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July 12, 2005 at 12:10 PM

Pawtucket mid-season Report, Pt. 1

With the Triple-A All-Star Game upon us, marking the unofficial "midpoint" of the triple-A season, let's take a look at how Boston's top-tier affliate has been doing so far.

With a record of 44-46, the PawSox are hanging tough in the perenially competitive Northern Division of the International League. The Dan Duquette and Lou Gorman regimes used to measure the success of their farm systems by the overall win-loss total. That philosophy has been long-since abandoned by the Epstein/Cherington regime, with good reason, as individual talent, rather than overall teams, is being evaluated. With that being said, although the record may not be a good barometer of the talent in Pawtucket, there has certainly been some pleasant surprises.

CF Chip Ambres, the exiled former Marlin prospect, has shown flashes of brilliance, earning him a Triple-A All-Star Game nomination. Ambres is hitting .302, with 10 HRs and 48 RBIs at the break. Of course, in this "moneyball era" that the sport is currently mired in, his most notable stat is his impressive OBP of .407, which ranks as the 3rd highest in the IL. Although he is not currently on Boston's 40-man, many are projecting him to be a leading candidate to replace Johnny Damon in centerfield in 2006, should Damon pack up his bags and sign a free agent deal elsewhere.

Another notable player is 1B/DH Roberto Petagine, the former Japanese League All-Star who was invited to camp by this Sox this past spring. Although injury deterred him from making the big club out of camp, he returned in May to play for the PawSox, hoping to "show off" his skills to the parent club. To say that Petagine is "showing off" is an understatement. The man is absolutely murdering triple-A pitching, batting .328, 16 HR and 48 RBIs, in only 53 games, with a ridiculous .442 OBP and an astounding .657 slugging percentage. It is widely-speculated that Petagine has an "out clause" in his contract that allows him to leave at any point should he not receive a call-up to Boston. With the way he's been hitting, this is giving the Sox brass a fortunate problem: too much talent at the 1st base position. Should Boston trade away Mr. Cowboy Up himself, look for Petagine to get a long look at perhaps taking a spot on the bench in Boston.

Other notable players in Pawtucket that are worth mentioning include INF Alejandro Machado, who has remained steady in the field and at the plate, and gets my nomination as a "dirt dawg", for the all-out hustle he displays on the field and on the basepaths. Starting pitchers Abe Alvarez and Tim Kester have provided the PawSox with consistent outings. If reliever Juan Perez can harness his 94mph fastball a little better, he could very well be Alan Embree's replacement come September.

So what does the 2nd half of the season hold in store for the PawSox? I'll discuss this shortly...