An Impressive Retrospective: The 2009 Salem Sox
On April 9, 2009, the world saw the Salem Red Sox for the first time. Despite a dramatic three-run rally to tie it up on the bottom of the ninth, the Sox fell to Frederick 8-6 in 12 innings. Looking back on that day exactly 38 months later, it is amazing to realize how many future major leaguers were in that game. Taking it one step further, it is incredible to see how many members of the 2009 Salem Sox have ascended to the Show. And mysteriously, it remains to be seen how many will get there eventually.
In the season opener in ’09, the Sox had five position player starters that have gone on to the big leagues: Che-Hsuan Lin (hit leadoff in CF), Yamaico Navarro (hit third at SS), Ryan Kalish (hit cleanup in RF), Luis Exposito (hit sixth and caught), and Kris Negron (hit eighth at 2B). In addition, Salem’s starting pitcher that day was Kyle Weiland, who debuted last year for Boston (and was ejected in his first ever big league start!).
That’s six guys who played on Opening Day for Salem alone. Also worth noting, the Salem lineup faced Keys’ southpaw Brian Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the ’08 draft who was making his professional debut!
By the end of the season, Tim Federowicz, Daniel Nava, Anthony Rizzo, and Robert Coello also suited up for the Salem Sox, giving the ’09 club TEN guys who have played in the big leagues.
And that might not be all when all is said and done. Here are the top candidates who still could rise up:
1) Casey Kelly – Currently injured, but began the year with two excellent starts for the Triple-A Tuscon Padres (12 innings, three earned runs, 14 strikeouts, no walks) and he still is just 22 years old.
2) Stephen Fife – Currently 5-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 12 starts for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Dodgers). In his last two starts, he is 2-0 with 13 scoreless innings! Very much a prospect and likely to see Chavez Ravine at some point this summer.
3) Chih-Hsien Chiang – Currently hitting .245 with two homers in 40 games for the Triple-A Tacoma Raniers (Mariners). His ascendance isn’t as likely as Kelly and Fife’s, but he still is 24 in Triple-A and has a really good shot.
4) Jason Rice – Currently sports a 3.38 ERA for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves in 16 relief appearances. The enigmatic righthander has continuously put up good numbers at the Triple-A level and hopefully the flamethrower is given a chance in the majors.
5) Jose Alvarez – It’s easy to forget the 19-year-old who pitched in 12 games in April and May and was dealt to Florida/Miami the next offseason for Jeremy Hermida, but Alvarez is now 23 and pitching for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. He currently owns a 1-3 record and a 4.19 ERA in 11 starts.
6) Bryan Price – Dealt to the Indians in the Victor Martinez transaction, Price owns a 2.27 ERA in 17 appearances (31.2 IP) for the Double-A Akron Aeros. Price owns a sick slider that should get him to Triple-A at some point this summer.
That’s not all. What about Jon Hee (Currently playing with Pawtucket) and Dan Butler (an excellent defensive catcher currently with Portland who’s glove could get him to the Show)? Stranger things have happened.
It’s astounding to think that 12-18 guys from a single minor league club could get to the big leagues, but here we are on the verge of seeing it. Pretty special stuff.
Salem needs a good performance today to hang around in the first-half pennant chase. Down by two and a half with 10 to play, the Sox have Matt Barnes and Manny Rivera making the starts in the twin-bill that commences at 5:35. Hope you’ll join us then on NewsTalk 960 AM & FM 107.3 WFIR or online at www.salemsox.com.
Some interesting (Yes, I’m biased, but it’s true) game notes are below…
Talk to you soon,
June 9, 2012 5:35 PM DH Salem Red Sox (33-26-1) vs Potomac Nationals (28-32) Game #61
Pfitzner Stadium Woodbridge, VA Road Game #28
Probable Starters: Game One: RHP Matt Barnes (3-1, 1.59) vs RHP Nathan Karnes (0-1, 21.60)
Game Two: LHP Manny Rivera (3-2, 4.89) vs LHP Matt Grace (2-6, 5.67)
Nine Days (The Story of a Team): Salem’s quest for the city’s premier first half title since 1988 is down to its final nine days, in which the Sox will play ten games. The Sox enter Saturday two and half behind the first place Dash after Salem lost two and Winston won two on Friday night. Salem and Winston do not play each other again in the half, and if the team’s finish with the same record, the Sox would win the tiebreaker as a result of their 5-4-1 record against the Dash in the first half. Heading into Saturday night, Winston’s magic number to clinch the first-half title is eight.
Reverting Back to the Mean: The Salem Sox went just 10-for-49 (.204) at the plate during Friday’s twin-bill, capping off a five-game stretch in which the Sox have hit just .229 (30-for-131). In the previous five games, Salem recorded 65 hits and hit .357! Now, the Sox are batting .304 in June, but have a below .500 record of 4-5-1. Incredibly, the Red Sox are outscoring their opponents 57-36 this month, but have won only four games. Three of the four wins have come by eight or more runs, while all five losses have come by three runs or less. The Salem Sox have not lost a game by more than three runs since May 1, a 9-5 setback at Wilmington in game #23 of the season.
Bogey Power: One of the bright spots in Salem’s two losses last night was the continued power surge of Xander Bogaerts. Salem’s 19-year-old shortstop has now blasted three homers in his last seven games since May 3, giving him seven bombs on the year, tied for the team lead with Travis Shaw. On the season, six of Bogaerts’ seven homers have been solo shots. His average has climbed from .263 to .284 in the past seven days, in which he has hits in seven of the last eight games for a .423 (11-for-26) average. Despite all but one of his homers coming with the bases empty, his top production on the season has occurred with men aboard. He’s batting just .255 with the bases empty and .312 with runners aboard, including a .393 clip with runners on base and two outs.
The Opposite of a Door Matt: Salem’s ace Matt Barnes rarely gets stepped on. In his 11 professional starts, the righthander has gone 5-1 with a 1.04 ERA, having allowed just eight runs (seven earned) on 38 hits in 60.2 innings, with 81 strikeouts and eight walks. His WHIP of 0.76 is #1 in the minors, his ERA is #2 in the minors, and his strikeout total in tenth best. Remarkably, Barnes is the only minor league pitcher among the top 98 in strikeouts who also has issued single digit walks. Saturday will be Barnes’ first career start against a Nationals’ affiliate.
Setting the Record Straight: Contrary to the misleading message in Friday’s game notes, the stats from Wednesday’s game against Winston-Salem do indeed count. From the major league rulebook, rule 4.10-c-3 states: “If a game is called, it is a regulation game if the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score.” Hence, it officially becomes a tie and a regulation game. It is the sixth tie in Salem pro baseball history, but the first since 1986.