At this time last year, it appeared as though Eduard Bazardo had a legitimate shot to be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.
The right-handed pitching prospect was Rule 5 eligible for the first time, and he needed to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.
Among the five players who were added last November, Bazardo was not one of them as left-handers Kyle Hart and Yoan Aybar were the only two pitchers to make the cut.
The decision by the Red Sox to leave Bazardo off the 40-man roster meant the Venezuelan could be snatched up by another club during the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
Fortunately for Boston, that did not happen, as Bazardo went undrafted and remained with the organization he began his professional career with back in 2014 after signing for just $8,000 as an international free agent.
Even while staying with the Sox, Bazardo did not get too much exposure in 2020 on account of there being no minor-league season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He was able to appear in four Grapefruit League games back in March before the shutdown, but that was some of the only in-game action he saw up until October.
That being the case because after not being added to the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point during the season, Bazardo was invited to participate in the club’s fall instructional league down in Fort Myers.
There, according to SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall, the 6-foot, 155 lb. righty caused quite the stir thanks to what he did on the mound.
“Right-handed reliever Eduard Bazardo was the most impressive arm at Instructs, showing off increased velocity that puts him squarely in the mix to either be added to the 40-man roster on Friday or selected in the Rule 5 draft,” Cundall wrote earlier this week. “At Instructs, all of Bazardo’s stuff was improved, as he sat 93-97 mph and often pitched at 95-96 with, as one scout called it, a ‘silly’ curveball. His curveball elicited some horrible swings, and its spin rate topped 3000 rpm, which is elite. His fastball is now a plus-to-better pitch, and his curveball is solidly a plus pitch as well.”
The way Bazardo pitched at fall instructs obviously caught the attention of Red Sox higher-ups, such as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and he was able to leverage his performance to a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster earlier Friday evening.
As indicated above, Bazardo’s pitch mix includes a fastball and curveball, as well as a split-finger fastball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.
With consistent control and improved command, Bazardo was able to fool hitters at a decent rate at fall instructs, and he’ll presumably have the chance to do that again come February.
Cundall predicts that Bazardo will make his major-league debut in 2021 as a reliever, and given the current state of the Red Sox bullpen, it’s not hard to see why that may be a legitimate possibility.