Regular spring training is definitely winding down. Rosters were set on Thursday, and the players who have been assigned to full-season affiliates will leave after practice tomorrow, though some have already left. The Pawtucket, Portland, and Salem rosters are essentially confirmed, and there are still some possible vagaries with the Greenville roster.
Before I get to the rosters, I did an interview with 11th round pick, Lucas LeBlanc for the SoxProspects website. To “Meet Your 2010 Draft Pick: Lucas LeBlanc,” click here .
Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald reports the Pawtucket and Portland rosters here.
The High-A Salem Red Sox roster is here.
Many expected 39th overall pick Anthony Ranaudo and second round pick Brandon Workman to start in Salem, and seventh round pick Chris Hernandez to start in Greenville. It’s actually the opposite way around.
In a pleasant surprise, Chris Hernandez has made the Salem roster after having a dominant spring training. I was at his first game of the spring, where he piggy-backed Ryan Pressly with Salem. In his first inning, he retired the side in order, despite starting every count with a ball. The only hit he gave up in his two innings was a double in the second. He doesn’t describe himself as an power pitcher, but his offspeed stuff is very advanced: he can throw them consistently for strikes, which is something that you need to be able to do to succeed at the High-A level. It is very impressive when a pitcher skips Greenville, Another note-able pitching prospect to have skipped Greenville is Kyle Weiland.
I wouldn’t call Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo not making the Salem roster a demotion. I was at both of their first starts of the spring, and I saw Workman pitch today. Workman struggled in his first start of the spring, but he has shown improvement–especially in his last two starts. In his first start of the spring, he struggled with his command, but displayed all of his pitches (two and four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball).
In his second-to-last start of the spring, he threw four innings of no-hit ball. Today, he threw at least 71 pitches over five innings of work. In his first inning, he threw ten pitches, eight for strikes, and struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches. In his second inning, he threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes. In his third, he struggled a bit, throwing 20 pitches, and only eight for strikes. In the fourth, he threw 15 pitches, 8 for strikes, and in the fifth (I might have missed a batter), he threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes. He struck out six batters.
What really impressed me about Workman today is that he was getting guys to look at a lot of strikes. His cutter and off-speed pitches both looked really nice, and were fooling hitters on the Salem squad. I think that he still has to develop in the sense that he has to consistently throw his off-speed pitches for strikes. He could be described more as a power pitcher, and I think the same applies to Ranaudo. It is also important to remember that Ranaudo was injured last year, and struggled a bit coming back, so it might be smart to take it a big slower with him.
Catcher Jayson Hernandez (41st round pick out of Rutgers) and pitcher Jason Garcia (17th round pick) will both start the season in extended spring training. They were both a bit disappointed because they had been working out with Greenville for the majority of the spring. Garcia only pitched in the Gulf Coast League last year, so that would be a tough jump to make after only being drafted last year. I think that Hernandez certainly has the potential to start in Greenville, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it there by the end of the season, but I don’t think extended spring training will hurt him.
Only intra-squad games were played today. Triple-A Pawtucket played Double-A Portland; High-A Salem played Low-A Greenville; and the extended spring training guys were split into two teams.
McKenry (the catcher acquired in the Daniel Turpen trade with the Rockies)
Pimentel P (followed by Okajima and Hill). I don’t know why Pimentel started for Pawtucket–maybe so he would be facing Double-A hitters.
–I only got the first four in the lineup, but I do know that Dent, W. Vazquez, Hee, Chiang, and Kang also played.
–Again, I only got the first four in the lineup, but I know that C. Vazquez, Renfroe, and Coyle played.
De La Cruz
Kris Johnson has thrown three innings in the last week. He will start the season on the DL and will spend the next 2-3 weeks in extended spring training.
I was happy to see Kyle Weiland win the fifth spot in the Pawtucket rotation. He has been trying to add a cutter into his arsenal this spring (I should say re-add since he had it in college). It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox keep him as a starter, or convert him into a relieving roll. I think he would be effective in both.
