Red Sox pitching prospect Shane Drohan was sharp in his season debut for Double-A Portland on Friday night.
Going up against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in chilly conditions at Hadlock Field, Drohan scattered just three hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.
Drohan retired the first four batters he faced before giving up a one-out single to Luke Ritter in the top of the second. The left-hander then got Matt Rudick to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play and sat down the side in order in the third. In the fourth, he navigated his way around a leadoff single off the bat of Wyatt Young.
The fifth inning proved to be the toughest for Drohan, as he began it by issuing a leadoff walk to Ritter, who later moved up to second base on a one-out single from Hayden Senger. With runners at first and second and only one out, Drohan locked in by fanning Daniel Gomez and getting Mateo Gil to pop out to escape the jam and end his day on a positive note.
Drohan needed just 69 pitches (46 strikes) to get through five scoreless frames. The 24-year-old southpaw induced 10 swings-and-misses and was credited with the winning decision as the Sea Dogs held on for a 2-0 victory over the Rumble Ponies to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
Originally selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the COVID-shortened 2020 amateur draft out of Florida State, Drohan comes into his third full professional season in a unique position. Despite not being ranked by either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline, the Fort Lauderdale native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system. That ranks fourth among pitchers in the organization.
Drohan, who just turned 24 in January, is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he posted a 3.89 ERA and 4.49 FIP with 157 strikeouts to 51 walks in 27 appearances (25 starts) spanning 129 2/3 innings between High-A Greenville and Portland. According to FanGraphs, his 28.5 percent strikeout rate ranked 50th among the 311 minor-league pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year while his swinging-strike rate of 16 percent ranked 15th.
While putting up those numbers and earning SoxProspects.com All-Star honors last season, Drohan flashed an 88-92 mph fastball that topped out at 94 mph as part of a three-pitch mix that included a 78-81 mph changeup and 75-78 mph curveball. Over the winter, though, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound hurler added a new pitch (a cutter) to his arsenal while also adding velocity to his fastball.
As noted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall earlier this week, Drohan “sat at 91-94 mph this spring, where as last year, he averaged 90.8 mph with his fastball.”
On Friday, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote that the increase in velocity Drohan displayed during spring training is “creating intrigue about his development as a starter.”
Drohan can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later this year if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the deadline in November. In the meantime, one would have to figure that Drohan will have the opportunity to earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester at some point this season if he continues to impress in Portland.
(Picture of Shane Drohan: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)