Eduardo Rodriguez: Next Big Thing For Red Sox?

eduardo rodriguezAmidst a hopeless 2014 season, the Boston Red Sox’ phone rang off the hook on July 31st this year. Among the men dealt was left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Miller was dealt to Baltimore in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.

After posting a less-than-impressive 4.79 ERA in 16 starts for the AA Bowie Baysox this year, things changed drastically for the Venezuela native.
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Upon joining the Red Sox organization, Eduardo Rodriguez drastically changed his season around. Posting a 0.96 ERA in six regular season starts totaling 37.1 innings, he struck out 39 men while walking just eight.

In the playoffs, Rodriguez tossed a pair of quality outings as well—including one in AAA Pawtucket. Split between the two, he went 13.2 innings allowing four runs putting his post-season ERA at 2.63.
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Although the Andrew Miller trade may have flown under the radar a bit because of the Jon Lester and John Lackey deals, it still has the potential to be the best trade.

Rodriguez projects to be a Major League starter who could make his big league debut as soon as next season. The lefty tops out at 97 mph and will showcase his talent in Pawtucket next season.
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In an organization filled with young pitching talent, good may not be good enough for Rodriguez—he will need to pitch great. Turning 22 next season, he is much younger than most of his competition, giving him an edge in the age department. Still, he will need to out pitch Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Edwin Escobar and Matt Barnes to make it to the big league level. Luckily, Rodriguez is capable of doing so.

Maybe Eduardo Rodriguez will be one of the young guys who impresses enough at the big league level in order to pitch there on a regular basis because right now, not many of the Red Sox rookies are doing just that.
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Dan Butler “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”

dan butlerWith September call-ups starting, teams first look to bring up guys who can help a big league team. Of course eventually they will bring up more and more guys, but at first they only summon a few. Arguably the most important call-up, and usually the first one to get the call, is an extra catcher (although this year Boston opted for knuckleballer Steven Wright as their first call-up).

As far as catchers went, Dan Butler was the Red Sox first choice. On Tuesday, he was recalled from AAA Pawtucket.
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Dan Butler is a name synonymous with hard work. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009 after a hot campaign in the Cape Cod League, Butler, who is in his sixth professional season, looks to contribute to the Boston Red Sox before the end of the year.

In 83 games for the Paw Sox, Butler hit .241/.317/.350 but got hot lately going 12 for his last 24.

Defensively, Butler is a solid defensive catcher who works well with his pitching staff. An impressive receiver and game caller behind the plate, Dan Butler owned a .995 fielding percentage in 54 games catching this season while gunning down 27% of attempted base stealers.
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The 27-year-old catcher does not come to the Boston without experience. He was first called-up earlier this year on August 2nd when David Ross hit the DL with plantar fasciitis. He caught in three games for Boston in the month of August drawing a walk in his second plate appearance.

“It’s something I worked for my whole life and in these past six to seven years, it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of. I was just excited you know, a lot of excitement you know the family and excited for the kids, mostly for the kids”, said Butler of his big league experience.

When Butler made his big debut, he was not the only Butler in attendance.

“It was nice having them there for the kids and my parents you know. I had a lot of family there. I was just really happy to have my mom and dad see me there, it was special”, said Butler whose family traveled from Arizona to Los Angeles to see his big league debut against the Angels.
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Of course for Butler, as it is for many, his time in the big leagues was as much of a learning experience as anything.

“I mean you get familiar with your own scouting reports, the staff you’re working with, the way things work, how you go about your business and how to prepare. A lot of preparation goes into each game, that was the biggest part — how am I going to prepare for each game”.

It seems highly likely that Boston will use Butler a few more times this season, even if it is only once a week. Both Red Sox catchers Christian Vazquez and David Ross have caught plenty of games this year making it rational to believe they could use a break every now and then. Butler will be able to keep both guys well-rested over the last month of a disappointing MLB season so that both men have no nagging injuries going into 2015.
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As for the idea of being a September call-up, Butler was not certain of it Monday morning after Pawtucket clinched a playoff spot around 12:30 AM.

“I won’t know until Kevin [Boles] says something to me. You never know, you just got to go out and treat everyday the same. You don’t count your chickens before they hatch. If it happens, it happens. It will be good, but you never know.”

