The Pawtucket Red Sox come to the Lehigh Valley undefeated after winning 4 straight against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Their offense appeared to be too much for SWB as the PawSox averaged 7.5 runs per game in the 4 game series, with their lowest single game output being 6 runs in a 6-2 win on Sunday. And just like 2012 when they won the International League title, they seem to score runs in bunches in the late innings. 15 of their 30 runs this year have come in the final 2 innings. They come to the Lehigh Valley with plenty of familiar names on their squad plus a few new highly touted prospects.
Coming into the 2013 season the Pawtucket starting rotation was expected to be Steven Wright, Allen Webster, Chris Hernandez, Terry Doyle and Rubby De La Rosa. So far they have stayed in that order so it appears De La Rosa will start game 1 vs. B.J. Rosenberg on Monday and then they’ll go back to the top of the rotation with Wright vs. Cloyd on Tuesday and Webster vs. Pettibone on Wednesday.
Let’s look at what to expect.
Behind the plate is Ryan Lavarnway, a name very familiar to Ironpigs fans. Lavarnway took the International League by storm in 2011 when he was promoted from Double-A. In 61 games for the PawSox he hit .295 with 18 homeruns. He followed up his breakout 2011 season by again hitting .295 in 2012 with 8 homeruns before being promoted to Boston, but he was a disappointment with the Red Sox, hitting just .157 in 46 games. With the acquisition of Mike Napoli and David Ross by the Red Sox this year to go with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Lavarnway found himself back in Pawtucket to begin the 2013 season. Through the first 4 games he is 4-13 .308 with 3 RBIs and is still looking for his first 2013 homerun.
Lars Anderson is long gone from the Red Sox organization so first base is now being manned by Brandon Snyder. Snyder was a former 1st round pick by the Orioles and played in 40 games for the Rangers last year, hitting .277 with 3 HR. The Rangers let him go at the end of spring training and he was signed by the Red Sox just days before the beginning of the 2013 season. He has played against the Ironpigs before as a member of the Norfolk Tides in 2010 and 2011. He is hitting just .222 through 4 games but has 1 HR and 5 RBI. Other infielders to watch include Brock Holt, a 24 year old middle infielder who was acquired from the Pirates as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal in December, Jonathan Hee, beginning his 2nd year with the Paw Sox and Jonathan Diaz a middle infielder coming over from the Toronto organization. Rounding out their infield is veteran switch hitting third baseman Drew Sutton, returning to the PawSox after playing for Gwinnett and Indianapolis in 2012. He also spent time with the Rays and Pirates during the 2012 season.
The outfield is solid with the addition of RH Bryce Brentz, the #7 prospect in the Boston organization. Brentz is just 24 and was a 2010 1st round draft pick by the Red Sox. In 2011 he hit .306 with 30 HR between Class A Greenville and Class A+ Salem. In 2012 he played mostly in AA with Portland and hit .296 with 17 HR. Through 4 games this year he is hitting a cool .368. Left-handed hitting Justin Henry joins Pawtucket after playing for Toledo last year where he hit .300. He is hitting a solid .375 with 1 HR this year. Jeremy Hazelbaker is another LH bat who got his feet wet with the PawSox last year after spending most of the year in AA where he hit .273 with 19 HR. He is hitting .353 with 2 HR after 4 games this year.
Rubby De La Rosa, the scheduled starting pitcher in game 1, is a 24 year old coming off Tommy John surgery. He pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 and had a 4-5 record with an ERA of 3.71. His injury occured on July 31, 2011 while pitching for the Dodgers. He pitched very little in 2012 and was acquired by the Red Sox in the deal that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers. 28 year old Steven Wright, the Game 1 starter for the PawSox switched to throwing knuckleballs in 2011 while in the Indians organization. He was a combined 10-7 2.54 in the minors in 2012. His knuckleball is thrown harder than the average knuckler, making his style similar to R.A. Dickey. Allen Webster threw 5 scoreless innings in his first start this year. The 23 year old was another player acquired by Boston in the big trade last year with the Dodgers. MLB lists him as the #4 prospect in the Red Sox organization and Baseball America lists him at #49 on their list of baseball’s top minor league prospects. The 23 year old has a career minor league record of 34-25 3.39. It appears the Ironpigs won’t see starters Chris Hernandez and Terry Doyle in this series but Hernandez was 5-12 3.26 in AA & AAA last year and lost to Tyler Cloyd 2-1 on August 2nd, while Doyle was 6-3 2.83 with Charlotte in 2012. The PawSox bullpen is deep and is led by Chris Carpenter, no, not that Chris Carpenter. This one came from the Cubs and was acquired by the Red Sox as compensation for the Cubs signing GM Theo Epstein away from Boston. In 2 innings pitched this year Carpenter has 6 strikeouts. Also part of the bullpen for Pawtucket is former Ironpigs pitcher Oscar Villarreal. Oscar allowed 3 runs in 2 innings against SWB on Friday night but was the beneficiary of a big 5 run 8th inning by the PawSox resulting in a win for Oscar. Rounding out the bullpen are Jose De La Torre, Pedro Beato, Graham Godfrey, Anthony Carter, Alex Wilson and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Let’s hope the Ironpigs come out swinging Monday night and put a few notches in the loss column of the 2013 Pawtucket Red Sox. Oink!
International League North: