Old Friends: Where are they now part II?

This is another rendition of players who passed through Boston and in a few instances never quite made it despite some significant early promise. Here is the first part that preceeded this one.

Watching Sean Coyle play brings, or did bring, memories of Dustin Pedroia. Coyle was a 5’8” right-handed hitting infielder with some clout hitting 16 home runs for Portland (AA) in 2014. At age 22 the future looked bright, but Coyle soon proved that his talent limit was Double-A.

As a historical footnote, Coyle was named to the 2014 Futures team to replace Mookie Betts who was promoted to the parent club. Coyle started the 2015 season as the Red Sox 17th ranked prospect and quickly faded at Pawtucket (AAA) hitting just .159 in 39 games. Released by the Red Sox in 2016 and claimed by the Angels. Then released again and signed by Baltimore and then released. Coyle is out of baseball.

Born in Quincy, MA Alex Hassan had a local touch.  The right-handed hitter was a 20th round pick and that made Hassan a long shot, but in 2014 Hassan got into three games with the Red Sox getting his only MLB hit. Then the travels started after leaving Boston.

Oakland, Baltimore, Oakland again, Texas, Oakland once again, Toronto and a final stop with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After hitting .232 for Oklahoma in 2017 Hassan – a Duke graduate – called it a career. But he got his taste.

Steven Wright is the result of a great trade when Boston shipped left-hand hitting Lars Anderson to the Indians for the knuckleballer. Anderson was once the Red Sox offensive Minor League Player of the Year (2010) and in 2011 replaced Mike Lowell at first in Lowell’s last MLB game.

Just what happened?  Anderson had a beautiful swing and just envision a taller Andrew Benintendi, but Anderson never got untracked hitting just .167 in 30 games over three seasons (2010-12) for Boston. His baseball resume has a boatload of air miles as Anderson has played for several MLB organizations followed by Korea, Australia and this season Germany.

The international travel scenario will continue with one time highly ranked Red Sox prospect – righty Michael Bowden. Bowden first surfaced in Bosaton in 2008 as a 21-year-old and tacked on five innings to start his short MLB career.

I remember a game the following season in which the freshly recalled Bowden came in to face the Yankees in an August Fenway Park meeting. Bowden was simply battered giving up seven runs in just two innings. Did that shell shock have a negative career impact?

Bowden moved on to the Cubs via a trade and then to Japan, Baltimore, Twins and in 2016 with a visit to Korea. Korean baseball is noted for hitting and is – giving the benefit of the doubt – probably Double-A in competition. Bowden went 18-7 and returned in 2017 for a far less spectacular performance. Bowden is now out of baseball.

Physically Ryan Lavarnway looked more tight end than a baseball player. The powerful right-hand hitter was a potential Red Sox dream – a pull-hitting catcher/first baseman who was killing it in the minors. Then came the majors.

Lavarnway never put it all together and has drifted around the perimeter of MLB occasionally surfacing. Currently, Lavarnway is in the Pirates organization with Indianapolis and doing rather well. You may eventually see another sighting of the former NCAA batting champion while at Yale.

In 2017 I would look through the box scores with a glance at Arizona and Jeremy Hazelbaker. Hazelbaker is a lefty-hitting outfielder who the Red Sox drafted in the fourth round in 2009. The rangy Hazelbaker hit an impressive .346 in 41 games for the Diamondbacks. With the Red Sox organization, Hazelbaker never caught fire.

Hazelbaker got my attention in 2013 when I attended a few Pawtucket games and was impressed by his ability to steal bases. Hazelbaker stole 37 with the PawSox while hitting .257. That earned Hazelbaker a reward of being traded to the Dodgers.

The carousel then started as Hazelbaker went to the Cardinals, Diamondbacks and now Tampa Bay Rays. With the Cards Hazelbaker finally made it to the majors hitting .235 in 114 games as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter. And pinch hit Hazelbaker did hitting .268 with four home runs in 42 plate appearances.

Hazelbaker is still on the Rays 40-man roster and is hitting .187 with the Durham Bulls. A negative with the Bulls is 68 strikeouts in just 171 at-bats.

 

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About Rick McNair

Born in Boston and have lived in the area all my life but not as a Red Sox fan. My first game was actually at Braves Field where I saw a very young Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves left and I quickly switched loyalties. I enjoy discussing the Red Sox past and the connection of that past to the present. I will often bring in remembrances of that into posts. As a retired teacher I have the time to occasional travel to foreign baseball soil and love meeting up with other fans of RSN on the road. I am also a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) - a dwindling breed in Massachusetts.
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