Austin Brice to Make First Career Start for Red Sox in Series Finale Against Yankees

Right-hander Austin Brice will make his first career major-league start for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Sunday night, manager Ron Roenicke announced following Saturday’s 5-2 defeat in the Bronx.

This announcement comes as the No. 5 spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation is due up next. Last time through, left-hander Josh Osich served as the opener out of the No. 4 spot this past Monday, while fellow southpaw Matt Hall was lined up to be more of a traditional starter in the No. 5 spot, but only lasted 2 2/3 innings against the Mets this past Tuesday.

Now, as Boston is about to complete their second turn through the rotation, it will be the 28-year-old Brice getting the call to open against the vaunted Yankees to close out the weekend.

Originally acquired by the Sox in a minor trade with the Marlins back in January, Brice has never started a game at the major-league level since making his debut with Miami in 2016. However, the former ninth-round draft pick out of high school in 2010 has made 114 career starts at the minor-league level.

The last time Brice was a full-time starter was during the 2015 season, when in 25 outings and 125 1/3 innings pitched with Double-A Jacksonville, the North Carolina native who was actually born in Hong Kong posted a 4.67 ERA and 4.19 xFIP, per FanGraphs.

According to Roenicke, the plan is to have Brice go the first one or two innings on Sunday before dispatching up to six to seven relievers rather than a “bulk-inning guy.” This comes as the Red Sox have an off day in Tampa Bay following Sunday’s series finale against New York.

“We will see where we are. But the bulk-inning guy, if we’re scoring runs and it’s tight, probably won’t be as long as what we normally do,” Roenicke told reporters Saturday. “I think that off day the next day (Monday) certainly helps us to bring in some of the guys to keep it tighter instead of going maybe three or four innings with somebody.”

In what will be his first start and fifth overall appearance as a member of the Red Sox, Brice will enter Sunday’s contest with a 7.71 ERA and 7.81 FIP through his first 4 2/3 innings pitched of 2020.

‘You Do Not Go Into Nightclubs. You Do Not Go Into Bars’; Red Sox Players Will Not Be Allowed to Do Certain Things While on Road Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

After Tuesday night’s game against the Mets, the Red Sox will hit the road for the first time this season. The club’s first road trip of 2020 includes stops in Queens, the Bronx, and Tampa Bay. With all that traveling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic comes a great deal of responsibility for players and staff alike, especially in Florida, which has emerged as one of the hot spots for coronavirus in recent weeks.

When speaking with reporters prior to Monday’s series opener against New York, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke detailed a Zoom meeting the team held to inform players what they can and cannot do on the road. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was also involved.

“We’re going on the road. We need to be careful with what we do,” Roenicke said regarding his team’s upcoming travels. “We are talking about different cities and who’s more at risk doing things in certain areas. New York has done a good job. You may be okay walking to a place there more than you would be in Florida.”

Earlier Monday, it was revealed that at least 14 Miami Marlins players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19, which led the club to cancelling their home opener against the Orioles while they remain in self-isolation in Philadelphia, where they spent the weekend playing the Phillies.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker, there have been nearly 419,000 total coronavirus cases in the state of Florida thus far, which is second-most in the Untied States behind only California.

With all that information in mind, playing baseball games in Florida, whether it be in Miami or Tampa Bay, will obviously raise concerns among MLB players and staff while cases continue to rise.

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox will be arriving in Florida next week for a brief-two-game set against the Rays. With an off day on the Monday before that series begins, it will be imperative that the Sox follow the proper virus-related protocols. Roenicke said as much when speaking with reporters earlier.

“You do not go into nightclubs. You do not go into bars,” he stated when recounting what was told to the players in Monday’s Zoom meeting. “To be a hermit and stay in your room for the whole time and just go to the ballpark and stay home, it’s hard to tell a player they have to do it.”

