The Red Sox and Developing Pitching

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Dope
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Sep 27, 2004
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We're all pretty familiar with the Red Sox spotty record when it comes to developing pitchers. Since the days of Lester and Papelbon, it's been a pretty low bar.

Trey Ball. Henry Owens. Craig Hansen. Michael Bowden.

We're more familiar with the failures than the moderate successes.

That's why it's pretty encouraging to see some minor leaguers come in and step up early in the season while the team deals with some injuries.

Matt Barnes is becoming a reliable option near the end of the bullpen. While Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez and Bobby Poyner didn't set the world on fire, just doing an acceptable job for the major league club is a nice improvement. Even career minor leaguer Marcus Walden contributed.

It's also nice to see a guy like Velazquez make some significant changes, adding a splitter, dropping the curveball, mixing up his pitches. Even though it feels like he's been struggling forever, Trey Ball is still only 23 , maybe someone can get him to make some changes and at least show something. Either that or take the Rick Ankiel route.

The Red Sox have some young arms worth following this year including high draft picks Jay Groome and Tanner Houck. Maybe there's a ray of hope?
 

johnnywayback

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Aug 8, 2004
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Even as a Ben Cherington stan, I have to say that his drafts are not looking great a few years out, especially when it comes to pitching.

In 2012, he used 7 of the first 8 picks on pitchers, and Brian Johnson's the only major league starter in the bunch. In fact, I'm not sure any of the others (save Justin Haley) even remained starters into the upper minors: Pat Light, Jamie Callahan, Austin Maddox, Ty Buttrey, Mike Augliera, Kyle Kraus...it's grim.

2013 looks even worse: Ball, Teddy Stankiewicz, Myles Smith, Corey Littrell, Mike Adams, Kyle Martin, Taylor Grover...yuck. It's very possible that Kyle Martin's 2 2/3 innings for the Sox last year will represent the entire major league output of that entire draft for the Sox.

You can give him credit for Kopech in 2014, but then, again: Jake Cosart, Kevin McAvoy, Reed Reilly, Kevin Steen -- no one even came close to becoming even a starting pitching prospect.

And then in 2015, he didn't draft a pitcher until the 6th round, and it's not like Travis Lakins's arrow is pointing up.

So, I think it's an open question whether the hole in the minor league pitching pipeline is a result of poor development or just a few years of bad drafting. Really, except for Johnson and Kopech and the brief moment we thought Pat Light might be a late-inning reliever, Cherington went four years without drafting a pitcher who ever came close to looking like he had impact major-league upside once in the system.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Dec 22, 2002
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Re Jake Cosart: He made drastic improvements last year as the season went on and has a big time arm. Too early to write off.


Also no mention of Bard? He still has to be considered a success. Even Clay. Those 2 were still awhile back too though. There's been very little recently.


edit: Not really defending the Sox picks in recent drafts, but some of those pitchers were drafted to be MR, so claiming they were never close to being starting pitching prospects is a bit unfair and MRs are never top prospects.
 

jnlevetoncnmt

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Harry Hooper

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Was all that success from Theo, or did ownership put more resources into scouting and signing during those years?
IIRC, the Sox made more picks than most teams by getting additional picks via the departure of free agents, so part of the success formula was buying more chances for the raffle.
 

AZ09

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May 28, 2015
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I realize I might be in the minority for saying this but I think it's high time we give Trey Ball an outfielders glove and see what he can do with a bat.
 

grimshaw

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May 16, 2007
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I realize I might be in the minority for saying this but I think it's high time we give Trey Ball an outfielders glove and see what he can do with a bat.
They are moving him to the pen so my guess is this is the last ditch effort. If he can't make his stuff play up in the next few months, then maybe they'll switch it up.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The Red Sox were the best at drafting players from 2003-2012 according to this Milwaukee Brewer's blog. The post is about how well the Brewers were drafting, but Boston is first in terms of rWAR and number of players to make the majors.

https://www.brewcrewball.com/2015/6/8/8733041/2015-mlb-draft-brewers-among-best-at-drafting-from-2003-2012

Was all that success from Theo, or did ownership put more resources into scouting and signing during those years?
I think it was probably equal parts Theo and his scouting department, more resources, and different draft rules. Prior to the 2012 draft, there were no limits on what teams spent on draftees. So the Red Sox were able to get some very good players simply by overpaying. They'd grab talent that fell past teams that weren't willing to pay the bonuses and salaries that the Red Sox were.

Now, there are caps on how much money teams have to spend on signing bonuses. They can still overpay a draftee, but only at the expense of being able to pay other picks. Makes it a lot more important to scout well AND get lucky than it used to.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Dec 22, 2002
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I realize I might be in the minority for saying this but I think it's high time we give Trey Ball an outfielders glove and see what he can do with a bat.
They changed his (and Owens) arm slot last year and he had mixed results. He had a few promising outings though, unlike Henry.
 

Wayapman

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Aug 19, 2012
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I can't help but think the current upward trend in pitching development has a lot to do with Bannister. He did some great work with Rich Hill and Doug Fister. I hope they are able to keep him on staff long term
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
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I think it was probably equal parts Theo and his scouting department, more resources, and different draft rules. Prior to the 2012 draft, there were no limits on what teams spent on draftees. So the Red Sox were able to get some very good players simply by overpaying. They'd grab talent that fell past teams that weren't willing to pay the bonuses and salaries that the Red Sox were.

Now, there are caps on how much money teams have to spend on signing bonuses. They can still overpay a draftee, but only at the expense of being able to pay other picks. Makes it a lot more important to scout well AND get lucky than it used to.
Do you know if there's been any studies that have indicated who has drafted well given the new signing bonus cap rules?

My guess is after the first 10 picks or so, it's a complete crapshoot. I wonder if that's accurate (not that five year's data is a huge sample size).