Carl Johnson

Is anyone else as relieved as I am that baseball is finally back after a long, long winter? Watching the Red Sox open their Spring Training season last weekend, on television, against the Yankees and Twins with the Maine winter howling outside was a great feeling.
A couple of the Sox highly touted prospects started their seasons on a high note. Bobby Dalbec hit a home run in his first at bat of the Spring against Northeastern on Friday and Michael Chavis hit a three-run homer against the Yankees on Saturday and another to win the Sunday game against the Twins. Both of these players were originally drafted by the Red Sox and came up through their farm system, Dalbec in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft and Chavis in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Dalbec hit .257 with 32 homers and 109 runs batted in in 129 games at A and AA ball last year.  He is a third baseman and has been assigned to Portland to start the season unless he makes the Sox roster during Spring Training, which is highly unlikely with Devers there and both Nunez and Holt able to take over if he should go down.
Chavis, splitting the season between A, AA and AAA, hit .298 with nine homers and 27 RBI’s after losing the first 80 games of the season to a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. In 2017, he hit .282 with 31 homers and 94 RBI’s between A and AA. He is a natural third baseman but, with the log jam at third in the system, the Sox think highly enough of him to have him learning first base in the Arizona Fall League last year and he played first against Minnesota on Sunday.
The Sox have done well with their draft picks and signing of amateur Free Agents over the last several years. The lineup most likely to take the field most often as the regular season gets underway will have almost all home-grown players. The catcher, Christian Vazquez, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, third baseman Rafael Devers, left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielder Jackie Bradley and right fielder Mookie Betts were all drafted by the Red Sox or signed by them as Amateur Free Agents.
And don’t forget Rusney Castillo, the multi-million dollar Minor Leaguer, who hit .314 and .319 at Pawtucket the last two years. Another home-grown player who has been building his skills in the Minors. Don’t be surprised if he makes the squad out of Spring Training although I don’t know what they’ll do with him since they already have the best outfield in baseball, all homegrown.
The only two players in the starting batting lineup who have not spent their entire careers with the Sox organization are the first baseman, Steven Pierce or Mitch Moreland, and the designated hitter J. D. Martinez, all of whom came from other clubs.
On the other hand, Red Sox pitching has come from everywhere. The top three starters, Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello all were drafted by their original clubs in the first round of the Amateur Draft.
Sale was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, in 2010, and was with them until he was traded to the Red Sox on December 6, 2016.  Price was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2007 draft and played for them, the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays before being signed as a Free Agent on December 4, 2015.  Porcello, drafted by the Detroit Tigers, was with them until he was traded to the Red Sox on December 11, 2014.  What appear to be the top three starting pitchers on the Red Sox staff, as we look ahead to the 2019 season, were each first round picks of other teams, acquired in December of three consecutive years.
The other two projected starters, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi, who both have the potential to move into that top three, were not first round choices and both got to Boston by way of trades.
Rodriguez was signed as an Amateur Free Agent by the Baltimore Orioles in 2010 and pitched in their Minor League system until being traded to the Red Sox for Andrew Miller on July 31, 2014. He had not pitched in a Major League game before coming to Boston. Eovaldi was drafted in the 11th round of the 2008 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched for them, the Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to the Red Sox on July 25th of last year.
The Red Sox top Minor League prospect, Jay Groome, a left-handed starter, who missed last year with Tommy John surgery was drafted by the Sox in round 12 of the 2016 draft.
Matt Barnes, who may be the Closer to start the season, was drafted by the Sox in the first round of the 2011 draft and has been with the Sox since then, debuting in the Majors in 2014. The reliever and probable sixth starter, Brian Johnson, was drafted in the first round in 2012 by the Sox. Brandon Workman was drafted by the Sox in the second round in 2010 and they drafted Bobby Poyner in the 14th round in 2015.
Other relievers who will probably make the opening day roster are almost all from other teams. Ryan Brasier, who will probably give Barnes a run for the Closer’s job or who may share that duty with him, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2007, and pitched in the Minors for them and the Oakland Athletics without ever seeing the Majors. He finally went to Japan in 2017 and played with Hiroshima before being signed as a Free Agent by the Sox in March of 2018.
Hector Velazquez was signed as a Free Agent by the Sox, in 2017, after playing in the Mexican Leagues since 2010.  Heath Hembree, Steven Wright and Tyler Thornburg all were drafted by National League teams before coming to the Red Sox in trades.
All in all, the Sox have had great success with identifying and developing position players who have contributed greatly to their success and have done well in drafting relievers but have had little luck with drafting starting pitching.

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