The PawSox Are Like A Great Point Guard

Is the manager of the PawSox Arnie Beyeler or Rajon Rondo?

I ask that question because of the high number of assists that Pawtucket has dished out to Boston in the first half of season.

The Red Sox 25-man roster currently includes five players that opened the season in Pawtucket.  Check out their current major league stats:

Alfredo Aceves:  3-1, 1 save, 3.75 ERA in 21 games (4 starts).

Andrew Miller:  2-0, 3.06 ERA in 3 starts.

Yamaico Navarro:  Batting .500 (2-4) including a HR in his first at-bat.

Josh Reddick:  .Batting .422 (19-for-45) with a HR and 10 RBI in 17 games.

Drew Sutton:  Batting .318 (14-for-44) with 7 2B a .362 OBP in 23 games.

Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen is obviously pleased by the contributions that the organization’s prospects have made with Boston this season.

“It’s our number one job requirement to be honest with you – even beyond developing prospects and having guys move up through the system,” Hazen said.  “Those guys are good players and they’ve been recognized as such by the major league staff.  Tito has never been afraid to run those guys into games and it has been fun to watch.” 

(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

Andrew Miller’s success might be the biggest surprise considering that he was 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA in 21 minor league starts last season, and entered 2011 with a career major league ERA of 5.84 over the last five seasons with Detroit and Florida.

“This kid has been unbelievable since we got him,” Hazen said.  “You hear about guys that get to this stage of their career that are stubborn and don’t listen, but Andrew was a wide-open book and really took to what people were asking him to do.  I don’t think there was a magic formula here.  I think he’s gone back to being the athletic, loose, left-handed pitcher with power stuff that he used to be and letting everything else go.  Anytime you have a guy who can just jump into the rotation of the Boston Red Sox – you have to be a pretty special guy from a talent and stuff standpoint.  It’s been encouraging so far and hopefully he continues to do it.”

Josh Reddick entered the season with a career .182 batting average in 56 big league games, but his solid play in 2011 was clearly a contributing factor in the recent DFA of veteran outfielder Mike Cameron.

“I think it’s safe to stay that Josh has done everything within his power to make his case (to stay in Boston),” Hazen said.  “As much as Josh sort of resisted some things in the past, we’re seeing a different hitter these days.  He’s much more under control.  I think that’s what has been the biggest difference for Josh Reddick this year.  He’s got survival skills now when he gets behind in the count.”

Last year, Reddick batted .207 before the All-Star break, but rallied to bat .351 with 11 HR after the break.  Hazen hopes for a similar second-half surge by PawSox first baseman Lars Anderson who is currently batting .251 (.360 OBP) with 5 HR and 39 RBI.

“The guy is a major league hitter – it just hasn’t clicked-in for him yet on a consistent basis,” Hazen said.  “He’s certainly shown us flashes, and when he learns how to drive the baseball a little bit more effectively, he’s going to start hitting home runs.  There has been a lot of steady growth and improvement; it just hasn’t been by leaps and bounds.  We really think he’s going to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat – it may not be on everybody else’s time frame, but he’s done a lot of good things.  We think we’re going to see a pretty big second half out of this guy.”

* * * * *

Saturday’s doubleheader at McCoy Stadium began in bizarre fashion.  Following a leadoff single by Scranton/WB’s Austin Krum, Arnie Beyeler walked out to home plate to alert the umpires that the Yankees had batted out of order.  Apparently, the lineup cards that Scranton/WB handed to the PawSox and the home plate umpire were from the previous night’s game.

“We actually said something to (the Yankees) before the game, but once the umpires have the card it’s too late, and they didn’t really know what we were talking about,” Beyeler said.  “It was right at game time and once the pitch is thrown, they have to go with the lineup that is on the card.  You sit over here and there are ways that you can do it.  You can wait until the DH hits and then they lose their DH and the pitcher has to hit, but you don’t want to be too extreme about things like that.  I respect those guys and it was an honest mistake so we just got it out of the way and went on with the game.”

Krum’s hit was wiped out, but it didn’t hurt the Yankees.  They swept the doubleheader 7-0 and 3-0.

* * * * *

So what will Kyle Weiland do for an encore?

The 24-year-old returns to the mound on Monday night to face the same Rochester team that he completely dominated last Wednesday.  Weiland took a no-hitter into the 6th inning before allowing a 2-out single to Dustin Martin – the only hit he allowed in 8 innings – and finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts (you can read more about that performance here). 

“I don’t think we’ve seen what we are going to see out of Kyle,” said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler.  “He’s a young kid and he’s going to get bigger and stronger and learn how to pound the strike zone.  When he has all of his pitches working he’s pretty tough – but he’s pretty good on the other days too.  He’s got a good sinking fastball, he can throw his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and he’s come up with a cutter that helps him out against lefties.  He’s just learning how to pitch and as he gets bigger and stronger he should throw harder.  He’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Recently, someone asked me via Twitter whether I see Weiland as a starter or reliever in the major leagues.  I said starter, but I thought I should ask Beyeler the same question.

“Anytime you can throw four pitches for strikes you put yourself into a starting role, and he’s shown that he can be durable,” Beyeler said.  “I tend to think that until a player shows you that he can’t do something, you let him keep doing what he’s doing.  A lot of times it just becomes where a guy fits at the big league level.  The money is a little bit better up there then it is here, so guys take whatever role they’ll give them.”

The PawSox open a 5-day, 6-game road trip in Rochester on Monday at 7:05.  I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I have finally joined Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

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