#RedSox Manager Alex Cora on Pitching Prospect Durbin Feltman: “He’s a Work in Progress, but He’ll Be a Good One”

Durbin Feltman retired the only three hitters he faced in order on Thursday night in a perfect ninth inning of work to secure a 8-0 Red Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In three relief appearances and 2.2 total innings of work this spring, the 21-year-old right-hander has yet to surrender a run on one hit and three walks to go along with five strikeouts.

Those numbers may look good on paper, but according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Feltman still has some things to work on.

He’s still learning,” Cora said Thursday night. “Delivery-wise there are a few things Dana (LeVangie) has noticed. He’s a work in progress, but he’ll be a good one.”

The Red Sox selected Feltman out of Texas Christian University with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.

In his first professional season, Feltman posted a miniscule 1.93 ERA over 22 relief appearances and 23.1 innings pitched between Single-A affiliates Lowell, Greenville, and Salem. He also recorded 36 strikeouts over that span while holding opponents to a .207 batting average against.

Compared to just the five walks he allowed in the minors last year, the free passes have been somewhat of an issue this spring, as the Texas native is averaging more than 12 walks per nine innings in 2019, albeit a small sample size.

Still, Feltman, who is ranked as Boston’s fifth-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has received a fair share of attention at Fenway South.

Given the likelihood he starts his first full professional season in Double-A Portland, it would not be all that surprising if we see the hard-throwing righty up with the big league club at some point later in the year if he continues to impress out of the bullpen in the minors.

The potential is certainly there, but one thing the Red Sox don’t want to do is rush Feltman’s development. The same could also be said for the club’s top pitching prospect in Darwinzon Hernandez.

Both Feltman and Hernandez have opened eyes this spring, but that does not necessarily mean they are ready to contribute on the biggest stage right now.

Granted, with the way the Red Sox bullpen is shaping out, the two could be needed sooner rather than later, but I rather see how they fare without being rushed up to Boston.

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Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits, One RBI as #RedSox Cruise past Rays in Shutout Fashion

The Red Sox improved to 10-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday evening following an 8-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in their first and only contest under the lights at JetBlue Park this spring.

Making his fifth appearance (fourth start) of the spring in this one was Hector Velazquez.

Working the first two innings, the hybrid right-hander held Tampa Bay scoreless while scattering just two hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts.

In total, Velazquez faced eight Rays hitters and retired six of them to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 7.84.

From the top of the third inning on, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, and Durbin Feltman combined to toss seven frames of shutout ball on a pair of hits, six walks, and 12 punch outs on the night.

Hernandez, responsible for the third, tip-toed his way around three free passes and avoided any damage by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out to Dustin Pedroia to retire the side.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, picked up where he left off against the Twins on Monday by fanning three straight Rays in order in a sharp fourth inning of work.

And to wrap this win up, Feltman struck out one in a fairly simple 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Hunter Wood to start things off.

Rafael Devers, batting third, was the offensive catalyst in this one, as his GIDP with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts on the corners in the first plated Boston’s first run of the night.

Fast forward to the third, and Devers was at it again, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart on a hard-hit two-run triple to right field off Rays reliever Adam Kolarek.

One pitching change that saw ex-Athletics hurler Emilio Pagan take over later, JD Martinez made it a 4-0 game with a scorcher of an RBI double off the Fenway South Green Monster.

The two-time 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner would come around to score on a Joey Wendle fielding error off a ground ball from Brock Holt, who would score himself on a Dustin Pedroia RBI base knock. And just like that, it was 6-0 Boston.

Three innings later, back-to-back singles from Pedroia and Bradley Jr. in the sixth would result in Boston’s final two runs of the evening crossing the plate on a two-run double off the bat of prospect Ryan Fitzgerald to make it an 8-0 game, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In his first game since it was revealed that he would not be ready for Opening Day, Pedroia went 2/3 with his first RBI of the spring on Thursday.

Through 43 plate appearances this spring, Devers is slashing .395/.409/.605 with one home run, two doubles, and six RBI.

Brewer, who was responsible for the sixth, also struck out the side in order in his lone frame of relief.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in the final installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

2019 Opening Day starter Chris Sale is set to toe the rubber for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Gibson will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Last Friday without meaningful baseball for the next seven months. That’s what I like to see.

 

 

#RedSox Split St. Patrick’s Day Split-Squad Doubleheader Against Pirates and Rays

The Red Sox both improved and fell to 8-14-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a St. Patrick’s Day split-squad split, with the 3-2 win coming at JetBlue Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 8-1 defeat coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

Beginning with the contest against the Rays, David Price was originally scheduled to make his second start of the spring against his old club, but the left-hander was scratched Sunday morning due to illness.

