PawSox Pitching Possibilities
In my last post, I took a look at the PawSox projected lineup for 2011. Now (with a huge assist from soxprospects.com), let’s view Pawtucket’s projected pitching staff.
(all photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Felix Doubront will go to spring training as a legitimate candidate to be one of the lefties in Boston’s bullpen, but if he doesn’t open the season in the big leagues, he’s likely to be a starter in Pawtucket. The 23-year-old southpaw had a breakout season in 2010, going 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA between Portland and Pawtucket. That earned Felix his first major league promotion and he went 2-2 with 2 saves and a 4.32 ERA in 12 games for Boston. Following the trade of Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, Doubront is rated as the Red Sox fifth-best prospect according to Baseball America.
Recently-acquired Andrew Miller was the 6th pick in the draft in 2006 and the Red Sox hope to help him unlock his enormous potential. Like Doubront, he’ll get a shot to make Boston’s staff as a left-handed reliever in spring training, but seems likely to open the year as a starter in Pawtucket where he can throw all of his pitches and work on his mechanics between starts.
Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery last April and missed the entire 2010 season, but the 24-year-old righty recently told reporters in Japan that he hopes to be ready to pitch by opening day this year. That might be overly optimistic, but Sox fans should not forget about the highly-touted prospect that rocketed to the big leagues in his first professional season in the US in 2009.
Lenny DiNardo returns to the Red Sox organization for the first time since 2006. The 31-year-old lefty had bone chips removed from his elbow last year and only pitched in 12 games. He’s certainly a familiar name to PawSox fans having pitched for Pawtucket from 2004 to 2006.
Brandon Duckworth, who turns 35 on January 23rd, signed with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent in December. It’s a classic case of, “If you can’t beat ’em, get him to join you.” Duckworth made two starts for Lehigh Valley against Pawtucket last year and went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (12 IP, 7 H, 15 K).
Adam Mills will look to bounce back from an injury-plagued season after going 4-10 with a 5.47 ERA for Pawtucket. The 26-year-old righty led Red Sox minor leaguers in wins the previous season with 12.
24-year old Kyle Weiland could be ready for a promotion to Triple-A after striking out 120 batters in 128.1 IP for Portland last year. The righty was a third round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2008.
Michael Bowden got his first taste of relief pitching in 2010 and appears more likely to advance to Boston as a reliever than as a starter. Bowden has two full seasons of Triple-A experience but is still only 24 years old. He posted a respectable 4.70 ERA in 14 relief outings for the Red Sox last season.
Robert Coello was one of the best stories in the organization last year as the converted catcher made his major league debut in September. After a rough major league debut, Coello did not allow a run in his last five outings (5.1 IP). In the minors last year, Robert had a ******** 130 strikeouts in 107.1 IP.
Jason Rice was one of Portland’s closers last year, posting a 2.85 ERA while leading the staff with 13 saves. The 24-year-old righty appears ready to advance to Triple-A after being picked for the Eastern League All-Star Game last year.
Jason Bergmann spent parts of six years with the Washington Nationals and was in their starting rotation in 2007 and 2008. He pitched well as a reliever for Triple-A Syracuse last year, posting a 2.84 ERA with 56 K in 50.2 IP. Jason had a 2.16 ERA in 7 outings against Pawtucket.
Rich Hill is another candidate to begin the season in Boston’s bullpen as a situational lefty. The curveball specialist did not allow a run in six relief outings for the Red Sox last year after going 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 19 outings (6 starts) for Pawtucket.
35-year-old Randy Williams has pitched in 90 major league games for the Mariners, Padres, Rockies, and White Sox. He’ll also go to spring training with the goal of sticking with Boston as a left-handed relief specialist.
Perhaps a move to the bullpen is in the cards for 26-year-old lefty Kris Johnson. KJ has gone 9-26 for Pawtucket over the last two years, but has a live arm if he can improve his command.
Santo Luis struggled in his first stint with Pawtucket, but the massive righty was dominant for Portland being promoted to Triple-A.
T.J. Large had a strange 2010 season for Pawtucket as three terrible outings caused his ERA to balloon from 4.41 to 7.64. The 27-year-old righty was chosen for the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2009.
Tony Pena Jr. is an interesting candidate to pitch for Pawtucket at some point in 2011 after signing a minor league deal with Boston in early January. The former Kansas City Royals shortstop switched to pitching in 2009 and advanced to the Triple-A level last year.
Other possible candidates for Pawtucket’s pen include Bryce Cox, Ryne Reynoso, Ryne Lawson, Blake Maxwell, Stephen Fife, and Clevelan Santeliz.
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