The fifth annual Red Sox Rookie Development Program is set to take place at Boston College from January 7 - 18. The development program is a 10-day camp that allows the organization's major and minor league coaches to instruct MLB-ready prospects on life in the big leagues. The players are tutored on the physical and mental aspects of playing in the big leagues, particularly in Boston. There are sessions on dealing with the media, money management, alcohol, drugs, umpire relations, and other obstacles players may face upon reaching the major leagues. Typically, mornings are spent working out and afternoons in classrooms. The program also gives the players a chance to get to know some of their fellow up-and-coming prospects who may have played at different levels during past seasons. The players are selected by Red Sox management based on projections of who may be promoted to Boston in the coming year.
On Monday, January 21, 2008 (Martin Luther King Day). the Boston Chapter of the Society of Baseball Research (SABR) will meet at the Baseball Tavern, 1270 Boylston Street (close to Fenway Park) from 10:30AM to 4:00PM. Bill James will be the featured attraction, along with an equally stellar lineup of speakers and presenters. The other star attraction is the Tavern itself, with an impressive collection of Nuf Ced McGreevy memorabilia. Always a great time, this is an event not to be missed. For more information, contact Joanne Hulbert [email: firstname.lastname@example.org].
The Boston Red Sox have announced the signings of RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Lee Gronkiewicz, C Kevin Cash, 1B/DH Jeff Bailey, 2B Tony Granadillo, 3B Keith Ginter, 2B Joe Thurston and SS Gil Velazquez to minor league contracts. All have been assigned to Pawtucket except Granadillo, who has been assigned to Portland. Bailey and Granadillo return to the Sox system after having spent 2007 with Pawtucket and Lancaster/Portland respectively. Cash also retuns, having spent the last six weeks of 2007 in Boston filling in for the injured Doug Mirabelli. Gronkiewicz posted good numbers splitting time between AA New Hampshire and AAA Syracuse in the Toronto system after starring in relief for the U.S. at the 2007 World Cup. Atchison posted a 4.11 ERA in 22 appearances with San Francisco in 2007. He also spent time with AAA Fresco (Giants). Ginter, who last appeared in the majors in 2005 with Oakland, spent 2007 at AAA Buffalo (Indians). Thurston, a formerly well regarded prospect in the Dodgers system, spent the bulk of the 2007 at AAA Ottawa (Phillies). He has appeared in 55 big league games with Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Velazquez spent 2007 in the Minnesota system, making stops at AA New Britain and AAA Rochester.
As speculated on SoxProspects.com since June, Baseball America has confirmed that the Fenway Sports Group, a John Henry enterprise, recently reached an agreement to purchase the Salem Avalanche of the Carolina League from Hardball Capital. The Avalanche, currently the High-A club for the Houston Astros, will remain an Astros affiliate in 2008, but is now primed to become the Red Sox affiliate following the 2008 season. At present, Boston's High-A affiliate is the Lancaster JetHawks, but the player development contract between Lancaster and Boston expires after next season. After the 2006 season, the Red Sox signed a player development contract with the JetHawks, who play their home games in Lancaster, California. This was after Boston's former High-A club, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, dropped their affiliation with Boston in favor of Kansas City, leaving the Red Sox with minimal remaining affiliate options at the High-A level, ultimately requiring them to sign with the California franchise. The JetHawks have proven to be a great affiliate and a top notch club, but the Red Sox prefer to keep all of their minor league clubs on the East Coast for ease of player promotion and scouting. Salem, Virginia is less than 300 miles from Boston's Low-A affiliate in Grenville, South Carolina, and a much shorter plane trip up to Portland, the Red Sox AA club. Furthermore, attendance in the Carolina League is generally much higher than that of the California League, where the JetHawks presently play. In 2007, Salem's attendance was 258,469 while Lancaster's was 125,353.
The Avalanche will be the only minor league affiliate owned by the Red Sox above the rookie-level. Presently, the Red Sox also own the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, both rookie-level teams. The teams' other affiliates are all owned by outside parties and are affiliated with the team by way of "player development contracts." Player development contracts are generally renewed or re-aligned every two or four years with each team's non-owned minor league affiliates, always in even years. The major league organization always retain the rights to all players under contract with it, regardless of the assigned affiliate, the ownership of the minor league club, or the player development contract.
The pending affiliation with the Avalanche marks a return to Salem, Virginia for the Red Sox. From 1943 to 1952, the Avalanche, then known as the Roanoke Red Sox, were a Sox affiliate, and actually played and defeated the major league club in an exhibition game in the late forties.
The Red Sox have announced their 2008 coaching staff’s for the team’s minor league affiliates. Ron Johnson will return as Pawtucket Red Sox manager, but will have 2 new coaches on his staff in pitching coach Rich Sauveur, who joins the Red Sox organization after 5 years in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Russ Morman will take over as the hitting coach after 4 seasons with the Portland Seadogs. Arnie Beyeler will also return as manager of the Sea Dogs as well as pitching coach Mike Cather. Dave Joppie will take over as the hitting coach after spending the 2007 season with the Lancaster Jethawks. The Lancaster Jethawks will have a new staff outside of manager Chad Epperson who will return to the dugout for the 2008 season. Joining him in the desert will be Mike Griffin, who will take over as pitching coach after spending the last five seasons with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Carlos Febles, who coached with Lowell in 2007, will be the new hitting coach. The Greenville Drive will have an entirely new staff in 2008. New manager Kevin Boles joins the Red Sox organization after four seasons managing with the Minnesota Twins organization. His career record as a minor league manager is 386-358. Bob Kipper will take over as the pitching coach after spending 2007 at Lancaster. Former major league outfielder Billy McMillon will make his professional coaching debut as the hitting coach of the Drive. Gary DiSarcina will return as the Lowell Spinners manager in 2008, but have two new coaches on his staff. Walter Miranda will take over as pitching coach after spending the 2007 season at Greenville. Luis Lopez who was a former major league infielder will make his professional coaching debut as the Spinners hitting coach. The Gulf Coast Red Sox will have the same coaching staff in 2008. Dave Tomlin returns as the manger of the rookie league ball club. Rounding out the staff will be pitching coach Goose Gregson and hitting coach U.L. Washington.
The Red Sox passed on selecting any players in each phase (MLB, AAA, and AA) of this morning's Rule 5 Draft. However, the Sox did lose LHP Jose Capellan to San Francisco and Lincoln Holdzkom to Philadelphia in the MLB phase of the draft. Capellan, a big lefty starter, spent the 2007 season with Lowell, going 4-1 with a 3.69 ERA. He was previously ranked as the #37 prospect in the system. The Red Sox expected that they might have lost Holdzkom, a reliever with a nice fastball but some control issues. He split time in 2007 between Pawtucket and Portland, collectivly going 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 54 Ks, and 44 walks. Under Rule 5 of the Major League Rules, Capellan and Holdzkom are requires to spend the entire 2008 season on the 25-man roster of their new teams or must be offered back to the Red Sox. Holdzkom has a good chance of sticking with the Phillies, but look for Capellan to be returned to the Sox organization in April 2008. In addition to losing Capellan and Holdzkom, the Red Sox lost Mauricio Mendez to Pittsburgh in the AAA Phase of the draft. Mendez went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in 17 games for the GCL Red Sox in 2007, his fourth season at the Rookie-ball level.