Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Jon Papelbon era (part 1)

In his post game comments about Manny, Terry Francona revealed that Jon Papelbon will start tomorrow afternoon's game against the Twins. Papelbon is held up as an example of the growing strength of the Sox's minor league system - at the time of his appointment Theo declared that he wanted to turn the Sox from an organization that was exclusively dependent on FA signings, into a player development machine that used FA signings to compliment the team - so appearances such as this are important as we review Theo's progress.

Papelbon was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 40th round of the 2002 draft by the Oakland A's, but spent a year at Mississippi State (compiling a 6-2, 2.28 ERA in 25 appearances, as well as racking up 7 saves) before being drafted by the Sox in the 4th round (114th overall) in the 2003 draft. So from Sox draft to first appearance in the majors has taken roughly 2 years - a reasonably fast rate of promotion.

One of the things that amazes me about baseball is the number of fans who claim to have definitive views on minor league players - I can name a number of the Sox more highly regarded prospects, and can tell you what other people think of them, but I really can't tell any more than that.

So as Jon Papelbon gets ready for his first start - and the reason for the part 1 in the title is that I can't believe this is anymore than the shortest of stops in Boston - what do people think of him? The excellent John Sickels carried this review of the Sox system back in March, which was updated in May - the general theme, Papelbon is a reasonable prospect who is having a nice year. Baseball Prospectus gives this perspective - be sure to check out the names in the 'comparable pitchers' area! Sox includes a nice scouting report - and lists his expected arrival time in the majors as mid 2006. Be sure to follow through to the interview on RedSox, which reveals a down to earth guy who has differentiated between throwing and pitching very early in his career.

Let's hope that we are talking about this start in a few years time as the start of a successful career for Jon in B-town.

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