Pat Light says his fastball now occasionally touches triple digits. (Porland Sea Dogs/365DigitalPhotography.com)

RHP Pat Light speeds through minors as pitch velocity increases

Ken Laird
June 10, 2015 - 11:05 am
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This week, the Red Sox are adding a new crop of prospects through the Major League Baseball draft, led by the seventh-overall selection, outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Three years ago, in the 2012 draft, the Sox had three first-rounders: shortstop Deven Marrero, left-hander Brian Johnson and right-hander Pat Light. With Monday's promotion of Light from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket, all three now are just a step away from the majors. Light, a 2012 supplemental first-round pick at 37 overall, was converted from a starter early this year and hasn't looked back: 29.2 IP, 11 R, 8 ER, 11 B, 32 K. Light has held opposing hitters to a .168 average, and the 24-year-old has allowed just one earned run in his last 17 1/3 innings, with 17 of his 20 appearances on the season producing zeroes in the earned run column. And perhaps most interestingly, Light's velocity has continued to rise, with his fastball in the upper 90s. Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles has gotten the sparkling scouting report on Light. "Oh, yeah," Boles said. "From what we hear, fastball anywhere from 96 to 98, sitting in that range, with a good split[-finger fastball]. I guess the transition has gone very well for him. Looking forward to seeing him." Light says he has hit triple digits a few times on the radar gun. "A few times in Portland this year," Light said. "My first time [throwing 100] was back in Salem at the end of last year. It's obviously fun to throw hard, every kid wanted to throw hard. I was a late bloomer. I threw maybe mid-80s in high school. I don't even think they had radar guns. Then in college my sophomore and junior years I started ticking up a little bit. The past couple of years, I've been able to go up maybe one or two every year. Hopefully I'm not going to stop and it keeps going." Boles said he doesn't have defined roles such as a true closer with his team, because the faces in Pawtucket change too often. But he admitted it wasn't really his call where Light pitches with the PawSox. "That'll come from up top," Boles said. "He'll probably pitch at the end of ball games. We'll get him out there and do those same things he was doing in Portland." As a starter last year, the 6-foot-5 Light was 8-6 with a 4.83 ERA (71 ER, 132 1/3 IP) in 25 starts between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem. Then in spring training this year, Light's position change was made by Red Sox brass. "They called me into the office the last week [in Fort Myers] and told me that's the route they wanted to go," Light said of his starting days ending. "They were excited about it and I think it kind of rubbed off on me. I was pretty excited about it afterwards. What they think is best is probably best, they've been doing it for a long time. I trust those guys. It's been a good year. Pretty easy transition into relieving, which has been nice. You never know how those are going to go. It's pretty different, but it's been a good year and I hope it continues." Light said he hadn't had steady relief work since Cape Cod League in the summer of 2001. Pitching just one inning has allowed him pare down his repertoire. "I used to be fastball-changeup-slider," Light said. "I used to have my splitter back in college and [Monmouth] wanted me to add a more conventional changeup. [Boston] wanted to get rid of the changeup, which I was on board with. And they wanted to bring back the splitter, which was a real difference for me [this] spring. So, it's been fastball-split mostly, and I have that slider in my back pocket if I need it." The fastball hasn't shown a ton of movement, but Light didn't seem concerned. "Most important is just locating," Light said of his heater. "Movement is going to come if it's natural, you have it or you don't. I don't even know if I have any movement on mine, to be honest with you. But you try to locate in the best spot you can. I've always felt a good fastball located well is going to be a tough pitch to hit, movement or not. I just try to locate best I can and let the ball do what it does." And as for the closer mentality? It's growing, although the "Light's-Out" closer scoreboard entrance video hasn't happened yet. "No, not yet," Light said, laughing. "But I have that mentality to come in and say, 'This is what I've got.' My best pitch vs. your best swing type of deal. It's exciting and it's fun, to be honest with you. It's a lot of fun."

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