Never losing sight of prize
Balcom-Miller moving on up
The Red Sox intended to select Chris Balcom-Miller in the 2009 draft, but the Colorado Rockies beat them to the righthander, taking him in the sixth round out of West Valley Community College in Northern California.
“We were pretty disappointed not to get him,’’ said scouting director Amiel Sawdaye. “It seems like we were a round too late.’’
But the Sox did not give up. When they decided to trade Manny Delcarmen to the Rockies 10 months ago, it was Balcom-Miller they asked for in return.
“I was shocked that I got traded because I had only played about a year for the Rockies,’’ Balcom-Miller said. “But I was not surprised it was the Red Sox. I knew they had an interest in me. I thought they were going to draft me.’’
Now Balcom-Miller is on his way up. He was 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA for Single A Salem and earned a promotion to Double A Portland. In five Eastern League starts, he has a 3.80 ERA.
At 22, Balcom-Miller has been a full-time pitcher for only four years. He was primarily a position player in high school.
“Those kind of guys are interesting because they have less wear and tear on their arms and obviously some upside,’’ said Red Sox player development director Mike Hazen. “Chris is showing us a lot.’’
Balcom-Miller considers his changeup his best pitch, although the Sox think his fastball is a plus pitch, too. His slider is a work in progress.
“I didn’t throw my change a lot last season after I got traded, but I’ve thrown it more this season,’’ Balcom-Miller said. “It’s getting better. I haven’t been pitching that long, so I feel like I’m improving a lot.’’
The Sox basically left Balcom-Miller alone last summer, giving him a chance to acclimate to a new organization and adjust to their conditioning program. In spring training, their coaches made a few changes to his approach on the mound.
“It’s been great,’’ Balcom-Miller said. “They take good care of you in this organization. I’ve learned a lot.’’
Balcom-Miller went five innings against Trenton last night, allowing three earned runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Starting over Zach Daeges was one of the organization’s top prospects in 2008, having hit .307 with an .866 OPS for Portland. The sixth-round draft pick out of Creighton in 2006 earned an invitation to major league spring training in 2009.
Daeges got in 14 games and hit .357. His future only looked brighter.
But he was derailed shortly thereafter. An ankle injury limited Daeges to nine games in 2009. Then shoulder surgery cost him the entire 2010 season, as he needed his labrum and posterior capsule repaired.
Now Daeges is back, having been assigned to Single A Lowell out of extended spring training. At 27, Daeges is by far the oldest player on the Spinners roster and is back where he started in pro ball in 2006.
Daeges said in spring training that he considered retiring during his two years on the sidelines. The coming months will probably determine whether he has anything left to contribute.
“He’s going to DH as he comes back to protect his shoulder,’’ Hazen said. “It’s been a long time since he played. Hopefully he can make it back.’’
Different worlds Two Portland teammates will be on different sides in the Futures Game July 10 in Phoenix. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks will play for the United States and outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang for the World Team. Middlebrooks, 22, is hitting .294 for the Sea Dogs. The former fifth-round pick has come on the last two seasons. Chiang, 23, signed out of Taiwan before the 2006 season, is having his best season. He is hitting .307 with a .983 OPS and has 11 home runs. Former Red Sox prospect Rey Fuentes, who was sent to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, also was selected to the World Team.
Kalish improving Ryan Kalish, the team’s top outfield prospect, has not played since April 21, but is on his way back after taking batting practice the last two days. A shoulder injury knocked Kalish out of action, and then a stiff neck set him back. Look for Kalish to start a rehab assignment soon with Lowell . . . Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, who had been out since June 9 with a sprained wrist, returned to Pawtucket Wednesday and homered in his second at-bat . . . Righthander Junichi Tazawa, who is recovering from elbow surgery, has been assigned to Portland. He allowed 12 earned runs in his first 7 1/3 innings with Single A Salem, but has given up only one earned run and seven hits over 12 innings since then, with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
Khoury returns Ryan Khoury, who spent five years in the organization before being released in spring training, is back. He was signed out of the independent Frontier League this week and assigned to Portland. Khoury hit .320 with the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Ill. . . . Lowell will host Kevin Millar, Satch Sanders, and Bill Rodgers Sunday at LeLacheur Park. The three will sign autographs and pose for photographs.