I will be writing a team preview for each of the Red Sox minor league affiliates over the next four weeks. First up the Pawtucket Red Sox, who feature a new manager (Gary DiSarcina), and a roster filled with valuable depth for the major league team as they look to defend their Governor’s Cup trophy.
2012 Season: Under manager Arnie Beyeler, the PawSox finished the 2012 season at 79-65, earning a wild card berth to the International League playoffs. They advanced past the first round to the championship series, where they defeated the Charlotte Knights to win the Governor’s Cup trophy as International League champions.
Rotation: Steven Wright- RHP, Allen Webster- RHP, Chris Hernandez- LHP, Terry Doyle- RHP, Rubby De La Rosa- RHP
The Red Sox have built up enviable depth in their Triple A rotation, with all five members having legitimate shots at pitching in the big leagues. Knuckleballer Steven Wright came to the Sox in a trade with the Indians for Lars Anderson last season, and has good minor league numbers. Working with Tim Wakefield in Spring Training seems to have put him on a good path.
The biggest upside in the rotation belongs to Allen Webster, who shows four above average pitches and only needs to command his fastball to put it all together. Webster will likely be the first starter called upon if a spot opens up. Rubby De La Rosa, the other high upside arm, was acquired along with Webster in last season’s trade with the Dodgers. It’s unlikely that he will come up as a starter until later in the season, as the Sox are limiting his innings while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Chris Hernandez doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he’s the prototypical crafty lefty, succeeding by pitch movement and changing speeds. He’s another option for a spot start if the big league rotation should falter.
C: Ryan Lavarnaway
1B: Mark Hamilton
2B: Jonathan Diaz
3B: Drew Sutton
SS: Brock Holt
LF: Alex Hassan
CF: Juan Carlos Linares
RF: Bryce Brentz
The lineup features several players who provide needed depth in case the injury bug strikes. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway improved defensively last season, but his offensive numbers slipped as he caught more games than he ever had before. The Sox decided he wasn’t quite ready for an everyday spot, and signed David Ross as the MLB backup. Brock Holt came over from the Pirates with Joel Hanrahan, and profiles as a utility player. He can play every infield position, and shows decent promise with his bat.
Two outfield prospects could also see time in the majors. Bryce Brentz has perhaps the best power in the Red Sox system, but has to show at Triple A that he can work himself into hitter’s counts and improve his plate discipline. Alex Hassan has less upside, but possesses a patient approach similar to Daniel Nava.
The weakest positions in the Sox system are the corner infield spots. The Red Sox tried to address this in Triple A by signing two minor league free agents, Mark Hamilton and Brandon Snyder. Both Hamilton and Snyder are versatile enough to play first base, third base, and the outfield.
The PawSox may also have last year’s International League MVP Mauro Gomez in their lineup. Gomez was designated for assignment to make room for Jackie Bradley Jr. on the 40 man roster, but will be assigned to Pawtucket if he passes through waivers. Gomez is limited defensively but could provide a decent platoon bat at DH for the Red Sox. Bradley Jr. and Jose Iglesias will likely bolster the lineup as well once David Ortiz and Stephen Drew return from injury.
Bullpen: Alex Wilson- RHP, Chris Carpenter- RHP, Jose De La Torre- RHP, Oscar Villareal- RHP, Pedro Beato- RHP, Anthony Carter- RHP, Graham Godfrey- RHP
Alex Wilson converted to the bullpen last season and posted strong numbers with Pawtucket. He looks ready to contribute to the major league team if any of the right handed bullpen members struggle. The other strong right handed option is Jose De La Torre, who had some impressive outings for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
The PawSox may also have injured pitchers Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow once they are healthy. The plan for Morales is to stretch him out as a starting pitcher for more rotation depth, while Breslow gives the Sox another left handed option if needed.
Twitter: @PawSox, @BrianMacP, @JLevering4