Previewing Futures At Fenway

futures at fenway 2014

Today, Sunday July 13th, the Lowell Spinners will be playing at Fenway Park against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The event, which starts at 3:30 PM, also features the freedom to bring your dog to the park as well as a movie, Field of Dreams, after the game.Let’s take a look at the game itself and who to watch.
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Scheduled to take the hill for the Spinners is Kevin McAvoy, a Bryant College alum. Of course it would be nice to see Karsten Whitson pitch, but fans will miss him by one day as he should be taking the hill on Monday. McAvoy, 20, will be making his second career pro start after being selected in the fourth round of this year’s MLB draft. In his junior year for Bryant, McAvoy dominated in 15 starts for the Bulldogs, totaling 99 2/3 innings in which he posted an impressive 2.62 ERA, punched-out 94 men and issued just 28 free passes.

At the plate and in the field, the Spinners have a plethora of talent to watch. Some names to look for include: Danny Mars, Nick Longhi, Jordan Betts, Sam Travis, Nick Moore, and Bryan Hudson. Mars is an athletic outfielder, Longhi has a great bat, Betts shows some serious power as does Travis, whereas Moore and Hudson look to be finding their grooves at the plate.
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There will be some familiar faces in for the Lowell Spinners at the event. On rehab are pitchers Simon Mercedes and Austin Maddox, both of whom have experience for the club. Both are players Boston has hopes for, so it would be nice to see them play on Sunday.

The other former Spinner that comes to mind is now a coach— Iggy Suarez, a long time Red Sox farmhand and fan favorite. He spend the 2003 season in Lowell and hit .222 while boasting a .326 OBP swiping 12 bags on 16 attempts. Although he never made it to the big leagues, Suarez is a likable guy who loves the game, which puts him in good position to be a successful Major League coach someday.
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Futures at Fenway is always a good take and will be this year, despite a hike in ticket prices. Every year except for this one, tickets started at just $5, but now due to the movie and many seating sections being unavailable, they now start at $15. Nevertheless, it will be a fun time for all in attendance and a day to remember. Good baseball and a movie definitely gives people something to do on their Sunday as the Lowell Spinners hopefully come out on top.

Steven Wright Has The Right Stuff

steven wright

Acquired by Boston from the Cleveland Indians in 2012 in exchange for Lars Anderson, knuckleballer Steven Wright made it clear that Boston got the better half of the trade. The 29-year-old is dominating his International League competition playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox. In his last outing Wright pitched a gem; going eight strong innings, allowing just two hits while walking three and fanning three, he is definitely someone the Red Sox want to keep in the back of their minds as he is proving he is Major League ready. On the year in eight starts for the Paw Sox, Wright has held hitters down. He is posting a 2.04 ERA in 53 innings while punching out 48 batters and issuing just 12 free passes.

Despite most of his success coming as a knuckleball pitcher, Wright was not always one. It was not until 2011 when Wright started using the pitch as his primary weapon. Luckily for Wright, who pitched well in the Cleveland organization, Boston scooped him up and helped him develop the pitch even further, making him an even better pitcher. At this point, Wright is very close to the big leagues. As mentioned before, he is dominating his AAA competition; in the game of chess, it is Boston’s move.

Typically, the knuckleball is a hit or miss pitch and right now for Wright it is a major hit. With the trade deadline approaching, and Boston looking to sell off many veteran guys, expects them to call up Wright at some point in the next month. With his knuckleball, Wright could prove valuable as a swing man who could log many innings for the big league club. Whether these innings come as a starter, a long reliever, or even as a mop up man, Steven Wright definitely has what it takes to help out at the big league level.

