Triple-A Trickledown: Pawtucket

With 11 games to go between the Chiefs and PawSox this year, we figured we’d dust off Triple-A Trickledown once more to take a look at the Triple-A Red Sox. Here’s our intern Daniel Comisi with an oversight of Pawtucket’s roster…

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Catcher: Dan Butler, Ryan Lavarnway, Christian Vazquez

There’s good catching depth here between Lavarnway (26 years old), Butler (27), and Vazquez (23). All three have spent at least 10 games behind the plate, but only Lavarnway has worn the catcher’s mask in the major leagues, playing 88 games the past three years in Boston. Vazquez was drafted in the ninth round of the 2008 draft and has risen through the Boston organization. He’s in his first go-round at Triple-A after batting .289 with five home runs and 48 walks in 96 games with Double-A Portland last year, though his biggest strength has always been a tremendous arm and defensive presence. Butler, meanwhile, is in his second full year with Pawtucket after cameo appearances with the PawSox every year from 2010 to 2012. All three catchers are on the 40-man roster, but Lavarnway might be the next in line thanks to his previous major-league experience.

First Base: Brandon Snyder

Snyder splits first baseman duties with Lavarnway and has also spent some time roaming the outfield. The 27-year-old has played 83 games in four years between Baltimore, Texas, and Boston. Now in his fifth season with Pawtucket, Snyder will be used in a platoon with Lavarnway. Snyder’s path back to Boston is tough as he’s not on the 40-man roster and there are a multitude of first base-eligible players already in Boston.

Second Base: Ryan Roberts, Justin Henry

The platoon between Roberts (33) and Henry (29) is favoring Roberts this season by almost a two-to-one margin. Roberts has plenty of MLB experience, playing 518 games over nine seasons for Toronto, Texas, Arizona (where he played the majority of his games including 143 in 2011), Tampa Bay and Boston. In that 2011 season, he played 107 games at third base and only 28 at second base, but gradually has moved over to the right side of the infield. Henry has yet to reach the majors, but is currently in his second full season with Pawtucket after collecting 17 doubles in 102 games in 2013. The road to the majors is once again slim for both players barring an injury to All-Star Dustin Pedroia.

Third Base: Garin Cecchini, Carlos Rivero

In his first Triple-A year, Cecchini (23) has started every game for Pawtucket, leads the team in batting average and steals, and is in the top three in runs, walks, RBIs and doubles. Cecchini led all of minor league baseball in on-base percentage last season and could earn his way to his first career major-league call-up at some point this year, though it likely wouldn’t be until later in the year, as Brock Holt was recently recalled to replace the injured Will Middlebrooks. Rivero, a former Chief, was just promoted from Double-A Portland a few days ago and should serve in a utility role.

Shortstop: Mike McCoy

33 year-old McCoy has played 170 games in four seasons in the major leagues, making stops in Colorado and Toronto. He has struggled in the big leagues, batting .190 with three home runs in those games, but has hit well in Triple-A. Between 2008 through 2012 at Colorado Springs and Las Vegas, he batted well over .300 and had more walks than strikeouts each year. At age 33, however, and hitting sub-.200 on the year, McCoy will likely spend the season with the PawSox.

Outfield: Bryce Brentz, Corey Brown, Alex Hassan, Daniel Nava

Chiefs fans will recognize Brown from his time roaming the outfield from 2011 through 2013 for Syracuse, crushing 58 home runs in 357 games, including 25 in 2012. Brentz (25) is in his third year at Pawtucket and leads the Red Sox in both home runs and RBIs. Hassan (26) is now in his fourth season at Triple-A after tearing the cover off the ball last year with a .321 batting average in 55 games. Thanks to that performance last year, he is now an everyday player at either first base or in the outfield. Nava, a contributor to Boston’s World Series-winning team, was sent down from Boston on April 23rd after batting .149 in 17 games. Brentz, Hassan and Nava all are on the 40-man roster and there’s a very good chance that at least one of them will be called up. The current outfield for Boston includes three players with a sub-.700 OPS: Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Shane Victorino.

Starting Pitchers: Matt Barnes, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman

Rubby De La Rosa

The Pawtucket rotation is full of young, powerful right-handed arms. It’s led by De La Rosa, a center piece of the 2012 blockbuster that sent Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers – a deal that also netted the Red Sox Webster. Both players made their major-league debuts last year with mixed results. Workman has the most experience in the majors of the young pitching rotation, having pitched in 23 games (three starts) with Boston. Barnes (4.35 ERA in six starts) and Ranaudo (3.27 in 10 starts) have also posted strong starts.

Boston’s rotation, meanwhile, is in a bit of flux. Felix Doubront was just placed on the Disabled List, and Clay Buchholz has been uncharacteristically awful (71 hits in 47.0 innings, 6.32 ERA). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one or more of these young pitchers in the majors sooner rather than later.

Relief Pitchers: Drake Britton, Chris Hernandez, Dailer Hinojosa, Tommy Layne, Chris Resop, Rich Hill, Alex Wilson

This is a good bullpen with a bunch of decent hurlers. There is no definitive closer on the team, with six different Red Sox tallying one save. However, 26 year-old Alex Wilson leads the team with five saves and 24 year-old Drake Britton is right behind him with four saves in five chances. Both Wilson and Britton spent part of last year throwing at Fenway at the end of the year and seem to be stepping up their game with hopes to head up to Boston for good. 29 year-old Tommy Layne leads all relievers with four wins in 14 appearances with a sparkling 1.61 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 22.1 innings. He also spent some time in the majors but with San Diego, pitching in 40 games for the Padres. Only Britton and Wilson are on the 40-man roster and after strong showings so far in Triple-A, their numbers might be called back to the majors any day.

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(An editor’s note: Wilson was literally just recalled to Boston as I typed those dashes above, so it appears Daniel was on to something.)

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