All of the Players Got a Chance in the 2018 Eastern League All Star Game

I like Tim Tebow, but there were fifty – nine other bonifide major-league prospects trying to show their talent in the 2018 AA Eastern League All Star Game at Trenton Thunder’s Arm and Hammer Field last Wednesday.

Binghamton’s Tebow’s double in his first All Star AB in the bottom of the second inning probably caused as much fan and media stir as the batter before, Phillies’ prospect Deivi Grullon’s HR, which gave the East an early 2-0 lead.

Tim Tebow cracks a double to left center field in the bottom of the second inning

Twenty-three of the 60 players playing in the game were among major league teams top rated 30 minor league prospects, including a couple #1s, Colorado Rockies’ SS Brandon Rogers representing Hartford and Toronto Blue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero representing New Hampshire.

East SS, Brandon Rodgers is the #1 minor league prospect of the Colorado Rockies

The All Star Game featured a little bit of everything, power hitting, good pitching, good defense, good base running, and drama at the end, all of the makings for a good game.

.East and West pitchers threw 18 IP, allowing only 15 hits, 8 earned runs scored, 6 BB, and an impressive 22 K, and a better than an average 1.22 K per inning. Sixteen (16) pitchers had at least a K, and six (6) two K in their IP.

Seventeen (17) of the combined East and West 22 pitchers pitched shutout ball, with only five of the pitchers allowing any of the eight runs scored.

East pitchers, New Hampshire’s Jordan Romano and TJ Zeuch and Portland’s Matt Kent and Kyle Hart didn’t allow a hit until Harrisburg’s Taylor Gushue singled for the West with one out in the fifth inning.

 

Colorado Rockies 2016 # 1 draft pick, TJ Zouch, pitched a scoreless 3rd inning for the East.

The defense of both teams was flawless as neither made an error the entire game.

East runners, New Hampshire’s Jonathan Davis stole second base off strong armed Harrisburg’s catcher Taylor Gushue in the first, and Hartford’s Sam Hilliard off Bowie’s Michael Cervenka in the seventh inning.

Phillies Jan Hernandez’s solo HR added to to the East’s lead in the bottom of the 4th inning.

 

East’s Jan Hernandez’s solo HR in the bottom of the 4th made the score 3-0

The West’s offensive attack began for real in the fifth when Akron’s Joe Sever and Connor Mirabell and Altoona’s Ke’Bryan Hayes put together one -out hits, Mirabell and Hayes tagging up on a fly ball hit by Erie’s Will Maddox, and Mirabell scoring on wild pitch to lift the West into a 3-3 tie.

The West went ahead 4-3 in the eighth inning on Richmond and Bush’s All Star MVP winner Luigi Rodriquez’ blast of a 0-1 offering over the left center fence.

Richmond Flying Squirrels and Giants minor leaguer, Luigi Rodriquez won the Bush All Star MVP

West (and Altoona Curve) manager, Michael Ryan complimented Rodriquez after the game, “He’s just a special hitter with the hand eye coordination that he has. He’s a special type of player…..”

The East rallied to tie the score in the 9th inning when Binghamton’s Patrick Mazurka singled and scored the tying run on a double hit by the home team Trenton’s Trey Amburgey.

To resolve the 4-4 tie game, Altoona’s Will Craig and Reading’s Zach Green played a form of sandlot’s “flies and grounders,” so many points for hitting a homer over the fence, line drive up the alleys, grounders,………………with Craig outhitting his opponent to win the game for the West Division.

East manager, Jay Bell thought it was a great game. “For me, it’s about all the players getting in the game and showing their talent and I think both sides accomplished that. tonight

Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 #1 Draft Pick, Will Craig won the “flies and grounders” and 2018 All Star Game for the West

Keegan Akin, Leftie on the Rise by Rodger M. Wood

Left handed pitchers are at a premium in the major leagues, every team wants one or two of them on their pitching staffs, if not more, to get those tough hitters out in the opposing teams’ lineups.

The Orioles are fortunate enough to have some good ones in their minor league organization, but flying high above the radar right now at AA – Bowie Bay Sox is their Baseball America (BA) ranked 11th top minor league prospect, 23 year old LHP Keegan Akin.

