The Red Sox and GM Ben Cherington had a lot of work to do with their rotation that featured RHP Clay Bucholz, RHP Joe Kelly, and a lot of questions like RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Brandon Workman, RHP Rubby De La Rosa, and RHP Allen Webster. They've worked to change that and add a southpaw by sending the last two, De La Rosa and Webster, to the Arizona Diamonbacks along with 2B Raymel Flores for LHP Wade Miley. They have also added two more starters in RHP Justin Masterson on a one year free agent deal and RHP Rick Porcello who was acquired for LF Yoenis Cespedes. Even though Webster exhausted his rookie eligibility in the 2014 season and De La Rosa back in 2011, we'll still take a look at them along with Flores.
Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today Sports
The Los Angeles Dodgers initially drafted Allen Webster in the 18th round of the 2008 draft out of McMichael High School in North Carolina. Webster signed for a pittance of $20,000 and made a huge breakthrough in the 2010 season after spending two years in the rookie leagues. He was sent to the Red Sox in August of 2012 in the massive 11 player deal headlined by Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett heading to the Dodgers. In his first full season as a member of the Red Sox in 2013, Webster had reached the highest rung of the minor league ladder and also made his Major League debut with a handful of spot starts throughout the year. In his time spent at AAA Pawtucket, "Kid Carl" made 21 starts totaling 105 innings of work with a 3.60 ERA, a 3.80 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP with 116 strike outs (26.6%), 43 walks (9.9%), just 71 hits, and nine home runs allowed. He certainly benefited from a generous .246 BABIP and a 72.4% strand rate while limiting the International League to a .190/.299/.302 triple slash. His batted ball profile shows a 48.3% ground ball rate and a 1.38 GO:AO ratio. Webster made seven starts and a relief appearance for the Sox, tossing 30.1 innings with an 8.60 ERA, 6.51 FIP, and 1.81 WHIP. He struck out 23 (15.9%) with 18 walks (12.4%), 37 hits, and seven home runs allowed with a .316 BABIP and horrific 57.2% strand rate. Grounders weren't as easy to come by in the majors, only getting them 43.1% of the time with a 0.97 GO:AO ratio. On the whole, he toed the rubber for 135.1 innings of work, completely shutting down right handed hitters to a .172/.278/.246 line over 284 plate appearances with 23 walks to 86 punch outs. Lefties handled him much better, posting .264/.365/.468 triple slash through 297 PA's.
Webster's age 24 season this past year was split between Pawtucket and Boston again, but instead of jumping back and forth between the two clubs, he spent the first three and a half months in AAA before being promoted. For the PawSox, Webster made 20 starts and a relief appearance, throwing to a 3.10 ERA over 122 innings. His FIP wasn't as hot, coming in at 3.88 and he also had a 1.24 WHIP, a .279 BABIP, and 77.4% strand rate with 100 strike outs (19.7%) and 44 walks (8.6%). The 6'2, 190 pound right hander surrendered nine home runs and limited International League hitters to a .234/.307/.363 line. He racked up ground balls at an above average rate again (45.8%), and posted a 1.20 GO:AO ratio. Webster made his first start with Boston a few days before the trade deadline and finished the year there, making 11 more starts down the stretch covering 59 innings. His ERA and FIP improved quite a bit with the ERA dropping to 5.03 and the FIP coming down to 4.35 compared to 6.51 in his first crack at it. He struck out 36 (13.9%) with 28 walks (10.8%), a .297 BABIP, a 65.3% strand rate, a 77 ERA+, and was worth 0.5 fWAR. Major League hitters managed a .264/.359/.377 line off him with just three home runs allowed. Webster maintained a strong ground ball rate in Boston at 45.9% with a 1.10 GO:AO ratio.
When he's on the bump, Webster works with a three pitch mix that's headlined by a mid 90's fastball and excellent change up. The cheese sits in the 93-96 mph range and he can reach back to scrape triple digits when needed. As with most pitchers that feature both a two and four seam fastball, the four seam will sit in the upper registers of the velocity band while the two seam will be at the bottom but features more movement. Webster's two seam in particular has good sinking action on it, especially when he puts it at the bottom of the zone. A plus change up is his go-to offspeed offering that features similar arm speed and has a 10+mph difference from his fastball, coming in around 81-85 mph. The pitch shows great fade with late break, dropping off the table as it nears the zone. He also shows both a slider and curve with the slide piece the better of the two, featuring late, sharp break in the mid 80's. The hook is below average and more of a show-me pitch in the mid 70's to change speeds and give the hitter a different look rather than a legitimate weapon. The crux of it all though is Webster's shoddy command. While the stuff is electric, more often than not he only has a general idea of where the ball is going. His frame and track record show durability on the mound, throwing at least 100 innings each year since 2010. Though some evaluators believe Webster will be a bullpen piece in the long run, I believe he can harness his command enough to start and not kill himself with excessive free passes or home runs. I would be comfortable slotting Webster into the Diamondbacks #4 slot behind Collmenter, Hellickson, and Cahill with a good chance he could be better than all of them. If Webster maxes out his potential (aka harness the command), he's a #3 that looks like a #2 on some days. On the flip side, if he doesn't improve at all from where he is now, he's still a solid back end option.
