Politi, who turns 26 next month, began the 2022 season in Portland’s bullpen and posted a 2.03 ERA and 3.54 FIP to go along with 20 strikeouts to just three walks over 12 relief appearances spanning 13 1/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. The right-hander also went a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities.
Among Eastern League pitchers who have accrued at least 10 innings on the mound this year, Politi ranks 14th in strikeouts per nine innings (13.5), 23rd in walks per nine innings (2.03), 11th in strikeout rate (38.5%), 15th in swinging strike rate (17.9%), 25th in walk rate (5.8%), 19th in batting average against (.149), sixth in WHIP (0.75), 30th in ERA, and fifth in xFIP (2.29), per FanGraphs.
The Red Sox originally selected Politi in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University. The New Jersey native signed with Boston for a modest $25,000 and has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career.
Last season, for instance, Politi made 15 starts for Portland and yielded a 7.01 ERA before moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis in September. He impressed in four outings there, made 11 appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, and really has not looked back since then.
Listed at 6-feet and 195 pounds, the 25-year-old works with four different pitches in a mid-90s fastball (his best offering), a high-80s slider, a lower-80s curveball, and a changeup. He is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 46 prospect in Boston’s farm system and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this winter.
If the Red Sox would like to prevent that from happening, they would need to add Politi to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. Giving the righty an extended look at the Triple-A level will surely play a role in the club’s decision when that time comes.
With the WooSox, Politi will be joining a bullpen that includes the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Silvino Bracho, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Zack Kelly, Kaleb Ort, and Phillips Valdez, among others.
In order to call up both Bello and Politi to Worcester, the Red Sox will be sending left-hander Kyle Hart and right-hander Darin Gillies down to Portland.
(Picture of A.J. Politi: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)