The Orioles drafted Akin 2nd (54th overall) in 2016, out of Western Michigan University, where he had set the school’s single season strikeout record (133), was named BA Third Team All America, and had streaks of 30.2 and 22.2 innings pitched without an earned run.,

Three weeks after the draft, he was showing Orioles minor league brass enough stuff on and off the mound with Rookie A- Aberdeen Iron Birds (0-1 W-L, 1.04 ERA, 29 K, 7 BB, 9 GS, 25 IP) to warrant skipping him past Low A- Delmarva Shorebirds and starting him in his first full professional 2017 season at Fast A, Carolina League Frederick Keys

With the Keys, he pitched a 100 innings, and mixing his 92-93 mph sinker, which he could locate inside to both left and right handed batters, with an 82 – 85 mph change up, he struck out an average of more than one of those older, more savvy Carolina League hitters per inning and a 111 for the season.

This season the young left-hander has been challenged by AA – Eastern League competition. ” I’m trying to learn how to command each of my pitches to the maximum in any given situation. If you get behind hitters in the count in this league, you’ll pay the price. I’m trying to see the hitter’s swing and pitch to it. This season my goals have been to work hard, refine my pitches, be consistent, and stay healthy.”

So far this season, he has pitched 9 quality starts, after allowing only one run over 7 IP June 21st against Harrisburg, and allowing a pair of runs with 7 K against Portland Sea Dogs June 15th.

He has given up only two earned runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts this season, including 6 of his last 7 games. He is 7th in the Eastern League with 95 K, 5th with a 2.98 ERA, and with 8 wins, is tied for 2nd in wins.

Named an All Star, he will be pitching for the West Division in the 2018 Eastern League All Star Game Wednesday, July 11th at Trenton, NJ.

Bay Sox pitching coach Kennie Steenstra thinks highly of the youngster, “Keegan Akin is one of the best pitching prospects in the Orioles minor league organization. We’re working hard on sound fundamentals, mechanics, and improving his slider to go along with his fast ball and change up, If he keeps delivering like he has been, I believe we’re looking at a pitcher who will be throwing at Camden Yards some day soon.”

****************************************************************************************

Note

Bowie players, parents, family members, friends can see and if they want obtain a copy of photos taken during the 2018 season and before at woodsportsphotography / photo galleries / featured photos / Bowie Bay Sox 2018.

Alex Wells, Ready for the Challenge by Rodger M. Wood

Australian Orioles LHP prospect, Alex Wells, knows it will be challenging for him to pitch at Camden Yards some day, but he is showing positive signs he will be ready for the test.

In 2012, Baseball Almanac listed only 31 Aussies who had played in at least one major league game, 21 pitchers and 10 position players. While White Sox RHP Grant Balfour pitched in the 2013 All Star Game, but other star Australian players have been far and few in between.

Almost every single kid in Australia is said to play at least some T- ball, but 99 percent of them will never play the sport again afterwards. -They leave and play rugby, cricket and other sports.

Alex and his twin brother Lachlan, growing up in Newcastle, did the reverse. They played cricket first and then switched to baseball. Alex said, “it was a natural adjustment for them. The sports were very similar in skills requirements and fundamentals.”

Both pitched youth and school ball, Lachlan a RHP, and Alex a LHP, and made the roster of the Australia National Baseball Team in the World Baseball Classic.

In 2015, the Minnesota Twins signed Lachlan to a contract as an international free agent, shortly afterwards, the Orioles signed Alex to a $300,000 contract. Reports are that Lachlan was signed first because he threw a couple mph faster than Alex, but Alex was said to be the better long term major league prospect.

In the short season Rookie NY/Penn League at Aberdeen in 2016, Alex was 4-5 W-L, compiling a 2.15 ERA in 13 GS, 62.2 IP. He walked only 9 batters, and struck out 50.

In 2017 at Low A-Delmarva, Wells pitched even better, 11-5 W-L, 2.38 ERA, 25 GS, 140 IP, 10 BB and a phenomenal 113 K. When presenting Alex the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, Orioles General Manager, Dan Duquette predicted, “Hopefully we’ll see Alex out here pitching for the Orioles soon.”

Wells dominated at Delmarva for long stretches last season. In a 5 straight starts stretch, 31 IP, he didn’t allow a run. The last 66 IP, he did not walk a single batter. Command of his pitches, and getting the ball over the plate without the batter hitting it were his forte. .

So far in the current season at Fast A- Frederick, he is 2-5, with a 3.90 ERA in 80.2 IP, 53 K and 24 BB. Alex admits the Carolina League experience is very challenging. “The first time around the circuit, I was getting acquainted with the hitters. They are very tough outs, very challenging lineups. I’m trying to pound the K-zone and get the hitters out.”