It was also good to see Jose Iglesias make the Pawtucket roster. His defense is beyond major league ready, but some questions still remain with his approach at the plate–especially because he missed a lot of time last year in Portland due to injury. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the International League.
It’s going to be fun to watch the young pitching talent in both Greenville and Salem’s starting rotations. Ketih Couch made the Greenville roster, so I’m looking forward to watching him pitch–hopefully more as a starter, rather than a piggy-back starter.
It looks like 11th round pick Lucas LeBlanc and third round pick Sean Coyle will star the season in Greenville. Fourth round pick Garin Cecchini will likely start the season in Lowell. If he hadn’t missed so much time last year due to injury, he would undoubtedly be starting in Greenville at least (in fact, he probably would have been drafted in a higher round). Cecchini is still working on getting his timing back, though. And as he said, “timing comes with time.”
The end of minor league spring training is bittersweet for me. The end is especially sad for me this year because not only is it the last year of the Edison Avenue Complex, but it’s also my last year. There is no way that I’m going to be able to come up even half as much as I did this year because I’ll be in another state suffering through extended winter. Even when I do go, who knows what kind of access I’ll have. I don’t know if anything will ever be able to compare to this year’s spring training.
I owe a lot of people a lot of “thank yous.” First and foremost to my family for being so supportive of everything. I feel an equal amount of gratitude to my friend Melissa and her family for letting me spend my spring break at their house. There is no way that I would have been able to do half as much as I did had it not been for her hospital
ity. To my friend Helen for hooking me up with tickets to the last game ever at City of Palms Park. To Mike Antonellis, Chris Cameron, and the entire Portland Sea Dogs organization for letting me write some freelance articles. To my favorite security guards, Dave, Jim, John, and Larry for being nothing but helpful throughout the spring. To all the guys on the SoxProspects staff for not only hiring me, but also hanging out with me. And last, but certainly not least, to the players for being so genuinely nice throughout the spring–especially Keith Couch, Anthony Ranaudo, Alex Hassan, Lucas LeBlanc, Chris Hernandez, Will Middlebrooks, Derrik Gibson, Garin Cecchini, Mathew Price, Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, and Madison Younginer for taking some time to sit for an interview with me this spring. They taught me so much about the game, the minors, and themselves, and this blog would really be nothing without them.
I wish nothing but the best to the guys who have been assigned to full-season affiliates. They have all worked so hard; and they deserve it. I hope to see everyone again at some point during the season, and to do interviews with some of the guys I didn’t get to talk to. The guys who are in extended spring training will be seeing some more of me before their time down here is done.
*You’ll notice that a lot of my interview questions are the same. This could either work really well or really poorly, and so far–for me at least–it has worked well simply because it has shown me that the game is relative. You can ask the same questions to a bunch of different guys, and rarely will you get the same one. It has been really interesting for me to hear all of the different responses.
1. When you were drafted out of high school, did you know that you were going to have surgery?
I didn’t know. I got hurt at the end of the year,
and there was a little bit of injury still there, and we had tried to rehab all
summer. The Red Sox knew that there was something there, but we
had talked and hoped that rehab was going to work itself out. It wasn’t til
after instrux (ie. the Fall Instructional League), and throwing a few bullpens that we realized that the problem is
still there and we were going to need surgery.
2. What did the Fall Instructional League do for you and your development? What did you kind of see it as?
I saw it as a chance to just get into the routine: Pick up
things like clues that verterans leave–just little tips that help get you going
and pick your feet up a little quickly as a rookie. I saw it as a
chance to just workout, get better get my feet wet a little bit.
3. You were drafted out of Virginia Tech, but were you drafted out of high school as well?
I was drafted in the 34th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2008.
4. What was the deciding factor, or factors, in choosing to go to college first over going professionally?
One of the things is that at 18, I wasn’t the most mature kid,
and I will be the first to admit that. I just felt that college would be a
chance to develop my skills, improve my draft position, and it was something I looked
as an opportunity to just get better
How do you think going to college contributed to your development?
