Masterson masterful

I’m not normally going to do a daily minor league recap but yesterday had so much going on I felt the need to write about it.

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One time successful major league pitcher Justin Masterson was signed to a minor league deal to provide rotational depth at AAA and so far he’s looked good. Last night he was brilliant.  While searching www.milb.com for his game I came across this little tidbit from his major league debut in 2008:

Justin Masterson, RHP, Boston Red Sox
A slew of injuries and illness may have slowed the Boston Red Sox’s starting pitchers, but they also accelerated the arrival — temporary for now — of the organization’s top Minor League arm. Right-hander Justin Masterson was summoned from Double-A Portland on April 24 for an emergency start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The 2006 second-rounder from San Diego State had his contract purchased just hours before the game, a 7-5 loss in which he did not factor in the decision. He tossed six innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run and walking four while striking out four. He got 11 groundball outs on his super sinker — his primary out pitch.

The converted catcher might not have been a Red Sox had the rumored offseason trade for Johan Santana gone through. He was considered one of the key players in that package.

Armed with that sinker and a plus slider, he had posted a 15-9 record and 3.74 ERA in a season and a half prior to 2008

Ha ha, a converted catcher.

Anyway, last night Masterson gave up only two baserunners over seven innings (one hit, one walk) in leading OKC to victory.

“It’s just nice to be able to go out there and have consistency, to actually have an idea of where the ball is going and to be able to repeat that,” said the right-hander, who’s won 64 games in the Major Leagues. “I’m grateful to be in that spot right now, and hopefully it continues. You never know as things continue to go, but I’m thankful. I feel good.”

Masterson is only four years removed from being a 2013 All-Star with the Indians.

Masterson was a 2013 All-Star with Cleveland, going 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and three shutouts before being derailed by injuries. He tore his oblique at the end of that season and battled various shoulder ailments over the next two years. He signed with the Red Sox in 2015 — “even with a shoulder that wasn’t the best” — and put up a 5.61 ERA in 18 outings.

But Masterson did not have the best game yesterday. That game belongs to Edwin Rios who went five for five.  Rios tinkered with his swing after two games of struggling and the result was his best game as a pro.

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“That last two games didn’t go too well for me and I just kind of tried to stay close and go to the left side and basically use the whole field,” Rios said. “That’s what I did today and that helped me a ton. I know when I’m going bad, I just try to work the left side and everything will just sync back up.”

I’ve heard that Rios has lost some weight and looks better at 3rd base. That would increase his value if the slugger could remain at 3rd base. Rios now has a .972 OPS for the season and is hitting over .400 over his last ten games.

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And one more tidbit. A few days ago after Chase De Jong pitched well for the Mariners I wondered if the Dodgers had made a mistake in trading De Jong for Drew Jackson. No sooner had I uttered those words than Drew Jackson went on a mini tear hitting home runs in three straight games. This is notable because Jackson is mostly known for his game-changing speed.  Has the power been a conscious change?

“It’s finding his authentic swing. He’s done a lot of work since coming over from Seattle to get going in a positive direction,” Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga manager Drew Saylor said. “It’s getting his swing on plane, finding ways to get his bat in the contact zone longer, and we’re seeing a nice little sample size of that over the last couple games. It’s more just a product of the work he’s been putting in.”

Drew now has an OPS of .982 with a nice blend of speed and power. AA should be in his cards soon as he is repeated A+ ball.  This would open up SS for Brendon Davis at Rancho.

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