On This Day in Red Sox History: Luis Tiant Signs With Boston

On this day in 1971, the Red Sox signed free-agent right-hander Luis Tiant to a minor-league contract.

Tiant, 30 at the time, had just been released by the Braves two days earlier after Atlanta refused to promote him to the majors.

The beginning of the 1971 campaign was eventful for Tiant. He had been diagnosed with a crack in a bone in his right shoulder the year prior and missed ten weeks of the 1970 season because of it.

Entering 1971 as a member of the Twins organization, Tiant missed two weeks of spring training due to a pulled muscle in his rib cage and was subsequently released by Minnesota in late March.

As previously mentioned, the Braves picked the veteran righty up on what was then called a 30-day trial contract with their Triple-A affiliate in Richmond.

That experiment did not work out however, as Atlanta eventually cut Tiant loose on May 15th. He was on the open market for just two days before the Red Sox acquired his services on the 17th.

Tiant’s Red Sox tenure began in Louisville home of the Sox’ Triple-A affilate at the time,, where he posted a 2.61 ERA over 31 innings of work, which was good enough to earn him a call up to Boston on June 3rd.

The Cuba national’s first major-league experience with the Sox did not go so well as he went just 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA over 21 appearances (10 starts) and 72 1/3 innings of work in ’71.

Fortunately though, El Tiante would wind up being one of the better starting pitchers of the decade in his time with the Red Sox.

From 1972 until 1978, Tiant owned an ERA of 3.30, an ERA+ of 121, and a FIP of 3.50 over 253 outings (228 starts) and 1,702 1/3 total innings pitched. Per FanGraphs, he was the 14th-most valuable starting pitcher in baseball during that time period in terms of fWAR (28.0) while compiling two All-Star appearances and three top-six finishes in American League Cy Young voting.

In his lone postseason action with Boston in 1975, the Red Sox won all four games Tiant started in against the Athletics and Reds, although they did go on to fall to Cincinnati in the World Series that year.

Following the 1978 season, Tiant inked a two-year deal with the Yankees and went on to also pitch for the Pirates and Angels before calling it quits in 1982.

Inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997, Tiant currently serves as a special assignment instructor for the club.

 

Red Sox Could Play Games at Empty Fenway Park This Summer, per Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

Boston mayor Marty Walsh is open to the idea of the Red Sox playing games at Fenway Park this summer under two conditions: no fans would be allowed in the stands and the City of Boston would have have to sign off on “advanced health and safety protocols that protect not only the athletes, but also everyone else reporting to the workplace,” per The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman.

Speaking with Silverman in an over-the-phone interview earlier Friday, Walsh emphasized the safety of all parties involved in this challenging process.

“Yes, as long as the players and the teams and the support staff and all the people that are associated with it are safe and feel comfortable,” he said, “Obviously, their health is important to me as well, many of them are constituents of mine and even if they’re not constituents of mine, I obviously want people to be healthy and safe. That’s going to be the biggest challenge that they’re going to have to figure out and meet if they’re going to move forward here.”

Walsh mentioned how he had recently spoken with Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy. The two talked about MLB’s plan to get baseball back this year, although no specific dates to get the sport back have been set to this point in time.

Still, the league and its players association are hashing out negotiations about a potential return to baseball in 2020, and if an agreement is reached sooner rather than later, the City of Boston would have to ensure that MLB’s COVID-19 protocols meet its own.

“We want to see the plan,” Walsh said. “We’ll have our public health experts take a look at it and make sure that they feel like everything is covered that needs to be covered moving forward here…They’re personal teams and they have employees, and we want to make sure the teams and the employees are taking care of everything and looking through it all so that we can make sure if it does open it’s open in a safe way and the virus doesn’t spread.”

This applies to the Bruins and Celtics, whose respective seasons were abruptly suspended in March, as well.

Opening Fenway Park and the TD Garden back up to its tenants does not involve letting fans back in anytime soon, however. This is mainly due to the fact that we are still pretty far away from getting a vaccine.

Despite how unfortunate that may sound for fans across the city, Walsh is still looking forward to the return of professional sports. whenever that may be.

“I think if baseball could come back like we’re seeing in Taiwan and South Korea, I think that’s good for people to have a distraction,” Walsh said. “I think sports is one aspect of that. People have different reasons for distraction and sports is one, and I think it would help a lot of people’s psyches as far as having baseball and sports back.”

To get sports back at all though, one would assume that the City of Boston would have to open back up first. And until more information is gathered on the ever-changing coronavirus, that still might not be for quite some time.

Baseball America’s Latest 2020 MLB Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Arizona Catcher Austin Wells With Top Pick

In his fourth and most recent 2020 mock draft for Baseball America, Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking someone that has yet to be discussed on here with the 17th overall pick. That prospect’s name?

