Rutledge Homers in PawSox Series Opener

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On a star-studded night at BB&T Ballpark, the Pawtucket Red PawSox Series OpenerSox fell to the Charlotte Knights in the series opener, 3-1, on Tuesday.

In a game that featured a pair of big leaguers on rehab assignments (including a 2016 All-Star), a consensus top-5 prospect and a former first-round pick, the Knights (5-7) used a pair of first-inning home runs to coast by the PawSox (6-6) to kick off the three-game set. Pawtucket has now lost three in a row.

Before Tuesday’s series opener, the PawSox added a pair of players on MLB rehab assignments. Jackie Bradley Jr., who suffered a right knee sprain with the Red Sox in Detroit on April 8, batted second and played center field before leaving after his five scheduled innings. In the first inning, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Two innings later, Bradley struck out looking against Charlotte starter and 2015 first-round pick Carson Fulmer. Bradley tracked down two fly balls in center — one moving back and one jogging in during the third inning.

Rutledge, meanwhile, batted third as the designated hitter. The 27-year old, who suffered a left hamstring strain in late March during spring training, clocked a solo home run in the first inning. He later struck out swinging and grounded out to short.

Fulmer (W, 2-1) allowed just one run on five hits and a walk in six innings and outdueled PawSox starter Shawn Haviland (L, 2-1), who settled in after the first frame and logged seven innings. Haviland ceded just the three runs on nine hits and a walk to go along with eight punchouts.

Pawtucket, however, only mustered three singles after the second inning and hit into a pair of double plays. Flame-throwing Knights righty Zack Burdi (S, 2) secured the save in the ninth by striking out three consecutive PawSox hitters after allowing back-to-back singles to start the stanza.

PawSox center fielder Rusney Castillo (2-for-4) and left fielder Junior Lake (2-for-2, BB) each posted multi-hit nights.

In the top of the first inning, Rutledge lifted an opposite-field home run to right to crack open a 1-0 lead.

But, the Knights countered in the bottom of the first. Leadoff man and former Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada mashed a home run to right field. Two batters later, center fielder Willy Garcia pulled a two-run shot to left to vault Charlotte in front, 3-1.

The PawSox continue their three-game series in Charlotte against the Knights on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket right-hander Héctor Velázquez (0-0, 5.79) is scheduled to oppose Charlotte righty Lucas Giolito (0-1, 7.56). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 6:35 p.m.

The PawSox return home to McCoy Stadium April 25-30. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.

The Travis Shaw Situation

The buzz around Yoan Moncada reached a fever pitch this week as he was called up to the Red Sox on Thursday. Moncada was the #1 prospect in all of baseball and, like Andrew Benintendi, skipped AAA. Moncada signed as a second baseman, but has had to change to third base to fill the Red Sox needs. So where does that leave Travis Shaw?

Shaw was one of the hottest stories for the Red Sox coming into the season, replacing ShawPablo Sandoval in the starting lineup. Shaw was exactly what Sox fans were looking for. Sandoval showed up way out of shape and after a tough 2015 season, fans were certainly writing him off. Shaw, on the other hand, was never a top prospect and took the job away from Sandoval with an impressive spring training.

Shaw’s 2016 Season

To begin the 2016 season, Shaw raised a lot of eyebrows around New England and the baseball world. In April, he was scorching the ball, hitting .314 with 27 hits and 15 RBI. The formidable numbers did not cease there as he hit five homers in May and brought his RBI total to 35. His power surge even earned him the nickname “The Mayor of Ding Dong City.” Shaw was anything but an easy out in the bottom half of the order, and was also sure-handed at the hot corner.

After that, the numbers have steadily dwindled. He hit just .214 in June and brought his average all the way down to .269 before the All-Star break. August was the low point for Shaw, as he hit an abysmal .167 with 12 hits and six RBI all month. In fact, since the All-Star break, shaw has hit just .205 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Moncada’s season has been quite the opposite of Shaw’s. In two different minor leagues this season, Moncada has done nothing but produce. He hit .294 with 15 homers and 52 extra-base hits. The 21-year old Cuban also stole 45 bases with a .918 OPS and 207 total bases. Moncada has even drawn comparisons to Mike Trout and Bo Jackson for his athleticism and instincts.

