|02.13.16 at 9:59 am ET|
The publication’s annual list ranking the top prospects in baseball is out, and it is heavy with Red Sox youngsters in the Top 20.
Yoan Moncada is the highest-ranking Red Sox player on the list, coming in at No. 3, only behind Dodgers infielder Corey Seager and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton.
The next Red Sox prospect on the list is outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who comes in at No. 15. Not too far behind are infielder Rafael Devers and pitcher Anderson Espinoza, who come in at No. 18 and No. 19, respectively.
The only other Red Sox prospect on the list is Michael Kopech, who is rated as the 89th best prospect.
Two prospects the Red Sox dealt to San Diego in the Craig Kimbrel trade, shortstop Javier Guerra (No. 52) and outfielder Manuel Margot (No. 56), are also in the Top 100.
|02.12.16 at 3:59 pm ET|
Breslow will compete for a job as a reliever with the Marlins.
The contract includes a late March opt-out, with Breslow slated to make $1.5 million if he makes the big league club. The Cubs, Red Sox and Blue Jays also showed interest in the 35 year old.
Breslow, who has been working out with former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold at Mike Boyle’s facility in Woburn this offseason, did shown some interest in trying his hand as a starter in 2016, a role some of the interested teams were open to.
He is coming off a 2015 in which his season ended with two starts, allowing two runs over 9 1/3 innings. Breslow finished his ’15 season — in which he pitched under a one-year, $2 million deal — with 4.15 ERA in 45 appearances.
The lefty is reuniting with former Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, who serves in the same capacity with Miami.
|02.12.16 at 11:17 am ET|
You have the four outfielders — Chris Young, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. — playing three positions. Travis Shaw and Brock Holt figure to serve as back-up plans in both the infield and OF.
The catching situation might offer some intrigue, but that dynamic will largely depend on the health of Christian Vazquez, and continued progress of Blake Swihart. If both are perceived to be ready to hit the ground running when April rolls around, then you might be hearing some Ryan Hanigan trade talk.
Then there is the bullpen.
There would seem to be some certainties in what figures to be a group of seven. Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne and Roenis Elias enter mid-February as the odds on favorites to be the pen’s inhabitants.
But, according to a major league source, the Red Sox continue to look at lefty relief options, with veteran Neal Cotts perhaps the most realistic option on a minor league deal if such an acquisition is made. The team has had an offer to Craig Breslow, also on a minor league contract, but that reunion doesn’t seem likely at this point.
So, where might there be some wiggle room?
Layne is out of options, so unless he falls apart in spring training, he is the kind of lefty specialist the Red Sox seemingly wouldn’t want to part with.
Ross Jr. has options, but the Red Sox were very impressed with his performance at the tail-end of 2015 after the southpaw figured out his knee issues. If there are any hiccups in March, the 26-year-old’s spot might represent the window of opportunity for someone on the outside looking in.
Matt Barnes is on the 40-man roster, and also had a strong finish. So, as long as John Farrell is comfortable with the likes of Layne and Elias (or a lefty to be named later), the righty’s velocity might be a welcomed addition. Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and Noe Ramirez (both also on the 40-man) are two other guys in that same boat as Barnes.
Williams Jerez, a 23-year-old who just converted to pitching two seasons ago, should be very intriguing this spring. He is on the 40-man roster and struck out 86 in 88 2/3 innings at three different minor league levels. The left-handeder almost certainly won’t be immediately in the mix, but he could make an interesting impression. Hard-throwing Pat Light’s situation is similar, seemingly needing more time to learn the art of relieving, but in position to make his mark in case needed at some point in 2016.
Then there is Steven Wright.
Like Layne and Tazawa, Wright is out of options. The knuckleballer is a favorite of the Red Sox’ coaching staff, and certainly has already proven his value on a big league roster.
And while it might seem that Wright should have the advantage over Elias when talking about possibly transforming a starter into a reliever due to roster flexibility, understand that the former Mariners hurler has a proven track record as an everyday major leaguer. This is a guy who not only started 49 games over the last two seasons, but held left-handed batters to a .608 OPS in 2015.
