EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 13, 2013

Workman the workhorse: Right-hander no longer working under radar

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — PORTLAND, MAINE — Brandon Workman was the Red Sox 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, he’s only 24 years old and his fastball has reached 96 mph.

But the Portland Sea Dogs’ power right-hander was not one of the three Red Sox pitchers on Boston’s Top 10 prospect list as ranked by Baseball America following last season and his SoxProspects.com scouting report states his ceiling is “an eighth inning reliever on a contending team.”

That said, Workman is posting as good of statistics and has been efficient as any of the organization’s pitching prospects (Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens) considered to have higher ceilings.

His potential is becoming more and more evident and his ceiling is growing by the start.

Workman is coming off a little bit of a shaky start this past Friday, but his stats are impressive. He is 4-1 with a 3.54 ERA in seven games, six starts (40.2 innings) this season. He has 48 strikeouts and 10 walks and the opposition is batting .204 against him.

He retired the first 18 batters he faced in a start against Double-A Reading on April 30.

“My cutter and curveball have been really good this year,” Workman said. “I’ve been able to throw those in a lot of different counts and have had success with both of them. And all of it stems off my fastball, being able to throw that where I want to and get ahead in counts.”

Workman often has been very efficient throughout his minor league career, inducing quick outs and limiting base runners. His WHIP stands at 0.96 this year.

“I’m just trying to hit my spots,” Workman said. “If they get out quick, that’s great. That allows me to pitch deeper into games. If they swing through it, as long as I’m throwing good pitches, it will have me ahead in counts that way as well. I’m not necessarily trying to get quick outs. I’m just trying to make my pitches and good results usually come from making pitches.”

Workman made his first 20 starts last year at Single-A Salem, going 7-7 with a 3.40 ERA while also leading the Carolina League with the fewest base runners per nine innings and ranking second in WHIP (1.09).

He then made his final five starts in Portland, going 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA.

He struck out 130 and walked only 25 combined between both Salem and Portland in ‘12.

“Overall command plays big up here,” Workman said about Double-A. “There’s better hitters and more disciplined hitters so you have to be in the strike zone a lot more. And commanding my secondary stuff (is important).”

Portland manager Kevin Boles said about Workman: “He’s got command of the fastball. He’s a guy that doesn’t fear contact and that’s what we’re trying to teach these guys: to get strike one, work ahead in the count and make them put the ball in play. Try to be efficient so you can go deeper in the game.”

ALMANZAR ALERT

Portland 22-year-old third baseman Michael Almanzar has been quite impressive this year.

A career .249 minor league hitter, Almanzar had an amazing April for the Sea Dogs. He batted .319 with a .367 on-base percentage and .560 slugging percentage with five homers and 18 RBIs and seven doubles.

He is hitting .303 with a .380 on-base percentage and .492 slugging percentage, including May.

Boles has been impressed by Almanzar’s strike zone discipline.

“He takes his shots early on in the count but then as the at-bat develops, he’s a guy who will drive the ball to right field (and) he’s a guy who will work a count,” Boles said. “He seems to see a lot of pitches for his at-bats. He’s been productive with runners in scoring position. And he can drive the baseball to all fields.”

Almanzar is hitting .268 with runners in scoring position. He also has hit well against both lefties (.385 OBP) and righties (.376 OBP).

RUBBY HEATING UP

Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who the Red Sox acquired with righty pitcher Allen Webster from the Dodgers, has been pitching well lately for the PawSox.

He surrendered 10 runs, all earned, in his first three starts (6.2 innings) this season. But he hasn’t allowed a run over his past four starts (14.0 innings).

The Red Sox haven’t pitched him more than 4.0 innings in any game this year. They are monitoring his inning count early this season because he pitched only a limited amount late last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery the year before.

The opposition is batting just .197 against De La Rosa. He has 26 strikeouts and 10 walks in his 20.2 innings.

DOYLE TODAY

Salem High grad Terry Doyle will make his eight start of the season for the PawSox tonight at 7:15 p.m. He faces Charlotte.

Doyle is 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA and a .212 batting average against.

Follow Eagle-Tribune baseball writer Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB