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Red Sox Prospect Chandler Shepherd Has Made A Nice Transition Into A Starting Pitcher



Red Sox Prospect Chandler Shepherd Has Made A Nice Transition Into A Starting Pitcher This Season

Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd has spent the first four seasons of his professional career as a reliever. Coming into the 2018 season, the Red Sox decided to move him into the starting rotation and use him as a starting pitcher. This wasn’t something new to Shepherd as he did start in 2017 while he was playing winter ball in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Shepherd struggled to begin the 2018 season for the Pawtucket Red Sox. In four April starts, Shepherd posted a 7.36 ERA in 18 and 1/3 innings. But since then, he has flourished as a starting pitcher. Earlier on in the season “he wasn’t stretched out” said Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles. “It was 75 pitches early on in the year. Now he’s built up to about 95 to 100”. Shepherd now has the stamina to pitch late into game and face batters several times through the lineup. Something he didn’t have earlier on in the year.

Why The Transition To A Starting Pitcher

In the winter of 2017, Chandler Shepherd played winter ball down in Hermosillo, Mexico, where he was a starting pitcher. This would be the first time since college that Shepherd would be used as a starting pitcher in an organized baseball game, minus one spot start each of the last two years where he maxed out at 56 pitches.

While down in Hermosillo, he made seven starts while posting a 3-2 record in 33 innings of work. In those 33 innings, he posted a 4.09 ERA while striking out 31 batters.

“I think the idea was bounced around a couple of times” says Shepherd, “I actually did start was when I went to winter ball last year, when I was in Mexico, I started down there and things went well for me. I think that conversation after that kind of kick started it again a little bit. Maybe thought it was a good idea to try it out coming into spring training next year” Shepherd adds.

But when you look at the makeup that Shepherd has, it only makes sense that the organization decided to make him a starter. “Looking at what we have, if you look at the right handed relievers. Lot of tall right handed relievers with big power arms. He’s a guy that has four pitches. So fastball, curveball, cutter, changeup. So when you have four pitches, if you’re a 1 to 2 inning guy, you don’t really get to use those too much. He profiled with all the guys that we had, right handed, big power arms. He was a guy that kind of stood out as far as he’s got some pitchability. He’s got a mix. So I think they just wanted to give him a different look. He was excited to do it, and he’s taken to it. He’s done a nice job so far” said Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles when asked why the organization decided to move Shepherd to the starting rotation.

This move essentially gives Chandler Shepherd more of a shot at the big leagues. The Red Sox organization already has a lot of guys who are big right handed pitchers who throw hard out of the bullpen. This move to the starting rotation makes Shepherd more flexible within the organization. If the Red Sox need a long man or a spot starter even in the 2018 season, Shepherd is now a possibility for a call up at any point this season as a spot starter or a call up in September. Chandler Shepherd is currently on the Red Sox 40-man roster.

Red Sox

Jason Schneider/Pawtucket Red Sox

How Has Shepherds Transition Been Going

To begin the 2018 campaign for Shepherd, it looked like he wasn’t meant to be a starting pitcher. In four starts during April, he posted a 7.36 ERA in 18 and 1/3 innings. But in reality, he just wasn’t up to it. Yet. “He wasn’t stretched out then, and that’s the thing” said Kevin Boles.

“I think there’s a fine line going from one to two inning reliever to being a starter where you fall in the traps trying to hold back. Like you’re trying to ration out your effort level. What I think he’s got to do is he’s got to make sure hes going he’s pitching the whole time and just understanding that he’s building up to 100 pitches and that just something that a lot of guys try to reserve. Save something in the tank, they fall into a trap, and maybe they don’t execute as much as far as their pitch-ability. He’s a guy that now that understands what the effort level needs to be, executing his pitches, and he’s going to have something left in the tank in the sixth and seventh inning. He’s built up that stamina now”.