A former Orioles, Red Six and A’s pitcher himself and Orioles minor league pitching coordinator, John Wasdin says “Wells is definitely a good prospect. This season is challenging for him, the hitters are more advanced, older, but he’s learning how to use his pitches against them, and how to repeat the mechanics. He is making good progress in learning how to read their swings and get them out.

The (4 seam) fast ball is his primary weapon, he throws in the high 80s and tops out about 91-92. He uses his fast ball aggressively to set up his curve and change up which he throws with a convincing arm action and nice sinking action. Some think his fast ball will top out about 91-92 mph, but with his heart, athleticism, and hard work between starts, I think his velocity may increase.” .

He must be succeeding in meeting the Carolina League challenges because he was named a 2018 Carolina League All Star and pitched the 5th inning of the All Star Game at Zebulon, North Carolina on June 19th, allowing just a hit and 2 unearned runs.

Last spring Baseball America named him the Orioles 2018 thirteenth top minor league prospect.

Step by step, slowly but surely, Alex is overcoming the obstacles and lowering the odds that he will indeed pitch at Camden Yards.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Parents, family members, teammates,and friends can view and if they want obtain copies of the photos I took at Alex’s start against Winston Salem 29th in the photo galleries / featured photos / Frederick Keys 2018.

*******************************************************************************************************************************************
In the August issue of the Orioles Kids Magazine, Alex will be featured in a Minor Marvels interview by David Driver.
****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

East and West Division Teams, , 2018 Midwest League All Star Game Action Photos On Web

The over 300 action photos I took at the 2018 Midwest League All Star Game on June 19th at Lansing, Michigan are now all published on this web page at woodsportsphotography / photo galleries / featured photos / Midwest League All Star Game, West Division 2018 and Midwest League All Star Game, East Division 2018.

Players, parents, family member, and friends can view all of the photos and if they want buy copies of the photos in any size as listed.

East Division Players Photos Available: West Division Players Photos Available
Miguel Amaya, South Bend, Chicago Cubs Austin Beck, Beloit Snappers, Oakland A’s
Will Benson, Lake County, Cleveland Indians Matt Brill, Kane County Cougars, Arizona D’Backs
Maximo Castillo, Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto Blue Jays Jazz Chisholm, Kane County Cougars, Arizona D’Backs
Henrik Clementine, Ft. Wayne, San Diego Padres Trace Loehr, Beloit Snappers, Oakland A’s
Rollie Lacy, South Bend, Chicago Cubs Ryan Costello, Clinton, Seattle Mariners
Nick Margevicius, Ft Wayne, San Diego Padres Julio Garcia, Burlington Bees, Los Angeles Angels
Riley O’Brien, Bowling Green, Tampa Rays Torii Hunter, Burlington Bees, Los Angeles Angeles
Kevin Vicuna, Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto Blue Jays Alex Korilloff, Cedar Rapids, Minnesota Twins
Jared Walker, Great Lake Loon, Los Angeles Dodgers Royce Lewis, Cedar Rapids, Minnesota Twins
Chavez Young, Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto Blue Jays Luis Maduro, Burlington Bees, Los Angeles Angeles
Jared Young, South Bend, Chicago Cubs Wyatt Marks, Beloit Snappers, Oakland A’s
Renae Martinez, Kane County Cougars, Arizona D’Backs
Elehuis Montero, Peoria, St. Louis Cardinals
Demi Orimoloye, Wisconsin, Milwaukee Brewers
Dennis Ortega, Peoria, St. Louis Cardinals
Henry Payton, Wisconsin, Milwaukee Brewers

2018 Midwest League All Star Game Was a Show Case of Talent – by Rodger M. Wood

The 2018 Midwest League All Star Game, played in front of 9,396 fans at Cooley Law School Stadium, the home of the Lansing (Michigan) Lug Nuts, was a showcase of young ball players with lots of major league potential, playing a 10 inning walk off 3-2 game.

Midwest League All Star game MVP, Reds prospect, 1B, Montrell Marshall made the game ending exciting, driving in Dayton Dragons’ teammate, Stuart Fairchild from second base with a two out single on a 1-2 count to score the winning run.

Twenty eight pitchers from both the East and West Division squads allowed only 15 hits, struck out 20 hitters, and did not walk a man.

Twenty-four of the 28 pitchers of record threw shutout ball, 17 of the pitchers struck out a batter, and three, Blue Jays and Lansing
RHP Maximo Castillo, Reds and Dayton RHP, game winning pitcher, John Ghyzel, and Angels and Burlington RHP Luis Maduro stuck out two batters each in an IP.

