Red Sox pitcher Joel Payamps impressing in Winter Leagues

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Joel Payamps throws to the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning at Chase Field on Aug. 21, 2019 in Phoenix, Ariz.Colorado Rockies Vs Arizona Diamondbacks 2019
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Joel Payamps throws to the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning at Chase Field on Aug. 21, 2019 in Phoenix, Ariz.Colorado Rockies Vs Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 /

Red Sox reliever is off to a great start in the Dominican Winter League

In an under the radar move last month, the Boston Red Sox took a flier on an Arizona Diamondback’s 40-man roster casualty in right-handed pitcher Joel Payamps. The 26-year-old has seen limited time in the major league but was deemed expendable when teams were looking to protect prospects ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. The righty has yet to don a Red Sox uniform but is already impressing in limited action this offseason with the Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League.

Originally signed by the Colorado Rockies out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old in 2011, Payamps was picked up by his third organization when the Red Sox claimed him, designating Robert Stock for assignment in the process.

The right-hander has struggled with control over the course of his career, with 205 walks over eight seasons in the minor leagues. The righty did compile 576 strikeouts as well but as the numbers show, free passes are a hindrance on the pitcher’s pedigree.

Payamps made his major league debut in 2019, walking three batters while striking out three over the course of four innings pitched. In 2020, his control woes carried over after being recalled from Arizona’s alternate camp when he walked three more batters while striking out two over three innings pitched. While these are limited samples, the minor league numbers speak for themselves.

Per Baseball Savant, Payamps has a solid repertoire of pitches including a four-seam fastball that averages about 94 MPH, a slider that sits in the low 80’s, a sinker that matches his fastball’s velocity, and a changeup that reaches the high 80’s.

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Whether the Red Sox saw something in the pitcher’s mechanics that could use some fine-tuning that they believe can be corrected or just saw potential in his stuff is unknown, but they chose to take a chance on the righty nonetheless. Several members of the Red Sox organization have stayed engaged in baseball activities since the offseason began, with Payamps being one of them. The righty has been pitching for the Estrellas de Oriente Dominican Winter League team and the results have been promising.

To this point in his winter stretch, he has provided the team with 13 innings of work, resulting in 14 strikeouts compared to two walks. The aforementioned lack of command is currently a non-factor in his performance considering the overwhelming strikeout to walk ratio he has compiled thus far. His ERA sits at a dazzling 1.38 as he has managed to allow just two runs to score of the 12 hits allowed to date. The results have been promising and Boston can only hope that he can continue to harness his ability to throw strikes consistently and turn his career around to be a solid contributor for the pitching-hungry Red Sox.

Considering that Payamps is a fringe 40-man roster player, Boston could hold tight on opting to designate him for assignment should they make any transactions that would require a spot to be cleared. At the very least, unless his performance this offseason goes south and he is once again deemed expendable by his third organization. For now, the righty is looking sharp and is close to exceeding his performance last offseason when he participated in the Dominican Winter League (3.54 ERA, 8 ER,  4 BB, 15K).

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Whether we can expect to see Payamps on the bump at some point for Boston next season is up to speculation, but with the organization’s recent trend in finding the occasional diamond in the rough via the waiver wire, the hurler should not be written off as being a contributor, especially if his performance thus far translates to spring training.