|Throw by Christian Vazquez highlights Red Sox loss to Twins||03.08.13 at 11:00 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – While Ryan Dempster’s 3 2/3 inning outing was notable Friday night, it was a throw by catcher Christian Vazquez that stole the show in the Twins’ 2-0 spring training win over the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
With one out in the sixth inning, and Anthony Carter on the mound for the Sox, Vazquez gunned down Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe trying to steal. But it wasn’t any ordinary caught stealing.
Vazquez was timed anywhere from 1.75 seconds (scout), to 1.82 (Red Sox dugout) in delivering the ball to shortstop Jose Iglesias. It was the kind of quick delivery that Red Sox manager John Farrell said would only be rivaled former All-Star catcher Pudge Rodriguez back in the backstop’s prime.
“Just outstanding feet, quick release, plenty of arm strength and accuracy,” Farrell said. “This is probably the fourth guy he’s cut down in spring training and all of the same variety. He’s confident when he throws a baseball, and that shows in the accuracy and the quickness with which he releases the ball.”
The 22-year-old Vazquez has been fine-tuning his craft while working with the catching Molina brothers – Jose and Yadier — in Puerto Rico.
At 5-foot-9, he has impressed not only in this camp, but since signing with the Red Sox in 2008. After spitting the season between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland last season, Vazquez played in both the Arizona Fall League and Puerto Rico Winter League over the winter.
Adding to Vazquez’ night was a double off the left field wall.
“I will say this: he’s a bright-looking prospect behind the plate,” Farrell said. “He’s durable. This is a guy that’s really come a long way since he signed out of Puerto Rico. He’s really worked his way from a stamina standpoint, overall strength. When his arrival date is here, he’s probably a couple injuries away in the short term. In the long term, he’s got some development left with the bat, but he’s a very good prospect behind the plate.”
As for Dempster, the starter was pleased with the steps taken in his latest outing. The righty threw 69 pitches, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out a pair.
“I’ve said before we’re out there practicing getting outs, the more of a groove you can get in, the more comfortable you feel, the more you feel you can make your pitches, for the most part I think it generally translates over the season,” Dempster said. “The last thing you want to do is limp into the start of the season and today was really good to build on, 28 pitches to 70 pitches was really nice. But it does, I think if you’re throwing the ball really well in spring training it can carry over into the season and give you some confidence.”
Another goal accomplished by Dempster was establishing his fastball, which served as his chief weapon of choice in what was his third spring training outing.
“Two goals completed here tonight: One was to get him close to 70 pitches, which we did,” Farrell said. “And he went out and made an effort to pitch predominately with his fastball. Of the 69, I think pitches that he threw, only about 12 or 13 were cutters or sliders. The rest were fastballs, which was the intention in tonight’s outing.”
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