Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker got a late season call-up from Portland to Pawtucket where he played in eight regular season games before going 3-27 with 2 RBIs and 10 strikeouts in six playoff appearances.
After the season he took his glove and cleats down to Mexico for the winter where he has suited up and played in eight games for Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican Pacific League.
Thus far, statistically speaking, his eight games with Obregon are on par with his seven in Pawtucket. Noteably he has hit two home runs when he had none with the PawSox, but this is not an anomaly by any means as he had 19 long balls with Portland where he spent much of his 2012 season.
Of course this is far from a large enough sample size to make any assumptions on, but it is worth a gander to see where he is in his current progress as he makes steps up to face better competition.
Hazelbaker is considered a decent enough fringe guy by most, a backup outfielder on a big league club should he be able to put it all together, but many are still not sold on his package as a whole.
Hazelbaker did make some strides this year in Portland, setting career bests in batting average (.273) home runs (19) and RBIs (64) in 114 games with the Sea Dogs.
He is highly regarded for his speed on the base paths, stealing 36 total bases this season and 157 over his four seasons in pro ball. He did get caught 11 times this year and will need to keep those numbers down if he is going to use that to help him rise to the Majors.
But in looking back on his short samples between Pawtucket and Obregon, it is clear that Hazelbaker is still not quite there yet. His walk rate plummeted from 11% in 2010 to 7% in 2012 and there are not many signs of improvement for a guy with a 26% career strikeout rate.
So far with Obregon he has struck out five times and walked twice, so it will be telling to see where these numbers are once he is done in Mexico. He needs to improve his patience and cut down on the first-pitch swings that seem to almost always result into outs for him and he needs to improve at recognizing pitches which should help tie everything together.
As far as Hazelbaker’s future is concerned, he is someone that could come in and provide a spark off the bench ala Daniel Nava. Ultimately it will be his speed that gets him there, but using that speed more effectively in the outfield, coupled with a continued effort to be patient in his at-bats, will go a long way in him making it to Boston.
Continuing to play through the fall and winter in Mexico shows that he is at the very least dedicated enough to make that all happen. Hazelbaker has remained healthy in his four professional seasons, so extending this season could prove to be integral in his progress. Expect Hazelbaker to be with Pawtucket next year, where a full season of Triple-A ball could help him round out the rough edges.
Arizona Fall League notes
Bryce Brentz saw his seven game hit streak come to an end on Thursday when he went 0-for-3 against Scottsdale. However, he did pick up his first stolen base of the fall in that game. So far Brentz is batting .281 through eight games, but does not have an RBI or a run scored in his last four.
Christian Vazquez had a big game against Scottsdale, going 4-for-4 with his first home run of the fall to go along with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs. He continues to be the long arm of the base paths, successfully throwing out 9 of the 15 runners who have attempted to steal on him.
Michael Almanzar has picked up a hit in each of his last four games…Pete Ruiz struck out three batters over two innings of relief work against Peoria on Wednesday. It is the third time in five appearances that he has struck out three or more and his 12 total Ks are second most on the Saguaros and first for relievers…Brock Huntzinger has allowed only one walk in eight innings of relief work, but opponents are hitting .364 off of him…Chris Martin got lit up for four hits and two runs in an inning of work on Wednesday. He inherited the bases loaded in the sixth inning and proceeded to let up four singles before retiring the side…Ryan Pressly struck out two in the seventh inning of Mondays game against Peoria, but also yielded his first home run of the fall, a lead-off shot to Jeudy Valdez.
Craig Forde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.
Fall and winter baseball leagues are in full swing and the Red Sox seven sent to Surprise for the fall have helped the Saguaros jump out to a 5-3 mark in the Arizona Fall League.
Bryce Brentz brought his hot bat with him to Arizona as the outfielder has hit safely in all five games that he has played in. He has a .333 batting average and has picked up a triple, home run, five RBIs and seven runs scored thus far. The triple came in the Saguaros first game of the fall against Peoria, matching his regular season total for three-baggers.
First baseman Michael Almanzar has played in six games for Surprise, but has not fared as well as Brentz at the plate. He has collected four hits, all singles, and is batting .182. He has one RBI, scored four runs and struck out six times in 22 at-bats.
The third Red Sox positional player with the Saguaros, catcher Christian Vazquez, is batting .231 through four games, but did pick up all three of his hits in a 3-for-4 outing against the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Thursday. He has drawn four walks to only two strikeouts and has scored two runs. In four games behind the dish Vazquez has gunned down four of five would-be base stealers. He threw out 40% of runners who attempted to steal against him in the regular season.
