RODRIGUEZ, JOHNSON OFF TO HOT START WITH PAWSOX

The Boston Red Sox pitching staff is not performing well in 2015, it’s no secret. The team is near the bottom of their standings and has been experiencing up-and-down performances by all five starters. The organization could look to Pawtucket’s young staff for assistance if it feels like it is time for one of the starters to go. This won’t be an easy decision based on the contracts involved.

Now the question is who? Steven Wright, knuckleballer, would be the perfect man to fill the spot. One of their young prospects could be offered a spot if they were looking to test someone for a longer period.

Henry Owens, a top pitching prospect, has been generating a lot of buzz since being drafted by Boston. However, it wouldn’t be wise to rush the 22-year-old to the big leagues. Owens’ first season in Triple-A has seen him struggle with his command, walking at least three batters each of his four starts. His stuff is good, but his lack of a dominant fastball makes it even more crucial to control the game. He would be more successful if he could do that in the minors, rather than having to deal with it in the middle of a pennant race.

Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson are two of the most likely candidates. Johnson, 24, has had an excellent start to his season. The only exception was May 3, when he suffered a miscue. Johnson is striking out over one batter per innings while his opponents are hitting at.200. Rodriguez, 22 years old, has been the PawSox’s best pitcher for most of 2015 with a sub-2.00 ERA. Rodriguez has a K/BB ratio of around 11:1. He also shows great control over his changeup and 95 M.P.H. Fastball. Johnson would be likely to be ahead of him on the depth charts for the simple reason that Johnson is already on the roster at 40.

“When you can throw between 94 and 96 M.P.H. Kevin Boles, manager of Boles Sports earlier in April stated that he can throw 94-96 M.P.H. consistently from the left side. He keeps the ball down and keeps defenses involved. He should establish the fastball.

Blake Swihart was promoted to relieve pitching after Boston’s injuries (Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan) to their top two catchers on their depth chart (Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan). Although he has been an integral part of the PawSox offense’s success, Jackie Bradley Jr. is now the best hitter on the team without him. Bradley has made great adjustments to his swing, including striking out less and hitting pitches that he hadn’t hit in the past two years. Although he’s a minor player in Boston’s outfield he is gradually rising in value and could become a trade chip.

Manager Kevin Boles stated that there are fewer moving parts in his swing. He has improved pitch recognition and his lower half is well established. He does a lot of good things right now.”

Some of the young hitters on the team have not had an easy time. Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo, Garin Cecchini have not yet found their stride. However, injuries could have slowed them down once they are back in the lineup. They should make significant progress and get back on track within the next weeks, once they have more consistent at-bats.

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