With 6-foot-5 left-hander Drew Pomeranz pitching Friday night at Hadlock Field, another tall lefty received little attention.

But 6-6 Trey Ball did not go unnoticed.

“It’s like he’s growing up before our eyes,” said one scout, who has watched Ball for years.

Ball, a first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2013, has never looked better.

All it took was a move to the bullpen.

“It was the right move to make and I’m excited for it,” Ball said. “I think it will help me get more consistency.


In three outings, Ball has allowed no runs, two hits and two walks over 62/3 innings, striking out six. His best outing was Friday when he followed Pomeranz – who was making a rehab appearance before he soon rejoins the Red Sox. Ball needed only 33 pitches to cover 22/3 innings, giving up two hits, no runs and no walks while striking out two, preserving a 4-2 lead.

“I thought his first two outings were really good. But (Friday night) was a different look,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Paul Abbott said. “He came in and it was his game. He was going to keep the score where it was. He was aggressive with every pitch.”

Abbott mentored Ball for two seasons (2015-16) in advanced Class A Salem, where he posted a combined 17-19 record and 4.30 ERA. In Portland last year, Ball was 7-12 with a 5.12 ERA.

“He was kind of stagnant, in a rut as a starter,” Abbott said. “When he was told he was going to the pen, there was no blink of an eye. He embraced it from the beginning.”

Ball has watched teammates go to the bullpen and thrive.

“Guys who have made that transition, like Ty Buttrey and Jamie Callahan, they’ve had great success with it,” Ball said.


Callahan was traded to the Mets last year and made his major league debut. Buttrey is in Triple-A and on the Red Sox 40-man roster.

Ball showed flashes of dominance last year, with a fastball topping at 94 mph and a sometimes killer slider. As last year’s pitching coach Kevin Walker (now at Pawtucket) said, “the stuff’s there. The potential is still there. It’s just the consistency of executing pitching.”

As a reliever, Ball can focus more on the moment. “And I feel really comfortable,” he said. “Just going out there and letting it ride and getting the job done.”

Catcher Austin Rei said Ball “is hitting his spots well. That hard slider is a pitch that really works for him.”

Relievers are becoming valued more. One only has to think of Andrew Miller – another tall lefty – who went from a mediocre starter to a game-changer out of the bullpen.

Ball’s sample size as a reliever is small. But he’s only 23. This could be a role he grows into.


WHEN TZU-WEI LIN reached Boston last year, he learned a lot about the major leagues. Now he’s made another realization.

“So much traffic,” Lin said last week on the day he was called up to the Red Sox, replacing the injured Xander Bogaerts.

Lin anticipated that he might be going between Pawtucket and Boston this year, so he found a house to rent in Foxborough, Massachusetts, for his family, which includes wife Kai-Li Jhu and 7-month-old daughter Shin-En.

“(The drive) was supposed to take 40 minutes and it took an hour,” Lin said.

Not that he minds. Lin, 24, is building on his breakout season last year, when he went from the Sea Dogs to Boston, proving his versatility as a utility player.

The Red Sox may have a new manager and coaching staff, but the team still values Lin. That’s one reason Boston could trade defensive specialist Deven Marrero. Lin’s glovework was reassuring.


“He can play shortstop for a championship-caliber team – at short, at third and second. He’s that good,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said.

“I know we had a good one (Marrero) and we did what we did. We feel very comfortable with (Lin).”

Lin made an impression during spring training.

“He was a lot better than I expected,” Cora said. “Defensively, he’s A-plus. At shortstop, his footwork and his tempo, it was fun to watch. (And he can play) second, third, short and the outfield.”

Cora said he expects Lin to keep improving offensively. He went 2 for 4 Saturday and is 4 for 8 this season, with a double and two walks.

THE SEA DOGS will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this season, including this Wednesday when former manager Carlos Tosca and former player Brandon Moss will make an appearance at the 6 p.m. game.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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