With all the virus-related issues that have sprung up in the past 24 hours, more players may be leaning towards opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season. Roenicke, however, is hopeful that if the Red Sox can make players feel more comfortable, then they will not have to worry about that possibility.

“I don’t want to make them fearful of going on the road and playing. We’ve done a good job so far,” said the Sox skipper. “The more we keep them safe, the more comfortable they feel. We can continue on with this.”

Again, the Red Sox will be departing Boston for New York on Tuesday night. Hopefully we’ll still have a Major League Baseball season to talk about by then.

 

 

Red Sox Sign University of Miami Ace Brian Van Belle

Since the window to sign undrafted free agents opened on Sunday morning, the Red Sox have signed 10 undrafted free agents, the most among all clubs, according to Baseball America.

The most notable of these additions to this point, at least in terms of BA’s draft-eligible prospect rankings, was made earlier Monday in the form of University of Miami (Fla.) right-hander Brian Van Belle.

Van Belle, 23, was regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked senior in this year’s draft class.

The former JuCo product out of Pembroke Pines posted a 0.68 ERA and .168 batting average against over four starts and 26 1/3 innings of work as the Hurricanes’ ace in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listed at 6’2″ and 187 lbs., Van Belle underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 while a freshman in junior college and wound up missing his entire sophomore season because of it.

He transferred to Miami from Broward College in October 2017, and emerged as the Hurricanes’ Friday night starter on a team that featured two 2020 early-round draft picks in the form of Slade Cecconi and Chris McMahon.

Per SoxProspects‘ Ian Cundall, Van Belle’s pitching arsenal includes a fastball that can top out at 93 MPH as well as a quality circle changeup.

As is the case with all undrafted free agents, the most the Red Sox can sign Van Belle for is $20,0000.

Here are the other nine undrafted prospects the Red Sox have signed since Sunday.

 

Red Sox Acquire Reliever Austin Brice From Marlins, Designate Marco Hernandez for Assignment

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Austin Brice for the Miami Marlins in exchange for shortstop prospect Angeudis Santos. In a corresponding move, utility infielder Marco Hernandez was designated for assignment to make room for Brice on Boston’s 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Friday.

Brice, 27, was designated for assignment by the Marlins this past Tuesday after posting a 3.43 ERA and 4.79 xFIP over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings of work in 2019 in his second stint with Miami.

The former 2010 ninth-round pick was originally drafted by the Marlins and was part of the trade that sent Luis Castillo the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Dan Straily back in January 2017.

From that point, Brice spent a short amount of time with the Angels and Orioles before being claimed off waivers by Miami prior to the start of the 2019 campaign.

Per Statcast, Brice, who was the first player born in Hong Kong to appear in the majors, relies on a four-pitch arsenal that includes a curveball, four-seam fastball, sinker, and changeup. He averaged 93.1 MPH with his heater last year.

Since he is out of minor-league options, Brice will have to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster if he does not want to be exposed to waivers.

Brice now joins left-hander Josh Osich and right-hander Chris Mazza as bullpen additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made either through trades or the waiver wire this offseason.

As for the minor-league shortstop the Red Sox parted ways with, Angeudis Santos is an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic who Boston signed for $110,000 in September 2018. He slashed just .184/.384/.218 with four extra-base hits and 13 RBI over 56 games with one of the Sox’ Dominican Summer League teams last year.

Turning to Hernandez now, it has probably been a frustrating offseason for the 27-year-old. Back on December 2nd, he was non-tendered by Boston, Two days later, the club brought him back on a split contract to save approximately $50,000.

Now that Hernandez has been designated for assignment, I am sure the Red Sox would like to bring him back as depth if he sneaks through waivers. We’ll have to wait and see on that though since he could be traded or claimed by another team in the next seven days.

Potential Red Sox Target Sergio Romo Goes Back to Twins on One-Year Deal

The Minnesota Twins have reportedly brought back right-handed reliever Sergio Romo on a one-year deal, $5 million deal that includes a club option for 2021, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Romo was seen as someone the Red Sox had interest in as recently as last week, but the 36-year-old ultimately winds up back with the club that acquired him from the Miami Marlins this past July.

