25 March 2005

Papelbon Starts, Impresses...

Jon Papelbon, the Red Sox best and most promising pitching prospect, pitched three innings in the Red Sox Spring Training Game against Baltimore yesterday. For his first start against a powerful major league lineup- for a guy starting the season in double-A- he was steady. Apparently too, he impressed his teammates fairly quickly as well:

In the top of the fourth inning, Red Sox center fielder Jay Payton was plunked on the right wrist by Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera. A displeased Payton had to leave the game with a bruised right hand.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona also appeared perturbed, saying later, "I was just tired of our guys getting hit. Our guys need to stop getting hit."

In the bottom of the fourth, Papelbon threw what appeared to be a classic -- and clean -- brushback pitch to Sosa.

The star slugger took a half step toward the mound, then thought better of it and stared out at Papelbon. The pitcher never blinked.

I'm really excited at checking how Papelbon progresses this season, and maybe (hopefully) I can catch him in Portland sometime this year. John Sickels recently fielded questions on OvertheMonster.com, and had this to say:

Q: Is Jon Papelbon for real? He had a great season last year, but he can be considered old (23) for playing A-Ball. What do expect from him in 05 in Portland?

Sickels: Papelbon wasn't THAT old...and he has less experience than most college products. I think he is for real. If he posts similar numbers in Double-A, he could be an elite prospect.

Sickels rates Papelbon as the Sox #2 prospect. Check out John Sickels' great new site at www.minorleagueball.com.

______________________________ |