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.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Watch: Tough Starts Lead to Questions

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to be struggling, but he is great for publicity, right? The last few games were tough on the rookie, hitting nothing at his last 17 plate appearances. Offensively, he has trouble with southpaws, especially with pitches thrown inside. Thursday night Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for him at the end of the seventh inning. Saturday he did not see action because of Tampa Bay’s left handed pitcher, David Price. Defensively, he has trouble with the left field corner, especially those balls that are hit tight to the wall. A higher percentage of players bat right-handed, so there is a high likelihood of balls pulled in that direction. Also, when the outfield shifts towards right field on these batters, it takes him further away from the left field corner. I am surprised because he does get a decent jump on the ball.  Bradley Jr. keeps a close eye on the batter with feet primed for action.

Those are the facts. We cannot keep sitting him out every time there is a left handed pitcher. He cannot avoid parts of left field when playing that position. What is John Farrell going to do? Will they send him down to Pawtucket? There was a lot of talk, before they made the decision to bring him up to the majors, about him playing in every game.  That is not happening as he has sit out 2 out of the last four games. It was so exciting in New York; now the thrill is gone, and questions loom.

If they send him down to Pawtucket, they would need to leave him down there for some time. I do not think that would be a negative. He would play with other talented players who are also working on their games. I think he would learn a tremendous amount from David Ortiz and Bryce Bentz. He could talk to left-handed pitchers like Chris Hernandez to learn how they trip him up at plate. Consistent play and plate appearances would help, too, though this would more likely occur at the double A level. I do not think the organization would demote him that far down the farm system, since it would not benefit Bradley Jr. or the Red Sox.

He creates problems, but these are good problems to have, as so many say. I hate to see him go, but it seems moving him down would be the best scenario for the team right now. Daniel Nava’s performance, in the last few games, is undeniable.

What should the Red Sox do with JBJ?

Jose Iglesias Headed to Rhode Island

Jose Iglesias

Jose Iglesias is being moved down to Pawtucket? Really, is this happening? Yes, the Sox have optioned him to Pawtucket to give Stephen Drew his first start with Boston tonight, Wednesday, at shortstop.

I am truly beside myself. I saw Iglesias play and found him to embody what it means to be a baseball player, from the way he throws to his build. I realize they signed Drew at the major league level, but he missed all of Spring Training because of this concussion. Now we are all left with whiplash after today’s decision. The decision seems to reek of front office politics. Are they forcing Farrell to play him? Farrell has made great pitching decisions for the rest of the week, placing Alfredo Aceves in the rotation to start Thursday’s game. That was a good decision; this Drew thing seems too much of a gamble.

Defensively, I think we will see this to be a bad move. Iglesias’ is an important part of that infield. Iglesias’ batting average is .450 but some say this is inflated by bunts, and that he is not all that great at the plate. It is about getting on base. If you are not on base, you cannot score a run. That is what really matters. Still, he is batting .450.

Jose Iglesias

Courtesy of bostonglobe.com

If Drew is as reliable as his brother, then we may be in for some trouble. It will be an interesting game tonight. I am glad that he did so well in Portland, but up in Boston it is a whole different ball game. The big, bright city lights may be too much for him.

What do you think about this move?

Jackie Bradley Jr. Watch: Let’s Wait a Few Days

jackie bradley jr.

We are all praying for an answer to the questions surrounding JBJ! Courtesy of blogs.providencejournal.com

Jackie Bradley Jr., and all the possible scenarios in the run up to April 1st, may cause John Farrell and the front office to develop a few more grey hairs. Does he play Opening Day, or does he not? Many writers from Boston broadcast outlets like WBZ to print writers from the Globe and Herald, as well as, bloggers on this very site, argue the pros and cons of bringing him up on April 1st versus waiting until April 12th.