In 65 relief appearances between Miami and Minnesota in 2019, Romo posted a 3.43 ERA and 3.68 FIP over 60 1/3 innings pitched.

Before that, the California native spent the latter half of the 2017 season and all off 2018 with the Rays, where he became the team’s first “opener” and started five games in ’18.

That’s where the Red Sox-related speculation comes in. Because at the time Romo was traded from the Dodgers to Tampa Bay in July 2017, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was serving as the Rays’ senior vice president of baseball operations.

In addition to that connection, Bloom’s right-hand man and Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran said during last week’s Winter Meetings that an opener is something Boston would be “open-minded” about.

Obviously, Romo is out of the question now, but that should not stop Bloom and Co. from pursuing other bullpen options that could also open for the Red Sox when needed.

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Goes 1-For-2 with Seventh Inning Single in 2019 All-Star Futures Game

In his first ever MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran went 1-for-2 with a single after entering as a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Selected to the showcase on June 28th, Duran bounced out to second in his first at-bat against Padres prospect Adrian Morejon to lead off the sixth.

An inning later, after the AL side had tied things up at two on a one-out, two-run home run from Sam Huff, Duran came to the plate with the potential winning run at second following an Isaac Parades double and the chance to walk it off.

Facing off against Rockies prospect Ben Bowden this time around, Duran nearly came through with a line-drive, opposite field hit to left on a 2-0 four-seamer, but the ball tailed off to foul territory.

Instead, the 22-year-old settled for a bloop single to left on a 3-2, 93 MPH heater from Bowden, one that left fielder Alek Thomas kept in front of him to hold Parades at third.

Another Padres prospect in the form of right-hander Luis Patino came in for Bowden after that Duran base hit, and this contest finished in a 2-2 after eight competitive frames.

Ranked as the ninth-best prospect in Boston’s system, Duran has slashed .240/.298/.298 with five doubles, one triple, six stolen bases, and six RBI in 30 games since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland on June 3rd.

2019 is Duran’s first full season in professional baseball after being selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2018 amatuer draft, so to make the Futures Game this quickly is surely a promising step for the young outfielder.

On another note, Miami Marlins sixth-ranked prospect Isan Diaz, a 23-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico who moved to Springfield at the age of four and attended Central High School, went 0-for-3 with a walk for the National League squad.

RECAP: Eduardo Nunez Walks It off in the Ninth as #RedSox Bounce Back Multiple Times to Put an End to Losing Streak.

Coming off their worst weekend of the season and an off-day on Monday, the Red Sox welcomed the National League East’s Miami Marlins into town for a quick two-game interleague series before heading back out on the road later this week.

Getting the start for Boston in this opening game was Brian Johnson, his 11th of the season, who also started against the Marlins back on April 2nd, where he allowed just one run to score in six quality innings of work in a 7-3 win for Boston.

Only pitching into the fifth in this one, the left-hander once again gave up one run while scattering five hits and a lone walk to go along with three punch outs on the night.

What cost Johnson that one earned run came in the top half of the third, when with one out and the bases empty, Marlins rookie outfielder Isaac Galloway launched his second home run of the season to pull this game even at one run a piece.

Other than that, the Florida native certainly dealt with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, but he did a solid job of limiting what the Marlins could get off him. Especially when you consider that Starlin Castro led the fourth inning off with a triple and could not come around to score.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (44 strikes), Johnson’s night came to a conclusion after giving up a one out single to Rafael Ortega.

Out of those 73 pitches, the 27-year-old relied on his four-seam fastball 48% of the time on Tuesday and topped out at 91.9 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.

Unable to pick up the win due to the length of his outing and the fact that the Red Sox had a bit of a meltdown later on, Johnson will look to build on this so-so start in his next time out, which will be coming against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves a night to forget from the eighth inning on.

