Red Sox close out compensation for Theo Epstein with right-hander Aaron Kurcz
|03.15.12 at 9:21 pm ET|
The book is now closed in terms of what the Red Sox got from the Cubs in exchange for GM Theo Epstein. The Sox will get Aaron Kurcz as their player to be named, making him the second player whom the Sox received from the Cubs (along with reliever Chris Carpenter).
Kurcz, 21, has had an interesting path as a professional. He initially enrolled at the Air Force Academy where he went for a year before transferring with the Academy’s blessing to go to the College of Southern Nevada to pursue his baseball career. The short (5-foot-11) right-hander ended up being taken by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 2010 draft.
Since then, he’s posted some outrageous strikeout numbers in the minors — particularly while relieving — while being perhaps a bit younger than the standard age of competition at his levels. In 2010, he made his pro debut with a ridiculous 46 strikeouts (against 11 walks) in 26 1/3 innings and a 2.05 ERA in the short-season Northwest League, a league that typically lends itself to huge offensive numbers.
In 2011, Kurcz was 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA while pitching 82 1/3 innings in the Florida State League. He made 12 starts (2-2, 3.72, 42 strikeouts, 22 walks in 46 innings) before posting outstanding numbers in 20 relief appearances, going 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA, 49 strikeouts (12.1 per nine innings and 12 walks in 36 1/3 innings.
According to a major league source, Kurcz’ fastball was 91-95 mph last year and registered as high as 96 mph this spring. He also has good feel for a changeup and a slider with potential that nonetheless remains a work in progress. Kurcz has a very quick arm and is athletic with what the source described as “great makeup,” and so while he is at an early stage of his development, he does have intriguing potential.
That makes him a reasonable complement to Carpenter, a pitcher whose floor and ceiling are more evident at his more advanced career stage. The Sox have not yet decided whether Kurcz will be slotted into the bullpen or rotation in the minors.
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