Pawtucket is an easy drive for me and I had the opportunity to see a Will Middlebrooks rehab start a week ago as Pawtucket lost to Rochester 8-1. Middlebrooks took the collar with an 0-for-4. Middlebrooks represented a subplot as my main interest was in the prospect pipeline. I will occasionally post my observations on selected prospects who may be on the fast track to Boston.
This was the third game in which I have seen Christian Vasquez at Pawtucket. Vasquez has certainly opened eyes with his defensive capabilities as he has progressed through the system and it shows with a 44% CS rate that only enhances his value. In two previous games Vasquez was the catcher and demonstrated that take-charge presence that one expects from the position. Physically Vasquez reminds me of a long ago catcher, Clint Courtney, who was compact and muscular.
In this particular contest Vasquez was the DH with Dan Butler assuming catching duties. Vasquez is currently at .292/.342/.417 and is second in the IL in doubles. Vasquez is demonstrating that growth pattern at the offensive end that will certainly make an impact on catching decisions with the contracts of David Ross and A.J. Pierzynski set to expire after the 2014 season. Vasquez will be worth watching especially if a catcher is needed during the season.
Garin Cecchini continues to impress me. I attend Pawtucket games with a longtime friend who has exceptional baseball credentials. The weakness he observes is Cecchini still needs to improve on the defensive side. Cecchini is currently at .304/.398/.380 so a quick glance at the numbers reflects both plate discipline and limited power. Cecchini has impressive at bats and that OBP certainly attracts the metrics conscious front office. I have often thought that Cecchini reminds me of a young Alex Gordon, but without that power, and, like Gordon, may eventually be in left field.
Anthony Ranaudo started the game and the only way to describe the effort was awful. Ranaudo was all over the place with four walks in three innings. For the season Ranaudo has a 2:1 K/BB rate and he did follow-up with five innings of shutout ball in his next start. Ranaudo is at a critical point in his career and more consistent progress is needed.
I have not seen Rubby De La Rosa this season and based on the stats I doubt many IL hitters wish to see Rubby since they are currently at .163 against De La Rosa. A 25:17 K/BB rate is excellent and reflected in a WHIP of 0.80, which is second in the IL. De La Rosa deserves a long look and just may get it. Currently De La Rosa is in the rotation and if a spot starter is necessary it may well be worth taking another look at Rubby.