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April 27, 2023 at 10:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Emptying the Spring Training notebook

In the middle of March, the SoxProspects.com Brass made our annual trip to Spring Training to catch the action on the back fields in minor league camp. I was able to spend a full week in Fort Myers this year, and as a result I was able to see more players than ever before. Today I’ll focus on some deeper names to watch out for this year.

One new name to keep on eye this year is right-handed reliever Christopher Troye. The Red Sox selected Troye in the 12th round of the 2021 draft, but he only threw 33 1/3 innings last year after missing the beginning of the season due to injury. He struck out 50 hitters last year, but also walked 24. In a live batting practice situation, he was around the zone and showed overpowering stuff. Troye has a big pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He throws over the top and has deception in his delivery. His fastball worked 95-97 mph and he mixed in a high-spin breaking ball at 83-84 mph with 11-to-5 shape and a shorter, more horizontal cutter (which could have been a slider) at 88 mph. 

Right-hander Bradley Blalock is still in the process of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last spring, but just over one year after his surgery, he was back on the mound throwing live batting practice, and his stuff looked good. He was 91-93 mph with his fastball and topped out at 94. He also showed all of his secondary pitches, which included a splitter at 84-86 mph with late drop, a slider at 82-84 mph and a curveball at 78 mph. The splitter especially was interesting, flashing above-average potential, and was significantly better than the changeup he showed prior to his surgery. Blalock will start the season in extended spring training, but the team hopes he might be ready to return in May. 

The Red Sox acquired 26-year old right-handed reliever Theo Denlinger in February from the White Sox in return for Franklin German. The first thing you notice with Denlinger is his frame: he is listed at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and looks all of that, very strong with a sturdy lower half. His delivery is unique, as he starts on the first base side of the rubber but steps towards third base and comes across his body. It is really unsettling for right-handed hitters, but gives left-handed hitters a good look when he releases the pitch. He featured only a fastball and breaking ball in the outing I saw, but showed three distinct variations of his fastball: a four-seam, a two-seam and a cutter, all in the 93-95 mph range. His breaking ball was inconsistent at 80-84 mph with long, 11-to-5, slurve-like shape. 

Only 18-years old, Dominican right-hander Smil Guzman showed an intriguing arsenal in a live batting practice session. His fastball had a ton of movement, showing life and wiggle at 90-92 mph, and he complimented it with a solid 12-to-6 curveball at 79-80 mph. His best pitch was his changeup at 83-85 mph. He has advanced feel for it and it showed late dive down and in to right-handed hitters.  

Photo Credit: Christopher Troye and Theo Denlinger by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.