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November 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM

2014 Graduates in Review: Brandon Workman

As a special extension of our Top 40 in Review series, this week we will feature the six players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 10 during the 2014 season and graduated from prospect status.

Peak System Ranking: #8
Graduated: June 6 (#8)
2014 Teams: Boston Red Sox, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 87 IP, 1-10, 5.17 ERA, 88 H, 57 R/50 ER, 36 BB, 70 K, 1.43 WHIP (majors)
61 1/3 IP, 7-1, 4.11 ERA, 61 H, 28 R/28 ER, 17 BB, 55 K, 1.27 WHIP (minors)


Season in Review: It was an up-and-down season for Workman, both in terms of performance and roster status. After Workman played a key role in the Red Sox 2013 championship run, the former Texas longhorn opened the 2014 campaign in the Boston bullpen. Despite allowing only one run over 6 1/3 innings in three first-week outings, Workman was a victim of the numbers game when Craig Breslow returned from the disabled list. Back with Pawtucket, he returned to the rotation and failed to impress, perhaps due to the disappointment of being back in Triple-A after being a key part of the major league club last October, giving up at least three runs in six of his seven starts before being recalled to Boston in mid-May.

In his second start back, Workman was involved in some controversy—following a pair of hit batters by Rays starter David Price, the rookie delivered a wild fastball behind the head of Evan Longoria. Workman was ejected for the pitch and ended up serving a six-game suspension. After some solid work in June, including 6 2/3 shutout innings while allowing one hit in a win over Baltimore on June 10, Workman fell into an extended stretch of struggles for the first time as a major leaguer. He was the losing pitcher in eight consecutive MLB outings, the most since the franchise record of 11 straight set in 1929 by Red Ruffing. After a no-decision, he took two more losses, finishing his season with an unsightly 1-10 record. In that stretch of 11 major league appearances, 10 of them starts and the other a relief appearance in the 19th inning against the Angels on August 9, he posted an ERA of 6.66 and allowed a .305/.372/.493 line to opposing hitters. There were positives during his four starts in Pawtucket, during which he went 4-0, allowing 21 hits and seven walks in 22 2/3 innings, striking out 21 hitters. Still, the finish to Workman's season left some doubt as to whether he would be better suited remaining in the bullpen or making a full-time transition to the bullpen.

If nothing else, perhaps there is solace to be taken in the fact that Ruffing, whose record Workman challenged, ended up in the Hall of Fame after winnings 273 games and making six All-Star teams. - James Dunne

Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Workman has a 6-foot-5, 225-pound, strong framed, mature body and is filled out throughout.  He throws from a high three-quarters-to-overhand arm slot with short arm action in the back and effort in the delivery.  He features a four-pitch mix, throwing a fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup. The fastball sits 88-91 mph with great control and average command. He is not afraid to challenge hitters with the fastball, and works well to both sides of the plate. The pitch grades about average and has a chance to play up out of the bullpen, where he has sat 92-95 in the past. The curveball is his best secondary pitch, a true 12-to-6 breaker with sharp bite at 74-76 mph. The pitch flashes above-average, and he controls the pitch well inside as well as down, out of the zone. The cutter is 85-86 mph with short, late, horizontal cut and grades about average. Workman changes speeds well between his four-seam fastball and cut fastball, which he runs away from right-handed hitters just off the barrel of their bat. The changeup grades as average at 82-84 mph with arm-side fade and sink. He throws the pitch with confidence and can pick up a strike early in the count.

Workman is a great depth starter who can give quality innings at the back end of the rotation and keep his team in a ball game. Given the effort in his delivery and his overall stuff, Workman would probably have a hard time pitching 180-plus quality innings out of the rotation. His best chance to stick with success is in relief, where his fastball can play up and he can provide length out of the bullpen. Entering his age 26 season, Workman still has two options remaining, giving the Red Sox some roster flexibility and the ability to plug Workman in wherever the need may arise. Workman should have a chance to compete for the final spot in the rotation (assuming the club acquires two starters this offseason), but should ultimately end up playing a significant role out of the bullpen. - Chaz Fiorino

Additional editorial support provided by Jonathan Singer.

Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor