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.

Don’t Forget About Quintin Berry

quintin berry

As Spring Training approaches, the Boston Red Sox already appear to have a major problem—way too many outfielders and a suspect, at best, starting rotation. Questions lurk around the five guys who will be starting on a regular basis in Boston. Where is the ace? How long before they tank? Why did they pay Justin Masterson $9.5 million? What about the outfield?
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The Red Sox have a plethora of outfielders—too many in fact. It is clear that one outfielder in particular (likely Allen Craig) will have to be dealt as the team condenses down to 25 men in April for Opening Day, but it is unclear what Boston will receive in return as they seem to have their heart set on going into the year with a hand-picked rotation.

Even when an outfielder is dealt, the team will still have plenty of depth at the position. Not only will they have three guys on the bench who can play all three positions (including Brock Holt), but they will also have talent down in Pawtucket.
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quintin berryThe three starting outfielders projected for the Paw Sox this season are Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz and Quintin Berry. While Bradley is an excellent defender, Brentz is a powerful hitter who clobbers lefties and Berry is a serious stolen base threat; the team’s three viable call-up options and Boston will have choices depending on the scenario.

Back in 2013, Berry, who is a perfect 25-for-25 in MLB stolen base attempts from 2012-2014, helped the Boston Red Sox win a World Series as a pinch runner on the post-season roster. Despite only being used once the rosters expanded, he found his way onto the playoff roster as the team no longer needed to carry five starting pitchers.

Currently, Berry is not on the 40-man roster and has no options remaining. If the team does in fact turn to his services—they will need to do so wisely. If they need to call him up and send him back down, they are out of luck and he will be exposed to the waiver wire where someone will surely bite.
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September will roll around eventually and if Boston finds themselves in a similar situation as they were in back in 2013, do not be surprised to see his number called once again—whatever it may be.

Quintin Berry Doing What He Does Best

quintin berryLast year in a rather low-profile trade, the Boston Red Sox obtained an important piece of their World Series team. Dealing Clayton Mortensen to the Kansas City Royals, Boston obtained speedster Quintin Berry. Berry was a career 21-for-21 in stolen bases at the big league level.

He was a September call-up who proved valuable over his short time in Boston — as a pinch runner. He played in 13 regular season games swiping three bases on three attempts.
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In the postseason, he made three appearances in all. He stole a base in each series on one attempt per series. He did his job and did it well.

Now, he is in Baltimore playing for the Orioles as they look to make the postseason. He spent the vast majority of the season in AAA Norfolk as expected, but he will serve a valuable role for them.

He can run; running is what he does best. In his career he is a perfect 30-for-30 in stolen base attempts at the big league level in the regular season. In the postseason, he is also a perfect 5-for-5 in stealing bases, making him the perfect cheap addition to any contending team.
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So far in nine games for Baltimore, Berry has only swiped one bag, but he has only tried to do so once.

Given that the Orioles have already clinched a playoff spot, it seems certain Berry will make his third postseason appearance for the third year in a row. Teams typically carry less pitchers during the postseason which is why they can carry Berry on the roster then but not in the regular season.
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Although Berry may never be a mainstay in the Major Leagues, September and October are his times to shine and because of this, the 29-year-old pinch runner may find himself winning a whole lot of rings for someone who plays AAA for the vast majority of the regular season.