In his place, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson, who was going to pitch anyway, surrendered two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and walks to go along with three strikeouts in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Johnson faced 13 Rays hitters on the afternoon, retiring eight of them while allowing five to reach base before getting the hook with one out to get in the top half of the third.

From there, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Adam Lau, Colten Brewer, Jenrry Mejia, Durbin Feltman, Hunter Smith, and Eduard Bazardo combined to hold Tampa Bay scoreless over the final 6.1 frames on Sunday, as they scattered just two hits, six walks, and six strikeouts en route to the win.

Hembree, who worked the start of the fourth inning, struggled with control a bit, which was evident by him walking the bases loaded while failing to retire the side.

Feltman, meanwhile, fanned the first two hitters he faced in relatively easy fashion, but could not finish things off after giving up a two out double and surrendering two straight walks.

Bazardo, who was signed as an international free agent by Boston back in 2014, picked up the save in his Grapefruit League debut thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox split-squad lineup was matched up against Rays minor leaguer Ryan Merrit to kick things off.

Starting the scoring in this one was Brock Holt, whose leadoff double in the first would translate to Boston’s first run of the afternoon coming around to score on a two out RBI double off the bat of JD Martinez.

Fast forward all the way to the bottom half of the eighth, trailing by a run, and back-to-back two out RBI knocks from Danny Mars and Ryan Fitzgerald pulled the Red Sox up a run themselves, as 3-2 would go on to be the final score in this one.

Meanwhile, over in Bradenton, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the lone highlight for Boston in this one with, in his one words, “probably the most amazing play I’ve ever made.”

Steve Pearce left in the first inning after feeling discomfort in his left calf while running out a grounder in his first and only at bat of the afternoon.

When asked about it, the 2018 World Series MVP said, “I didn’t feel a pop. There wasn’t anything that was too alarming. I just don’t like how it is right now.”

His departure on Sunday seems more precautionary than anything, but it would not be too surprising if the 35-year-old Pearce is held out of action for the next few days to ensure all is well with that left calf.

Some additional notes from Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader:

Colten Brewer faced the minimum six hitters in two shutout frames against the Rays, while Jenrry Mejia also held Tampa Bay scoreless to go along with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

Triston Casas, who was Boston’s first round selection in the 2018 draft, made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut at JetBlue Park as a defensive replacement for Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

The 19-year-old prospect went 0/1 with a walk and a strikeout while also seeing a fair amount of action over at first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the short trek to Hammond Stadium on Monday to face the Minnesota Twins in the sixth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while ace right-hander Jose Berrios will be doing the same for Minnesota.

The last time these two clubs linked up, Eovaldi allowed one run over three innings in his first start of the spring, while Berrios allowed a pair of runs over 3.1 innings.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN does not have it covered.

Rick Porcello Makes 2019 Spring Debut as #RedSox Serve up Six Home Runs in 8-1 Loss to Rays

The Red Sox fell to 6-10 in Grapefruit League on Sunday afternoon following a 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, marking their fifth consecutive defeat.

Making his 2019 debut in this one for Boston was Rick Porcello. The right-hander, who is entering the final season of his original four-year contract extension he signed in 2015, surrendered two runs on four hits, two of which were home runs, and no walks to go along with one strikeout in three innings of work.

As that line indicates, the only runs given up by Porcello came on a pair of Tampa Bay solo homers in the second and third innings off the bats of Joey Wendle and Mike Zunino.

In total, the 30-year-old hurler faced 15 hitters in his first action of the spring.

From the middle of the fourth inning on, Hector Velazquez, Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, and Brian Ellington combined to allow six runs to cross the plate on 11 hits, four of which were homers, two walks, and six strikeouts over the final five frames of this one.

Like Porcello, Velazquez and Workman each gave up a pair of long balls, as Guillermo Heredia and Avisail Garcia went yard in the fourth and fifth innings, while Heredia and Nate Lowe did the same for the Rays in their half of the sixth.

If anything, both Brewer and Ellington held Tampa Bay scoreless in their individual innings of relief, but the Red Sox bullpen has been a rough spot thus far through 16 Grapefruit League games.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could not muster more than two runs for the FIFTH straight day. And guess what? They haven’t won any of their last five games!

