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How the Red Sox made a trade target

Rob Bradford
July 27, 2018 - 4:36 pm

Brian Bannister wears many hats in the Red Sox' organization.

His official title is as the club's assistant pitching coach, although the former major leaguer's responsibilities obviously stretch well beyond the big major league clubhouse. That was a reality put on display Tuesday night when Jalen Beeks became something more than just an up-and-coming minor league pitcher.

Beeks represented an element of Bannister's work that takes a few peeled-off layers to truly uncover. He is one of the guys who help make players valuable at this time of year.

"There are multiple ways a player can help the Boston Red Sox," Bannister said. "When you get more out of your own ability there are numerous positives that can affect. I give those guys credit because they got better and good things happened to a lot of them, getting big league opportunities.

"I give our minor league pitching coaches a lot of credit. They were in the trenches with him. I give him credit, buying in and trying new things. He is pitching with a legitimate four-pitch mix. He’s performed at Triple-A in numerous ways. He put himself on the radar both internally and externally. You give him credit. You give the coaches that worked with him a lot of credit, as well."

Two seasons ago, Beeks was a 12th-round draft pick with only moderate minor-league success. Upon being promoted to Double-A the lefty totaled a 4.68 ERA in 13 starts to finish off 2016. He was not blowing anyone away, or coming close to cracking the Red Sox' Top 10 prospect list.

Then, midway through 2017, along came a cutter. That's where the perception of Beeks started to change. And one year later, the Red Sox were able to use him to get one of the most sought-after rental starting pitchers (Nathan Eovaldi) on the major league market. 

It's how it is supposed to and has worked. 

With the assistance of the Red Sox' minor-league coaching staff and Bannister, the organization has managed to build projects into valuable trade pieces. Aaron Wilkerson (signed out of Independent League), Shaun Anderson (3rd round), Stephen Nogosek (6th round), Jose Almonte ($610,000 signing bonus, international free agent), Gregory Santos ($275,000 signing bonus, international free agent), and Gerson Bautista ($250,000 signing bonus, international free agent) were all pitchers developed in the Red Sox' system and ultimately shipped off in non-waiver trade deadline deals for rental players.

"They all got better," noted Bannister. "My father having been a pitcher, me having been a pitcher, we’re looking out for their best interest. You want to see them have success. You want them to get the most out of their ability. I think a pitcher, if they retire at the end of their career, if they got the most out of their ability, bottom line, that’s the goal. That’s my goal with any pitcher I work with. I don’t get so much into future career direction, but I do think if you’re focused on giving them an opportunity to maximize their talents good things happen."

While there is some sentimentality that surfaces when a player like Beeks is sent out of the organization, there is also undeniably a wave of satisfaction, as well.

"I think I can be agnostic in the way that I just want them to be big leaguers and have successful big league careers, getting the most out of their ability," Bannister. "It’s like seeing your kids go off to college. It’s kind of that feeling. There’s a little bit of remorse, but you’re also excited because it took a lot of people investing a lot of time in those guys and them buying in to get to that point."

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