Now that we’ve actually seen Moncada play in real games, it is easy to see he was a better investment than fellow Cuban Rusney Castillo. It seems everything Moncada has done, he’s done it well. With that, the reign of “The Mayor” may soon end in Boston.

Chris Young I’m Over You

I’m just going to cut to the chase and say it—I’m over you Chris Young. I’m sick and tired of hearing, “Oh well he hits lefties very well” and “we envision him to see majority of the AB’s against lefties this season”. It’s all a bunch of crap, and it’s time to own up to the fact thatChris Young this signing was stupid, idiotic, and a waste of money.

I don’t care that he hit .327 against lefties in 2015 with the Yankees, because guess what? That doesn’t mean anything. Instead of only talking about his 2015 season why don’t we talk about his last 3 seasons as a left-handed hitter shall we? From 2013-2015 in 375 AB’s Young hit a mere .245 against LHP.

.245? .245? How that merits a two-year, 13 million dollar contract is beyond me. I mean, the guy’s hitting .182 on the year and guess what?! He’s faced more RHP than LHP. Are you kidding me? Yeah, he’s a decent fielder but hell, if you wanted a fourth bat who hit’s lefties well why didn’t you just have a reunion with the “Flying Hawaiian” Shane Victorino, who’s hit .291 against LHP the last three seasons? Or trade for a guy like Franklin Gutierrez who’s batting .283 against LHP the last few seasons as well. Now obviously I know that wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s head, but it just goes to show that there were other options out there, but we settled on Chris Young?

At the end of the day, I’m just a rookie sports journalist whose passion for the game sometimes clouds my judgement.  I at least have the smarts and know the numbers to tell you that Chris Young is a waste of money and time. Even Rusney Castillo (who in my opinion, is only a Red Sox because they failed miserably at signing Jose Abreu) is mashing .385 against LHP currently while in Pawtucket. Plain and simple Chris, I’m over you, the fans are over you, and pretty soon this team will be over you.

So I wish you luck and hope you can figure out how to hit a lefty, cause if not it’s off to DFA Land for you pal.

Red Sox Farm System Packed With Talent

From Salem to Pawtucket the Red Sox farm system is already seeing a lot of success from its minor league players, and it’s only the end of the first month of the season.

The High-A Class Salem Red Sox have two red hot players tearing up the Carolina LeagueRed Sox Farm System with no signs of slowing down. Yoan Moncada (Boston’s No.1 prospect at MLB.com) and Andrew Benintendi (Boston’s No.3 prospect at MLB.com) both have 13-game hitting streaks going that they protected Saturday April 23rd against Winston-Salem. That makes 14 out of 16 games in which Benintendi has hit safely. Going into the last week of April, Moncada is hitting .357 with six extra base hits, 14 runs, eight RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Benintendi is hitting .338 with six triples, eight doubles, and 11 RBIs. The way the Salem Red Sox are playing makes me wish I still lived in Virginia so I could watch them live!

Class A Greenville’s Anderson Espinoza, Boston’s No. 4 prospect at MLB.com, has a 1-1 record this season with a 2.45 ERA in four starts with 20 strikeouts. In 15 starts last season between Dominican Summer League, rookie Gulf Coast League, and Greenville, Espinoza commanded a 1.23 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings. After being signed to a $1.8 million bonus by Boston during the 2014-15 international signing period, Espinoza has been closely watched by the Red Sox Nation as he continues his climb up to the majors.

Here in Pawtucket you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who is disappointed in the Class AAA Red Sox performance so far. The Class AAA team goes into the final week of April having won 8 of their last 10 games and continue their fight to stay in first place in the International League. Rusney Castillo and Blake Swihart continue working on their hitting so they can rejoin the Red Sox in Boston. While Swihart has a little ways to go before his batting average improves, Castillo is hitting .303 with a .395 OBP in eight games.