The lone Boston managed to tally in this one came in the seventh inning, when with one out and Diego Castillo on the hill for Tampa Bay, Steve Pearce grounded into a run-scoring out at first while Aneury Tavarez came around to score from third to make it a 8-1 game at the time. That would go on to be the final score in this Sunday afternoon contest.

Some notes from this loss:

Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Steve Pearce, and Eduardo Nunez went a combined 2/12 at the plate with one walk and one RBI.

Brock Holt was slated to start at second, but was scratched at the last-minute due to back spasms. He is considered day-to-day.

I get that it’s just spring training, I really do, but can I at least say the last week has been frustrating to watch? Because it has.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before hosting the Detroit Tigers for at JetBlue Park the first time this spring

Monday will not be a typical day off though, as Chris Sale is set to pitch in a minor league game beginning at approximately 11:40 AM on one of the Fenway South backfields.

On Tuesday, we’ll see a starting pitching matchup featuring two left-handers who were once part of the same trade.

For Detroit, it will be Daniel Norris getting the starting nod, while 2018 postseason hero David Price will make his 2019 debut and do the same.

Go back to July of 2015, and these two southpaws were part of the same deal that sent Price from Detroit to the Toronto Blue Jays and Norris from Toronto to Detroit.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT at JetBlue. Unfortunately, it does not look like this game will be televised. Monday should be fun, though.

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. Homers Again and Other Notes from Wednesday’s #RedSox Split-Squad Action

The Red Sox partook in some split-squad action Wednesday, hosting the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park and making the trek to Port Charlotte to face the Tampa Bay Rays.

In Fort Myers, reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts made his 2019 spring debut, starting in right field and batting in the two-hole behind Jackie Bradley Jr.

Speaking of Bradley Jr., the outfielder stayed hot on Wednesday as he led things off against Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa with his second home run of the spring, a line drive to dead center.

Bradley Jr. also collected a single in the fourth inning, a hit he said, “that’s a ball I would roll over. And I was able to hit the path correctly and I was able to get it over the infielder’s head.” It looks like that modified swing is already paying off for the 2018 Gold Glove winner.

Betts, meanwhile, failed to collect a hit a hit in three at bats, striking out once. Remember, in 2018, the Tennessee native started his spring by going 0-for-his-first-16. Nothing to worry about there.

Top prospect Michael Chavis was also in Wednesday’s lineup against Baltimore, and he picked up right where he left off from this past weekend by mashing another three-run home run in the bottom half of the fourth off of Bo Schultz, his third in the last five days.

Chavis, 23, is slashing .444/.500/1.944 with three homers and nine RBI so far this spring.

Tzu-Wei Lin and Oscar Hernandez also collected RBI in the ninth inning of this one in a 7-6 loss for Boston.

Pitching wise, Eduardo Rodriguez made his 2019 spring debut against the team he originally signed with as an international free agent in 2010.

The left-hander started things off by working the first two innings on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of earned runs on three hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts.

Tyler Thornburg also made his first relief appearance of 2019 in the fourth, surrendering two runs on two hits, one of which a two-run homer off the bat of Orioles catcher Chance Sisco.

Darwinzon Hernandez and Marcus Walden each impressed to close this thing out, putting together a combined four shutout innings and holding Baltimore to four baserunners.

Meanwhile, in Port Charlotte, Rafael Devers had himself a fine day at the plate against the Rays, finishing 3/3 with a home run and two RBI batting third in the Red Sox lineup.

Pinch-running specialist Tony Renda also went deep in this contest, taking Tampa Bay right-hander Jacob Faria yard with a solo home run of his own in the seventh inning.

Boston’s eighth-ranked prospect CJ Chatham also drove in a run on a fourth inning RBI single.

RHP Mike Shawaryn made his first official start of the spring on Wednesday. The University of Maryland product surrendered two runs on two hits, one strikeout, and one walk in the lone frame he appeared in.

Opening Day roster hopeful Travis Lakins had the best day of any Red Sox hurler in this second game of a split-squad doubleheader, as the right-hander worked two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out one as well.

The Red Sox fell to the Rays by a final score of 5-4.

Next up for Boston, they’ll welcome the Washington Nationals into JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Scheduled to start for the Nationals is three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, while Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for the Red Sox.

Should be an exciting one.

First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET and the game will air on Boston 25 if you’re in the Boston market, and NESN if you are not.

Rest in Peace, Romell Jordan.

 

#RedSox Sign Former Tampa Bay Rays Right-Hander Ryan Weber to Minor League Deal.