Other non-roster candidates also loom, with Anthony Varvaro back on a minor league deal. (It should be noted that the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is currently maxed out.) Brandon Workman still needs time after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
At least there is some intrigue to hang our hats on heading into the kick off of camp next week.
|02.12.16 at 10:17 am ET|
Former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks and former NESN personality Jenny Dell will marry this weekend in Arizona, culminating a courtship that began in Boston in secret and ended with the duo proudly stepping out as a couple.
The pair got engaged over a year ago, but couldn’t find a date that would fit their busy schedules until Valentine’s Day, according to the Boston Herald’s Inside Track. Dell, who turns 30 in July, covers the college football for CBS Sports Network and was busy at the Super Bowl, while Middlebrooks recently signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers.
The two met while Middlebrooks was playing for the Red Sox and Dell was covering the team as part of NESN’s broadcasts. She was removed from the telecasts shortly after they went public with their relationship.
Middlebrooks has had a rough go of it since. He hit 17 homers and won a World Series ring with the 2013 Red Sox, but was shipped to the Padres for Ryan Hanigan in December of 2014 after batting just .191 with the Red Sox.
Middlebrooks hit .212 for the Padres last year before being given his walking papers and latching on with the Brewers.
|02.11.16 at 6:36 pm ET|
Another day, another high ranking for the players in the Red Sox farm system.
ESPN’s Keith Law, one of the most respected names in prospect evaluation, released his top 100 prospect list on Thursday, and three Red Sox cracked the top 20, with another making the top 40.
Law rated third baseman Rafael Devers as the No. 7 overall prospect in the game. Devers has been overshadowed by the heralded arrivals of Yoan Moncada (No. 17) and Andrew Benintendi (No. 18), but Law sees the 19-year-old as the jewel of the system, praising the 6-foot, 195-pounder’s, “acumen to match his prodigious tools.”
“The bat would profile at first base, of course, with the power and contact upside there, but the potential for above-average defense at third on top of 30-35 homers and a high batting average (even if it’s without a high OBP) is what makes him a top-10 prospect,” Law wrote.
Law is more cautious in his evaluation of Moncada, whom he pegs for 15-18 home runs a year, noting that his swing from both sides of the plate isn’t really geared for the long ball. He still considers him a player with “a couple of paths to becoming an All-Star.”
Law is actually more bullish on Benintendi, whom he could see making a Kyle Schwarber-like jump to the big leagues this year as a potential 20-20 center fielder down the road.
The other Red Sox prospect on the list is right-hander Anderson Espinoza, who’s still only 17 years old. Law says he could be Pedro Martinez as a starter or Aroldis Chapman as a closer, at least according to the hyperbole, but he praises the youngster’s feel for three pitches, one of them being a 99 mph fastball.
“With three big league-caliber pitches and shocking feel for his age, Espinoza is the living definition of a player being ‘scary good,’ because we haven’t seen a player like him in quite a while,” Law wrote.
As for the rest of the list, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager checked in at No. 1, while two former Red Sox — Manuel Margot (No. 25) and Javier Guerra (No. 34) — both cracked the top 50 after being acquired from the Padres in a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel.
|02.10.16 at 4:13 pm ET|
“If you’re going to go out, Cracker Barrel is awesome,” Barnes said. “That new Twin Peaks place is a lot of fun.” (When questioned about the merits of the latter’s menu, he responded, “The wings are good. They’ve got some bacon strips in some brown sugar. It’s a heart attack in an appetizer.”)
But the real alteration in Barnes’ lifestyle is that he enters spring training as a relief pitcher for the first time. Why? In large part because he carries the skill-set so many bullpens are looking for these days — the righty throws hard.
Besides Joe Kelly, Barnes threw 97 mph or better more than any Red Sox pitcher in 2015 (22 times). And while he has no documented proof, his brother did once email him a tweet from a scout in Barnes’ first pro year suggesting he had hit 101 mph.
“It’s definitely pretty cool, whether or not I actually did it,” he admitted. “You can’t just dig down and get it. Going from 96 or 97 to 100, it’s hard.”
But the velocity is just a start for Barnes, as he found out in ’15.
Having just been introduced to relieving midway through last spring training, Barnes took his lumps for much of his stint in the major leagues. As he explained on the podcast, simply throwing hard wasn’t going to be the answer, with the righty totaling a 6.89 ERA and .338 batting average against through 23 appearances before being sent down.