Up until that point, Brandon Workman, with the help of Blake Swihart, and Joe Kelly looked decent in their combined 2.2 scoreless frames of relief.

Once Matt Barnes took the mound to begin the eighth though, well, let’s just say things got ugly real quick.

Entering the inning with a 4-1 lead, Barnes allowed two of the first three hitters he faced to reach, including back-to-back homers off the bats of JT Realmuto and Starlin Castro to pull the Marlins back to even.

Six batters and one pitching change later, with the bases loaded and Heath Hembree in for Barnes, it was Rafael Ortega who struck again, as his one out, two RBI single gave his club a brand new 6-4 lead before the side was retired.

In the ninth, moments after the Red Sox had jumped out to a one-run lead of their own, Craig Kimbrel could not shut the door on the Marlins.

Nope, he allowed three of the six batters he faced to reach, which led to Miami scoring what looked to be the go-ahead run on a Magneuris Sierra RBI single. Just demoralizing.

Thanks to efforts from his team in the bottom half of the inning though, Kimbrel did manage to notch his fourth winning decision of the season while also collecting his fourth blown save. Granted, he has not pitched much recently, but it’s still not a great look.

To summarize, here’s the final pitching line from Red Sox relievers after the seventh inning:

2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. That’s a 27.00 ERA, which is far from ideal.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Marlins right-hander Jose Urena, who held Boston to one run in seven innings in his only other start against them back on April 3rd. That is not how things went on August 28th, though.

Starting the long night of scoring was Ian Kinsler, whose one out RBI single to plate Xander Bogaerts from third put the Red Sox on the board first.

An inning later, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts both reached base to leadoff the third, which set up Andrew Benintendi for an ideal scoring spot.

On a 1-2 96 MPH fastball from Urena, Benintendi ripped a RBI double to right field, driving in Bradley Jr. to retake the lead at 2-1.

With Mookie Betts advancing to third on the play, Xander Bogaerts was able to score the outfielder on a sacrifice fly to left. 3-1.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Eduardo Nunez made some noise by mashing his eight big fly of the year, a 380 foot shot hit just over the top of the Green Monster to increase his team’s lead to three runs.

After Miami went off for five runs in their half of the eighth, the Red Sox responded right away with a rally of their own in their half of the same inning.

With hard-throwing reliever Tayron Guerrero on the mound for the Marlins, three of the first four Boston hitters reached to load the bases with one out for Blake Swihart, who struck out on six pitches.

Fortunately, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through big time, as with the count full, he delivered with a two RBI single to drive in a pair of runs to tie this game up.

Next up was Mookie Betts, who came to the plate with runners on the corners and got ahead in the count against Guerrero at 3-1.

On the very next pitch of the at bat, Guerrero sailed a 98 MPH fastball right over Betts’ head and that allowed Ian Kinsler to slide in and score what appeared to be the run that would finally put an end to this losing streak.

That would not be the case however, and it was not until with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth where this marathon of a game would finally come to an end.

With Drew Steckenrider pitching, Eduardo Nunez came to the plate with one big hit under his belt already, and he came up clutch without recording a base knock in his final at bat.

 

Yup, a game-winning force out that probably should have been an inning-ending double play but was not because of a throwing error committed by JT Riddle at shortstop.

With the ball rolling all the way to the camera well, JD Martinez had no problem scoring from second, and just like that, this game was over.

A fitting end to a game as ugly as this one, but nonetheless, the Red Sox losing streak has come to an end at three. They remain as the only team this season to have yet drop four consecutive contests.

Some notes from this 8-7 win:

Including last night, JD Martinez is slashing .405/.488/.568 with one home run and six RBI.

Dating back to July 27th, Craig Kimbrel has surrendered runs in five of his last 10 relief appearances and owns a 5.23 ERA over that span.

In his last 10 appearances, Matt Barnes has given up 10 earned runs in only 9.1 innings pitched.

