Rusney Castillo needs to improve against hard fastballs, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Last season, the Red Sox outfielder hit just .203/.230/.203 against fastballs of 93 mph or harder. The weak performance is doubly damning because the AL East is populated with plenty of hard throwing hurlers. If Castillo can’t figure out how to barrel up more heaters, he’ll find his playing time dwindling. Fortunately, Castillo and the Red Sox aren’t without hope. Speier highlights Jackie Bradley Jr. who went from one of the worst against hard fastballs in 2014 to one of the best in 2015 (.333/.439/.745). The small sample sizes involved along with other factors can complicate the surface level analysis of these numbers.
Here’s more from Boston:
- Travis Shaw’s hot play this spring is putting pressure on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Shaw “could be competing for regular at-bats,” per manager John Farrell. Sandoval is more likely to lose time than Hanley Ramirez. Farrell also commented on Sandoval, saying “the work has to translate to performance.” Shaw is expected to spend some time in left field as well, which could put pressure on Castillo instead.
- Prospect Yoan Moncada is a good test case of the Red Sox position switching protocol, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. While Moncada is unlikely to play much second base at the big league level due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia (just ask Mookie Betts), the club won’t move a prospect to a new position until they prove proficiency at their base spot. That usually occurs at Double- or Triple-A. It’s possible Moncada’s bat will be big league ready by the end of this season, but he still has a number of developmental hurdles to overcome – in part due to the presence of Pedroia. It’s worth noting, Pedroia is signed through 2021 with a limited no trade clause.
- Throwing more breaking balls may be the key to success for Joe Kelly, writes Sean McAdam of CSN New England. That was the change he made prior to a strong eight start finish to the 2015 season. With Eduardo Rodriguez set to miss the start of the season, Kelly’s success could save the club from being forced to make a trade.