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August 5, 2013

Cherington's plan: Don't rush the young pitchers

Having right-handed starter Jake Peavy under control through 2014 was important to Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington for several obvious reasons and one not-so-obvious reason when he executed the trade.

That not-so-obvious one: By Peavy being in the starting rotation next year, Cherington sees the added depth as a terrific opportunity for some of the organization’s talented young starting pitchers to remain in the minor leagues for some additional time — whether that be a part of a season or even a full year.

Cherington mentioned the Tampa Bay Rays have given that extra year of minor league development to certain starters with successful outcomes.

A perfect example from Tampa is 24-year-old rookie right-hander Chris Archer who began this season in the minors but has a 2.65 ERA in 12 starts for the Rays since his promotion June 1.

Archer, who pitched in six major league games (29.1 innings) out of necessity last year, was drafted out of high school in 2006 and logged a hefty 769.2 innings in the minors.

The Rays starting depth helped keep Archer down for most of last year.

“The progression through the system is generally consistent,” Tampa pitching coach Jim Hickey recently told The Eagle-Tribune. “A guy like David Price is certainly an exception to the rule. Most guys — Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore — have logged 750 innings or so in the minor leagues.”

Davis, like Archer, pitched more than 765.0 minor league innings. Hellickson pitched 580.1. Moore hurled 497.1.

The Red Sox certainly have some exciting young pitchers, including 23-year-old right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who made his Triple-A debut with Pawtucket yesterday, and 21-year-old left-hander Henry Owens, who made his Double-A debut with Portland on Saturday.

Both Owens and Ranaudo threw 6.0 scoreless innings in their debuts.

For understandable reasons, Red Sox fans are excited to see what these two pitchers among others can do in the majors and they would prefer to see them here in Boston sooner rather than later. But Cherington and the Red Sox prefer to give their pitchers more minor league time to mature.

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