Scouts from the Red Sox, Royals, Orioles and Blue Jays were on hand to watch Athletics left-hander Rich Hill’s Thursday start, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who writes that the 36-year-old would likely prefer a return to Boston. With the help of ex-major league pitcher Brian Bannister at Triple-A Pawtucket, Hill began reviving his career as part of the Red Sox organization late last summer after a stint in the independent Atlantic League.“Brian pointed out that (Clayton) Kershaw threw his curveball 45 percent of the time,” said Hill. “He basically emphasized that, take what you think are your best pitches and use them correctly. So with me, it was not only throwing the curveball but throwing it at different speeds, changing the shape of it as well as manipulating the spin on the fastball.” Hill took Bannister’s advice and has relied almost exclusively on his curveball and fastball since the Red Sox called him up last September. The results? Ninety-nine innings of 2.06 ERA ball to accompany a 10.8 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 49.6 percent ground-ball rate and 17.9 percent infield fly mark. Hill could soon end up as the premier starter dealt by the Aug. 1 deadline, and the pitching-challenged Red Sox – who added Bannister to their coaching staff earlier this week – seem like a logical fit. For now, Hill is scheduled to start again Friday for the A’s, who bought low on him in the offseason (one year, $6MM) and have reaped the rewards.
More from Cafardo:
- In the event the Braves shop right-hander Julio Teheran, one major league source told Cafardo, “The Braves don’t want anyone’s B- list. It’s got to be at the top of anyone’s prospect list, and it just looks complicated.” As a strong, in-his-prime performer who’s controllable through 2020 on an extremely team-friendly contract, Teheran is one of rebuilding Atlanta’s best assets.
- The Red Sox recently sent senior vice president of baseball operations Frank Wren – their top talent evaluator – to St. Petersburg, Fla., to observe division-rival Rays righty Jake Odorizzi. Last-place Tampa Bay is considering shopping Odorizzi, who should draw plenty of interest given his cheap salary ($520,700) and three years of arbitration eligibility remaining. The 26-year-old has compiled a 4.33 ERA, 8.49 K/9, 2.98 BB/9 in 99 2/3 frames this season. He previously combined for 337 1/3 innings of 3.74 ERA pitching and similar strikeout and walk rates from 2014-15.
- The water-treading Yankees would want a far better return for dominant lefty closer Aroldis Chapman than the one they gave up for him during the winter. The Bombers sent prospects Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda, Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham to Cincinnati for Chapman amid his domestic violence allegations last December. Chapman ended up sitting out the first month-plus of the season because of a suspension related to that incident, but the soon-to-be free agent has continued his reign as one of baseball’s premier relievers since.
- As of earlier this week, the Red Sox were scouting Phillies 29-year-old right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, a pending free agent who has posted a 3.92 ERA, 7.92 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 105 2/3 innings this season. Preparing for a possible trade, the Phillies have reciprocated by scouting Boston’s farm system.
- Various major league executives think highly of Twins righty and potential trade piece Ervin Santana as a mid-rotation option. While Santana has a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in his past, the 33-year-old has long served as a respectable starter. That includes this year, in which has logged a 4.06 ERA, 6.58 K/9 and 2.52 BB/9 over 93 innings. Santana is signed through 2018 at $13.5MM per annum, so he wouldn’t be a rental.
- The Red Sox considered trading for Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie before acquiring Aaron Hill from the Brewers on Thursday. But Hill’s relationship with Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield helped tip the scales in his favor. Lowrie played in Boston from 2008-11 after the franchise drafted him 45th overall in 2005.
- The Angels are likely to deal right-handed setup man Joe Smith, whom many teams are eyeing. The 32-year-old has pitched poorly this season, though, with a 4.80 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 across 30 innings. Smith, who’s on a $5.25MM salary, entered the year off five straight strong campaigns and is set to become a free agent at season’s end.