PawSox Set Opening Day Roster

PawSox

While the Red Sox opened their season on Monday afternoon with a win in Philadelphia their full season minor league affiliates all open with night games on Thursday.  The PawSox will open the season in Lehigh Valley, against the interestingly named Iron Pigs, the Phillies AAA affiliate.

On Tuesday it was PawSox media day, which was moved inside due to inclement weather—something to always be expected during April in New England. The PawSox players, staff, and new owner James Skeffington, were all on hand to answer questions regarding the upcoming season. PawSoxThe PawSox, coming off a Governor’s Cup Championship, have another loaded roster. Eight out of the top ten Red Sox prospects according to MLB.com are on the PawSox opening day roster, with many who made appearances in the big club last September.

The expected starting rotation for the PawSox early on this season will be lefties Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Eddie Rodriguez, and righties Matt Barnes and Keith Couch. All five made starts with the PawSox last season while Barnes was with the team for most of the season. Barnes, who was working in spring training as a reliever, was one of the final roster cuts and will be stretched out as a starter. Brian Johnson will have the privilege of the Opening Day start after an eye opening spring, where he quite possibly declared himself next in line, should an injury occur in the big clubs rotation.

In the bullpen the PawSox will feature a good chunk of players with major league experience, some with the Red Sox. Right handers Miguel Celestino, Heath Hembree, Dalier Hinojosa, Noe Ramirez, Zeke Spruill, and Brandon Workman are joined by the lone lefty Dana Eveland. Workman was moved to the bullpen by the Sox this off-season and was quoted saying, “I’ll pitch when they tell me to warm up.” The uptick in his velocity is seen to be a reason for the move, and the 2013 postseason was an example of his success out of the pen.

It is rare a roster features three catchers—never mind four—but the PawSox start off the season with four on their roster. Humberto Quintero accepted his assignment to AAA and will likely be the backup for  #1 Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart who will start the season in Pawtucket after making a good impression this spring. Matt Spring and Luke Montz join Swihart and Quintero as the backstops to start the year.

The infield has its own set of veterans with Travis Shaw, Garin Cecchini, and Deven Marrero returning from last season, joined by major league veterans Jeff Bianchi and Jemile Weeks. Newcomer Sean Coyle spent all of last season in AA Portland and was added to the 40 man roster this winter.

The outfield is what Bryce Brentz referred to as the “no fly zone.” Brentz returns to the PawSox and will be joined by Jackie Bradley Jr., Quintin Berry, and the highest paid player in the minors Rusney Castillo. All outfielders have major league experience and one has to believe Castillo will not be with the PawSox for long. Brentz introduced a new leg kick to his swing this off-season, which took much of spring training to get comfortable with. The Red Sox have depth in the outfield in the major leagues, but these outfielders are all serviceable should an injury occur.

Many Red Sox fans recognize a lot of the names on this PawSox roster and, I predict, will see a lot of these players appearing in Boston at some point this season. The PawSox home opener is Thursday April 16th against the Rochester Red Wings.

Sean Coyle Misses Game After Taking Grounder to Face During Warmups

SEAN COYLE

Red Sox infield prospect Sean Coyle was scratched from the lineup in Thursday’s contest against the New York Mets at Tradition Field, after taking a ground ball to his face during warm ups.

The injury left Coyle needing three stitches, and Jemile Weeks started in his place at third base.Sean Coyle

The 23-year old has driven in one run on a double in three at-bats so far this spring, to go with a walk and a stolen base.

Coyle spent his 2014 season with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, where he hit .295/.371/.512 in 96 games to go with 16 home runs and 61 RBI.

He recently compared his offensive approach to former Red Sox hero, Ted Williams.

“My dad had the Science of Hitting and the pages were falling out,” Coyle said in an interview with WEEI.com. “Me and brother went through it. At first we just liked to look at all the pictures of baseballs and averages. Then we started to read into it. It started there.

“I’m a firm believer in a lot of things Ted Williams had to say about hitting — the hips lead the swing. Everything starts from the ground up, for sure.”

Due to his lack of physical size, Coyle looks to fellow Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia for inspiration.

“I look at him as someone who doesn’t need to be seven-foot tall to act like it,” Coyle stated in the WEEI interview. “I really look up to him and how he goes about things and how he’s unfazed and how he’s confident despite what people have to say about him.”

Although every avenue to the Red Sox infield is seemingly blocked at this point in time, Coyle could represent a valuable trade piece later in the season. Coyle has spent considerable time at second and third base, and if he can replicate his offensive performance from 2014, there should be plenty of teams lining up to acquire his services.

Does Jemile Weeks have a place with Boston going forward?

Jemile WeeksJemile Weeks has essentially been this year’s version of Quentin Berry. For those unfamiliar with Berry’s role with Boston in ’13, he was used specifically for pinch-running purposes. That’s what Weeks has become in ’14, and while Berry’s tenure in Boston came to an abrupt end after the Red Sox’ World Series run, Jemile possibly has a future beyond the remainder of this lost year.

For one, he won’t be a free agent until 2019, but that’s useless unless he performs well. He lived up to that expectation in ’11, his rookie season, but since then has been unable to thrive in the majors. Well, actually, after Weeks produced an abysmal 73 wRC+, in 2012, he hasn’t been given ample opportunities. In fact, he’s played in just 15 games between 2013 and 2014.

It doesn’t make much sense considering his unsustainable .256 BABIP in the ’12 season and his consistent minor-league production. Yet that’s the circumstance Weeks has found himself in; just or unjust as it may be.

For some reason, however, there’s this misconception brewing that he’s a lost case from an offensive perspective. That’s far from the truth, and he’s hit in every level of the minors at an above-average rate. So, why, hasn’t he been given another chance?

That much I can’t explain, but do strongly believe he could get that chance with the Boston Red Sox in the role of a bench player. He’s quick and has offensive potential to be a prosperous major-leaguer. The question, though, remains: will the Red Sox capitalize on this gift they’ve been given in Jemile Weeks?