The Red Sox received three prospects at this year’s trade deadline and they’ve already deemed one of them Major League ready.
Boston has promoted right-handed reliever Heath Hembree to the Major Leagues just over one week after acquiring him from the San Francisco Giants. Now 25 years old, Hembree is in make-or-break prospect territory but he has generally had a successful season in Triple-A, posting a 3.73 ERA with an 11.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. With the Red Sox gearing their focus towards 2015, it makes sense to see what Hembree has to offer and if he can be a contributor in next season’s bullpen.
Hembree once profiled as a hard-throwing future closer with shaky control; however, he has exchanged some of that velocity for some control. Rather than a future closer, Hembree now profiles as more of a setup man or middle relief type but certainly has the ability to be pretty good in that role. His fastball sits in the low 90’s but he can certainly touch the mid 90’s and he mixes in a slider which has the potential to be an out pitch before long.
Hembree did have a brief cup-of-coffee for the Giants last season, tossing 7.2 scoreless innings over 9 appearances with fanning 12 batters and walking only 2. That has more to do with small sample size than any indication of what to expect from the 25-year old but it does suggest that Hembree has the potential to develop into a solid relief pitcher for the Red Sox.
Bringing him up will be at little expense for the Red Sox as they’ll demote Steven Wright, who did not even make an appearance for the Red Sox during his brief stint with the team. The Red Sox likely intend to give Hembree some low-pressure innings and just see what he has to offer. It isn’t reasonable to expect him to adequately replace recently-traded Andrew Miller, but he could become a nice counterpart to Junichi Tazawa as a setup man. This is just one of those low-pressure, “see what they can do” promotions that will dominate the rest of this season.