Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez Picks up First ‘MLB The Show’ Players League Win

After starting the MLB The Show Players League season with four consecutive losses out of the gate last Friday, Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez picked up his first win of the year in the first game he played on Tuesday night.

Headed into his second round of games having yet to score a single run, Rodriguez was first matched up against former Sox pitching prospect Ty Buttrey, who was representing the Los Angeles Angels.

Three innings, which is the standard length of game in this league, was not enough to determine a winner, so the two hurlers headed into extras deadlocked in a scoreless tie.

It wasn’t until the top half of the fifth inning when Rodriguez finally got on the board. There, controlling Mitch Moreland, he took Angels reliever Justin Anderson deep to dead center to break the stalemate.

A few moments later, Rodriguez again went yard with another left-handed hitter, this time mashing a two-run no-doubter off Anderson with Rafael Devers.

That two-run blast put Rodriguez and the Sox up 3-0, and after giving one back in the bottom half of the fifth, Matt Barnes was able to hold on to pick up the save in a 3-1 victory.

Rodriguez was finally able to get in the win column, but unfortunately, the rest of his night did not go as well.

That being the case because in the game immediately following the win over the Angels, the 27-year-old choked away a six-run lead against Rangers star Joey Gallo and ultimately got walked off on in the bottom half of the third inning in what would turn out to be a devastating 7-6 defeat. Gallo is 8-0, by the way.

From there, Rodriguez’s woes continued in a pair of home losses to Braves reliever Luke Jackson and Marlins reliever Ryne Stanek.

A night that started with so much promise ended in somber disappointment, and at 1-7, Rodriguez currently sits at the bottom of the league standings.

The Venezuela native now has 21 games remaining on the season and has plenty of ground to make up. He’s scheduled to play again on Friday night, where he will take on the Mets’ Jeff McNeil, the Tigers’ Niko Goodrum, the White Sox’ Lucas Giolito, and the Mariners’ Carl Edwards Jr.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for around 9 PM eastern time. You can follow Rodriguez on Twitch here.

What If the Red Sox Hit a Home Run in the First Round of Every MLB Draft From 2010 Until 2017?

Late last month, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement to cut down on spending in what will likely be a shortened 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting millions across the country and world.

Among the topics covered in said agreement was the 2020 amateur draft. According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, this year’s draft “will be cut to no fewer than five rounds (MLB can expand it if it so chooses and several scouting departments hold out hope that it could be expanded to 10 rounds). The draft will be held as early as the current June 10 start date and as late as July 20.”

Since 2012, the draft has consisted of 40 rounds, so up to 7/8ths of this year’s draft-eligible prospects could go undrafted if the 2020 draft is indeed only five rounds.

The Red Sox have been a team that has found success in the later rounds of the draft in recent years, so this cutback only means that they will have to be more spot on with the limited picks they have this year.

That notion, as well as this recent article from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, inspired me to look back at past drafts and ponder what could have been for the Sox if they were perfect, or nearly perfect, in the process.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with just the first round and begin with the 2010 amateur draft. Let’s get to it.

2010:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 20 Kolbrin Vitek, 3B Christian Yelich, 1B
1s 36 Bryce Brentz, OF Noah Syndergaard, RHP
1s 39 Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Nick Castellanos, 3B

Analysis: Vitek never made it past Double-A, Brentz has not appeared in a major-league game since 2016, and Ranaudo has been out of professional baseball for three years.

On the flip side, Yelich, who went to the Marlins with the 23rd overall pick in 2010, has emerged as one of the best outfielders in baseball and has finished first and second in National League MVP voting the past two seasons with the Brewers. Syndergaard, who went to Toronto with the 38th overall pick, has been solid with the Mets, while Castellanos, who went to Detroit with the 44th overall pick, earned himself a four-year, $64 million contract with the Reds back in January.

2011:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 19 Matt Barnes, RHP Mookie Betts, 2B
1 26 Blake Swihart, C Trevor Story, SS
1s 36 Henry Owens, LHP Blake Snell, LHP
1s 40 Jackie Bradley Jr., OF Mike Clevinger, RHP

Analysis: Barnes was far from a poor pick at No. 19 in 2011, but if Theo Epstein and Co. could do it all over again knowing what they know now, I’d assume they’d jump on the chance to take Betts early instead of waiting for the fifth round like they originally did.

Swihart and Owens, meanwhile, own career bWAR’s of -0.3 and 0.1 respectively. Since they were still on the board at the time Swihart and Owens were selected, Story, who has won Silver Slugger awards in each of the last two seasons with the Rockies, and Snell, who despite struggling last year is still a Cy Young Award winner in his own right, would have been better picks in hindsight.

As for the Sox’ last pick of the first round in 2011, Bradley Jr. was a pretty solid choice out of the University of South Carolina, but given how much the Sox have struggled to develop starting pitching, Clevinger, who posted a 2.49 FIP with the Indians last year, probably would have been the way to go.

2012:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 24 Deven Marrero, SS Alex Bregman, 2B
1s 31 Brian Johnson, LHP Matt Olson, 1B
1s 37 Pat Light, RHP Joey Gallo, 3B

Analysis: Marrero was regarded as one of the best infield prospects in the 2012 draft thanks to his glove. That defensive prowess stuck with him as he rose through the ranks of the Red Sox’ farm system, but he was really never able to put it together offensively.

Johnson was another well-regarded draft prospect, but he dealt with numerous on and off the field issues before making his major-league debut in 2015 and has since been taken off the Sox’ 40-man roster. It did look like he had a solid chance to make the team out of spring training before the league shut everything down, though.

As for Light, there’s not much to say, as he owns a lifetime 11.34 ERA over 17 major-league relief appearances between the Red Sox and Twins. He is a quality follow on Twitter, though, so I’ll give him that.

