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Pawtucket Red Sox 2012 Preview

McCoy Stadium (Pawtucket Red Sox)

I’ll be writing a weekly article this season recapping the previous week of the Pawtucket Red Sox. For those not familiar with Minor League Baseball, Pawtucket is the highest level affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and plays in the International League. The IL consists of 14 teams split up into three divisions, with Pawtucket playing in the North Division. Pawtucket won the North Division last year, but was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

This week, I’ll break down Pawtucket’s roster ahead of Opening Day, plus I’ll tack on a little Q&A with Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler.

2012 Pawtucket Red Sox Roster

Starting Rotation

#1 Ross Ohlendorf

#2 Alex Wilson - The 2009 second round draft pick had a breakthrough season last year, posting a 10-4 record with a 3.11 ERA between Portland and Pawtucket. A repeat performance in 2012 should propel him to Boston next year.

#3 Aaron Cook – Cook has the ability to opt out of his contract if he is not called up to Boston by May 1st. A dominant Spring Training should convince the big club to prevent that scenario.

#4 Brandon Duckworth – A 36-year old journeyman who is really a Quadruple-A player at this point in his career.

#5 John Maine

Bullpen

Junichi Tazawa – After missing all of 2010 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Tazawa came on strong towards the end of last season, recording a 2.51 ERA with 19 K’s over 14.1 innings for Pawtucket. He’s only 25, and it looks like he has a bright future ahead of him as a big-league reliever.

Tony Pena Jr.

Clayton Mortensen – The guy Boston got for Marco Scutaro. Had a 3.86 ERA for Colorado last year over 58.1 innings.

Will Inman

Doug Mathis

Starters

C Ryan Lavarnway – The second coming of Johnny Bench, both offensively and defensively. Hit 34 home runs last year.

1B Lars Anderson – In danger of becoming a Quadruple-A player if he doesn’t get out of the Red Sox’ system soon. First base in this organization is a dead-end that leads into the brick wall that is Adrian Gonzalez. Lars led the IL in walks last year.

2B Nate Spears

3B Will Middlebrooks – The heir apparent to Kevin Youkilis at 3rd base. He features good average (hit .285 last year) with lots of power.

SS Jose Iglesias – Soon to be the starter in Boston, despite the fact that he just can’t hit. He batted .235 with 1 home run last year in AAA. How is he going to hit against major-league pitching?

LF Alex Hassan – If he can replicate what he did in Portland last year (.291 AVG, .404 OBP, 34 doubles) in Pawtucket this year, it’ll be hard to keep him in the minors for long.

CF Che-Hsuan Lin

RF Josh Kroeger

DH Mauro Gomez – Had a spectacular offensive season last year for the Gwinnett Braves, leading the league in total bases and was second in hits, third in home runs, and fifth in doubles.

Bench

C Luis Exposito

IF Tony Thomas

IF Brad Emaus

OF Ronald Bermudez

OF Jason Repko

OF Daniel Nava – A local celebrity after hitting a grand slam on his first major league pitch in 2010, Nava had a down year last year that saw his average dip to .268. It’s unclear how much playing time he’ll get this year with Hassan in the mix in the outfield.

These rosters are sure to be obsolete as soon as I write them; Alfedo Aceves was supposed to be Pawtucket’s Opening Day starter last year but was called up to Boston hours before first pitch, forcing Scott Atchison to make the start.

Manager Q&A

On Monday, manager Arnie Beyeler, now in his second season as skipper, sat down for a Q&A session on Boston.com.

Here are some questions that I asked him, and his responses:

AR: How much does it matter to the guys in a minor league clubhouse to win their division or pennant?

AB: That’s a great question, you would be surprised how much they want to win. I was very surprised last season at that. I guess deep down they are all professionals and want to win at everything they do. We had a great group of guys here last season and most of them coming back this season, so I hope we can win a few games again.

AR: With Alex Hassan being sent to Pawtucket to start the year, what will your starting outfield look like? Nava, Hassan, Lin?

AB: Don’t know yet, have to wait and see who Bobby sends us.

AR: Do guys have to scramble to find a place to live before the season starts? Tony Thomas asked on Twitter [on Sunday] if there were any housing companies in Rhode Island open on Sunday. How hard is it for guys to find housing?

AB:Yes it is tough, they don’t know till the last minute where they are going so they can’t plan much and most have families to move also. That’s the lifestyle.

The Week Ahead

  • Thursday – vs. Buffalo, 7:05
  • Friday – vs. Buffalo, 6:15
  • Saturday – double-header vs. Lehigh Valley, 4:05
  • Sunday – off
  • Monday – vs. Lehigh Valley, 6:15
  • Tuesday – vs. Lehigh Valley, 12:05

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