Red Sox

Could Red Sox prospect Durbin Feltman help bullpen in 2019? Early results are promising

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USA TODAY Sports

Could Red Sox prospect Durbin Feltman help bullpen in 2019? Early results are promising

Durbin Feltman is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing prospects in the Boston Red Sox farm system, and you might be hearing a lot more from him later in the year. 

The Red Sox bullpen took a hit this offseason when Joe Kelly left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency and the team decided not to bring back free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Matt Barnes is one option to be the next closer, but he hasn't proven to be the undisputed candidate in spring training so far. As a result, there's still no clear-cut candidate for the closer role, so it's possible the dreaded bullpen-by-committee approach could be the strategy to open the 2019 season.

If the bullpen struggles or lacks certain elements throughout the year, it's possible Feltman could get some run at the Major League level to showcase his talents.

"I saw him Monday. The stuff was there. You can see it," Cora told reporters, per WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "Everybody knows about him. I still remember people thought he was going to be the savior last year when he got drafted. It’s not that easy. It’s not that easy. We went through it in ’05 [with Craig Hansen] and he was kind of like the guy and it didn’t turn out to be that.

"You’ve got to be very careful. This is still the big leagues. I don’t know if I have told you guys, my brother, he puts it in a very particular way. It’s A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A, it’s not 4-A, it’s MLB. There’s a difference. There’s a big jump from the A’s to MLB. There’s a period of adjustment."

Feltman was selected by the Sox with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. The 21-year-old right-hander has a powerful fastball and an improved breaking ball, as evidenced in Sunday's spring training outing against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Feltman had a 1.93 ERA, four saves, 36 strikeouts and five walks over 23 1/3 innings for three different Single-A teams during the 2018 season. He's tallied four strikeouts with three walks in 1 2/3 innings for Boston this spring.

There's no question Feltman has impressive talent and could be a valuable arm for the Red Sox bullpen sooner than later. Feltman needs to prove himself in Double-A to begin 2019, and if he shines at that level, a major league callup later in the year wouldn't be out of the question. 

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Highlights from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the Tigers

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Highlights from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the Tigers

FINAL SCORE: Red Sox 7, Tigers 3

IN BRIEF: The Red Sox split their series with the Tigers with a 7-3 victory on Thursday night. Rick Porcello earned his first quality start of the season, and Mookie Betts stayed hot with two doubles.

BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 11-15

HIGHLIGHTS:

2nd inning

Michael Chavis two-run home run (2-0 BOS)

3rd inning

Jeimer Candelario RBI single (2-1 BOS)

Nicholas Castellanos two-run home run (3-2 DET)

J.D. Martinez RBI single (3-3)

Rafael Devers two-run double (5-3 BOS)

Mookie Betts RBI double (6-3 BOS)

6th inning

Andrew Benintendi RBI double (7-3 BOS)

UP NEXT:
vs. Rays, Friday, 7:10 p.m. NESN
vs. Rays, Saturday, 4:05 p.m., NESN
vs. Rays, Sunday, 1:05 p.m., NESN

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'I got emotional' - Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez describe what it's like to face childhood idol Miguel Cabrera

'I got emotional' - Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez describe what it's like to face childhood idol Miguel Cabrera

BOSTON -- It's a rite of passage for major league pitchers from Venezuela, and on consecutive nights, Darwinzon Hernandez and Eduardo Rodriguez lived it -- facing future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

The South American nation of 32 million has produced about 400 big leaguers since right-hander Alex Carrasquel debuted in 1939, and none of them is as famous or accomplished as Cabrera.

The 11-time All-Star, two-time MVP, and 2012 Triple Crown winner is in his 17th season, and he long ago achieved legendary status in his home country. So, when Hernandez, 22, debuted in the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, there was one batter he wanted to face more than anyone.

"I got emotional," Hernandez admitted.

As Cabrera stepped into the box, Hernandez had to gather himself. A week earlier he had been facing Double-A hitters. Now, he was staring down his idol. He fought the butterflies long enough to work the count full before issuing a walk.

E-Rod can identify. He experienced those same butterflies the first time he faced Cabrera in 2016. Cabrera reached three times on a pair of singles and an intentional walk. They've since become friends who work out together in Miami in the offseason, and Rodriguez has limited him to just one hit over their last three matchups.

"He's been my friend since I got to the big leagues," Rodriguez said. "I think you guys have seen it, every time I face him, we joke with each other, things like that, he'll say he's going to hit the ball out of the ballpark every time against me, I tell him I'm going to strike you out all the time. It's a good relationship we have.

"He's a legend from my country. It's special every time I face him because he's a future Hall of Famer. I've had a good relationship with him, and to have that kind of respect that we have for each other, and especially myself for him, this is something we do all the time. I just thank God he hasn't hit a homer yet, because it will be really crazy when he hits it."

Cabrera is used to it. He's known throughout baseball as being particularly giving to his countrymen, and most of them admit being in awe before facing him.

"Intimidated? No. I don't believe that," Cabrera said before Thursday's series finale vs. the Red Sox. "When you put on a uniform, it doesn't matter how old you are. You're in the big leagues for a reason. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. You put a uniform on and you go out there and compete.

"It's different outside of baseball, because when you're on the field, you don't have time to think about that. That's more about being a fan because they don't have a chance to go out there and compete. You see a person in real life and you say, whoa. But when you work in the same place and you step to the big leagues, there's no chance to think like, 'Wow, I'm here.' Now it's time to work. It's a distraction. You don't need a distraction on a baseball field."

Cabrera said he had never heard of Hernandez before facing him, though the young left-hander said they've met. In any event, he was gracious when told how much the at-bat meant to the youngster.

"That's nice to hear," Cabrera said. "He has good stuff."

Hernandez is back in the minors, but if and when he establishes himself as a big leaguer, he should expect to end up in Cabrera's orbit.

"That's the way I am," Cabrera said. "I try to help my teammates, the people I know, the people around me, be a better person, be a better baseball player and that's it."

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