Luis Maduro struck first two batters in bottom of the 2nd Inning

The East Division drew first blood in the bottom of the 1st inning on Blue Jays prospect and home field Lug Nuts 2B Kevin Vicuna’s double to left center field, and Tampa and Bowling Green’s Tyler Wells clutch single up the middle to score the run.

Kevin Vicuna rifles a double up the lf/cf alley in the bottom of the first inning.

The East added to their lead in the bottom of the 5th inning on Dodger’s and Great Lakes 3B Jared Walker’s HR off a 1-2 pitch, making the game 2-0.

Jared Walker gets ahold of ball HR in bottom of 5th.

In the top of the sixth, the West Division hit balls that started to see some light and fall in. With 2 outs, Los Angeles Angels and Burlington Bees 3B Julio Garcia drove in Cardinals and Peoria’s Yariel Gonzalez from 1B with a double to right center field, making the score 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Tension building up with two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Twins and Burlington Bees’ RF, Alex Kirilloff came through in the clutch with a hard hit single to right field to drive in the 2-2 tying run.

Alex Kirilloff hits away in the 8th

Neither side made an error in the game and it wasn’t because the players stayed away from making hard plays. Royce Lewis, #1 Twins Baseball America minor league prospect, 2017 #1 Draft, and Cedar Rapids SS stood out in the field for the first four innings of the game. In the bottom of the second inning, he made an unbelievable play, going wide to his left behind 2B, driving for the ball, getting up, and throwing the runner out at 1B by a nick to end the inning.

Royce Lewis goes after a pop up in bottom of 3rd.

East Division manager, Cesar Martin thought, “both teams played a really good game and both sides made some good defensive plays as well.”

West Division and Quad Cities manager, Mickey Storey agreed, “It was a phenomenally- well played game by both sides.

****************************************************************************
Rays Ronaldo Hernandez Win HR Derby

Before the Midwest League All Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods and Tampa Bay Rays Baseball America 12th top minor league prospect, 20 year old Colombian catcher, Ronaldo Hernandez won the Midwest League All Star Homerun Derby, beating a close second place contender, Indians top 8th Baseball America prospect Will Benson in a close contest.

Ronaldo Hernandez Hits Away in HR Derby

Victor Robles, A Star in the Making by Rodger M. Wood

It is truly a pleasure watching 20 – year Victor Robles mold his five tool talent together at Fast A – Potomac Nationals this season.

Getting his feet wet the past three seasons in DSL and GCL rookie ball and Low A SALLY Hagerstown, he is stealing bases, hitting singles, doubles, triples and homers, throwing out runners testing his arm, and catching rocket shots up the alleys nowadays at Potomac.

In a typical game against Salem a couple weeks ago, he led off with a double, stretched it to a triple when the Salem right fielder bobbled the ball, and scored on an infield out.

In his second time at bat, he showed a bunt first pitch, protecting the runner stealing second. While he ended up flying to left field, he did his job advancing the runners.

In his third AB, he reached out and slapped a single to left field, and scored on a teammate’ double to right.

For nine innings, he hustled out in centerfield, backing up the plays, racing after well hit balls, throwing to the right bases to stop advancing runners and generally taking charge as a good CFer should.

Although missing two weeks of game play at the end of April due to a hamstring injury, in 37 games this season, 136 AB, he is hitting 296 BA, 7 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, and drove in 17 RBI from a mostly leadoff position in the batting order.

His OBP 391 is ideal for a leadoff hitter – he gets on base 39.1 % of ABs, and 526 SLG shows he can hit for power, lots of doubles, triples, and HR.

And Victor just turned twenty May 19th and already is successfully hitting against older savvy Carolina League pitchers, who know well how to pitch an anxious rookie.

But mature beyond his years, Victor is laying back and getting his licks. He is blending bunting, hitting away, waiting out pitches and varying his hitting strategies to confuse those opposing older players.

He is marrying good hitting with the defensive facets of his game to show all of the signs of becoming a star.

And when he puts it all together, he has the potential to be what the Washington Nationals have always dreamt about – a superstar in centerfield leading off in the batting order at Nationals Stadium.

Website Security Test

Whole Different Ball Game in Frederick

It is a whole different ball game at Frederick this season. The parent Baltimore Orioles have stocked their Fast A, Carolina League affiliate with several minor league cream of the crop prospects, and these youngsters are running around the bases, scoring runs, making plays, pitching good baseball and winning lots of ball games.