Farm Report: Pawtucket Red Sox

Pawtucket Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have the luxury of having a farm system well stocked with talent. The stars of the future are currently honing their skills all across the Red Sox various farm clubs. Heading into their Wednesday games, the four Red Sox minor league clubs, Pawtucket, Portland, Salem, and Greenville are 70-50 overall and owners of the second best combined record for a minor league farm system.

The 19-15 Pawtucket Red Sox will look to get back to their winning ways today when they close out their four-game series with the visiting Toledo Mudhens. The Pawsox have now dropped back-to-back games for the third time this season.

Right-hander Ruby De La Rosa takes the ball tonight looking to rebound on a personal level having dropped his last two decisions while giving up eight runs (six earned) in the process.

Players to watch

Brock Holt

In early April, infielder Brock Holt became the first PawSox player to get promoted to the big club. Holt spent a day with the Red Sox before being returned to Pawtucket the following day. Two weeks later, following the reassignment of infielder Ryan Roberts, Holt officially made his 2014 Red Sox debut and batted .348 over seven games with four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base in 28-plate appearances. For the PawSox, Holt is batting .318 with a home run, five RBI and 19 runs scored over his first 85-at bats. Currently blocked at third base by Will Middlebrooks and the likely odd man out with the presence of Xander Bogaerts and the emergence of Garin Cecchini, Holt does not appear to have a long-term future with the Boston Red Sox. Holt, however, has value as a short-term option should Will Middlebrooks lose time due to injury or a bout of ineffectiveness.

Garin Cecchini

Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, Cecchini begins his first full season at Triple-A Pawtucket. Cecchini is widely considered as the number two overall prospects in the Red Sox organization and is likely at least another year or two away from making a legitimate impact at the major league level. Cecchini was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason and is viewed as the third baseman of the future. In 2013, Cecchini batted .322 with seven homers, 61 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and a .443 on-base percentage over 129 games between Single-A and Double-A ball. Cecchini, who is currently riding a 17-game on base streak, is batting .307 with one home run, 16 RBI and 15 runs scored over 97 at-bats for the PawSox.

Matt Barnes

Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, the right-handed Connecticut native has allowed just five hits and three runs over his last two starts, but has only a no-decision and a loss to show for it. On the season, Barnes is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 12 strikeouts over 16 innings pitched. The 91 pitches thrown on Tuesday versus the Mudhens were a season-high and a good sign that the shoulder inflammation that caused him to miss most of the month of April is no longer a concern.

Notes

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway has played 19 games at first base.

Outfielder Daniel Nava is batting .263 (10-for-38) and has reached base in eight of the eleven games he has played with the PawSox since his demotion.

20 of the 34 games played this season have been decided by two runs or less.

PawSox batters are hitting just .212, over 22 home games, with just 10 home runs.

PawSox manager Kevin Boles has used a different line-up in each of the team’s 33 games played this season.

The PawSox had a seven-game errorless stretch before reliever Drake Britton committed an error on Tuesday night. The errorless stretch was the club’s longest since 2011, also seven games.

The PawSox have yet to use a pinch-hitter this season.

The PawSox are picking up where the 2013 Boston Red Sox left off with 10 come-from- behind wins on the season, seven wins in their last at-bat, and two wins via the walk-off.

The PawSox are currently third in the International League with a .981 fielding pct. (23 errors in 1208 total chances).

PawSox pitchers have allowed just two home runs on the road this season, the fewest in the IL.

Brandon Workman, Others, Represent the Future

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman Courtesy of minorleagueball.com

The future is now for the Boston Red Sox. Brandon Workman made his major league starting pitching debut on Sunday. He joins the likes of Ryan Lavarnway, Brock Holt, Brandon Snyder, Jackie Bradley Jr. who have all had their shot on the major league diamond. Never have I seen so many minor league players move around throughout the system, not come up to Boston so often and with such rapid-fire frequency. This is a testament to the depth that we have in our farm system. Workman is a perfect example as he quickly proved himself in Portland and then Pawtucket, and finally Sunday in California against Oakland.

This is what has made this year’s Red Sox team so fun to watch. You never know who will be at what position until the lineup comes out. Those from the minor league teams play with heart, feel the pressure, and rise to the occasion. Snyder proved himself useful until he was not, botching throws to first and not producing at the plate. Bradley Jr. experienced the same fate in the few occasions he made it up to the Bigs. Jose Iglesias and Holt seem to be making the most of their moment in the sun. With great plate patience and strong defensive skill they have maintained positions on the team for the longest periods of time, among their fellow brethren from Pawtucket. The future is now for these guys.