“With (Shepherd), when a guy gets around 30-40 pitches, that’s usually where they’ve been cut off as a reliever. Now, we want to make sure that they’re not trying to ration their effort level. That they have to be going. They have to be pitching the whole time. I think that’s something that he’s built up to. It was 75 pitches early on in the year. Now he’s built up to about 95 to 100. That takes a lot of work” as Boles complements Shepherd on his transformation into a a starting pitcher.

Now that Shepherd has been pitching as a starting pitcher for the entire season, you have started to see his progression as he seems fresher later in his outings. A really improvement, especially since he has shown he can get into the seventh inning and give the Paw Sox length as a starting pitcher. This has helped the bullpen and give them somewhat of a break on the day of his starts. This has been especially nice for the Paw Sox because they have had to deal with a lot of spot starts by different guys who can only give them three to four innings as a starting pitcher. That can tax a bullpen as the season goes on.

How Shepherd Has Improved As A Pitcher

As a starting pitcher, you’re going to be attacking hitters differently compared to how you would be attacking hitters out of the bullpen. “It’s more you’re coming out and attack the hitters with your best bullets that day, out of the bullpen” said Shepherd. “Now you come in to start, you’ve got to face the same guys two, three times in a game. I think it’s a lot of mixing in your pitches up, and being a smarter pitcher, you know understanding the game a little bit better versus coming in and working quickly and getting quick outs” said Shepherd when asked about the difference from pitching as a starter to coming out of the pen.

Shepherd admitted that “getting through that line up a second and third time was something early on I think I was really struggling with”. Once the calendar turned to May, he was able to post a 2.22 ERA in five starts in the month. Those numbers alone have shown that he is building up the stamina that he needs to be able to be a starting pitcher. But Shepherd credits his success since May to “mixing pitches and basically not being predictable is what’s allowing me to get deeper into games and having more success”.

Shepherd’s ability to mixing in his pitches to get hitters out two to three times through the order makes total sense. If you see the same pitches from the same pitcher as a hitter, you will be able to make contact and do damage. Boles and Shepherd have both said that you need to be able to mix your pitches well to achieve success as a starting pitcher, which is true.

For a reliever, you can get away having only two pitches. Since Shepherd has 4 pitches in the fastball, curveball, cutter, and changeup. He already has the ability to mix his pitches. To get ready for his next start, Shepherd did say “that routine in between the starts is something that I really had to adapt to. The planing for the next start. The scouting part or the preparation with the weight room stuff, conditioning or bullpens or whatever it might be”.

That’s when as a pitcher you will figure out how you want to attack certain hitters. As Shepherd continues to develop as a starting pitcher, he will continue to work on his conditioning and his prep in how to make his next start. But so far in the 2018 season, Shepherd has done a really nice job on making that jump from a reliever to a starting pitcher.

Red Sox

Jason Schneider/Pawtucket Red Sox

What Is Shepherd’s Ceiling

Chandler Shepherd is currently the 25th best prospect in the Red Sox organization according to As a starting pitcher and being stretched out to 95-100 pitches, he can provide some length at any level, even out of the bullpen. So far this season, the Red Sox have called up Jalen Beeks and Willliam Cuevas as a long man out of the bullpen when they have needed length. Shepherd is another name you could see called up at one point this season to give the Red Sox length or even a spot start at one point. He currently is on the 40 man roster so seeing him with the Red Sox this September when rosters expand is not out of the question.

In the long term, Shepherd looks like he could be a starting pitcher for the Red Sox at the major league level. Since May however he has labored in several starts while struggling to get batters out. But his assortment of pitches and his ability to give that length in a game does make him a viable option to be able to get batters out and pitch very efficiency which he has shown at the AAA level.

Shepherd does have the talent as a professional baseball player to be given the chance to make his major league debut. Because he is on the 40 man roster, I do think that you will get that at one point this season, but probably not until September. In September, you will probably see him out of the Red Sox bullpen as a long man for any starting pitcher who only goes 4 to 5 innings while they try to limit work for some of their starting pitchers, especially Chris Sale.