Every fifth day, you can see 2017 BA #2 Orioles prospect and 2016 1st round draft pick out of the University of Illinois, RHP Cody Sedlock and 2017 BA #6 Orioles prospect and 2016 2nd round pick LHP Keegan Akin pitch.

Cody Sedlock fires a strike

At SS you’ll find another 1st Rounder (2015) 20-year 6-3 BA #3 Orioles prospect, Ryan Mountcastle, who reminds many fans of former great Cal Ripken at the same position.

Ryan Mountcastle Fires to First

At 3B, you’ll find another 20-year old, power hitting BA #8 Jomar Reyes, who the Orioles are looking down the road for the long ball that characterizes their everyday lineup now.

Domar Reyes Hits Away

Fleet footed BA #7 Austin Hays, 2016 3rd rounder out of Jacksonville University covers the ground in center field and BA #24 Randolph Gassaway left field.

Austin Hays also hits for average and power

Splitting the catching and dh, power hitting BA #31 Yermin Mercedes rounds out the lineup.

At a game last week end, I had an unexpected thought when Frederick was at the plate. The Keys youngsters were so aggressive, hungary for a hit, and clobbering the ball I thought about the old 1927 New York Yankees “Murderers Row,” (Combs, Koenig, Ruth, Gehrig, Meuse, and Lazzeri). While a stretch comparison, watch these youngster play at Frederick, AA- Bowie, AAA- Norfolk in coming seasons and mark my words, you may be seeing a couple major league superstars in the making.

Keegan Akin Delivers Home

Yoan Moncada – Enough Fight or Also Ran

 

The Chicago White Sox can only hope they acquired the superstar prospect they bargained for last December when trading ace left-hander Chris Sales to the Boston Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, and three other young minor league players.

Why would the Red Sox give up on the 21-year old, switch hitting Cuban exile they reportedly paid $31.5 millions dollars to sign less than two years ago.

His future is still touted. At Low A – Greenville in 2015, he hit 278 BA, 8 HR and 38 RBIs in 306 AB in 81 GP, at Fast A – Salem in 2016, 307 BA, 4 HR, 34 RBI in 228 AB in 61 GP, and second half 2016, at AA- Portland, 277 BA, 11 HR, 28 RBI in177 AB in 45 GP.

Baseball soothsayers still report Moncada is the next best thing since sliced bread. He is rated BA 2nd best of its top 100 2017 major-league prospects, the White Sox’s BA #1 prospect and a five tool player ready to explode onto the major league scene. He is also on display on the cover of Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

Did the Red Sox sour on the young prospect during his 8 GP trial with the parent club last September, when tried at 3B, he hit only a double and three singles in 19 AB in 8 GP, and did not show the power aptitude for 3B play or as Dustin Pedroia’s replacement at 2B.

Maybe Red Sox development folks thought Moncada expendable after watching 20-year old 2017 BA Red Sox #2 prospect, 3B Rafael Devers’ rapid development at Fast A- Salem in 2016. I was told by a major league scout at Frederick last season that Devers was the best player on the field, both teams considered.

Did it hurt Moncada striking out 12 of 19 AB at Boston, or 207 of 711 minor league AB and struggling with a low learning curve when given instruction by Red Sox hitting gurus trying to help him shorten his long swing to reach his power potential consistently against older, savvy Fast A and AA pitchers.

Did it hurt him showing a “me now” attitude in the minors, coming out for infield practice, a couple minutes after the 3B, SS, and 1B had already started the grounder warmups or struggling to accept coaching tips on how to play the Red Sox way.

Did it hurt the young prospect ignoring young kids (and adults) requests for autographs and a few minutes conversation at every park in the SALLY, Carolina, and Eastern League he played the past two seasons.

Will it hurt him at Chicago having to beat out hard hitting Todd Frazier or BA #13 White Sox prospect Trey Michalczewski at 3B or Bret Laurie at 2B.

An old baseball philosopher, Mark Twain, once spoke an adage which is applicable to young Moncada, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” You can measure how fast Moncada runs, how far he throws, how many fly balls he catches, and how many hr, and base hits he hits, but you cannot measure the size of his desire to win, or his effort to develop his unlimited skills by listening to folks who know.

As Carlos Beltran warned the world baseball when asked last July about the prospects the Yankees received in return in trade for Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and himself, “A prospect is a prospect. It doesn’t mean they’re going to become a player.”