Fans should have a lot to be excited about as the Red Sox farm system continues to develop its hot prospects.

History Made At McCoy Stadium as Castillo Demoted

On April 13th 2016, the baseball world was shaken to its core when history was made at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Records were broken, ticket sales skyrocketed and soon the Boston media will be swarming the Triple-A affiliate. Why? Well, with Rusney Castillo demoted to Triple-A, McCoy Stadium is nowCastilo demoted to pawtucket home to the highest payroll of all minor league baseball teams with over 70 million dollars on the books.

Rusney Castillo has more than 48 million dollars left on his seven-year, 72.5 million dollar deal that he signed in 2014. Old friend Allen Craig, who was once a promising slugger with the St. Louis Cardinals, has 21 million dollars (and a team-friendly 13 million dollar option in 2018) attached to his name. And if you want to be even more precise, once Pablo Sandoval joins the team on a rehab assignment they will have easily amassed the 100 million dollar threshold with the 72.4 million dollars remaining on the beefy third baseman.

Rusney Castillo Demoted to Pawtucket: History Made But at What Cost?

All kidding aside this is quite frankly embarrassing to a franchise that has already faced it’s share of criticism from media and fans alike since spring training. How an organization can have players with big major league contracts playing in Triple-A is beyond me, but it boasts an even bigger question—who’s to blame? Easy answer: ownership.

Spending a total of 275.5 million dollars on Castillo, Sandoval and Ramirez was not just a mistake, but a costly one. This team needed pitching in 2015, and they desperately  need pitching in 2016. Currently this pitching staff,including the bullpen, has a combined ERA of 5.40. Yes it’s still early enough that things can, and should turn around, but in the interim this organization is becoming the laughing-stock of the baseball world.

But hey, if you’re looking for family friendly baseball outings with major league talent, head on down to McCoy Stadium. Castillo and Craig will be there welcoming you with open arms. And maybe you’ll even get to see a Panda in action in weeks to come. Now wouldn’t that be a treat?

Replacing Castillo With Holt Makes Defense Weaker

Replacing Castillo with Holt in left field is leaving many in Red Sox Nation scratching their heads. While a quick glance at Rusney Castillo’s offensive numbers justifies manager John Farrell’s decision, it leaves a gaping hole in the Red Sox defense, a hole that Brock Holt isn’t qualified to fill.

Castillo hasn’t done well in spring training games this year. He was hitting only .189 as ofReplacing Castillo
March 31st, not exactly a reflection of the $72.5 million investment the Red Sox made when they signed him in 2014. But making Holt a left fielder and benching Castillo fixes a defensive problem that wasn’t quite broken to begin with. Castillo’s fielding isn’t the problem. He only made five errors as an outfielder (and none as a left fielder) in 80 games last season. It’s Castillo’s hitting that needs work.

Again, Castillo’s inconsistent hitting is definitely a problem. He hit .253 last season but this season’s spring training proves that he still has a lot of progress to make before he can reclaim a spot in the line up. Jackie Bradley Jr. had the same problem, but after tweaking his stance and swing, the Glove Glove-nominated outfielder found his stride in 2015 to finish the season with 31 extra base hits and a .249 batting average, up from the .198 he hit in 2014. Another important thing to keep in mind is Castillo’s $72.5 million contract. Stop and think about that for a second.  After taxes he’ll still have around $30 million or so. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year (which is ten times more than what most teachers make). How are Red Sox fans supposed to react to the fact that Castillo is now an eight figure salary back up player?

Replacing Castillo Is A Waste Of His Defense Experience

Obviously, Castillo’s poor hitting can’t be ignored. It’d be just as much of a waste if the Red Sox ignored his offensive numbers. But making Holt left fielder isn’t the answer. The only way Castillo is going to become a better hitter is if he gets more at-bats at the major league level where the experience he gains will help him. I hate to see a good left fielder replaced with someone who doesn’t know the Green Monster well. After all, it took Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice years to learn how to play off the wall. Replacing Castillo only dilutes the defensive experience he’s gained.