Austin Wells, C, University of Arizona

 

Collazo writes the following about Wells:

The Red Sox have to deal with losing their second round pick as a penalty of their sign stealing. They now have a $5,129,900 to spend which ranks 26th among the 30 teams’ bonus pools. That could make it riskier to take a draft-eligible sophomore like Wells who could have a high asking price, but after the run of college hitters in front of this pick, he’s the best bat on the board and would give Boston as close to a sure thing as you could hope for in the draft in this range.

Listed at 6’2″ and 220 lbs., Wells, a former 35th round selection of the Yankees out of high school back in 2018, is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 draft-eligible prospect.

Turning 21 years old in July, the Las Vegas native who hits from the left side of the plate slashed .375/.527/.589 with two home runs and 14 RBI over 15 games for the Wildcats this year before the college baseball season was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, Wells played in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, where he posted a .308/.389/.526 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 42 games played.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wells “showed that the bat is his calling card and potentially enough in its own right to make him a first round pick in his draft-eligible sophomore season.”

Yes, Wells is just a sophomore. And as Collazo mentions above, that might make him more of a challenge to sign for the right price since he could always return to Arizona for his junior season.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox took former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon with their top pick of the second round in last year’s amateur draft, so there should already be some familiarity there with Wells even if the team is under new baseball operations leadership.

Remember, in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer, the Red Sox will have approximately $3,609,700 to work with in slot money to sign their first-round pick, whoever it may be.

Wells is the second college backstop linked to the Sox ahead of this year’s five-round draft, which will be the shortest in the sport’s history.

Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal had Boston taking North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey in a first-round mock draft from last month.

 

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: Pete Crow-Armstrong and Ed Howard

In his latest 2020 mock draft for MLB.com, Jim Callis has the Red Sox taking high-school right-hander Mick Abel with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

You can read more about Abel, an 18-year-old out of Oregon, here, but what I found most interesting about Callis’ write-up on the righty was how he also linked two more draft-eligible prospects to the Red Sox in Pete Crow-Armstrong and Ed Howard.

“The Red Sox don’t appear to be going conservative despite losing their second-round choice for sign stealing,” Callis wrote. “Because they’re also in on Crow-Armstrong and Howard.”

Starting with Crow-Armstrong, the 18-year-old outfielder, listed at 6’1″ and 180 lbs., out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 20 draft-eligible prospect.

Harvard-Westlake is regarded as one of the best baseball schools in the country, producing major-league talents such as Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, and Max Fried in recent years.

Per his Prospects Live scouting report, Crow-Armstrong “is more quick than fast, but has elite instincts in center field with an above average arm and projects as an elite defensive value. He has shown more swing and miss than expected, but has a simple clean swing and his diamond kinetics is full of truly electric bat speed metrics that portend to more future power.”

Crow-Armstrong, who bats from the left side of the plate, was a member of Team USA in the U-18 Baseball World Cup last summer in South Korea, where he slashed .364/.405/.606 with four stolen bases and nune runs scored over nine games played.

Callis has the young outfielder going to the Diamondbacks with the 18th overall pick in his aforementioned mock draft.

It’s also worth mentioning that Crow-Armstrong is committed to play at Vanderbilit.

As for Howard, MLB Pipeline’s 15th-ranked draft-eligible prospect is regarded by Callis as “the best true shortstop in the draft.”

The 18-year-old out of Lynwood, Ill. hits from the right side of the plate, and according to Baseball America, “throws well from most angles and has the short-area quickness and range that scouts like to see from a shortstop.”

Listed at 6’2″ and 185 lbs., Howard “has a high floor for a prepster as a reliable performer with the chance for solid tools across the board,” per Callis.

Howard is a University of Oklahoma commit.

The 2020 MLB Draft is less than four weeks away and will be limited to just five rounds.

Due to their sign stealing in 2018, the Red Sox will be limited to just four draft picks in what will be chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s first draft at the helm in Boston.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, so that’s how much bonus money the Sox will have to work with to sign whoever they select with the pick.

According to my calculations, up to 10 prospects, including Crow-Armstrong and Howard, have been projected to land with the Red Sox in the first round of this year’s amateur draft.

At this point, if the Sox do not take one of Crow-Armstrong, Howard, Abel, Chris McMahon, Robert Hassell, Nick Bitsko, Patrick Bailey, Tanner Burns, Garrett Crochet, or Heston Kjerstad with the 17th overall pick, I will be somewhat surprised. But, what do i know?

For more draft-related content, check out the following links below:

Who Could Red Sox Target in First Round of This Year’s MLB Draft?