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
Rubby De La Rosa
Photo courtesy of Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The Dodgers also were the first professional organization for Rubby De La Rosa (pronounced ROO-by, like the gem), signing him in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic for a miniscule $1,500 signing bonus. After spending three years in the rookie leagues, he made his full season debut in 2010 and was skipped up to AA Chattanooga by the end of the season. He made his Major League debut the following season, splitting time between LA and Chattanooga at the age of 22. De La Rosa was packaged with Webster and sent to the Red Sox in August 2012. In his first year with the Sox, the 6'1, 205 pound right hander split the season between AAA Pawtucket and Boston with a transition to the pen following the trade deadline. For the AAA squad, De La Rosa made 20 start and four relief outings, spanning a total of 80.1 innings with a 4.26 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, and 1.41 WHIP. He struck out 76 (21.7%) while issuing 48 free passes (13.7%) with 65 hits, nine home runs allowed, a .265 BABIP and 74.5% strand rate. His batted ball profile shows him to be pretty much league average in fly ball rate, 27.3%, while generating ground balls at a 41.8% clip which was slightly below league average. He also posted a 1.04 GO:AO ratio and a line drive rate 1.6% worse than the average International League hitter. At the start of August, De La Rosa moved to the bullpen, making 11 relief appearances for Boston totaling 11.1 innings with a rough 5.56 ERA, a 5.61 FIP, and 1.50 WHIP with six strike outs, two walks, 15 hits and two home runs allowed. For the entire year, he was slightly better versus lefties, limiting them to a .225/.358/.364 line, but he walked 30 batters to just 37 strike outs. Right handers hit .246/.341/.422 with seven of the 11 home runs he allowed hit and 20 walks to 45 punch outs.
The transition to the bullpen was temporary as he broke camp in 2014 back in the rotation, and also back in AAA Pawtucket. At the end of May when he was promoted to Boston, then was sent back down for a pair of starts in July. He was called back up to the Red Sox for good before the All-Star break. In Pawtucket he made 12 starts with a 3.45 ERA, 2.97 FIP, and a 1.25 WHIP over 60 innings of work. He struck out 57 (23%) with 25 walks (10.1%) while allowing 50 hits and one long ball with a .299 BABIP and 65.7% strand rate. International League hitters only managed a .229/.310/.326 line against him, and he generated a 50.9% ground ball rate and 1.67 GO:AO ratio, both well above league average. Once in Beantown, De La Rosa made 18 starts and one relief appearance covering 101.2 frames with a 4.43 ERA, a 4.30 FIP, and 1.49 WHIP. He struck out 74 batters (16.8%) with 35 walks (7.9%), 116 hits, and 12 home runs allowed while dealing with a .327 BABIP and 74.9% strand rate. All that was worth 0.9 fWAR and 0.4 rWAR with Baseball Reference tabbing him with an 87 ERA+. He still racked up ground balls at an above average clip (44.5%) with a 1.23 GO:AO ratio and made strides facing same side hitters. Right handed hitters were only able to put up a .244/.302/.385 line against him with 71 strike outs to 23 free passes while lefties lit him up like a Christmas tree (or menorah if that's how you roll), tagging him with a .294/.363/.443 line and 37 walks to 60 strike outs.
Rubby De La Rosa uses an explosive, top of the scale fastball that sits in the 94-98 mph range and can reach 100 mph. It features great movement, especially low in the zone with heavy, bowling ball action. Like Webster, a change up and slider round out his arsenal. The cambio is a plus pitch with good fade, depth, and mid 80's velocity, giving it a 10-15 mph difference. On the right day, his high 80's slider is an unhittable pitch, but those are few and far between as the pitch lacks the consistency needed to be an average major league pitch. His control took a step forward in 2014 but the command still lags behind, with part of the reason being a delivery that he can't repeat. He also has trouble coming from the same arm slot each time. One possible solution posited by Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves is having De La Rosa develop a routine between starts. If that helps and improves his command, De La Rosa has the ceiling of a #3, mid-rotation pitcher with the floor of a dominant closer. Arizona looks to have De La Rosa battle with Vidal Nuno, Robbie Ray, Chase Anderson, and Andrew Chafin for the last spot in the rotation with the losers heading to AAA.