The question about this young prospect’s future is still out there, Will Yoan Moncada knuckle down to be a bonafide major league star or be content to be just another also ran.

Rodger’s Pick #2, Yoan Aybar. Lowell Spinners by Rodger M. Wood

Just turned 19 years old on July 3rd, Dominican outfielder Yoan Aybar is just now starting to grow into his 5-tool talent at Boston Red Sox Rookie A – NY Penn League Lowell Spinners.

He swings hard, and shows potential for lots of home run and extra base power. He runs like a gazelle in the outfield and has the speed to steal bases. Possessing a strong arm, he can gun down runners from deep cf or rf corners, and if not an outfielder, he could conceivably be developed into a pitcher. The southpaw can play any outfield position but would excel in tough to handle rf, where the hard hit balls sometimes curve away from his left handed outfielders” gloves.

At Lowell this season, the still growing 6-2, 185 youngster is still struggling to cut his long swing down, while at the same time hitting 198 BA, 2 2B, 2 3B, a HR and driving in 7 rbi in 96 AB in 26 GP.

As a 16 and 17 year old in 2014 and 2015 seasons, he played with the Red Sox DSL affiliate hitting 271 BA, 0 HR, 26 RBI in 56 GP in 2014, and 268 BA, 0 HR, 16 RBI in 157 AB in 45 GP.

In February, 2016, Baseball America rated Yoan the Boston Red Sox 22nd highest prospect.

He is also working on the rudiments of playing the outfield at Lowell, where he has caught up with 60 fly balls in 215 IP, but because he can catch up to lots of balls that others cannot, missed 4 tough chances.With his strong arm, he has thrown out 2 runners trying to stretch hits into another base or score from second.

Yoan is the type of young man you want to see succeed. He has not mastered English yet but with a happy, smiling face, he communicates understanding and lots of good feelings to fans, teammates, coaches, and friends. He tries hard, catches on quickly and is eager to please. Although having to model my gyrations, he excelled in his photo shoot, doing as well as Jacoby Ellsbury and many other soon to be major leaguers did in the past, With a conscientious attitude, combined with talent, once he’ grasps the nuances of major league baseball, this youngsters’s way to the majors will be accelerated, someday, I hope to be one of the best right fielders in Fenway history..

Rodger’s Pick – Chandler Shepherd, Pawtucket Red Sox

I decided to pick up on my "Rodger’s Pick" article on this my second road trip of the 2016 season.

i have seen all of the Red Sox top pitching prospects Baseball America, ESPN, and other journals have touted this season, LHP Brian Johnson, and RHP Henry Owens at AAA Pawtucket, RHP Ty Buttrey and Teddy Stankiewicz and LHP William Jerez and Luis Ysla at AA Portland, LHP Trey Ball and RHP Michael Kopec at Salem and Lowell, RHP Anderson Espinoza at Low A -Greenville. While all of them have major league talent,they are struggling and are not ready for the bigs. There is an untouted 23-year RHP at AAA Pawtucket, however, who is showing signs he is nearly ready for Fenway Park..

Chandler Shepherd is the complete package. Red Sox fans will love him. He is a pit bull on the mound, capable of filling any hole on the Red Sox pitching staff. has a three pitch repertoire, low 90 FB, above average breaking ball, and effective change up. While Craig Kimbel isn’t abdicating his stopper role very soon or Junichi Tarawa his set up role, Shepherd would be great insurance for the 9th inning stopper and 8th inning set up man or any other role in the bull pen.

Off the mound he is a polite young man, who jells well with the fans, signing autographs by the droves,and appreciative of the opportunity baseball has given him to succeed. He gives 100% on every pitch. He hustles to cover the 1B bag on balls hit to his right, or plays at the plate.

After achieving 6 saves, 39K, 10 BB, 1.80 ERA in 30 IP in 22 appearances at AA – Portland this season, Shepherd was promoted to AAA Pawtucket where in 6 appearances, 9.2 IP, he proceeded to get a save, 5K, 2 BB.

The 6’3" RHP has been groomed to put out the fires in the late innings at the University of Kentucky in 2012 – 2014, where he started only 10 games in three seasons, and professional career with the Red Sox at NY/Penn League Rookie A – Lowell (2014), SALLY Low A Greenville, Fast A – Salem and Arizona Fall League Scottsdale in 2015 where he started one game in 83 GP.

He may be ready by the minor league callup deadline for going up to a 40-player roster September 1st, just in time to help the home team win their division and go strong into the playoffs.