Monday August 27, 2012 | 06:15 AM

In TODAY'S COLUMN, we write about the improbable journey taken by Michael Olmsted, from nearly quitting the game to becoming a legitimate prospect in the Red Sox bullpen.

The problem for Boston is that other teams have noticed Olmsted, if though he's only made 11 appearances in Double-A. A 97 m.p.h. fastball, and good slider and a 0.00 ERA will get you noticed.

Olmsted is among a handful of relieving prospects that will be either free agents or Rule V eligible after this season.

If an eligible player is not on a team's 40-man roster, he can be taken by another team in the Rule V draft - but the player has to stay on the team's major league roster for the whole season.

At least three other relievers could also go in the Rule V:

Josh Fields, recently promoted to Pawtucket after shining for Portland, has pitched 9 2/3 innings for the PawSox (6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 14 K).

Since Alex Wilson became a reliever for Pawtucket, he has a 3.00 ERA.

And a team might even gamble on Brock Huntzinger, who also joined the pen early this season. As a reliever for the Sea Dogs, he is 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA.

Also, knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright, recently acquired in the Lars Anderson deal, is Rule V eligible.

Fields, by the way, earned his third save Sunday in an interesting way. He threw only one pitch, and gave up a single to left field.

But left fielder Tony Thomas then threw out a runner trying to score from second base, to end the game.

Chris Hernandez (3.44 ERA) started for Pawtucket and went 6 innings (4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K). Hernandez, by the way, is not Rule V eligible until after next season, so Boston does not have to make a move with him yet, although he will certainly get an invite to major league spring training.

Daniel Bard followed Hernandez and got the win (1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 K). He threw only 11 pitches (8 strikes) ... newly-acquired infielder Ivan DeJesus went 2-for-3.

In Portland, outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker hit two home runs (18th and 19th) and Bryce Brentz upped his average to .300. See TODAY'S STORY.

Top pitching prospect Matt Barnes seemed to tire at the end of the season. He pitched four innings for Salem (6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K). In his last 10 games, he was 0-3 with a 5.36 ERA.





About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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