The Pawtucket Red Sox 2015 Opening Night roster is highlighted by the top five prospects in the Red Sox organization (as ranked by Baseball America) along with 8 of the top 10 prospects in the Boston system. These elite eight all played for the PawSox last season, appearing either during the regular-season, the post-season, or both. They are catcher Blake Swihart (#1), LHP Henry Owens (#2), OF Rusney Castillo (#3), LHP Eddie Rodriguez (#4), LHP Brian Johnson (#5), RHP Matt Barnes (#8), SS Deven Marrero (#9), and 3B/OF Garin Cecchini (#10).
Furthermore, 18 players on the PawSox Opening Night roster where members of the 2014 Governors’ Cup Champion PawSox at some point last year. That includes 15 players who were on the playoff roster the night the PawSox won the Cup last September 13 in Durham. Those were pitchers Miguel Celestino, Keith Couch, Heath Hembree, Dalier Hinojosa, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez, and Eddie Rodriguez; catchers Matt Spring and Blake Swihart; infielders Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, and Travis Shaw; and outfielders Bryce Brentz and Rusney Castillo. The other returning players who were with the PawSox during the regular-season were pitchers Matt Barnes (who was also with the club during the IL semi-finals) and Brandon Workman along with outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. (who was also with the team for the first round of the playoffs last September).
The newcomers on the PawSox Opening Night roster include veteran relievers Dana Eveland and Zeke Spruill, who spent time in the big leagues last year with the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks respectively. The PawSox catching corps also includes a pair of veterans in 31-year-old Luke Montz and 35-year-old Humberto Quintero (the two oldest players on the team). Two infielders with extensive major league time will be making their PawSox debuts in 2015 as former Milwaukee Brewer Jeff Bianchi and former Oakland, Baltimore, and Boston switch-hitter Jemile Weeks will provide versatile infield experience. Veteran outfielder Quintin Berry, who played for Pawtucket and Boston in 2013 and Baltimore last season, will also provide a veteran presence on the roster. The only fresh new homegrown face on the PawSox roster is 23-year-old infielder Sean Coyle (the youngest position player on the club) who hit .295 with 16 HR & 61 RBI for Double-A Portland last season.
Pawtucket’s strong starting staff consists of five pitchers who will all be 25-years-old or younger for the entire season. Three southpaws on the staff will be making their first extended stints in Triple-A as Henry Owens (14 wins for Portland last year along with 3 more for the PawSox), Brian Johnson (10-2, 1.75 in 20 starts for Portland last season), and Eddie Rodriguez (a 0.96 ERA in 6 starts for Portland late last season after being acquired from Baltimore for reliever Andrew Miller) are among the most promising young hurlers in all of minor league baseball. RHP Matt Barnes, Boston’s #1 pick in the 2011 draft from UCONN who impressed as a reliever for Boston this spring training, returns to the PawSox starting rotation where he excelled during a two month stretch to end last season. Rounding out the rotation is RHP Keith Couch, who made just one start for the PawSox all of last year (and it was a big one). Couch was the starter and winner in the decisive Game 5 of the Governors’ Cup Finals last September 13, firing 6.2 shutout innings at Durham to help the PawSox win the Cup.
The PawSox outfield should also be interesting to watch. Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, signed by Boston to a 7-year major league contract last August, performed impressively with the PawSox and Red Sox last September and returns to Pawtucket. Castillo will split CF and RF duties with Jackie Bradley, Jr. who played in 127 games for the Red Sox last season and was considered a strong Gold Glove candidate for much of the year. Bryce Brentz, who has been Pawtucket’s top homerun hitter the past two seasons, returns for his third year with the PawSox.
PawSox manager Kevin Boles, who won the 2014 Governors’ Cup Championship in his first year with Pawtucket, is the first PawSox skipper to return to the helm since Arnie Beyeler in 2011 & 2012. Boles endured a total of 225 player transactions last season, employed 66 different players, sent 25 players to Boston, received 16 players from Portland, and used a rather amazing 150 different line-ups in 153 total games last year. Through it all he steered the PawSox to their second championship in three years.
In Bob Kipper, the PawSox have a new pitching coach for the first time since 2008 when Rich Sauveur joined the club for the first of his seven seasons. Kipper has spent the last five seasons as Double-A Portland’s pitching coach and has worked with most of the current PawSox pitching staff during that time. Pawtucket’s new hitting coach is Rich Gedman, who was also promoted from Portland during the off-season. The former PawSox and Red Sox catcher from Worcester, MA is fourth in Red Sox history with 858 games caught from 1980-1990. Boles, Kipper, and Gedman comprised the Portland coaching staff in 2013. They will be joined this season by Bruce Crabbe, who returns for his second season as PawSox coach. Trainer Jon Jochim begins his sixth season with the PawSox and his 13th year as an athletic trainer in the Red Sox organization. He is joined by new assistant trainer Nick Kuchwara and new strength & conditioning coach Kevin Lynch who are both making their debuts on the PawSox staff.
The PawSox must still make one roster move by Thursday to get down to the mandated 25-player active list.
Support WBOB Sports