Edwin Escobar Could Be a Welcome Addition in the Red Sox Rotation

Edwin EscobarThe left-handed Edwin Escobar was recalled on the morning of August 10th after the 19-inning affair, but did not see any game time due to the seven-inning effort of Rubby De La Rosa against the Los Angeles Angels on that Sunday afternoon. The bullpen was not taxed much thanks to the young starter, but we also did not get to see what Escobar could bring to the table.

So far, the 22-year-old has shown some great poise in the Boston Red Sox farm system with two six-inning starts, five strikeouts in each, while walking no more than two in an outing. He also has a 1.50 ERA with one run allowed in each no-decision.

The lefty had trouble this year in Tripe-A Fresno after posting three straight sub-3.00 ERA seasons in the San Francisco Giants, but he has shown why he was the No. 2 prospect in the Giants farm system in 2014.

The youngster does not have much of a fastball, but he does mix his four pitches well, according to scouts. A pitcher with four quality pitches would be a welcome bottom of the rotation starter who should be able to get the job done on a regular basis.

The Red Sox still have a long way to go in the rebuilding process to be a contender in 2015, but Escobar is an option they have for at least a spot start or two. He is still a couple seasons away from being the fifth starter in this rotation, but it will be interesting to see what management has in story for the lefty when the rosters expand in September.

Heath Hembree Settling In For Boston

heath hembreeHard 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.

Grading the Jake Peavy Trade for the Boston Red Sox

Jake PeavyJake Peavy was shipped out of Boston Saturday afternoon for a pair of pitching prospects in the San Francisco Giants farm system. Did the Boston Red Sox get fair value in the deal for the struggling veteran pitcher? The 33-year-old had pitched fairly well for the Red Sox at times, but failed to get run support —or support a lead— which led to an unimpressive 1-9 record in 20 starts this season. His 4.72 ERA and 20 home runs allowed did not help his cause, but he also had the least run support of any starter in MLB.

Peavy had his lowest strikeout and walk rates since 2003 this season, and has only earned one win against AL opponents (May 29 against the Toronto Blue Jays) since joining the Red Sox last July. In return for the veteran right-handed starter, the Red Sox received minor leaguers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Both are top 10 prospects in the Giants farm system and look to be pretty solid assets for the Red Sox, whether its for more trades or just options in the rotation/bullpen.

Escobar is a lefty starter who was the No. 2 prospect entering the 2014 season, but has struggled with a 5.11 ERA through 20 starts and a 3-8 record at Triple-A Fresno. Over the previous two seasons, the 22-year-old had dominated Double-A and Single-A leagues with a combined 2.88 ERA while striking out 268 batters in 259.1 innings of work. He did walk 62 batters in 2012 and 2013 combined as well, but command is something a 22-year-old can work on as he works on everything in the minors.

Hembree was rated seventh coming into the season and really lived up to those expectations by making the Pacific Coast League All-Star team and notching 18 saves in 41 games. The 3.89 ERA might not be too impressive, but the 25-year-old did have a 46:13 K:BB in just 39.1 innings of work at Triple-A Fresno. The 105 career minor league saves in five seasons might mean he has the makeup to be groomed into the next closer for the Boston Red Sox.

Another bonus for the Red Sox is that the Giants will be splitting the rest of the money owed to Peavy 50/50.

Ben Cherington really did his work on this deal and received two quality pitching prospects in return for a 58-game rental of Peavy. The Red Sox might not hold on to these players for long, but at least the team got something of value for a struggling veteran starter.

Grade: B+