Photo Credit: AP Photo / NBC Sports Boston
These Spring Training performances are the feel good stories coming out of Boston Red Sox camp.
Bobby Poyner and Marcus Walden were both non-roster invitees to Ft. Myers, Florida, and neither were expected to have a chance at cracking the 25-man roster. They were both supremely impressive, however, and will now be stepping on a big league mound for the first time in their respective careers.
Poyner has been very good throughout his minor league career so far. In 99 appearances since 2015, he’s posted a 2.35 ERA, including 0.94 last year at the AA level. Although he rarely sees the 90’s on the gun (his fastball tops out around 88-89 mph), he possesses a deceptive changeup and is said to be working on a hard slider, and his 12.2 K/9 strikeout rate in 2017 suggests late movement throughout his arsenal. Being the only lefty in the bullpen and boasting a 1.80 ERA vs. left-handed hitters, he looks to take on the lefty hitter situational role to begin the year.
Walden is somewhat of a journeyman. The 29-year old righty has moved across all levels of minor league baseball in his 11 years as a pro, including Independent ball in 2015 – a path that Rich Hill took before Boston as well.He was called up in Toronto in 2014 but never saw any playing time, and is enjoying his first MLB action since then this season. He put together a 10-6 record for AAA Pawtucket in 2017, compiling a 3.92 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 86 K’s in 29 appearances (15 starts). He’s likely the last guy on the bench and will be fighting to keep his spot once the Boston rotation and relief corps return to full health.
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Poyner and Walden’s journeys are proof that anything can happen in baseball, and they’re both a testament to the magic of Spring Training. Keep an eye on them going forward.