What the Red Sox got for Youk: A look at Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge
|06.24.12 at 7:08 pm ET|
Stewart, who has spent most of this season as a reliever for the White Sox, is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just four walks through 30 innings pitched this year. Despite coming out of the bullpen in his first 17 appearances of the year, he made his only start of the season in his last appearance on June 18, lasting 5 2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs in a loss to the Cubs. He was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on June 19.
Before coming to the White Sox, Stewart was with the Blue Jays, an organization for whom he was rated the top prospect by Baseball America in 2009. In his only three appearances with the Blue Jays of his career (all as a starting pitcher), Stewart went 0-3 with 10 strikeouts and a 4.86 ERA. The sinkerballer has permitted a somewhat alarming home run total (21 in 97 1/3 innings) in his big league career, something of a surprise given his excellent groundball rates.
Stewart’s best start of his career came on September 5th of his rookie season, when he had a perfect game through seven innings against the Twins before allowing a hit to Danny Valencia. Stewart finished the game having only allowed one hit and recording nine strikeouts in the win.
Stewart, who was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2008 draft, is now with his fourth organization. As a prospect for the Reds, Stewart was traded along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen. Four days short of two years later, Stewart was traded with Jason Frasor for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen.
“Stewart was a guy that we’ve liked for a while and we’re focused on. Ultimately, when they agreed to include him in the deal, that kind of pushed them to the forefront,” said Sox GM Ben Cherington. “We like the upside and the chance for him to be a controllable big league starter and we’ll get to know him better too just felt like this one was the right one for us.
“He’s a young pitcher who we believe can be a starter. We have scouted him since college, Texas Tech and through the Minor Leagues and he was a big part of the deal, their deal last summer. He’s been in the big leagues in the bullpen and we’re going to send him to Triple-A and let him pitch in the rotation there. We believe he can develop into a good Major League starter we want to get him back in to that role. He’s a big physical strong kid with three solid pitches, throws strikes, he’s had a good Minor League track record. He’s a guy that looks like a Major League starter and just needs a little bit more time at Triple-A to fine tune things. We’re excited and he’ll be a big part of our pitching depth moving forward.”
Stewart will report to Pawtucket following the trade, unlike Lillibridge who will join the Red Sox.
Lillibridge has only started 21 of his 48 games with the White Sox this season, and has a .175 batting average with four walks and 26 strikeouts through 70 plate appearances this season. Lillibridge also could serve as a pinch runner for the Red Sox, as he has totaled seven stolen bases in his nine attempts this season.
Last season, Lillibridge set career highs for the White Sox, batting .258 with a .340 OBP, .505 slugging mark, .845 OPS and 13 home runs in 216 plate appearances with Chicago. Against lefties, he owns a career line of .237/.286/.433/.718.
In his five-year major league career, Lillibridge has played at least 10 games at every position there is to play besides pitcher and catcher, and has a .974 fielding percentage.
Lillibridge is moving to his fourth organization as well, as he was drafted by the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2005 draft before being dealt to the Braves, where he played the first 29 games of his career. The White Sox acquired Lillibridge after his only season with the Braves in a package that sent Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez to the Braves.
“We got a player that will go right into our roster and help us, very versatile guy in Lillibridge who had a terrific last year and has been really good against lefties the last two years,” said Cherington. “He struggled some this year but very versatile, very athletic player, can play all infield positions, outfield, run the bases, dangerous hitter. We’ll get him here and try to get him going a little bit offensively.”
Here is a clip of Stewart throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for the White Sox:
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And here is a clip of Lillibridge making a leaping catch against the wall:
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