After spending all of last year in Portland, pitcher Stephen Fife is looking to climb Boston’s minor league ladder to Pawtucket in 2011. To remind himself of that goal this winter, the Utah native simply needed to hop in his car and drive north.
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
“I actually stayed here in Warwick, Rhode Island with my girlfriend for a couple of months,” Fife told me recently. “I was right down the road from Pawtucket – maybe 15 minutes away. All of her family lives in Massachusetts, so every time we went to see them or visit friends in Boston, we drove right by the sign for McCoy Stadium.”
There’s a good chance that he’ll see more than just the sign this summer.
The 24-year-old righty was 8-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Portland last year and showed enough potential to be selected for the Red Sox Rookie Development Program. It is reserved for Boston’s minor league prospects that are considered the most likely candidates to advance to the big leagues over the next two seasons.
“It was a huge honor,” Fife said. “There are 150-180 guys in the minor league system and to be one of the 11 that got selected to come to this program speaks highly of what they think that I’m capable of. It was a special time for me and I’m grateful and truly honored.”
Boston picked Fife in the third round of the 2008 draft (85th overall), and he has steadily climbed one minor league level in each of his first three seasons.
“We drafted him out of Utah and he’s performed his whole way up the system,” said Red Sox Director of Player Development Mike Hazen. “He’s got a steady mix of three pitches that he can throw for strikes. A 91-92 mph sinker, with a curveball and a changeup. He’s been durable and put up good numbers everywhere that he’s gone. Anybody that can show that consistency with three pitches is somebody that we’re interested in.”
“My goal is to break camp with Triple-A,” Fife said. “They told me that I’ll be competing for a spot in the Triple-A rotation in spring training. It’s up to my performance. If I wind up being a Double-A starter to begin the year that’s fine by me, but it’s special to be thought of as a possible Triple-A starter after just one year in Double-A. I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to either start in Double-A or Triple-A, but it’s definitely a goal to see time in Pawtucket this year.”
After spending much of his winter in the Ocean State, Fife hopes to spend his summer there too.
“To be that close to Pawtucket this winter, it puts that thought in your mind, ‘Did I do enough today to put myself in a position to get to the next level.’ It’s been an easy reminder.”
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