights on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket right-hander Héctor Velázquez (0-0, 5.79) is scheduled to oppose Charlotte righty Lucas Giolito (0-1, 7.56). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 6:35 p.m.

The PawSox return home to McCoy Stadium April 25-30. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.

Looking at the Red Sox Draft Strategy

The Red Sox hold the 7th pick in tonight’s MLB draft, which marks the second time in 3 years the Red Sox will pick at that spot. In 2013, the Red Sox selected pitcher Trey Ball, a 6’6″ lefty from Indiana, who has had his struggled in his minor league career so far (4.67 ERA in 67 starts since being drafted). He’s only 20 years old, so he’s still got time to turn things around.

But, if recent history is any guide, 7 could still be a lucky number. Here are a few of the Red Soxnames to be taken 7th in recent years: Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitski and Matt Harvey. So, where should the Red Sox focus be in the draft tonight? On picking the best player available. Why? The Red Sox have so many holes right now, it’s hard to pinpoint one area of need at the moment. Every facet of the game has struggled this year at different points, so it’s hard to say they should focus on offense or pitching over the other.

2 names being thrown around are 2 former Red Sox picks from the 2012 draft, shortstop Alex Bregman and pitcher Carson Fulmer. Both of these guys are projected top 10 picks this year, and both could be on the board for the Red Sox. Bregman is batting .312 with a .406 on base percentage and .534 slugging percentage at Louisiana State University, per Masslive.com. He also has 22 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, and 37 steals in 47 tries this season. Once he gets to the Major League level, he could be a big impact player. So could Fulmer, though – he has a 13-2 record with a 1.82 ERA, 152 strikeouts and only 46 walks in 114.0 innings per MassLive.

Granted, neither  would make an immediate impact at the Major League level, but I would be happy with the Red Sox picking either guy. The Red Sox could pick an outfielder (Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benitendi could be available), which is the one area the Red Sox have some depth, at least when everyone is healthy. That has been a problem so far, with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava both injured right now. Who knows what the Red Sox do, with so many areas to address, but it seems pretty hard for them to go wrong on paper. The draft kicks off tonight at 7 pm.