But, after his promotion from Triple-A, Barnes came back in September to allow just one run on eight hits while striking out eight and walking three in nine games. And, just for good measure, he was also afforded one last reminder courtesy Alex Rodriguez, who turned around a 97 mph heater for a solo homer in Barnes’ second-to-last outing of the season.
Following the A-Rod homer, Barnes explained on the podcast that he sat in the dugout with teammate Rick Porcello, who helped guided the rookie through what he might have done right and wrong.
“Velocity helps, I’m not going to say it doesn’t. But if you’re throwing 97 down the middle of the plate these guys are going to hit it,” he said. “Ninety-six, 97, 98, if it’s not located, it’s going to get hit.
“September was a turning point, how I needed to go about being a reliever, how my stuff best played.”
Barnes will be competing for a spot in what already appears to be a fairly crowded Red Sox bullpen, with Craig Kimbrel, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Carson Smith, Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne, and Roenis Elias all having proved themselves in the majors. Steven Wright (who is out of options) and Heath Hembree, also figure to be in the mix.
For now, however, Barnes is at least thinking like a member of the Red Sox bullpen.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if some of the attention sent the way to the highly-touted Yankees pen should be diverted to the Sox. “It’s always going to be a competition, especially when you talk about division rivals. … I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, too.”
|02.09.16 at 10:10 am ET|
On Tuesday morning Travis Shaw let the world know who he would be living with throughout spring training.
‘ Travis Shaw (@travis_shaw21) February 9, 2016
Now, it’s unclear if Deven Marrero, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and Shaw decided upon this living arrangement because of the tough housing market in the Greater Fort Myers area, or if they viewed it as a the potential for a “Life in Lee County” reality show.
But it does offer the reminder of the uniqueness that comes with putting players up in the Southwest Florida area for what is basically two months.
Rick Porcello? He bought a house in nearby Naples and plans on living with Joe Kelly. (Kelly’s wife is expected to be staying back home, with the couple’s first child slated to be born any day now.)
Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr. also bought houses in the area.
|02.09.16 at 9:48 am ET|
Even while having to live in an major league existence/parking lot of tricked-out cars (see Yoan Moncada’s glow-in-the-dark BMW I8), Eduardo Rodriguez drives a Toyota 4Runner and makes no apologies for it.
“I know those kind of guys. They just buy the car. They don’t care what kind of car they got,” said Rodriguez, who just got his driver’s license last year. “They just buy the car and take it to that guy and the guy pulls out a Lamborghini. But I’m not that kind of guy. I just buy a car to drive in, especially with my wife and kids.”
But that doesn’t mean Rodriguez is adverse to mirroring. And there’s one person in particular that he’s all in on emulating this spring training — David Price.
“Having him here, for me, it’s going to be pretty good because he can teach me how to pitch because he’s a lefty and we have almost the same mechanics,” said Rodriguez, who was one of the first pitchers to arrive at JetBlue Park last week. “We throw the same, 94-97 [mph]. So it’s going to be pretty good for me having him here in spring training. If they put him in the same group with him it’s going to be way better for me because he can teach me everything. Whenever we do something, he can teach me how to control the game. For me? It’s going to be great.
“Two years ago I got Johan Santana in Baltimore and he taught me a lot, and that’s why I got in the big leagues last year and did pretty good. He taught me how to do this, this and this. So now I have him here and he can teach me with every start how to get better.”
|02.09.16 at 9:06 am ET|
For those who like to define seasons, the Red Sox once again are attempting to help you with their annual Truck Day taking place Wednesday morning.
With Milford’s Al Hartz behind the wheel, a 53-foot truck will be loaded starting at 7 a.m. before leaving Fenway Park for the 1,480-mile trip to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Wally the Green Monster, along with his newly unveiled sister Tessie, will lead the parade on a flatbed truck.
In case you were wondering what will be on board …
— 20,400 baseballs
— 1,100 bats
— 200 batting gloves
— 200 batting helmets
— 320 batting practice tops
— 160 white game jerseys
— 300 pairs of pants
— 400 T-shirts
— 400 pairs of socks
— 20 cases of bubble gum
— 60 cases of sunflower seeds
|02.09.16 at 8:50 am ET|
Join Rob Bradford of WEEI.com for a live chat to discuss all things Red Sox, MLB and anything else that’s on your mind as spring training looms just more than a week away. It all kicks off at 1 p.m., so get your questions in now …
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