Turning to the ‘perfect’ picks, Bregman himself said he would have signed with the Sox if they took him with the 24th overall pick in 2012, but they didn’t. Instead, Boston took Bregman in the 29th round, and since he had already committed to LSU, the New Mexico native went the college route instead.

Olson and Gallo, meanwhile, were not taken off the board until the former was taken by the Athletics with the 47th overall pick and the latter was taken by the Rangers with the 39th overall pick.

2013:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 7 Trey Ball, LHP Aaron Judge, OF

Analysis: Trey Ball, man. Oof. The first left-handed pitcher taken off the board in 2013 never made it past Double-A and even tried to resurrect his career as an outfielder before his minor-league contract expired at the conclusion of last season.

Besides the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the best player taken in the first round of this draft to this point in time has been none other than Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who has mashed 110 home runs in his first 396 games in the majors. Would have been nice.

2014:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 26 Michael Chavis, SS Jack Flaherty, RHP
1 33 Michael Kopech, RHP Brian Anderson, 3B

Analysis: Chavis just made his major-league debut last April, while Kopech was a key piece in the blockbuster trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston back in 2017. It’s still too early to say where those two stand in terms of their paths to big-league relevancy. But, Flaherty emerged as a legitimate ace during the latter half of the 2019 campaign with the Cardinals and is still just 24 years old. Anderson, meanwhile, slashed .261/.342/.468 over 126 games with the Marlins last year.

2015:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 7 Andrew Benintendi, OF Walker Buehler, RHP

Analysis: As big of an Andrew Benintendi guy as I am, it’s pretty crazy that Walker Buehler was not off the board until the Dodgers took him with the 24th overall pick in 2015. It just goes to show how good Los Angeles is at drafting and developing their own talent.

2016:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 12 Jay Groome, LHP Pete Alonso, 1B

Analysis: Groome has pitched in just 20 professional games since signing with the Red Sox in July 2016. He missed the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery and he appeared in three games between the GCL Red Sox and short-season Lowell before last year’s minor-league campaign came to a close. He is still just 21 years old though, and is still ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Sox’ No. 7 overall prospect.

That is certainly encouraging, but after the season rookie first baseman Pete Alonso just put together for the Mets, where he crushed a record-setting 53 home runs and drove in 120 runs over 161 games last year, that certainly appears to have been the pick to make.

2017:

Round Pick No. Actual Pick Perfect’ Pick
1 24 Tanner Houck, RHP Nate Pearson, RHP

Analysis: Houck is developing at a solid pace and it looks like he’ll open the 2020 minor-league season, if there is one, as a member of the PawSox’ starting rotation.

Pearson, however, was taken by the Blue Jays shortly after the Sox selected Houck and has emerged as one of the brightest pitching prospects in all of baseball thanks in part to having a 100+ MPH fastball at his disposal.

Neither Houck or Pearson have made it to the majors yet, but as far as projections go, those seem to be favoring the 23-year-old Pearson rather than the 23-year-old Houck.

Pitchers: Noah Syndergaard, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Jack Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Nate Pearson

Catchers: None

Infielders: Trevor Story, Alex Bregman, Matt Olson, Brian Anderson, Pete Alonso

Outfielders: Christian Yelich, Nick Castellanos, Mookie Betts, Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge

16 players total, 10 All-Stars, two MVP Award winners, one Cy Young Award winner, one top pitching prospect, and no catchers.

It’s far from a complete roster, but it’s certainly a great place to start in terms of building through the draft.

Of course, the MLB draft is regularly regarded as a lottery, so it’s virtually impossible for any club to draft this well in a single year. This isn’t to say that this is how I expect the Red Sox to draft under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in the future, I just thought it would be fun to look back and go back in time to a certain extent. And you know what? It was fun.

American League Tops National League 4-3 in 90th Midsummer Classic as Red Sox’ Alex Cora Picks up Win in All-Star Managerial Debut

The American League All-Stars defeated the National League All-Stars by a final score of 4-3 on Tuesday night, taking home their seventh consecutive All-Star Game victory in the 90th installment of the Midsummer Classic in Cleveland.

The defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox were represented by three All-Stars in reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, as well as manager Alex Cora and the rest of Boston’s coaching staff.

Starting at designated hitter and batting out of the five-hole in place of the Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence, Martinez, now a three-time All-Star, went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before being pinch-hit for by Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach in the sixth inning.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, came on as a pinch-hitter himself, replacing Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows in the bottom of the seventh.

There, with no outs and runners on the corners, the now-two-time All-Star failed to pick up an RBI, but did push across an important insurance run at the time, scoring Oakland’s Matt Chapman from third while grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. That put the AL up 3-1 moments before Texas’ Joey Gallo added on to that lead with a solo homer off San Francisco Giants left-hander Will Smith.

Finally, Betts, now a four-time All-Star, did not record an at-bar in this one, but he did come on as a defensive replacement for Bogaerts in the top of the eighth, moved over to play right field in place of Meadows, and was on the field for the final out of the night when New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman secured the 4-3 victory for the American League with a five-pitch punchout of Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal.

Cleveland Indians right-hander Shane Bieber was named the game’s Most Valuable Player thanks to a 1-2-3 fifth inning in which he struck out the side on 19 pitches, marking the first time since 1999 a player from the host city’s team received the honors (Pedro Martinez, Red Sox).

All in all, it was a solid All-Star Week, the first for Red Sox manager Alex Cora, as a player or coach.

It’s not the first time Cora has come out on top against Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, either.

The Red Sox have two days off on Wednesday and Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against those aforementioned Dodgers on Friday night at Fenway Park. It will be their first game in Boston since June 26th.

As Betts put it when speaking with reporters postgame Tuesday night, “Can’t wait to get home.”