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A Run on Lefties

Yesterday, we saw a purge of lefties from our system. Three different left-handed pitchers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, found themselves officially on new clubs in the span of just a few hours. I thought I would take a look at each of them, and take a look at the lefties still left in our system.

  • Damaso Marte, 30, Majors -- Traded to Pittsburgh for Rob Mackowiak -- Marte will likely end up competing for the closers role in Pittsburgh, but he would have been relegated to mop-up work in Chicago.
  • Gio Gonzalez, 19, High-A -- Traded as a PTBNL to Philadephia for Jim Thome -- Gio is was the top prep lefty in the '04 draft, and has pitched like it since. He profiles to be a #2 starter if he can avoid the injury concerns that come along with his slight stature.
  • Fabio Castro, 20, High-A -- Drafted by the Royals in the Rule 5 draft, then traded to Texas for Esteban German. -- Castro, like Gio, has a slight frame, and the Sox have been careful with him. They have limited his innings by relegating him to the pen. He profiles as a LOOGY to left-handed set-up man in the bigs. -- The Rangers will try to bury him on the staff, using him as a second lefty out of the pen, and only when the match-ups are favorable. I don't have a good feeling about him returning to the Sox. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say 25% chance. The Rangers could end up sending us a player to keep him if they are forced to send him back down to the minors. With his size, I expect him to have one of those justifiable Rule-5 injuries that put players on the DL for the entire season. -- Baseball Analysts were more optimistic about us getting Castro back.
  • Daniel Haigwood, 21, AA -- Traded to Philadelphia for Jim Thome -- Haigwood was the most advanced of the minor league lefties that we lost, though he probably ranked behind the other in the "stuff" category. Haigwood has a big league curveball, but scouts are not as impressed with the rest of his repertoire. He often gets comparisons to Mark Buehrle, however, for working quick and his inate ability to "know how to pitch." Whatever that means.
  • Neal Cotts, 25, Majors -- Should inherit the primary lefty role out of the pen. He's more of a 1-inning guy than he is a LOOGY. If he was able to develop another plus pitch, I'd like to see him return for a shot at starting.
  • Arnie Munoz, 23, AAA -- Had an inauspicious debut with the Sox in '04. Munoz nearly made the '03 team as a 21 year old. He features a great curveball, but doesn't have a second major league pitch. I don't know how much stock you can put in his minor league numbers, as the Sox have been trying to get him to use mainly his secondary pitches in each of the last two seasons. -- He has a shot to make the '06 Sox as the second lefty out of the pen.
  • Paulino Reynoso, 25, AA -- Started with the Sox as an infielder, but converted to pitcher a couple of years later. Reynoso appeared to be a likely candidate to be dropped from the 40-man roster a few times last season, but each time, somebody else was dropped instead. The reason that Reynoso gets more leeway than others is his fastball, which reportedly touches 95, and his relative pitching youth. '06 will be a make-or-break year for Paulino.
  • Ray Liotta, 22, High-A -- Good, but not great, stuff. A left-handed Lance Broadway. His jump to AA in '06 will give us a much better understanding of what we have in Liotta. He's had good, but not great, peripherals at his minor league stops to go along with dynamite ERAs. The reason for the low ERAs is no doubt do to his ability to induce groundballs and keep the ball in the park. He profiles to have good success at USCF. A guy we should hang on to.
  • Tyler Lumsden, 22, High-A -- Missed all of the '05 season with injuries. Of all the lefties in the system, Lumsden is reported to have the best stuff. However, he's not the pitcher that Gio, Haigwood, or Liotta are. '06 will likely be a waste year as Tyler comes back from surgery, but he could burst back onto the scene in '07 if he figures things out.
  • Clayton Richard, 21, Low-A -- Back up QB at the University of Michigan. Richard was a one of the top prep lefties coming out of HS. He struggled after his promotion to Kannapolis this year. He should start their again, but look for him to pitch well enough to warrant a promotion at the ASB/Draft time. Richard had dynamite stuff in HS, and is just beginning to regain his form.
There are other lefties in the system, but I thought these were the ones of note.