Mike Hazen's voice picks up a beat when Oscar Tejeda's name is mentioned. Of course, there's uncertainty when evaluating a Single A prospect - especially one who's only 17 - but the director of player development excitedly acknowledges Tejeda's obvious offensive ability.
"I mean, he's interesting," said Hazen of the Lowell shortstop. "You look at a 17-year-old kid playing in that league [New York-Penn]. At 17, playing on that roster and playing well. That's a credit to Craig Shipley and the scouting. Tremendous makeup. Hard worker. Great raw ability. Projecting a 17-year-old kid is idiotic, but he's definitely interesting."
Tejeda, who will turn 18 in December, was brought up from the Gulf Coast League Red Sox two weeks ago. He was a July 2 international free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic, along with Engel Beltre, since traded to the Rangers in the Eric Gagné deal.
Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina, who had limited familiarity with his new player, initially batted the shortstop ninth as the designated hitter. That didn't last long. In his first 10 games with the Spinners, Tejeda had five three-hit performances - and was moved up in the order. Though he has cooled off a bit (11 strikeouts over a six-game period), Tejeda stood at .328 after Wednesday night's game. With the GCL Sox, he hit .295 (51 for 173) with 13 doubles.
"He's been very impressive as far as his plate awareness, his body awareness, his ability to drive a fastball, his ability to hit breaking balls," DiSarcina said. "He's very advanced for his age. He moves runners over, drives the ball well into both gaps. The important thing is he's not overmatched."
Though his defensive skills lag behind his offensive talents, DiSarcina is still playing Tejeda at shortstop, even though that means he has to juggle his infield a bit. His regular shortstop, Yamaico Navarro (.304), slides over to third. According to DiSarcina, the two are polar opposites, from Navarro's "hard and out of control at times" swing to Tejeda's "very soft, very smooth" motion.
And, though it would be easier (and likely more helpful to the Spinners' playoff pursuit) to use Tejeda as the full-time DH, DiSarcina stresses that could stunt Tejeda's development. Pressure isn't always a bad thing.
"He should be playing in this league three or four years from now," DiSarcina said of the 6-foot-1-inch, 177-pound Tejeda, the youngest Spinner in team history. "He's doing it at a very young age. He has a very young body. Is he going to outgrow his position, have to move to the outfield or third base? He has some awkward moments in the field where it doesn't look completely fluid, whether you want to call him gangly or growing into his body. [But] he's an exciting player, easy to coach, easy to manage."
Young and upcoming
DiSarcina, late of the NESN broadcasting booth, reflected on his first season at the Lowell helm: "What makes it special is when the rovers come in or the front-office people come in and they see the jumps and the leaps and bounds [the players] have grown. When you're on the ground every day, you don't see the growth." His best moment? Lowell's walkoff win in the Futures at Fenway game, getting to see the "smiles on the faces at Fenway Park, to see them jump up and down, like little kids." . . . The Lancaster JetHawks broke the California League season home run mark when Jon Still hit the 204th Sunday. The team proceeded to hit three more en route to a 20-5 victory over Stockton. The previous record was held by the 2005 High Desert team . . . Nick Hagadone, the Red Sox' top 2007 draft pick, has continued his scoreless streak at Lowell. Since giving up five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in his professional debut, Hagadone has allowed just six hits and no walks, while striking out 21 batters in 17 innings in two- and three-inning starts . . . In the first game of Wednesday night's doubleheader against Trenton, the Sea Dogs wore replica 1926 Portland Eskimo uniforms in their Field of Dreams promotion. With their split, Portland led New Hampshire by a half-game in the race for the second playoff slot in the Eastern League's Northern Division . . . After playing in 10 games with the GCL Sox, the team's second draft pick, infielder Ryan Dent, played his first game for Lowell Tuesday. Dent, a first-round sandwich pick (No. 62 overall), went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored . . . Pawtucket beat Buffalo, 7-6, Wednesday night on a walkoff single by Brandon Moss. It was the team's 18th walkoff win this season and fifth since Aug. 13 . . . Jacoby Ellsbury's hitting streak was 24 games after Wednesday's contest . . . Lancaster first baseman Lars Anderson is 7 for 16 (.438) in five games since being promoted from Greenville.