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March 29, 2006 at 10:03 PM

PawSox stockpiled for 2006


With Opening Day at McCoy a little over a week away, the 2006 edition of the Pawtucket Red Sox is beginning to take shape. Let's take a look at some of the more notable players who look to light up the starry Pawtucket nights this summer.

Without a doubt, the biggest buzz surrounding the 2006 season is the prospect-laden pitching staff. Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen, Cla Meredith, Jermaine Van Buren and Abe Alvarez all appear to have their tickets punched for Pawtucket come April 6. There hasn't been this kind of excitement about a PawSox staff since Brian Rose and Carl Pavano anchored it back in 1997. With two top-tier prospects in Lester, the lefty-fireballer, and Hansen, the flame-throwing reliever, there is no question that the rest of the International League (IL) will have their hands full. Van Buren, who had an outstanding '05 campaign with the Iowa Cubs, looks to pick up where he left off in '05. Throw in Delcarmen, Alvarez, and Meredith, all 2005 holdovers, and this staff should be giving IL hitters more headaches than base hits.

Not to be overshadowed are the quality prospects in this year's lineup as well.
Dustin Pedroia, David Murphy and Alejandro Machado all look to have solid seasons at the plate. There is some question about the positioning of Pedroia and Machado, who have both yo-yo'd between shortstop and second base recently. The word is that Pedroia will see the bulk of his time at short, with the recently-traded Hanley Ramirez now in Miami. Look for Machado to see more time in the outfield, displaying his versatility in an attempt to keep his stock high with the Beantown brass. Murphy will look to show off his glove in centerfield as he hopes to exceed the expectations that come with being a first round pick (2003).

No doubt, as with any given AAA team, there is always a seasoned mix of veterans and other lesser-known players that can contribute. Former major leaguers
Ken Huckaby, Hee-Seop Choi and Willie Harris should provide the "youngins" with leadership. Huckaby, a veteran catcher with major league experience, should be invaluable behind the plate to this current crop of young pitchers. All together, it stands to be a pretty exciting season for the PawSox in 2006.

Notes: It has been confirmed that David Wells will make a rehab start on April 7 vs. Indianapolis...Lefty
Phil Seibel, who hasn't pitched since 2004, looks to rebound from Tommy John surgery and appears fully healthy thus far into the spring ... After 10 spring training games, the PawSox are a very respectable 7-3 as of March 29.
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