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Pure-Hitting High School Prospect With Top Pick

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking University of Miami Right-Hander Chris McMahon With Top Pick

Former Red Sox Star Mookie Betts Buys Groceries for Shoppers at Tennessee Supermarket

Under normal circumstances, former Red Sox star and current Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts would be about seven weeks into the 2020 season with his new club.

Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the MLB season on hold for the time being, Betts, like many across the country and world, are stuck at home for the most part.

While it’s still unclear how many games will be played or how much players will be paid this year, which is important in Betts’ case since he will become a free agent for the first time this winter, that is not stopping the 27-year-old from spreading some goodwill during these uncertain times.

According to WSMV-TV’s Chris Harris, Betts “surprised shoppers at the Kroger in Bordeaux, Tenn. by buying their groceries.” The Nashville native also “treated the staff at the store to pizza to thank them for all the hard work they have been doing as essential front-line workers.”

A very generous gesture from a very generous person. Remember, Betts supplied several trays of food to the homeless community outside of the Boston Public Library in the hours following Game 2 of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park.

He has also used his other passion, bowling, to raise money for various causes in Tennessee and New England in recent years.

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking University of Miami Right-Hander Chris McMahon With Top Pick

The start of the 2020 first-year player draft is exactly four weeks away, and in his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Keith Law has the Red Sox taking University of Miami right-hander Chris McMahon with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Law wrote the following about McMahon:

“McMahon is one of the safer college arms in the class, with solid performance and mid-rotation potential but without the upside of the college pitchers likely to go ahead of him (as well a few of those behind him, like Cade Cavalli or Cole Wilcox, who have more risk).”

Listed at 6’2″ and 205 lbs., McMahon is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 29 draft-eligible prospect.

The 21-year-old out of West Chester, Penn. was a former 33rd selection of the Braves back in 2017 coming out of high school, but he forwent signing with the club and instead honored his commitment to the Hurricanes.

Making four starts for Miami this season prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown, the junior posted a 1.05 ERA and .207 batting average against over 25 2/3 innings of work.

His pitching arsenal includes a 95-98 MPH fastball, a breaking ball that gets “caught in between” a curve and a slider, and a changeup that can “miss bats and get ground-ball outs.”

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, McMahon “combines athleticism, stuff, feel for pitching and command to make him a complete package. With an arm action that can be a little deep, he can get flat and gets hit more than he should. He got out front more consistently and didn’t leave pitches up for Team USA and early this spring, solidifying his spot as one of the more solid college arms in the class.”

The 17th overall pick in this year’s draft will have an assigned slot value of $3,609,700, so that’s how much signing bonus money the Red Sox will have to work with for whoever they do wind up selecting in the June draft.

On This Day in Red Sox History: Bobby Doerr Walks It off in First Televised Game at Fenway Park

On this day in 1948, the Red Sox played their first televised game at Fenway Park.

According to author Ed Walton, WBZ-TV, which was affiliated with NBC at the time, “tried out [experimental] cameras for the first time at Fenway” on that day with “few homes equipped yet with the expensive [television] sets.

There were two cameras used at Fenway, per TSN, and each was worth around $10,000. One camera was pointed towards the infield from behind home plate, while the other was pointed in the same direction from along the first base line.

The Red Sox, entering that Wednesday with a record of 8-11 on the young season, were playing host to the even worse-off White Sox in front of slightly over 8,200 spectators at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. I’m not sure how many were watching from home, but based off what Walton stated above, I’d say not many.

Nine full innings was not enough to decide this particular contest, as both sides headed to extras knotted up at three runs a piece.

That stalemate would not last long though, with Chicago jumping out to a 5-3 advantage on a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Bob Kennedy before Sox right-hander Cot Deal relieved Denny Galehouse and escaped the top half of the 10th without giving anything else up.

Down to their final three outs and at risk of falling to 8-12 on the year, Ted Williams got things started in his side’s half of the 10th by drawing a leadoff walk off White Sox reliever Earl Harrist.

The Splendid Splinter advanced all the way to third on a one-out single courtesy of Wally Moses, and just like that, the winning run came to the plate in the form of franchise legend Bobby Doerr.

Coming into that at-bat, Doerr was a lifetime .250 hitter (1-for-4) against Harrist, with that one hit being a triple.

This time around though, Doerr made sure to touch all the bases, as he took the White Sox right-hander deep to left for a three-run home run, plating Williams, Moses, and himself on his third home run of the season.

The walkoff blast improved the Sox’ record on the year to 9-11, and they would go on to have an exceptional season.

Although it’s not clear how well this game went in terms of television ratings or anything, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WNAC-TV (Channel 7) did begin regularly broadcasting both Boston Braves and Red Sox games beginning that June.