Heath Hembree has allowed eight runs to cross the plate (six earned) on 10 hits in his last 7.1 innings of work going back to the fifth of August.

In hopes of picking up the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be the red-hot David Price toeing the rubber for the Red Sox.

Since the All-Star break, Price owns a 1.09 ERA over his last six starts. The Red Sox are also unbeaten in Price’s last eight starts.

Only making four starts against the Marlins in his 11-year career, the recently turned 33-year-old hurler owns a 3.42 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched to go along with a 1-3 record in those outings.

Opposite Price will be rookie right-hander Trevor Richards for Miami, who made his first career big league start against the Red Sox on April 2nd, where, in less than five innings pitched, he surrendered five earned runs on eight hits in a losing effort.

Since then, Richards has had a solid rookie campaign for himself, as he owns a 3.94 ERA and .250 BAA in 17 starts and 91.1 innings pitched.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET Wednesday.

VERY LATE RECAP: Hanley Ramirez’s Go-Ahead 2 RBI Double Gives #RedSox the 4-2 Win in Extras.

Well I am very late with this recap blog. The game ended about 20 hours ago, so my thoughts on the game aren’t that fresh anymore. Instead of breaking down the entire game like I usually do, I guess I’ll just give the SparkNotes version of what went down last night to go along with some videos.

Chris Sale tossed five innings last night and gave up one run.

Jackie Bradley Jr. made a fantastic catch.

JD Martinez drove in the first run of the game in the top of the first for his second RBI of the season.

After the Marlins tied the game in the fourth, the next run of the game was not scored until the top of the eleventh, when Andrew Benintendi drove in Eduardo Nunez from second with a one out RBI single, his first of the season.

Later in that inning, it looked like Matt Barnes was about to get the save for the Red Sox, but he allowed the tying run to score. Luckily, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts were able to get Justin Bour out at the plate, leaving the game tied heading to the twelfth.

Hanley Ramirez continued his mean streak against his former team, as he finished the game with two hits, including this very clutch two-run double in the top of the thirteenth.

That would all but lock up the victory for the Red Sox in this one. Heath Hembree was rewarded with his first win of the year, thanks to the two shutout innings he pitched. Here’s his last pitch:

Before I forget, JBJ was not the only center fielder to make an impressive catch last night. Marlins rookie Lewis Brinson robbed Mookie Betts of  a potential go-ahead solo blast back in the eleventh.

Impressive to say the least. Good thing the Marlins never got the chance to capitalize on it.

Five straight wins for the Red Sox heading into Opening Day at Fenway Park. I will not be there, but I will be watching. And I will have a normal recap blog to post after, hopefully.

Okay, that will do it for this shortened recap. Shoutout Hanley Ramirez, the real Mr. 305. Dale!

 

RECAP: Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts Both Go Yard as #RedSox Win Fourth Straight.

Making a quick stop in South Beach, the Red Sox looked to take advantage of their matchup against a Marlins team not expected to do much this season. In the first of their two game set, Brian Johnson was matched up against Trevor Richards, who was making his Major League debut for Miami.

Like Hector Velazquez, Johnson is most likely an injury fill-in in the Red Sox rotation. The former Florida Gator got the job done on Monday, as he allowed one earned run over six full innings pitched, striking out five along the way. There were times where it looked like the Marlins were about to get to Johnson, since they did reach base eight times on him, but the southpaw avoided any major damage. The only run he gave up came on a solo shot off the bat of third baseman Brian Anderson in the second inning, which put the Marlins up 1-0 at the time. When he departed after retiring the side in the sixth, Johnson had thrown 82 pitches, 49 of which went for strikes.

