The not-so-obvious reason you should watch Bobby Dalbec this spring training

Rob Bradford
February 22, 2019 - 4:02 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Understanding why Bobby Dalbec is an intriguing Red Sox prospect isn't complicated. He hits home runs.

This we were reminded of in his first at-bat of the exhibition season against Northeastern Friday afternoon.

But why this spring training show might be a bit more impressive than his 32 minor-league homers from a year ago might initially suggest isn't so obvious. 

As one Red Sox executive said of the third baseman, "Wait until he starts hitting these major league balls."

Sure enough.

It is common knowledge that baseballs used in Major League Baseball are livelier than the ones used in the minors. One impromptu experiment last season led to a group of Triple-A players comparing the cores of the two baseballs. One bounced right up. The other fell straight to the ground. It is what it is but make no mistake about ... it is different.

"It just feels different. It feels good," Dalbec told WEEI.com after the Red Sox' 6-0 win over the Huskies at JetBlue Park. "It feels louder off the bat. It just feels like you’re hitting harder baseballs. It’s fun."

For Dalbec, who finished with a .919 OPS between Single-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, the reality of the difference was introduced during a brief visit to Tropicana Field while playing in the Instructional League.

"I hit one when I was in instrucs in my first year when we were hitting at Tropicana Field with big league balls," he said. "A couple of started hitting the rafters. I’m like, ‘What are we hitting?’ It felt like we were hitting golf balls."

Dalbec isn't the only one who is licking his chops, although one of the other top Red Sox power prospects says the change in equipment should be approached with caution.

"It is different for sure, but at the end of the day, you can’t get caught up on one or another," said infielder Michael Chavis. "The way I think about it is if you catch a barrel it’s going to go so whenever I try and do too much or I’m thinking these balls fly better I would try and do more and hit the ball harder. So I just want to let it come naturally.

"The first couple of days definitely, in general, I try not to pay too much attention to the result, especially in BP. When I catch myself hitting the ball and trying to track it I end up trying to hit home runs. I just try and stay within myself and stay process oriented, even in BP. When I catch one I know it goes, but just how I work and go about my business I try and not look at it too much."

But, still, after getting a taste of what Dalbec might be able to do throughout this Grapefruit League season it's hard not to project some interesting times.

"I remember when he first came to Double-A in his first at-bat he hit a home run I was like, ‘Wow!’ The guy has stupid power," Chavis said. "That’s what he does. He hit the ball and I immediately said, ‘That’s gone.’ Somebody next to me was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I was like, ‘That’s gone, 100 percent.’ You heard the sound off the at-bat. He caught barrel and when he catches barrel it’s loud."

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