Evan graduated from Bryant University in May 2017. He originally joined Trifecta Network back in February 2016. Currently, he covers the Pawtucket Red Sox for Trifecta along with appearing as a guest on Trifecta Networks podcasts.

Pawtucket Red Sox

Red Sox Outfielder Rusney Castillo Is International League Batting Champion



Rusney Castillo

Red Sox Outfielder Rusney Castillo Is The International League Batting Champion

Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo has been at AAA Pawtucket and has been stuck at AAA Pawtucket since June 18th 2016. In the years since then, he hit .263 in 2016, .314 in 2017, and in 2018 he hit .319. The next best batting average in the International league was Joey Meneses who hit .311 in 2018. So Rusney Castillo is the International League batting champion in 2018.

This is the first time a Paw Sox player won the batting title since 1981 when Wade Boggs hit .335 for the Paw Sox. Castillo still won the batting title this season even though he actually had less hits this season then Meneses. Meneses had 153 hits while Castillo had 151 hits in the 2018 season. This is the most hits a Paw Sox player had in a single season since 2008 when Joe Thurston had 160 hits.

How Castillo Got Here

“He’s earned it” when Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles talked about Rusney Castillo winning the batting title.

“Obviously he’s disappointed because the last week here, we tried playing him four or five days ago, and he’s been fighting shin splints and an ankle and he still wanted to play. Our judgment, there was no way watching his last game and how he had played and just the way he wasn’t moving down the line” Boles added.

Rusney Castillo played his final game of the 2018 season last Thursday August 30th against Lehigh Valley. In that game, he went 0 for 5 at the plate with one strike out.

“It was unfortunate because he’s a guy that wants to be in the lineup. Obviously he’s been our best hitter. But for him to win the batting title, it’s a great body of work what he’s done. He’s had a great year and he’s earned it. First one since Wade Boggs. So that’s a big accomplishment for him” Boles said when praising Castillo on the type of player he is.

Castillo has put in a ton of work this season, so much so that it really has become a mystery as to why he’s still in the minor leagues. The contract that Rusney Castillo signed with the Red Sox back in August 2014 is a big reason why he’s still stuck in the minor leagues.

But what Rusney Castillo has turned into, is someone who could play on most major league baseball teams. Castillo could be a trade candidate for most major league teams who want a center fielder who can play good defense and hit .270 over 140 games or so. At the price of $11.7 million dollars, that’s not a bad price for a major league team.

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Boston Red Sox Set To Call Up Veteran Brandon Phillips From AAA Pawtucket



Brandon Phillips

Boston Red Sox Set To Call Up Veteran Brandon Phillips From AAA Pawtucket, Activate Rafael Devers Off The Disabled List

With the AAA season coming to a close this afternoon, the Boston Red Sox have decided to promote veteran infielder Brandon Phillips to the major league roster effective September 4th. The 37 year old veteran has been with the organization since June 27th when the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract.

Since he has been with the organization, Phillips has seen time with Low-A Lowell, and AAA Pawtucket. While with the Lowell Spinners, he hit .318 with 1 home run and 7 runs batted in over 6 games. On July 14th, the Red Sox promoted him to AAA Pawtucket. While with the Paw Sox, he has hit .302 with 4 home runs and 19 runs batted in over 38 games. Since August 8th, he has batted .376 with a 1.000 OPS.

Brandon Phillips is eligible for the postseason roster for the Red Sox because he was within the organization before September 1st. The fact that he wasn’t on the 25 or 40 man roster before that date means nothing. But it is very unlikely that the veteran will be on the post season roster considering the other options the Red Sox have within the organization.

This call up of Phillips was more to congratulate him on sticking it out in the minor leagues and being such a great presence in the clubhouse down at McCoy Stadium. He won’t be getting a ton of playing time with so many other options at the major leagues, and Phillips knows that. But they loved his attitude and that’s why he’s getting the call up.

Red Sox To Activate Rafael Devers Off Of The Disabled List

Along with Brandon Phillips being promoted to Boston after the AAA season concludes Monday afternoon, the Red Sox will activate infielder Rafael Devers as well. Devers has been on the disabled list for Boston since August 17th with a left hamstring strain and has been with AAA Pawtucket on a rehab stint since August 29th.

