The Boston Red Sox have done an excellent job in recent years of developing hitters. Pitchers? Not so much.
The Boston Red Sox have one of the most talented rosters in baseball. A lot of that has to do with their ability to develop position players. Dustin Pedroia came up through the system. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have turned into stars and Andrew Benintendi looks like he’s on his way to becoming a star.
The pitching side has been more about trades (Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz) and free agency (David Price). They have struggled to develop their own pitchers, so they wouldn’t have to go into the free agent or trade markets. Per ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber:
Seeking to continue a conversation that began before he was hired four months earlier, team president Dave Dombrowski brought together manager John Farrell, pitching coach Carl Willis, scouts, player development staff, analytics-minded ex-pitcher Brian Bannister, former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. For several hours in a Nashville hotel suite, they shared opinions, debated philosophy and tried to figure out why the Red Sox haven’t developed a high-impact starting pitcher in a decade.
Things haven’t changed.
Anderson Espinoza and Michael Kopech could be the answer to that, but those players are now with other organizations after being dealt.
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Out of Boston’s top 10 prospects according to MLBpipeline.com, only three are pitchers: Jason Groome, Roniel Raudes and Travis Lankins. None of the three are close to making the majors. The closest is Brian Johnson, who’s at number 12. However, he isn’t really a guy who’s going to come up and be like a Matt Harvey or Aaron Sanchez.
In looking at the Red Sox’s top six starting options, none of them came up through the system. It’s all been trades and free agent pickups. Doing that at any position is hardly sustainable or cost effective.
Pitching is expensive and there are free agent contracts that every team wishes they didn’t spend on pitchers. For every great free agent deal, there are five bad ones.
The Red Sox need to get better in developing their own starters. They can’t rely on buying or trading for all the time. Because of this, they could have issues not only in 2017, but beyond.