Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Pawtucket Red Sox: Guest Blog

After tonight’s final game against the Charlotte Knights, the Bulls head for Pawtucket, Rhode Island for their annual four-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A farm team of ... the Boston Red Sox — but I'll bet you figured that out on your own.

Very few minor league teams have fan blogs, but the PawSox have Baseball Heavy. We contacted Jenks, the blogger behind Baseball Heavy and asked for a profile of this year’s team. Here it is:

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The 2012 Pawtucket Red Sox begin their season with a player that’s been the one of the most-talked about in the Boston system: Third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The right-handed Middlebrooks came to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland last season, and played in 16 games. During his brief stay in Rhode Island, Middlebrooks struggled with strikeouts, but hit a pair of home runs and drove in a few runs.

This season, Middlebrooks is off to a great start, piquing the interest of even the most casual Red Sox fan. His most notable stat is RBI, being one of the International League’s leaders in that category. Middlebrooks still struggles with patience at the plate, but some time spent at this level should hopefully lessen his K rate.

Another returning slugger is catcher and highly-ranked prospect Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway set McCoy Stadium on fire last season with his vulgar displays of power, hitting 18 homers in 61 games and wound up second in the IL for Slugging, third for OPS.

Lars Anderson enters his third season with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Although Anderson had been exclusively a first baseman, the presence of Adrian Gonzalez in Boston has essentially blocked him from advancing. As a result, Anderson is spending time in left field this season, developing skills that may make him more attractive as a trade piece.

And then we have the defensively dazzling shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias could arguably be the most fun player to watch in the field. Unfortunately, Iglesias has very little going on in the bat department. He is only 22, though, so it remains to be seen if he can improve at the plate.

Pawtucket’s 2012 pitching staff isn’t terribly thrilling, but still contains a few bright spots. Righty Junichi Tazawa made a couple of starts in Pawtucket in 2009, but since then has been used as a reliever. Tazawa has great control, and this season it’s been a treat seeing opposing hitters swinging and missing in late innings.

RHP Alex Wilson is ranked as the 14th highest prospect in the Boston organization. Pawtucket fans saw a brief glimpse of Wilson in 2011, where he went 1-0 through four starts. Wilson’s primarily a fastball guy, but he could potentially develop his secondary pitches this season while facing Triple-A hitting.

Currently, the Pawtucket Red Sox are in second place in their division. However, they have primarily played weaker teams such as the Rochester Red Wings and the Syracuse Chiefs. The true test of the team will come when they play the Columbus Clippers or the Mud Hens or the Empire State Yankees. Fortunately, pitching is Pawtucket’s strong suit this year, and at this early date it’s too soon to tell how the rest of the season will play out. Regardless of their record, the PawSox should still see a strong (although not exactly IronPigs level) attendance this year.

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Thanks, Jenks!

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