Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo, Jarren Duran team up, bring in mariachi band to perform as part of presentation on Mexico

Red Sox outfielders Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran will soon be heading out to Arizona to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. To mark the occasion, manager Alex Cora instructed the pair to give a presentation on the country to the rest of their teammates on Monday.

As part of that presentation, a five-piece mariachi band performed inside the clubhouse and later on while players stretched and played catch on the field. They even played Verdugo’s walk-up song, “Volver, Volver” by Vicente Fernandez.

Verdugo, whose father Joe is from Mexico, took charge of the assignment. The 26-year-old put together an informational poster board that included facts about the country’s history, the origins of its flag, and some of its most accomplished baseball stars like Fernando Valenzuela and Vinny Castilla.

“It was on, I think Friday, when we got hit with it,” Verdugo told reporters (including’s Ian Browne) on Monday. “AC had a meeting and at the end of it, asked me and Duran to do a presentation on Mexico. I just got the ball rolling and obviously I knew I had to make a poster with some facts on it. But I think the big thing that kind of got everybody excited was having the mariachi band here.”

Verdugo was then asked how one goes about finding a mariachi band in southwest Florida?

“Google. You just Google them and we found them,” Verdugo said of the group, Mariachi Villa de Guadalupe. “They were out of Cape Coral. They were able to drive out here and help me out. It was great. They were great, honestly. I was a little nervous, obviously being in Fort Myers and I was like, ‘I hope they’re good,’ you know what I mean? But they were great and it came out really good.”

Verdugo said he began working on the poster following Sunday’s 7-6 Grapefruit League win over the Rays at JetBlue Park. While most veteran players will head home as soon as they are subbed out during spring games, Verdugo — who played the first five innings on Sunday — remained at the Fenway South complex well into the evening.

“I didn’t leave here until 6 p.m.,” said Verdugo. “I was taking advantage of the printers and everything that they have here. It was hard work, but it felt good and it was rewarding to kind of see the guys, the clubhouse, everybody, just really enjoy it. It was fun.”

Though he certainly does not lack confidence on the field, Verdugo did acknowledge that he felt some angst building up before and during the oral part of the presentation.

“Yeah, I felt so nervous. I don’t usually mind talking in front of the group if it’s all just jokes and fun. But as soon as I had to be a little bit serious, my heart was racing,” he said. “I was more nervous there than I was in the postseason or any type of baseball atmosphere.”

Verdugo, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous Mookie Betts trade three years ago, is preparing for his fourth season with the Red Sox. Despite the fact that he is still two-plus months shy of turning 27, he is already the fourth-longest tenured player on the team behind only Chris Sale, Rafael Devers, and Ryan Brasier.

“Dugie, he’s been here since ’20,” Cora said. “He’s an important part of what we’re trying to accomplish and you see what he’s done physically and where he’s at.”

Duran, meanwhile, undertook a supporting role in the presentation before going 2-for-2 with a double and home run in Monday’s 4-1 win victory over the Twins to kick off the 2023 Chairman’s Cup. Like Verdugo, the 26-year-old Duran’s father, Octavio, hails from Mexico.

“We did our part. [Verdugo] did a lot of the research,” said Duran. “I just had a little acting skit going. I was doing some acting on the side.”

Regarding Duran and the presentation as a whole, Cora remarked: “Obviously Jarren is a kid that we appreciate and we expect a lot from him. And just for them to step up and be [out of their comfort zone] doing this [was good]. They did their research. And it was actually a great day for us in the clubhouse.”

Based on photos posted on the Red Sox’ social media accounts, it appears as though some of the more established veterans on the team, such as Kiké Hernández, Justin Turner, and Corey Kluber, enjoyed the show.

“That’s what it’s all about, right?” Cora said, via The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham. “I know [people] are questioning the clubhouse and leadership and what we’re doing there. We’re going to do stuff to get to where we’re supposed to.”

With Monday’s team-building exercise in the books as a rousing success, Cora indicated that one of the club’s other WBC participants could give a similar kind of presentation some time next week.

“We’ve got a few guys who are going to the tournament,” said Cora. “I’ll probably tell Kiké to do something to talk about Puerto Rico, so we’ll see.”

(Picture of Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Right-hander Aldo Ramirez ‘most underrated’ prospect in Red Sox farm system, according to MLB front offices

In his most recent work for The Athletic, former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden writes that he reached out to all 30 major-league front offices “to  uncover the most underrated and undervalued prospects” in baseball for 2021.

By doing this, Bowden identified 30 under-the-radar prospects across the minor-leagues.

Who from the Red Sox’ minor-league pipeline made this exclusive list? None other than rising right-hander Aldo Ramirez.

“Ramirez performed well in the New York/Penn League in 2019 as an 18-year-old, as shown by his 63 strikeouts and 16 walks in 61.2 innings,” writes Bowden. “However, he was noticeably stronger this year in instructional league, with his fastball up to 96 mph with riding life. He’s a physical, athletic pitcher with a repeatable delivery and a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball, curveball and changeup. He profiles as a future mid-rotation-type starter.”

Regarded by as Boston’s No. 10 prospect (No. 5 among pitchers), Ramirez was one of the stars of the club’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

The 19-year-old hurler, originally signed out of the Mexican League for $550,000 in 2018, “was the consensus top pitcher at Red Sox Fall Instructs,” according to SoxProspects‘ director of scouting Ian Cundall.

“Ramirez sat 92-95 mph [with his fastball], with a potential plus changeup at 85-89 mph and average curveball at 77-81 mph,” Cundall wrote of the young righty last month. “His changeup is a potential weapon and could develop into a plus-to-better pitch given he already shows advanced feel for it and has a lot of confidence in it.”

Bowden gave the following scouting grades (20-80 scale) for each of Ramirez’s three pitches as well as his control and command:

Fastball: 60
Curveball: 55
Changeup: 50
Control: 50
Command: 45

After missing out on a minor-league season to further continue his development in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez — who is listed at 6-foot, 180 lbs. — is projected to begin the 2021 campaign with Low-A Salem as a member of their starting rotation.

A starting role is one the fiery right-hander could maintain for the foreseeable future, too.

“[Ramirez] has a very good chance to remain a starter and has already shown solid strike-throwing ability,” Cundall added. “[He] was on the younger side of the arms in camp but is remarkably polished for his age and gives the Red Sox someone to dream on as a back-end starter with a chance for more given his youth and constantly improving stuff.” 

(Photo of Aldo Ramirez: Kelly O’Connor/