The Red Sox only needed two relief pitchers to wrap up the win last night. Heath Hembree tossed a scoreless seventh inning, and Marcus Walden allowed two runs to score while pitching the last two innings. Not a great look for Walden, honestly. He has got hit pretty hard in the two games he has pitched in, but he was able to finish the game. The Red Sox did not have to go to Craig Kimbrel in this one, that’s always  a good thing when you can save him for more appearances later in the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup had its best day of the season so far. They scored a season high seven runs on 12 hits and three walks. After Trevor Richards held them scoreless through the first three innings, the bats woke up in the fourth. With two outs in the inning, Xander Bogaerts got the rally started with an infield single down the third base line. Eduardo Nunez then drove Bogaerts in from first on an RBI double. A Jackie Bradley Jr. walk set up Christian Vazquez for an ideal RBI opportunity with runners on first and second. On the first pitch he saw, the catcher ripped a line drive down the third base line, scoring both Nunez and Bradley for his first RBIs of the season.

In the very next inning, the Red Sox tacked on two more runs to up their total to five. With one out and Andrew Benintendi at first thanks to his first hit of the season, Hanley Ramirez did some damage. The former Marlin must enjoy playing in Miami, because he looked really comfortable at the plate and at first base last night.

On a 1-1 slider, Ramirez took Richards deep to left field for his first long ball of the season, putting his team up by four runs.

Ramirez guaranteed a 30 HR, 30 SB season earlier in Spring Training, and he’s only 29 home runs and 28 stolen bases away from that now with the performance he put on last night.

Hanley wouldn’t be the only one to hit his first home run of the year. Fast forward to the top of the seventh, and Mookie Betts went yard to left field as well. He golfed it to put the Red Sox up by five at the time.

The last run the Red Sox scored came two innings later. Wanting to add to his team high of four RBI’s, Rafael Devers ripped a double to center for his second hit of the game, scoring Hanley Ramirez from from second after he stole his second base of the season, and all but guaranteeing the win for his club.

That makes four straight wins for the Red Sox, and by all means they should be 5-0. That’s in the past though, so I’ll take 4-1. Through their first go around in the rotation, Red Sox starters own a line of 30 IP, 22 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, and 28 K’s. With two-fifths of their regular starters missing, those are some impressive numbers.

Chris Sale gets the start an hour earlier than usual tonight. He’ll be squaring off against Marlins “ace” Jose Urena. First pitch is at 6:10 PM.

Also, almost forgot to mention the fact that the greatest Designated Hitter of all time was in attendance for last night’s win.

 

The #RedSox Would Be a Good Fit for Marcell Ozuna.

This might sound bias because I have an odd affection for the Miami Marlins, but I really like Marcell Ozuna. At 27 years old, the Dominican born outfielder is coming off the best season of his career. In 159 games, Ozuna mashed 37 home runs to go along with 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS. It went unnoticed because of Giancarlo Stanton, but Ozuna was something special. In fact, the past two seasons for Ozuna have been more consistent compared to his first three. If he can put up the type of power numbers he had with Marlins Park as his home ballpark, just imagine what he can do with Fenway Park as his home ballpark.

Baseball Reference has Ozuna projected to decline in 2018, which is something to take into account considering he has had consistency issues in the past. If I am Dave Dombrowski though, I want this guy on my team. I would gladly substitute Jackie Bradley Jr. for Ozuna. Ozuna is a few months younger and only has one less year of control than Bradley. The Red Sox would more than likely have to throw in some prospects as well, but I can’t imagine any of them would be well-known anyway.

With this trade, the Red Sox would be sacrificing great defense, but they would be getting a much better hitter in return. Depending on the extent of their offseason plans, Ozuna could play out in the field or DH as well. It’s well-known that the Red Sox are in need of a power bat, pursuing a trade for Ozuna may be a better option than throwing hundreds of millions of dollars for top free agents. I know there are Red Sox fans out there who would want both Ozuna and JD Martinez, but I think I rather just have Ozuna. However, if Dave Dombrowski does not plan on pursuing Bryce Harper next winter, then the best thing to do would probably be to sign Martinez as well. The Red Sox can not just sit and watch as the Yankees make franchise-altering moves, something needs to be done.