NEW YORK — When Chris Calciano , then the Red Sox area scout in the mid-Atlantic, met Mike Shawaryn in the offseason preceding the pitcher’s junior year at the University of Maryland, the impression was distinct. Already, Calciano recognized the righthander’s formidable game presence, someone who “would compete his tail off until they took the ball out of his hand.”
The impression became even more favorable with a face-to-face introduction.
“I just remember walking away saying that he has every attribute you could possibly want in terms of a player’s makeup,” Calciano, now a pro scout for Cleveland, said via text. “[He has] aptitude, passion for pitching, confidence, great leader/teammate, a winner that truly despised losing.”
That makeup, combined with a strong track record as a college starter on the strength of an aggressive fastball/slider attack on the strike zone, led the Red Sox to tab Shawaryn as a fifth-rounder in the 2016 draft. Less than three years later, the 24-year-old was called up to join the Red Sox in the Bronx on Thursday to begin his major league career.
“I had to take a deep breath just to let it sink in. It’s a dream come true,” said Shawaryn.
Shawaryn was off to a solid start in Triple-A Pawtucket this year, going 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts, and 4.5 walks per nine innings in 10 starts. He’s been particularly sharp against righties (.208/.302/.321) while struggling against lefties (.256/.364/.433).
His role in the big leagues has yet to be determined. If the Red Sox use Thursday’s rainout to give their rotation members an extra day of rest, Shawaryn could be considered for a start next week in Kansas City. If they skip the fifth starter, then he’d be a bullpen consideration.
Either way, Shawaryn – a New Jersey native with several family members who planned to make the short drive to New York upon news of the callup – was thrilled at the prospect of a career milestone. He is the second player whom the Red Sox drafted in 2016 to reach the big leagues.
“It’s always great for the scouts who put in so much hard work,” said amateur scouting director Mike Rikard. “I’m very happy for Mike and the people involved in the scouting process and player development.”
Velazquez on IL
Shawaryn was summoned to the big leagues after righthander Hector Velazquez was placed on the 10-day injured list with what the team described as a low back strain. One day after Velazquez allowed four runs on four hits in two innings (45 pitches), manager Alex Cora said that the righthander threw some pitches “that were red flags” based on a lower arm angle. Cora said that Velazquez has been dealing with back issues for years, but that the increased severity – which compromised his arm action — led the Sox to place the 30-year-old on the injured list. In 18 games, Velazquez is 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA.
Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled to throw a simulated game against Red Sox teammates on Friday, the first time he’s faced hitters since undergoing surgery in mid-April to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.
New leading man?
Before the rainout, Mookie Betts was slated to lead off against lefty J.A. Happ. Cora characterized the alignment as a product of the fact that the Sox were facing a lefty (thus resulting in someone other than Andrew Benintendi leading off) on a day when Michael Chavis was out of the lineup.
Betts, surprisingly, has struggled in the top spot of the order this year. He’s hitting .118/.250/.265 as a leadoff man, with the Red Sox going 1-8 when he bats first. Overall, however, Cora suggested that the 2018 MVP has delivered consistently good at-bats. “He’s in a good place,” said Cora.
Players across the game were shaken when a line drive off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora struck a 4-year-old girl in Houston, resulting in her hospitalization. Concern for the girl as well as Almora’s distraught reaction — he openly wept on the field, hugging a security guard after asking about the girl’s well-being — resonated with players who want no part of involvement in potentially tragic events.
“First and foremost, what happened last night was horrific. We’re praying that the little girl recovers,” said Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes. “Fan safety is definitely important . . . I don’t know what the right answer is. I can tell you that the only way that the fans in the first 10 rows down the lines don’t get hurt by a ball, a line drive, is if you put the nets all the way to the foul poles.”