It taught me sort of how to carry
responsibility for myself, and it taught me the things of living on your own,
which is going to be some of the challenge in professional ball
Do you think you lose anything in going to college over going professionally first?
There are some drawbacks: I say if I went out of
high school that could have been two years I could have been playing [professional] ball and
working my way up the system, but I mean you kind of weigh it out: you know, you just
weigh the pluses and minuses of it.
How has your arsenal changed since you were in high school?
[In] high school, I was more the fastball, try to overpower you, throw a
curveball kind of guy. Then college… just complete role reversal so it turned
into fastball, changeup kind of guy. I shied away from my curveball. Just a bit of
a role reversal.
What was your biggest challenge last year, and how do you plan on overcoming that this year?
[There was a] little inconsistency, and that I think that had to do with
not fully having a routine, and that’s something that I look to improve this
year is finally having a structured routine, and just focusing on baseball 24/7
and not having distractions like school, work, or tests, or anything like that.
Do you let your catcher do the thinking and call the pitches, or are you more prone to doing that yourself?
I like to do it myself because someone once told me if [you have]
any doubt, throw your best pitch, and if you don’t know yourself or know the
situation then you wont have confidence in your pitching. That’s where I feel
like its good to know and be able to think for yourself as a pitcher.
Have you pitched in any summer leagues?
In high school, I pitched a lot for the East Cobb Team
structure out of Georgia, and in college I played in Cape-Cod my freshman and
How did that impact your development?
Cape-Cod was one of the biggest developments for me because
it helped build my confidence going into one of the
top summer leagues as a freshman and making the all star team: it really helped
boost my confidence as a pitcher.
What do you notice about hitters as the levels get higher, and how they transition, and their various levels of sophistications (yes, I made up a word)?
It’s pretty cool to watch: [When] you watch high school hitters, you
see sort of a lack of discipline. [With] college hitters, you see more [discipline], and then here
you just watch hitters, [and] they know the counts; they study the game; they know about
the game, and what theyre looking for and your tendencies; and it makes it a lot
more of a thinking and a battle between the pitcher and the hitter.
What is your opinion on the lefty-lefty matchup strategy? Do you think it is effective?
I think it’s effective. There’s not many lefties in the game
to start with, and if you can ever get a lefty-lefty combo, it’s just that much
more unique, so I think it’s definitely effective–especially if you need that
Do you change your approach depending on the matchup?
I always keep that in my mind–like if it’s a lefty, I’ll
probably keep two seam away from him, [and] bust him with a four seam vs if it was
a [righty,] [I]probably want to go four seam away, and two seam in. Just certain
characterisitcs like that I just keep that in mind
Are you prone to certain pitches in certain situations?
I had a little tendency in college: I got caught
up in my favorite pitch, which is a changeup. In ceratin counts if I got ahead
batters sometimes didn’t know that a changeup was probably going to be coming
so that’s definitely something to work on.
What about certain counts?
I think one of the things they teach you is variation. One
thing im trying to pick up on is, you know, one time through you can mix up
your look so the hitter never has a firm idea of what he should be expecting. That’s one thing im trying to work on right now
If you had to hit against yourself, what weaknesses would you take advantage of?
I wouldn’t look for the curveball as much. I would
probably look for the fastball or the changeup.
What do you think fans overlook the most when it comes to baseball?
I think when they watch the game they just kind
of get lulled to sleep, [and] they don’t kind of appreciate the talent that goes
into the game.
Are you going to have to change anything like your arsenal or approach because of Tommy-John surgery?
[No], I hope not and if its something that needs to happen,
then it will happen but right now I’ve been throwing for a few days, and
everything feels normal and hopefully that continues that way, and I don’t have
to change anything.
Tell us something about yourself: Fun Fact? Quirky tidbit?
I like to go bass fishing whenever I can.