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Flying Under The Radar: Danny Mars

Danny MarsRanked 338th on the Baseball America top 500 prospect list, the Boston Red Sox snagged outfielder Danny Mars in the sixth round. The Chipola College prospect was rated low mostly because he played at the Junior College level, but he still tore up the competition nonetheless. In fact, his teammate Ian Rice, whom the Red Sox also drafted, was ranked higher, but he has yet to sign with the team. Unlike Rice who Boston drafted in a late round, the Red Sox offered Mars slot money, so he quickly signed with the Red Sox and reported to Lowell for his pro debut.
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In nine games for the Lowell Spinners this year, Mars is tearing the cover off the ball. Known as a contact hitter, Mars is hitting a whopping .405 in 37 at-bats while boasting a .450 OBP. To put it this way, Danny Mars is definitely doing his part and then some for the team. He is a switch hitter who hits much better from the left side of the plate, so eventually he might stop hitting righty all together.

On defense, Mars, who is an outfielder, can play all three outfield positions, although center field is his preference. He definitely has what it takes to stick in center field given his speed and athleticism. With this being said, Mars is also the type of guy who could potentially be a serious threat on the basepaths in the future.
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Right now, it is clear that Danny Mars is a legitimate prospect despite whatever he was ranked. In the sixth round, Mars was a steal for Boston and has a chance to really make a name for himself. In the future, Mars has what it takes to be a lead-off hitter and other teams will be jealous that they did not draft him. As for this year, Mars will likely get a promotion to Greenville at some point if he keeps up what he is doing, putting him in a great position for a breakout 2015 season.

Holding On To Derrik Gibson Could Finally Pay Off

derrik gibsonThe Boston Red Sox had high hopes for their 2008 MLB draft class. So far, almost none of these picks have paid off. There is only one player who the Red Sox drafted that year who is now a consistent player on an MLB roster. That man is Yan Gomes. Yes, Yan Gomes, the Cleveland Indians catcher. To add insult to injury, he did not even sign with the Boston Red Sox. With this being said, it looks like the 2008 MLB draft for the Red Sox was a complete and utter failure. Luckily for Boston, there is still hope. There are two Minor League players in the Red Sox have who could still make an impact on the Major League team and they are Christian Vazquez and Derrik Gibson. Of these men Vazquez is definitely the more well-known, but do not discount Derrik Gibson, who the Red Sox picked in the second round in that draft.
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Gibson, 24, entered his seventh professional season this year, his third in AA Portland. For the longest time it appeared as though Gibson was nothing more than a roster filler, but now he is proving his worth. The utility man, who now primarily roams the outfield, is tearing the cover off the ball hitting .324 while boasting a .413 OBP in 61 games for the Sea Dogs. Although he has been picked off seven times in 14 stolen base attempts, Gibson is fast whether or not it translates well on the base paths.

It is worth noting that Gibson is demolishing left-handed pitching. In 83 at-bats against southpaws, the Delaware native his hitting .410 with a .474 OBP. With a sample size this large, his splits do not appear as a coincidence especially since he hit .342 off them with an even better .480 OBP in 102 at-bats last year.
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As Derrik Gibson keeps doing what he is doing, the future looks bright for him. Although he may not play in the big leagues this year, his 2014 campaign could definitely put him in the position to be on the Red Sox short list of potential call-ups. This year, Gibson could be promoted to AAA Pawtucket, especially if they give one of the veteran guys the boot.

Overall, drafting Derrik Gibson was a great move by Boston. Although his development has taken some time, he is finally producing on a consistent basis against tough competition. Since he is a lefty killer, Gibson could make a name for himself as a platoon player someday down the line. Given his versatility, Gibson could platoon at a number positions making him even more valuable to the Red Sox. Despite not faring well in the 2008 draft, the Red Sox second round pick has the chance to make a name for himself in Major League Baseball.

Sam Travis: Red Sox First Baseman Of The Future?

sam travisIn the second round of the 2014 MLB draft, the Boston Red Sox made a great move going after an established college bat, and one of the best first baseman in the draft. They picked Sam Travis, a first baseman from Indiana University Bloomington. He and Cubs draft pick, Kyle Schwarber, made up a powerful one-two punch for the Hoosiers.

