Boston Red Sox: No need to rush pitching prospect Yoan Aybar
By Hunter Noll
The Boston Red Sox should not rush pitching prospect Yoan Aybar.
Pitching is a serious problem for the Boston Red Sox. Right now, the main focus is on the starting rotation. If Eduardo Rodriguez is not good to go by Opening Day, they’ll be starting the season with Nathan Eovaldi as the number one, with Martin Perez and Ryan Weber behind him. That’s it.
However, it’s not just the starting rotation. The bullpen could use some help as well.
And with that in mind, it’s easy to look to the minor league system for some cheap options. So who could they go with?
One player that has gotten mentioned a bit is Yoan Aybar. The reason for that is simple. He is on the 40-man roster, but was not on the Red Sox original pool of players that would be on their 60-man in this strange season.
So he should be on the team this year, right?
No. Not yet. And I know that sounds weird coming from me. I’ve repeatedly gushed over Aybar. He’s one of the most exciting prospects in the system. The left-handed relief pitcher just turned 23 on July 3, and he’s so much fun to watch on the mound.
Last season, Aybar split time between Full-A and Advanced-A. In 56 2/3 innings he struck out 70 batters. He also had a .176 BAA and allowed just one home run all season.
Those are all great numbers, and further proof that dude is electric on the mound. And he wasn’t just putting up those stats.
Aybar has an assortment of pitches that I absolutely love. Let’s be lazy here and just link you to what I said about him back during the top-30 prospect rankings after the 2019 season.
"Aybar has an electric fastball. It sits in the high-mid 90s and has a great bite to it. This pitch is completely overpowering when he’s on. Even when he’s off his game, it can get him out of jams.Aybar also has a slider and a changeup. Both are extremely inconsistent though. The slider is usually in the high-80s and breaks really nicely at times. This pitch can drop and cut at a devastating rate. However, he can leave it flat too. And when that happens, bad things will be the result. He can also lose complete control over it and make some wild pitches.The changeup isn’t used as often. That’s good for the time being because he has a big problem with it. When it’s on, it’s a low-80s MPH pitch that has nice drop. However, he isn’t going to fool many people with it for two reasons.First, he tends to lose the feel for it quickly. Second, the arm motion looks really uncomfortable. It’s almost as if he wants to fool the batters by making it look like the same motion as his fastball, but then halfway through decides that’s a bad idea and tries to change it up. If he can figure out his delivery on the pitch, it could be much more effective."
So to summarize, elite-level fastball with a dangerous-but-inconsistent slider and a changeup with loads of potential but that needs some work. Aybar has almost everything going for him. The command is not there yet though.
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All those numbers were great, what I didn’t say though, were his walks and WHIP. Aybar walked 41 batters in those 56 2/3 innings last season. That gave him a 1.36 WHIP and 4.61 ERA despite such an incredible BAA.
In limited Advanced-A time (five innings), Aybar looked better than he did in the 51 2/3 innings he pitched in Full-A in 2019.
Those five Advanced-A innings saw him give up just two hits and one walk (.125 BAA, 0.60 WHIP and 1.80 ERA), while striking out three. But it was such a small sample size, that he needs more.
Aybar will be an incredible reliever in the Majors if he is given time. He needs to be able to work his issues out in the minors though. If Boston rushes him, it could be catastrophic and something he can’t recover from.
The lefty needs to prove himself a little bit in at the very least Double-A before making any leaps. Show that the command is continuously improving.
In two or three years, Aybar might be one of the best relievers in baseball. I truly believe in his disgusting repertoire of pitches that much. The fastball is filthy and the slider can wreak havoc with a changeup that, if he figures out the motion, could cause problems as well.
Don’t rush him though. Just because the Red Sox need bullpen help now doesn’t mean they should make any rash decisions.
Let Aybar grow. Then sit back and enjoy him dominating opposing hitters with nasty pitches for the next decade.