In my humble opinion, the best move for Bradley Jr. and his agent, Scott Boras, is to let Jackie play in Pawtucket for the first 12 days of the season. It is just a week and a half, really, a few days longer than Hanukkah.  This decision makes Jackie eligible for free agency in 2019. These twelve days allow him to improve his skills at left field. This is a nuanced position at Fenway Park due to the corner and the possibility of balls bouncing off the right angle in the left field pocket.  With some additional training alongside Pawtucket’s defensive staff, he will be even more effective at left. Though he is an exceptional center fielder  I do not see Jacoby Ellsbury going anywhere anytime soon. I believe injury would have to strike again in order for a shift to be made with regard to the center field position. We do not need that kind of juju right now, so let us leave it at that.

With Shane Victorino or Daniel Nava in right field, Ellsbury in center and Bradley Jr. in left, the Red Sox could have one formidable outfield. Let us not forget he has one hot bat. Sunday and Monday he was absolutely undeniable. Monday he hit a triple and a single which helped score two runs tying the game. Sunday he went back to back with a home run and four RBIs increasing his batting average to .444 and his on base percentage to .523. WOW!

jackie bradley jr.

Courtesy of Boston.com

This great news, and a soon to be developed more consistent roster of strong hitters, should give the rest of the League a run for their big money spent on such players as Mark Teixeria and Carl Crawford.

What do you think? Am I on the right track or do you think Bradley Jr. should come up for Opening Day against the Yankees?

Jackie Bradley Jr. Watch: Not Your Average Prospect Story

jackie bradley jr

Courtesy of snapshots.blogs.goupstate.com

Some believe that a strong farm system, filled with many a strong prospect, defines the greatness of a major league baseball franchise. There are many guys that have been bouncing around AA and AAA for years. Many factors go into the decisions involved in why these players are playing for the Portland Seadogs or the Pawtucket Red Sox, and not moving up to their final destiny, Fenway Park. Anything from contractual issues, investment for the future, injuries, and other baseball hijinks may hijack opportunity from becoming reality.

We see contractual issues and the front office very much involved in the chatter around Jackie Bradley Jr. Despite the amazing numbers he continues to put up, namely a team leading .444 batting average, there is still a lot of nail biting.  Uncertainty reigns because the team does not want to lose him as a player in the present or future, nor do they want him to start too early, or affect the viability of his contract later.

Then there are other players for whom it is a much easier decision to send to Pawtucket or Portland. Most recent big names include Daniel Bard, Rubby de la Rosa, and Allen Webster, the latter two players acquired in the blockbuster 2012 trade with the LA Dodgers. These decisions, made based on skill, are easy. They are just not ready for prime time.

Perhaps, their time will come, as it has for Jose Iglesias, who is a contender for the shortstop position with recent acquisition, Stephen Drew still looking as if he will be unable to play. Iglesias stuck around, put in his time for the last 4 years in the farm, and got the invite to Spring Training 2013 to prove his worth. He may not have the hottest bat with a .224 batting average, but he may fit the mold as shortstop.

Iglesias is a positive story of what a deep farm system can do, but there are also the outliers. Those that many fans do not know exist, like Anthony Ranaudo (RHP) who last year was rostered on the Seadogs, but was plagued with a groin pull and something called dead arm. The Red Sox acquired him in 2010. He has yet to reach his full potential, which by all scouting accounts in current baseball magazines is still notable enough for him to be included in a few lists of top ten prospects.

So what have we learned?  You must be in the right place at the right time. You must play well.  And you might have to hope a higher ranking player is injured, in order to be rostered. Most importantly, though, farm players, you must stay healthy.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s do not come around all that often. The rewards of having him on the field in April outweigh the risks. The potential for injury is great and a proven theme among our top ten prospects on the farm. One would hope that the ever mounting disabled list at the major and minor level would push the decision makers in the clubhouse towards starting Bradley Jr. as soon as possible. Strike while the iron is hot. The time is now. The year is 2013. The goal is a place in the pennant race.

Can you hear that?  That is opportunity knocking…open the door!