In the end, the taxi squad lived up to the name.
The Pawtucket Red Sox put the wraps on their alternate training site this week, and in total, 21 players were called up to Boston during the Red Sox' 60-game season, PawSox manager Billy McMillion and pitching coach Paul Abbott said during a Zoom call on Friday.
With the minor league season canceled, McCoy Stadium served as a site for some veterans to work their way back to the major leagues, while some of the younger players focused on their development.
“Everybody that was there, they did something to improve upon what they brought in,” said McMillon. “Whether it was being a little bit more consistent, whether it was a little more command on a pitch, I don’t think anyone really took a step back in their development. Everyone that we had did some things to take another step forward.”
Triston Casas, the team’s first round pick in 2018, and Nick Yorke, a first round selection in June, spent time in Rhode Island.
“Yorke got to see some of the older guys, and what it’s like to be professional and how you go about your business, and what it’s like to play against upper level competition,” said McMillon. “I think it totally benefits those guys, more than you can imagine.”
McMillon thought Casas benefitted from his time at the site after showing up in late August and facing Triple A pitching.
"Casas is very intriguing to me, " said McMillon. “He played both corner positions. I think he’s probably going to settle in at first base. His discipline at the plate was incredible.”
Some of the players acquired in trades this season also reported to Pawtucket before making their way to the big club. Pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold landed on the taxi squad after coming over from the Phillies for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, with Pivetta getting a pair of wins in his two appearances for the Red Sox in the final week of the season.
“I like the guys we got in the trades,” said Abbott. “We stocked well on both sides, pitching and offense. We’re pretty close. We got some good players.”
There will be some difficult decisions to be made next year in trying to determine where to place some of the prospects, particularly the ones who weren’t in Pawtucket and did not have a season in 2020.
“In my opinion, the guys that were in the alternate camp are in much better footing than guys that didn’t come because at least we got to see them work out and get a little bit better in some skill sets,” said McMillon.
In addition to Pivetta, starter Tanner Houck and infielder Bobby Dalbec also impressed McMillion, and were bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.
“No one doubts his power,” McMillion said of Dalbec. “As he continues to see upper-level pitching, he’s got be disciplined and lay off those breaking balls in the dirt. I think as he continues to be up there, he’s going to gain more and more confidence.”
Houck won all three of his starts for the Sox, allowing just six hits in 17 innings of work.
“That’s what player development is about,” said Abbott. “You work with guys. You spend a lot of time watching them. You go through some growing pains, making some adjustments, and then it all synchs up, and you see the success he had, it’s really fun to watch. It’s a tip of the hat to the whole organization.”
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