Red Sox Versatility Should Not Be Overlooked

I have come to the conclusion that versatility is the Red Sox organization’s top strength and it should not be overlooked in 2016. Already we have seen guys step-up to the challenge when injuries and inconsistency arose. Guys like Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez, and Heath Hembree have all shown us what “Red Sox versatility” really is and by being key contributors and bright spots in what has so far been a dismal season.Red Sox versatility

Down in Pawtucket the phrase ‘Red Sox versatility’ can be seen in action on a daily basis with guys not only getting reps in at different positions, but also embracing the challenge. One of those guys is IF/OF Sean Coyle. A 3rd round draft pick out of Germantown Academy (PA) in 2010 has been seeing time this season down in Pawtucket at 2B, 3B, and CF. When I asked him about seeing time in the outfield, Coyle responded:

“It’s an easy comp, being an infielder and then going ahead to the outfield. i know Mookie started out as an infielder and then moved to the outfield, anywhere I can go and pick up some AB’s I’m ready to go, I’m ready to play and its kind of a challenge I’ve embraced.”

Having a guy who you can move all around the left side of the infield as well as CF not only helps the organization, but also will help him in the long run. With the way injuries have been taking over the first month of the season for the Sox, you could be seeing Coyle’s versatility at the major league level this season.

It’s becoming more of a common trend to see guys becoming utility-players . Names such as Ben Zobrist, Brock Holt, and Danny Valencia are showing teams that having the ability to play multiple positions can surely strengthen a teams depth, but also gives managers the flexibility to carry an extra pitcher or 2, and we all know you can never have too many pitchers.

 

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.

Red Sox Spring Training Notes

RED SOX SPRING TRAINING

With Opening Day less than a month away and the home opener a couple of weeks after that, the Boston Red Sox are gearing up for the regular season with Spring Training. So far, the team has only played a handful of games, so few conclusions can be drawn from the sample size. Despite such a small sample size, here are a few notes from Grapefruit League action so far this year.
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Second base prospect Sean Coyle has made a few appearances at third base for the Red Sox this Spring. Previously, Coyle experimented with the position with the Portland Sea red soxDogs last year while top Mookie Betts held down Coyle’s natural position.

Last year, Coyle struggled at the position, booting six balls in 18 games— but it is clear that the team wants to add to his versatility so that they can get his bat in their lineup sometime down the road. That same year, he hit .295 with a .371 on-base percentage and 40 extra base hits (including 16 home runs) in 97 games for the Red Sox AA affiliate.
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Manager John Farrell stated that he has been impressed by right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes from what he has seen during Red Sox spring training. Topping out at 97 MPH in relief, he could be a dark horse candidate for a relief spot this season. So far he has made just one appearance this year and he tossed a pair of scoreless frames while punching out three.

When the Red Sox scrimmaged the Northeastern Huskies last Tuesday, it was Huskies pitcher Aaron Civale that shined the brightest of any player at JetBlue Park. The reliever threw two scoreless frames, facing quite possibly the toughest part of the Red Sox lineup. Striking out David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts, he had a game he will not forget anytime soon.
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Desperate for a spot on the Red Sox, switch-hitting outfielder Daniel Nava is only hitting from the left side of the plate now and is taking extra reps at first base which he has only played occasionally these past two seasons. He will do whatever it takes to keep his spot on this Red Sox team and looks to make the team over former Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig.

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.

Boston Red Sox Breakout Prospect: Sean Coyle

sean coyleIn the third round of the 2010 MLB draft the Boston Red Sox selected Sean Coyle, a shortstop out of Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania. The short, muscular second baseman has put on a show for the Portland Sea Dogs this year hitting .353 in 39 games while boasting a .408 OBP. His power has been turning heads— hitting six homers and 12 doubles as well as his speed swiping nine bags on nine attempts.
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Right now, Coyle still needs to find a spot on the field that suits him well for defense. Obviously, his bat is right where it needs to be to turn heads, but on defense the second baseman has experimented playing third base facing mixed results as of right now. As time goes on, Coyle will improve of defense, but unfortunately for Coyle, he is blocked in the Red Sox organization at second base by arguably one of the best second basemen in the league in Dustin Pedroia. There is some similarities between Pedroia and Coyle as players, especially comparing Dustin Pedroia’s season in 2005 to Sean Coyle this year. As long as he keeps knocking the cover off the ball, arrangements can be made for Coyle to try and find his best spot on defense.

Soon enough, it would make sense for Boston to send Coyle to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox based off of how well he has played this year. Luckily for Coyle, he would not really be blocked in Pawtucket for playing time as the man who started the year as the Portland Sea Dogs second baseman, Mookie Betts, is now playing center field for the most part. Right now for the most part, non-prospects are taking the reins at second base for the Paw Sox such as Mike McCoy and Ryan Roberts. This is great news for Coyle since Boston should be more than happy to give a job to a prospect as opposed to a veteran player who likely will never play in another Major League game ever again.
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Overall, Sean Coyle had always been in the back of the front office’s mind, but now tearing it up in AA, Coyle has to be a top priority for the Boston Red Sox organization. Set to be available in the Rule 5 Draft this December, it would be smart for the Red Sox to add him to the 40-man roster at the conclusion of this season. This is because a weaker team would be crazy not to take a chance on him and give him a role on their team in the 2014 season. For all the fans out there, keep an eye out for Sean Coyle, add him to the watch list, because he is definitely for real.