On Friday night, the Boston Red Sox reached an agreement with free agent right-handed pitcher Ryan Weber on a minor league contract for the 2019 season that also includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Weber, 28, becomes the third right-hander to ink a minor league deal with Boston in the past week alone, as the club announced the signings of Erasmo Ramirez and Zach Putnam this past Tuesday.

Spending last season up and down in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, the Florida native only appeared in two games at the big league level while posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 25 outings (18 starts) and 115.1 innings pitched with Triple A Durham.

A former 22nd round pick of the Atlanta Braves back in 2009, Weber is without a doubt a sinkerball pitcher, as he relied on the pitch 73% of the time he was on a major league mound in 2018, per Statcast. Compare that to just one fastball thrown while up with Tampa Bay last year.

More pitching depth never seems to be a bad thing, and as things stand right now, the Red Sox have plenty of it heading into 2019.

RECAP: Nathan Eovaldi’s Struggles Continue as #RedSox Get Swept for First Time This Season Against Rays.

Having already dropped their first series in over a month with a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, the Red Sox closed out their season series against a red-hot Rays team at Tropicana Field by getting swept for the first time this season.

Getting the starting nod in this one was a former Ray himself in RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who made 10 starts with the club before being traded to Boston on July 25th.

Since he started his Red Sox career by twirling two consecutive gems against the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, Eovaldi has been struggling to maintain that same form over the past few weeks, and that was evident once again on Sunday.

Pitching just four innings against his former team, the right-hander surrendered six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits to go along with zero walks and five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Before he even had the chance to settle in, Tampa Bay had already pushed across their first of nine runs thanks to three straight hits to begin the first.

That set the tone early on, and the Rays found themselves with a two-run advantage going into the second inning.

By the time he retired the side in his fourth, Eovaldi had already faced 21 batters.

Out of those four disastrous frames, the Texas native could only manage one clean inning on Sunday, which came in the second. Tampa Bay sent at least five batters to the plate in the other three.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (65 strikes), Eovaldi relied heavily on both is four-seam and cut fastball this afternoon, as he turned to the two pitches a combined 63% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 99.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the third inning.

Falling to 5-6 with a 4.15 ERA on the season, let’s take a look at how Nathan Eovaldi’s Red Sox tenure has gone just over a month since the trade that sent him to Boston was completed.

First two starts:

2-0, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, .143 BAA

Last four starts:

0-2, 17 IP, 35 H, 14 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 7.41 ERA, .407 BAA

Obviously a sizable discrepancy there.

He’ll look to get back on track in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had another tall task ahead of themselves on Sunday with 12 outs to record, and they did not have the best of times.

Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel combined for three earned runs on four hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts in those four innings of work.

Special shout out to Craig Kimbrel though. For not seeing any in-game action since last Saturday, the Red Sox closer looked solid in a 1-2-3 eighth, fanning all three batters he faced. Four straight scoreless appearances for Kimbrel now too.

On the other side of things, Boston’s lineup was held to one lone run for the second straight day on Sunday.

Facing off against Rays ace Blake Snell, a left-hander, that one run came off the bat of a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that plated Sandy Leon from third.

Other than that, Snell, along with Diego Castillo and Andrew Kittredge out of the Rays bullpen, limited the Red Sox to three total hits and two free passes while inducing nine strikeouts on the day.

Some notes from this 9-1 loss:

This is the first time the Red Sox have been swept since August 25-27th of last season, which also happened to be Players’ Weekend. Meaning, the Red Sox are 0-6 in Players’ Weekend games.

Over their last eight games, in which they are 2-6, the Red Sox have averaged 3.6 runs per game while starters own a 6.47 ERA in that span.

On the flip side of that, the Rays have won eight straight games and are now 70-61 on the season.

Mookie Betts took the first step in getting out of his slump by recording his first base hit since Thursday on a fourth inning single.

Finishing their season series against the Rays with a solid 11-8 record despite the sweep, the Red Sox will turn their attention to another Florida team for a quick two-game set against the 53-79 Miami Marlins, but not before enjoying a much-needed off day on Monday back in Boston.

Starting pitching matchups for that series go as follows:

Tuesday: RHP Jose Urena (4-12, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (4-3, 4.12 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.50 ERA)

Going back to April, the Red Sox took both games from the Marlins in Miami.

Johnson, who got the start in the first game of that two-game series, tossed six frames of one-run ball in a winning effort, while Urena, who started for Miami in the second game, tossed seven one-run innings in a no decision.

First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday at Fenway Park.