Travis, 20, dominated throughout his entire college tenure, smacking 31 career home runs for the Hoosiers with his lowest OBP in any given season being an impressive .397. In the summer, Travis also experienced plenty of success.  A Cape Cod League All-Star in 2012 and a member of Team USA’s collegiate team in 2013, it is fair to say Sam Travis was a highly successful college athlete. He signed with the Boston Red Sox on June 17th and headed to Lowell for his pro debut. He then began his journey toward becoming the Boston Red Sox everyday first baseman.
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So far this year for the Lowell Spinners, Travis looks comfortable at the plate. At first he struggled a bit, but now he is tearing the cover off the ball, raising his average to .284, smacking a pair of home runs in 17 games. He is 15 for his last 41, putting him at a .366 average in his last 10 games, making it clear that he has a bright future in the game. In the field, Travis is playing first base for the Spinners without seeing time elsewhere. His secondary position is third base, but at this point it seems unlikely that he will be playing it any time soon.

In a draft where Boston took many high ceiling players over high floor players, Sam Travis offers a high floor to the Red Sox. He is a well polished young player who possess some serious power which is much more developed than most players from the draft. His bat is something special and people will not have to wait and see his power develop because it is already there.
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Of course power is not the only thing a player needs to be successful at the Major League level, but Travis has those as well. Granted with his impressive plate discipline, superb contact hitting, and his high quality defense at first base, all Boston needs to do is sit back and let Travis play. He is mature enough that he should be able to handle any challenge Boston throws at him, but the club should not give any prospect too many challenges. It would be surprising to see him end the year in Lowell and not start his 2014 campaign in at least high-A Salem.

Beyond then, the sky is the limit for Sam Travis. As the best first base prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, and with Mike Napoli set to be a free agent after the 2015 season, if he develops nicely, Travis is likely to get a shot at being the Boston Red Sox everyday first baseman by 2017. He still has a long ways to go, but if he keeps up what he has been doing for the past few years, the future is bright for him.

Anthony Ranaudo Will Make An Impact This Year

anthony ranaudoSeen by scouts as arguably the best pitcher in his draft class, Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo continues to prove scouts that they were right. A disappointing junior year marred by injuries caused him to fall to the supplemental first round. Ranaudo, who wanted to show the Red Sox the pitcher that he truly is, pitched for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League, pitching a total of 29 2/3 scoreless innings. Impressed with his numbers, Boston gave Ranaudo an almost unheard of $2.55 million signing bonus just before the signing deadline. After a few years of ups and downs in the Minor Leagues, Anthony Ranaudo is finally looking like a big league pitcher.
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Ranaudo, who is 24-years-old, picked up where he left off after an impressive 2013 campaign. So far this year the tall righty is impressing Red Sox Nation, especially in his last 10 starts. In those last 10 starts his ERA is a minute 1.74, he has set down 50 men by way of the K while walking only 20, hitters hit just .186 off the New Jersey native all while tossing 62 innings in total. Finally, Ranaudo looks like the pitcher everyone had high hopes for. This is mostly because he is now completely healthy and was not in years past.

On the mound, Ranaudo boasts a hard fastball which sits comfortably in the low-to-mid 90’s. He typically tops out at around 95mph while he has thrown up to 98mph before. His curveball is definitely a plus pitch and typically sits around 80mph give or take a couple. Although his changeup is his weakest pitch, Ranaudo is working hard at improving it.  The command is not all there on his change, but it is around 12mph slower than his fastball, making it somewhat effective. Granted with his massive frame at 6 ft 7, Ranaudo has no problem getting great downward leverage, making him even more dominant as a pitcher.
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The Major League club Boston Red Sox definitely are in the middle of a down year. With Jon Lester and Jake Peavy set to be free agents after this year and with John Lackey threatening retirement, any of those three men could be traded by the trade deadline at the end of the month. In order to fill the void the veterans leave in the rotation, Boston will look to fill them internally. The way Anthony Ranaudo is pitching as of late, expect him to get a shot in the big league rotation at some point this year. Despite other youngsters pitching well, there could be up to three spots in the rotation open and with this being said, the Red Sox would be crazy to not give one of those spots to Ranaudo.