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May 7, 2021 at 1:00 PM

2021 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars Pt. 2 - Pitchers

For Part Two of our look at the best the Red Sox system has to offer entering 2021, we look to the mound and honor the pitchers selected as SoxProspects.com Pre-Season All-Stars. The list is highlighted by four starters ranked in the top 10 in the system, and three relievers who are either looking to have breakout seasons or are looking to regain past prospect status.

Starting pitcher: Connor Seabold, Worcester Red Sox
The voting may have gone differently if the SoxProspects.com Community had known that Seabold (pictured, right) would open the season on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, but most of the chatter has the injury pegged as minor. Seabold came over in July 2020 from Philadelphia with Nick Pivetta in the trade for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. Since he was acquired, reports have Seabold picking up a tick or two on his fastball while continuing to show a potential plus changeup and average slider. In 56 1/3 innings in 2019, most of which came in Double-A, Seabold pitched to a 2.24 ERA and struck out 58 while surrendering only 11 walks. With some of the injury risks in the Boston rotation, getting Seabold back on the mound will be very important as he is one of the top depth pieces in the upper minors along with the next player on this list.

Starting pitcher: Tanner Houck, Worcester Red Sox
Houck was a shoo-in for this award after his dominant performance in Boston at the end of the 2020 season. In three starts he went 3-0 with an ERA of just 0.53 over 17 innings. He walked 9 but also struck out 21 with a WHIP of just 0.88. Batters went 0 for 15 against his slider with 10 strikeouts, and he also mixed in a 91 mph sinker and a 93 mph four-seam fastball. With the injury to Eduardo Rodriguez to start the year, Houck opened 2021 in the Boston rotation and added two miles-per-hour to both his sinker and four-seamer. He has since been optioned to Worcester, where the Red Sox will ask him to keep developing his splitter, which will be a key pitch for him against left-handed hitters at the big league level. 

Starting pitcher: Thaddeus Ward, Portland Sea Dogs
The 2019 SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year and Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Ward (pictured, right) has seen his prospect status rise considerably since he was taken in the fifth round of the 2018 Draft out of the University of Central Florida. Currently ranked eighth in the system, Ward will get his first taste of the upper minors this season with Portland. The addition of a cutter to his repertoire was key to his success in 2019, and with continued development of his off-speed pitches he has a chance to stick at the back-end of a major league rotation. He still has a ways to go to meet that goal, but if his 2021 season is anything like his 2019 season, he will be a lock to be added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft.

Starting pitcher: Aldo Ramirez, Salem Red Sox
Ramirez was likely in for a breakout 2020 campaign before the season was cancelled. After more than holding his own as an 18-year-old in Lowell in 2019, Ramirez showed up for the 2020 Fall Instructional League and was one of the most impressive arms in camp. Despite being one of the younger arms there he stood out for both his stuff and his polish. His fastball was 92-95 mph, with a potential plus changeup at 85-89 mph and an average curveball at 77-81 mph. Ramirez will get his first taste of full-season ball in 2021, and the 9th-ranked prospect will look to build on his success at Instructs while continuing to hit his developmental checkpoints.

Relief Pitcher: Eduard Bazardo, Portland Sea Dogs
The other star of 2020 Fall Instructs was Bazardo (pictured, right), who looked so good that he forced his way onto the 40-man roster. He made his major league debut in April of this season against the Twins, firing a scoreless inning in a Red Sox victory. His 2019 stats were good enough to earn him a 2019 SoxProspects.com All-Star award, and he has drastically improved his arsenal since then. At this time last year, he was ranked 30th in the system, and he has climbed to 19th. The fact that he was one of the first relievers called up when the Red Sox needed an arm this year should tell you how highly they think of him, and improved fastball command is the key to him reaching his ceiling of a late-inning bullpen arm. While his one-inning stint in the big leagues is obviously a small sample size, the spin rate on his slider was about 2800 rpm, which puts him in the company of Adam Ottavino and Garrett Richards for the highest on the team.

Relief Pitcher: Jacob Wallace, Greenville Drive
Acquired from Colorado in exchange for Kevin Pillar at the end of the 2020 season, Wallace is back in the northeast after starring at UConn where he struck out 102 batters in 74 1/3 innings. While he is opening the season in Greenville, the Methuen, Mass. native should be in Portland at some point in the 2021 season. The 22-year-old is strictly a bullpen arm even going back to his college days, with a unique delivery providing some deception to go along with a potential above-average fastball and slider. After being drafted in the third round in 2019, he went straight to Low-A ball where he was dominant, striking out 29 and allowing only three runs in 21 innings. A lifelong Red Sox fan, Wallace looks to build on his success from 2019 with the dream of contributing at the big league level for his favorite team.

Relief Pitcher: Durbin Feltman, Portland Sea Dogs
Feltman (pictured, right) has now been a SoxProspects.com Pre-Season All-Star each of the last three years, though he is hoping for better results than the previous two times. Feltman dominated at three levels in 2018 after being drafted in the third round of the draft, and he opened the 2019 season in Portland with high expectations. He faltered to a 5.26 ERA in 51 1/3 innings as his fastball velocity dipped and he struggled with his control. Losing about three miles-per-hour on his fastball and walking 5.4 batters per nine innings caused his prospect status to tumble. The SoxProspects.com Community is still bullish on his potential after reports of his fastball velocity creeping back up at Fall Instructs. He was ranked ninth before the 2019 season (admittedly in a weak system), and has dropped to 30th to start the 2021 campaign. He will return to Portland in 2021 and try and shake off the disappointing results of 2019. 

Photo Credit: All by Kelly O'Connor