Sunday Red Sox notes: Christian Vazquez continues to impress as 'one of the premier catching prospects,' Bo Greenwell signs

Mike Petraglia
March 02, 2014 - 6:30 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Christian Vazquez continues to impress in Red Sox camp. The latest raves came from John Farrell after Vazquez threw out Minnesota's Jermaine Mitchell trying to steal second base in the seventh inning at Hammond Stadium. "Another one you probably saw last year," Farrell said Sunday, referring to the many runners he threw out for Double-A Portland in 2013. That's something that has continued this spring in camp. "He's thrown out every runner in camp he's come across. He's now 11-for-11," Farrell reported. "What's impressive to me is the progress he's making with the bat. There's more strength in his swing, there's more solid impact, drove the ball good to right-center field and then there was the home run the other day. When you look at the numbers, it's heading in the right direction. He's on a very good path." What will it take for Vazquez to reach the next level? "Number of at-bats and I think as he's getting stronger, that's the thing that starts out," Farrell said. "This is a guy when he first signed, there were some difficulty getting through a nine-inning game and now he might be one of the premier catching prospects in the game." What makes him that premier prospect is an arm unrivaled in the Red Sox system, throwing down to second in less than 1.9 seconds, a release that puts him in the very above-average category. "1.86 on the throw to second," Farrell said. "We [also] encourage all of our guys to [throw to first base]. We want any kind of deterrent to either an extended lead or a secondary lead or any kind of running the bases with freedom, we want to try to cut that down as much as possible." The latest on Grady Sizemore is that he will play Tuesday against Tampa Bay and Friday against Atlanta, both games scheduled for JetBlue Park. "I wish we could fast-forward and get the answer but so far, so good," Farrell said. Anything unexpected from Sizemore? "Yeah, running into the center field wall," Farrell laughed. "He got up and threw the ball so I guess some things don't change." "Talking to him early this morning, he felt like he had a legitimate bead on that ball and time ran out. But he bounced right back up and is good to go. There's been a couple of at-bats where he's getting down the line. The times getting down the line are getting more in line with what's expected, and I think that's his mind is being a little more free and not guarded and so those are things, when you ask what are you looking for, you're starting to see them play out in games in times down the line or how he's responded to game situations. It's been good." The team announced Sunday that they signed Bo Greenwell, the son of former Red Sox All-Star left fielder Mike Greenwell. Bo, 25, was originally drafted by Cleveland in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. It won't be a long trip to camp as he went to Riverdale High School in Fort Myers.

Here are other John Farrell highlights from Sunday:
  • On progress of Shane Victorino: "He'll begin to increase baseball activities. He swung [Saturday], threw out to a 150 feet, started to do a little bit more running. That'll be gradually built and he's making solid strides in all the areas he's addressing right now."
  • On when he'll be ready for games: "When he's ready. The one thing we have to be careful of is we don't jump the gun too early and set some of these things back again, so when he's ready."
  • On comparisons for Felix Doubront: "Who has that is ultimately he is in comparison, we look at him as Felix Doubront. Not to be avoiding the question of who the comparison is or putting a label on him, we know one thing, when he goes to the mound with his best stuff, he can pitch up against anybody in this league."The quality part is what matters most. He and Jon Lester, particularly against some of the left-handed hitting lineups that can be dominant as left-handed hitters in the ballparks we play, it's extremely valuable. And to have two guys that physically are that strong with the repertoire they have. They're well above average, both of them."
  • On challenge of gauging development of lefties: "If we knew the exact answer, maybe there wouldn't be such variability to the time table. Certain guys just get it at certain stages, and maybe because left-handed pitching can be so rare, they get more opportunity because there's a smaller pool of them. So, some of them it might click at 27, 28, 29 years old where your right-hander, there might have been four or five other guys that have replaced you long before that left-hander clicked. So, I think that has something to do with it."
  • On changing up rotation with two lefties: "I don't like to do it. They're creatures of habit. When we have extended breaks, either beginning of the season or coming out of the All-Star break, we have more flexibility to line up the rotation but to change up, now you're throwing guys' routines completely off and you have to be respectful of that because their bodies get into that routine and by that fifth day or sixth day, their body is telling it's time to go again. So, when you're starting to bump a guy back 10 to 12 days, it might take him another two starts to get back in sync from where you just removed him from so we would try to stay away from that. We would want to maintain consistency."
  • On Jon Lester and John Lackey, staying behind to throw in simulated games Wednesday and Thursday, and not making the trip to the Atlantic Coast of Florida: "They'll be sim games. They'll get to three innings and really their next time through when they pitch [in games], they'll be right at the three-inning stint their first time out here."