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of Bryan Green
A member of Boston's 2011 international free agent class, Raymel Flores headlined the group with the largest bonus of the signing period for the Sox, putting his name on the dotted line for a $900,000 signing bonus. The Dominican Republic native made his professional debut the following year in the Dominican Summer League, handling short stop duties. The diminutive 5'9, 155 pound switch hitter made his stateside debut in 2013 with the Red Sox rookie level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He made 165 plate appearances with a brutal .185/.315/.281 line while drawing 22 walks (13.3%) with 41 strike outs (24.8%), nine extra base hits, and nine stolen bases. That was good for an 84 wRC+, a .297 wOBA, and .258 BABIP. His performance against southpaws was encouraging, hitting .303/.442/.333 against them in a ridiculously short sample size of just 44 plate appearances. Stepping to the plate from the left side against right handers he was borderline useless, hitting just .147/.270/.265 over 122 PA's. Taking a peek at the batted ball profile, he put the ball in the air 48% of the time (12.5% more than GCL average), including a 15.3% infield fly rate which may as well be automatic outs. Flores finished the year with one game at short season Lowell where he only made one trip to the plate. He drew a walk, stole a base, and scored as a pinch hitter. In the dirt is where he shined, making just six errors in 44 games for a .967 fielding percentage with a 3.92 range factor at short stop. At the keystone he made one error in five games with a .962 fielding percentage and 5.00 RF.
Flores was held back at extended spring training to kick off the 2014 season and began the year with short season Lowell of the New York-Penn League. He did a much better job of making contact, putting up a .282/.344/.354 triple slash with a 109 wRC+, .330 wOBA, and nifty ,410 BABIP. Flores launched his first and only professional home run while adding six doubles and three triples, he stole 14 bases, and drew 16 walks (6.9%) to 67 strike outs (28.8%). Once again he hit better from the right side than left, putting up a .333/.390/.426 line over 60 plate appearances versus southpaws. Against right handed pitchers he only managed to hit .263/.327/.329 in 173 PA's with the home run. He was better at popping up to the infield, dropping 5.7 points while upping his ground ball rate to league average at a 45.9% clip. Despite the BABIP inflated line and non-existent power, he was still a full two years younger than league average. Flores spent the majority of his time at second base this past season, making three errors in 47 games with a .987 fielding percentage and 4.81 RF. In the 11 games he spent at short he made five errors for a .904 fielding percentage.
At this point in his development, Raymel Flores is more known for his leatherwork than what he can do with the lumber. He's very fast on the bases and that speed translates to good range around the keystone. His hands are excellent with good arm strength. The switch hitting Dominican doesn't have any power to speak of, but did a good job of playing to his skill set and utilizing his blazing speed. He's got enough punch to not get the bat knocked out of his hands, and as he develops and adds strength, it could lead to more doubles power. It looks like Flores is set to make his full season debut in 2015 with the Diamondbacks at age 20. He'll likely be thrown into a three man rotation at the middle infield postions between Sergio Alcantara and Fernery Ozuna. His overall outlook is a defensive specialist right now until the bat shows real improvement. That profile isn't the worst thing in the world as his defense could carry him to the big leagues.
2014 A- stats
The Red Sox decided to take a pair of righties yet to establish themselves and 10 total years of control and trade them for a quality left hander with an All-Star nod under his belt about to begin arbitration in Wade Miley. He was a supplemental first round pick in 2008 by Arizona from Southeastern Louisiana State University, and was runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award in 2012 when he was also named a NL All-Star. He's yet to match his brilliance that year but has been durable since, posting back to back 200+ inning seasons and three straight years with at least 190 innings. Boston will be on the hook for all three of Miley's arbitration years that cover his age 28-30 seasons. In his first trip through he's projected to make $4.3M by MLB Trade Rumors. If all breaks right for the Diamondbacks though, they doubled up on mid-rotation starters. Though Miley has the track record of succeeding in the MLB, Webster and De La Rosa have the pure stuff to do the same given the opportunity. I really like what Arizona did here as they have a good chance to replace what they gave up with one of the two pitchers they received for a much better salary. Put this one under the win column for new GM Dave Stewart.