While I stayed up late last night and watched Jon Lester collapse again with a 4-0 lead against the Mariners, I was incredibly frustrated. Between Lester, Josh Beckett and David Ortiz, the core of the Red Sox, neither are performing well.
So, I needed to find my 'Happy Place'. Who can help save the Red Sox? I thought, let's go farming and take a look at the Red Sox top prospects. What does Theo Epstein have in his system?
Two years ago, Buchholz threw a no hitter against the Baltimore Orioles during his second major league start. He was a savior to a near collapsing season in 2007. Last year, he was a complete debacle, unable to pitch himself out of a wet paper bag. Buchholz was 2-9 with a 6.91 ERA.
He lacked confidence in himself and his pitches and was sent back down to Portland to 'find himself'
Buchholz can toss a fastball around the low-mid 90's but can hit 96 MPH when needed. But it's his curve and change-up that is his weapon's of choice. The curve is a knee-buckling, 12-6 drop that's described as the best in the organization. The change-up can range between 76-81 MPH.
This year he's been lights out. How much longer can the Sox hold on keeping him down in Pawtucket? Buchholz is 2-0 with an anemic 1.03 ERA. He hasn't allowed a run in 20.1 innings pitched. Buchholz has struck out 37 batters in 35 innings. His last outing was shear genius, 8 IP/11 K/0 ER.
Bowden has already made a brief stint with the big club, coming out of the bullpen to shut down the Yankees in 2 innings at Fenway. Last year, Bowden started one game against the White Sox and pitched well enough to get the win.
His fastball can top out at 93 MPH but it's his 'Uncle Charley' that can fool batters. He has a very deceptive wind-up that can fool hitters or throw off their timing.
Bowden has gone toe-to-toe with uber prospect Clay Buchholz this season in Pawtucket. Bowden is 2-1 with a 1.06 ERA. While the strikeouts aren't Buchholz-esque, he has fanned 21 in 35 innings pitched. His only defeat this season was a six innning, two-earned-run effort, May 1.
Quietly the prize of free agency, Tazawa has come as advertised. His last year the the Nippon Oil, he was 13-1 with a 0.90 ERA. He struck out 114 in 113 innings pitched. But he has an unconventional wind-up.
Tazawa strictly pitches from the stretch and is learning how to toss from the wind-up this season. Is that like a wide receiver, who can run fast and catch but cannot run routes?
So far that hasn't been a problem for Tazawa. At Portland, he's 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA. He struggled a bit in the beginning of the season. But, his last three starts, he's 3-0. During that time, he's pitched 17 innings, allowing only 2 earned fanning 16.
The reason Mark Texeria is not wearing the 'B' on his hat. Anderson is a 6-4, 210 first baseman with a sweet swing and developing power. Last season, between Portland and Lancaster, he hit .316/18/80.
This season he's off to a slow start and the reason he's not with the big-club while Kevin Youkilis is on the DL. I got to meet Anderson during Spring Training and he is definitely 'Spiccoli' from "Fast Times At Ridgemont High"...."Cool waves and a tasty buzz".
Anderson has been compared to Justin Morneau, a power hitting, left hander. This season with Portland, Anderson is only hitting .235 with two jacks and 17 runs batted in. Patience is a virtue for Sox fans and it looks like Anderson needs more seasoning before he's called up.
Kelly was drafted in 2008 as the Red Sox future shortstop. And why not? Before struggling with the Gulf Coast Sox, he hit .344 with the Lowell Spinners. Kelly has great range and a good arm, which could solidify the Sox issues at short.
But, the Sox now have other ideas with Casey Kelly. In high school, he was a dominant pitcher and the Sox have focused 2009 with him on the mound. The 6-3 bean pole has begun the year with Greenville going 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA. The truly impressive thing about him is the strikeout-to-walk ratio: 33/5.
He great command of his pitches. Like Buccholz and Bowden, he's only allowed 4 earned in 35 innings. The scary part of Kelly? He's only 19.
Players to keep an eye on
Felix Doubront:A lefty with deceiving fastball, has been compared to Ted Lilly. Last season Doubront won 13 games with a 3.30 ERA. This season he's 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA while fanning 31 in 27.2 innings
Mark Wagner: Wirey, nimble catcher with good hands and a solid bat. Wagner has quietly become a solid candidate to replace Jason Varitek. Currently hitting .292, the power will soon come. Stamina is an issue
Jason Place: The former 1st round pick in 2006, has struggled. But Place has good power 16 homers his first pro season and 19 last season. But the average has not followed the power. He hit .214 in 2006 and .246 last season. So far with Salem .256/2/22.
Ryan Kalish: A speedy OF, hitting .304 this season with 8 stolen bases. Good defense and a decent arm. Could some day be trade bait as he projects as a leadoff hitter. But no room at the Inn w/ Jacoby Ellsbury securing that spot.
Bryan Price: Down in Greenville with pitching stud, Casey Kelly, Price has matched Kelly with a super start to 2009. He's 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA. The fastball tops in the mid-90's, with a good slider and a change-up that needs refining.