In 5 games with AAA Pawtucket on his most recent rehab stint, he has hit .294 with 1 home run and 2 runs batted in.

On Sunday night, Devers had his most impressive rehab game with the Paw Sox since he started this current rehab. In 4 at-bats, he made hard contact 3 times and had 2 base hits to show for it. Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles said that it was the best that Devers has looked in this rehab stint.

Devers has one more rehab start with the PawSox before he will be activated off of the disabled list on Monday afternoon. He is playing third base, batting third in the lineup.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Third Basemen Rafael Devers Has His Best Night So Far In Rehab Sunday Night  



Rafael Devers

Red Sox Third Basemen Rafael Devers Has His Best Night So Far In Rehab Stint Sunday Night At McCoy Stadium For The Paw Sox

Red Sox third basemen Rafael Devers, who is currently rehabbing his at AAA Pawtucket after suffering a left hamstring strain, played his fifth rehab game Sunday night at McCoy Stadium. On the night, Devers went 2 for 4 at the plate with a single, double, and two ground outs.

Devers played all 9 innings Sunday night for the Paw Sox as well. Defensively there was no problems for him going for balls. But offensively, he looks like he is getting really close to getting his timing down for the major leagues. In all of his at-bats tonight, Devers was able to make solid contact against the Rail Riders pitchers. However this wasn’t the last game for Devers at AAA Pawtucket as he will play 3rd base for the Paw Sox on Monday afternoon when the Paw Sox close out the regular season

How Rafael Devers Looked Sunday Night

Coming into the night on his current rehab stint, Rafael Devers had been 3 for 13 at the plate with 1 home run and 2 RBI’s. That home run came in their contest on Saturday night in Scranton. But that’s when on Sunday night, Devers appeared to get back on track with his timing.

“He had three pretty good at bats. I thought the ground ball to short was pretty well hit (in the 5th inning)” said Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles

“Then he hustled down the line beating out a potential double play ball. Stayed in a rundown between third and home to keep us out of a double play, and caught one popup on defense. So I though overall, he looked pretty good. I liked how he got down the line on the fielder’s choice” Boles added when asked about the night for Rafael Devers.

The first base hit on the night for Rafael Devers came on a 1-0 fastball in the first inning of the game off of Scranton Wilkes-Barre starting pitcher Adonis Rosa. Devers was able to take the fastball back up the middle into center field for the Paw Sox first base hit of the night.

In the 4th inning, Rafael Devers had the second base hit of the night for the Paw Sox. On the seventh pitch that he saw from Rosa, Devers was able to pull a hard hit double down the right field line and he went into second base without any trouble. But earlier in the at-bat, Devers was able to pull a ball about 340 feet foul down the right field line. It is 325 feet to the right field foul pole at McCoy Stadium.

How Close Is Devers To Returning To Major League Baseball

His sharpness level is “getting better” said Boles after the game. Especially since he hasn’t played a ton of baseball game the second half of the season. Devers has been placed on the disabled list three times the second half of the season. One time for left shoulder inflammation. Twice for a left hamstring strain.

“When he first got here, he ended up hitting a fastball to left center that was up in the zone. Then he ended up expanding the zone a little bit too much. Now we’re starting to see him, strike zone’s got better management of it, and he’s swinging the bat well” said Boles.

“His timing is getting down. Still work in progress, but overall, I thought tonight was probably the best night that we’ve seen him. He’s heading in the right direction” he added.

The Paw Sox close out their 2018 season Monday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. That will probably be the last game Rafael Devers plays before being activated off of the disabled list.

But tonight was a big step in the right direction for Rafael Devers. He looked like he was healthy tonight while playing for the Paw Sox. Since he is playing more games down at AAA and everyday, he getting his timing down before he is activated. So you shouldn’t be seeing Devers struggle at the plate once he is activated off of the disabled list because he getting that timing down before that.


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