The Futures of Fenway game is scheduled on Saturday, July 27th at 12PM at Fenway Park.  Fans will be able to see the other great players the Red Sox have within their farm system. A few days later the League reaches its trade deadline. Will we need to make any big trades, or will we stick with guys we have in the system? Perhaps, there are some that need to go, like Stephen Drew, to make room on the 40-man roster. And, after all, you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Xander Bogaerts, Others On the Move in Minors

xander bogaerts

Courtesy of espn.go.com

The news and movement around the Red Sox minor league farm system is electric. A perfect example is World Baseball Classic player, and former Portland Seadog, Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts, promoted this week to triple-A Pawtucket, made a great first impression on Friday. During the doubleheader, he single-handedly won the first game with a walk-off hit scoring the game’s only run. In the second game, he hit his first triple-A home run, and another walk-off to the win that game, too. He is setting the world on fire. All the girls want to date him, and all the men want to be him. He is just 20 years of age and from Aruba. Everyone’s interest has been captured, for one reason or another, with info like that.

A source on Twitter believes Bogaerts will put even more pressure on the Red Sox’ shortstop decision in the 2014 season. As good as Iglesias is, Xander just may be better. He has strong fielding ability, and provides blistering offense. He is young, the world is his oyster. Any position is possible.

Another player promoted from Double-A to Pawtucket was right-handed pitcher Brandon Workman. I was delighted to hear this promotion for a few reasons. This allows Portland Seadogs’ right-handed pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo, to get the attention he deserves. This kid is finally coming into his own, and deserves to have a spot in triple-A someday. (I know I am really obsessed with Ranaudo, maybe it is the combination of a great year, periodic NESN coverage, and the Italian last name). Workman has had more time in the system and it was his time to move up. He won his first start, and struck out four batters and allowed three earned runs. Hopefully, it was first game jitters. I know he can do better and feel confident that he will in the future.

Changes had to be made within the organization since Trey Ball and Teddy Stankiewicz were picked up in the draft. Perhaps more changes are on the horizon as the July 31st trade deadline approaches. It is never too early to start talking player trades, since I feel like I have been thinking about it since mid-May.

It is an extraordinary time in this organization. We have so much to look forward to for the first time in a long time. Let’s hope these stars stay in our galaxy.

My First Pawtucket Red Sox Game of the Season

pawtucket red sox

Courtesy of wpri.com

On Sunday, May 19th, I went to see my first Pawtucket Red Sox game of the season at beautiful McCoy Stadium. I went with a group of kids and parents and it was a great time. I got to the ballpark early enough that I was able to peek at an old-time 1880s exhibition baseball game. Men were on the field playing with no gloves and interesting uniforms. After killing time peering through the fence and waiting for my group, I danced with both Paws and Sox, the mascots for the Pawtucket team. Sox is a much better dancer than Paws. That girl can really get down!

The players proved just as good as the atmosphere, as they soundly beat the Indianapolis Indians 11-3. The Paw Sox now have a 26-18 record thus far this season. I was there for Jackie Bradley Jr.’s return to center field. He has not been in the outfield since April 27, 2013, after one stint as designated hitter, and then another on the disabled list because of tendinitis around the right bicep. Jackie looked good Sunday. He could have batted better, but I think he is still a bit tentative after coming off the DL. His on-base percentage is still in the .400s. In today’s baseball, getting on base is important. During this game, Bradley Jr. got on base three times and was able to score all three times, thanks to his teammates’ hot bats against a weaker team. His arms were full-on pumping as he bolted by us sitting on the 3rd base line.

I was also impressed with Brandon Snyder’s work. All of the writers were right about him. He gets his bat on the ball, makes great line drives into center field, and is a solid defensive fielder. The pleasant surprise award of the afternoon had to go to Jeremy Hazelbaker who definitely caught my attention. Hazelbaker scored two runs.

A big win became even sweeter, as fans have the opportunity to run the bases after every Sunday game. It was fun to see children and parents run where many greats of the past–and future ran before.  We ran as the day’s sprinkles just began to fall. It was another memorable day at one of America’s finest minor league ballparks.