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September 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

2019 SoxProspects.com All-Stars: Pitchers


Following up Monday's All-Star Position Players post, we are presenting the top five starters and three relievers from the 2019 season. The list includes three players from the lower minors and five players from the upper minors. 

Starting Pitcher: Thaddeus Ward
Ward's stock was on the rise after increasing his strikeout rate in each of his three years in college and was drafted in the fifth round in 2018 and signed for slightly below slot. Though he pitched exclusively as a reliever in college, he was converted to a starter upon signing and made 11 appearances last season for Lowell. The 22-year-old was bumped up to Greenville to begin the year and saw immediate success. Over his 13 starts, he only allowed more than three runs twice and finished the level with a 1.99 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 87 strikeouts to 25 walks over 72 1/3 innings. His best run came from May 14 to May 25th where he made three straight scoreless appearances while going at least seven innings in each. The righty's dominance did not stop after a promotion to Salem where he made 12 more starts with a 2.33 ERA and 11.67 K/9.

His most recent appearance was a playoff start for Salem, and he threw another six strong innings, allowing only three hits and four walks while striking out seven and earning the win. Ward is one of the system's biggest risers this season, starting the year ranked 38th and finishes the year ranked eighth in the SoxProspects.com rankings. On the year, Ward won three SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week awards and a SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month and is now a SoxProspects.com All-Star.

Starting Pitcher: Daniel McGrath
While Ward has been a very quick riser, McGrath has slowly made his way through the system. After being signed as an international free agent in 2012, the lefty had gone from the Gulf Coast League up through Double-A posting an ERA of 4.00 or higher at each stop. This year he finally found his groove. He started the year at Double-A, pitching mostly in relief but with much better results - 1.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 113 strikeouts, and 45 in 111 1/3 innings. Off of that strong start, McGrath was moved to the rotation on June 26th and pitched there the rest of the year. His best run came from July 15th to 25th where over three starts, he didn't allow a run, gave up only nine hits, walked four, and struck out 16 and won back-to-back SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week awards and took home the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month as well. Overall, split between the two levels, he finishes with a 1.98 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 122 2/3 innings, easily his best professional season.

Starting Pitcher: Kyle Hart
The 26-year-old may only have a fastball that sits in the high-80s, but he continues to put up good numbers. In his fourth season after being selected in the 19th round on the 2016 draft out of Indiana, Hart had another consistently impressive year. After nine strong starts in Double-A where he went 6+ innings in 7-of-9 starts. His Pawtucket debut could not have gone better. He threw a complete game shutout allowing only five hits without a walk while striking out eight, winning the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week. He finishes the year with a 12-13 record, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 ERA, 140 strikeouts and 53 walks. He is only ranked 57th in the SoxProspects.com rankings as he profiles as more of an emergency depth starter, but if he keeps showing the results he did in 2019 he may just get that chance. 

Starting Pitcher: Bryan Mata
Mata continues to be promoted aggressively and is consistently one of the youngest players in the league at every level. Still only 20-years-old, Mata began the year at Salem where he was the youngest player in the league before being promoted to Portland mid-year and was over four years younger than the average Eastern League pitcher. Despite this, he continues to succeed coming into the year never posting an ERA above 3.75 at any level. His dominance continued at Salem to start the year where he cruised to a 1.75 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 52 strikeouts against 18 walks over 51 1/3 innings. He was then promoted to Double-A where he struggled for really the first time in his career. He let up six runs twice in his 11 starts and had an outing on August 4th where he allowed four runs on five hits without getting an out. However, he finished strong allowing only two earned runs over his final 13 innings, bringing his season totals to a still impressive 3.43 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. The solid performance at such a young age has fueled his rise from 10th on the SoxProspects.com rankings to start the year all the way up to 2nd to end it.

Starting Pitcher: Jorge Rodriguez
The 19-year-old Mexican left-hander is certainly looking like a bargain after signing in 2017 for a $37,000 bonus. Coming off a successful 2018 season, he was placed in the Gulf Coast League to begin the year and absolutely dominated. In seven of his 11 appearances, he did not allow an earned run. He really only had one bad start, which was a 2 2/3 inning appearance on July 10th where he gave up five runs. His strong performance earned him a late-season call-up to Lowell, where he came into the game in the third inning and threw 4 2/3 innings allowing two earned runs on four hits and no walks with four strikeouts while earning the win. His best start of the season came on July 29th where he threw five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while striking out 12. Overall on the year, he finishes with a 7-2 record with a 2.09 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 62 strikeouts, and nine walks over 51 2/3 innings pushing him from unranked to 37th in the SoxProspects.com rankings.

Relief Pitcher: Trevor Kelley 
Kelley has a history of success at every level and this year carried that through to a big-league call-up. For the majority of the 2019 season, he served as the PawSox closer, with 12 saves and a 1.79 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He was briefly called up to the majors at the end of June and made only one appearance where he gave up three earned runs in one inning before being sent back to Pawtucket. However, he was recalled for the Yankees series over the past weekend and he made appearances in each game, in total throwing two shutout innings with two walks and a hit allowed. Overall, the 25-year-old sidearmer profiles more as a minor league reliever, but as evidenced this year, may continue to get some Major Leauge opportunities if his success continues.

Relief Pitcher: Logan Browning
After being drafted three times, Browning finally signed with the Red Sox in 2017 and then had a solid year in relief for Lowell in 2018. This season he opened the year as Greenville's closer and had tremendous success. He tallied nine saves with a 2.08 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and an amazing 75 strikeouts to only 11 walks over 57 1/3 innings. To start August, he moved up to Salem and again pitched well with a 2.81 ERA. He pitched mostly in one or two-inning stints, but would occasionally throw a third inning and even started his second to last appearance of the season, throwing 4 1/3 shutout innings. While he finishes the season unranked in the SoxProspects.com rankings, it is still a very impressive season for the 24-year-old.

Relief Pitcher: Eduard Bazardo
Bazardo pitched exclusively as a starter in 2018, but it always seems that he was destined for a bullpen role and that was the case in 2019. He started the year in the Salem bullpen but almost always threw at least two innings. He was successful in that role and racked up a 1.76 ERA and 0.93 WHIP with 11.6 K/9 over his 41 innings at the level. He was then promoted to Portland where he pitched on a more traditional reliever workload, pairing down to the point where he threw less than two innings in 11 of his final 14 appearances. He succeeded in that role as well, posting a 2.78 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with a 9.7 K/9 over 32 1/3 innings. The conversion to a reliever has seen his stock rise dramatically, and he finishes the season ranked 28th on the SoxProspects.com rankings after beginning the year at 51.

Photo Credit: All players by Kelly O'Connor

Will Woodward is a Co-Owner and Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.

 
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