The four Sox pitchers with Surprise, Brock Huntzinger, Chris Martin, Ryan Pressly and Pete Ruiz, have each made three relief appearances and all have walked only one batter. Huntzinger is 0-1 and has struck out four batters over six innings. Martin has also struck out four batters in his 4 2/3 innings pitched. Pressly has five Ks over three innings of work and Ruiz has mowed down eight by way of the strikeout in just 3 2/3 innings.
Three of the four Caribbean winter baseball leagues have kicked off and the following is a listing of Red Sox players that are currently on a team’s roster, with their statistics over the first few games.
P Josh Fields, Aguilas Cibaenas: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 BB
P Tony Pena Jr, Aguilas Cibaenas: Yet to play
P Stolmy Pimentel, Estrellas de Oriente: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB
3B Nate Spears, Gigantes del Cibao: 3 G, .091 BA, 1 H, 1 R, 5 K, 1 BB
P Steven Wright, Leones del Escogido: Yet to play
C Matt Spring, Leones del Escogido: Yet to play
1B Mauro Gomez, Leones del Escogido: 2 G, .125 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
C Dan Butler, Toros del Este: 3 G, .083, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
P Marco Duarte, Aguilas de Mexacali: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2 G, 4 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, Yaquis de Obregon: 5 G, .250 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB
P Yeiper Castillo, Aguilas de Zulia: Yet to play
OF J.C. Linares, Bravos de Margarita: 2 G, .333 BA, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
P Ricardo Betancourt, Leones del Caracas: Yet to play
P Luis Diaz, Leones del Caracas: Yet to play
P Franklin Morales, Leones del Caracas: Yet to play
OF Ronald Bermudez, Leones del Caracas: 4 G, .250 BA, 2 R, 1 K
2B Heiker Meneses, Tiburones de la Guaria: 1 G, .000 BA, 0-1
We will provide weekly updates of all of the Sox players who continue to rake through the offseason, as well as anything else news worthy from these fall and winter leagues.
There will be no outfield consisting of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, as there was last fall, but plenty of top-notch prospects are ready to get rolling in the 21st season of the Arizona Fall League, including seven Red Sox farmhands.
This season the Red Sox players have been assigned to the Surprise Saguaros along with prospects from the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
Headlining the Sox caravan is outfielder Bryce Brentz who had a solid season in Double-A Portland (17 HRs, 76 RBI, .296/.355/.478) before getting a late season call-up to Pawtucket where he helped the PawSox capture their first Governors Cup since 1984.
Pitchers Brock Huntzinger, Chris Martin, Ryan Pressly and Pete Ruiz along with catcher Christian Vazquez and first baseman Michael Almanzar, round out the Sox participants.
The Saguaros roster also includes Cardinals 2011 first-round pick Kolten Wong, former Lowell Spinners first baseman Chris McGuinness (now with Texas) and the 22nd overall selection in the 2010 draft, catcher Kellin Deglan (Phoenix Desert Dogs) of the Rangers.
Some big names that will dot the AFL landscape this fall include Minor League stolen-base record holder Billy Hamilton (Reds, Peoria Javelinas), Nationals third-baseman Anthony Rendon (Salt River Rafters) and Marlins top-prospect, outfielder Christian Yelich.
The 36-game season commences on Tuesday, with Surprise visiting Peoria, and we will be sure to keep you abreast on how the Sox prospects fare, as well as any other notable news out of Arizona.
It is a large cactus that can be found in Mexico, California and, of course Arizona. They can live for up to 75 years and can grow to 40-60 feet high. The saguaro blossom is the state flower of Arizona and harming a saguaro cactus in Arizona is illegal...although brush-back pitches are welcome.
The following are the player eligibility rules, taken from MLB.com:
Roster size is established at 35 players per team.
Each Major League organization is required to provide seven players, subject to the following eligibility requirements:
All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, provided they are on Double-A rosters no later than Aug. 15. Each organization is permitted to send two Class A Advanced-level players in addition to the current allowance of two "A exempt" players (who are under contract as of Aug. 15). Foreign players are allowed as long as the player is not on his native country's primary protected-player list.
No players with more than one year active or two years total of credited Major League service as of Aug. 31 (including Major League disabled-list time) are eligible, except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.
Each team is allotted 20 pitchers, but only 15 are designated "eligible" each gameday.