Eduard Bazardo of the Boston Red Sox hit 97 mph after gaining 12 pounds of muscle in quarantine; Gilberto Jimenez added to ‘abnormal strength’ with beach workouts
Most of the best leads in the international amateur free agent market are signed at ages 16 and 17. The Red Sox signed right-hander Eduard Bazardo at 19.
“He was ignored,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero said. “We really liked its secondary locations.”
The Red Sox especially liked Bazardo’s curved ball, which has an elite spin rate. But they knew he needed to add speed.
“We thought, ‘If this guy’s speed has to increase …”, ”Romero recalls. “He probably weighed 145 pounds when he signed; 140 pounds. A lot of it has to do with the physicality and willingness of these guys to work. “
The Red Sox added Bazardo to their 40-man roster in November to protect him from being available for other MLB teams in draft rule 5, which is Thursday. He showed an impressive increase in fastball speed during fall training camp.
Bazardo has actually become a better pitcher during the coronavirus shutdown despite the minor league season being canceled. Red Sox top prospects Gilberto Jimenez and Aldo Ramirez have also improved. This is how they did it.
Bazardo added 12 pounds of muscle
Eduard Bazardo was one of 15 Venezuelan Red Sox minor leaguers Boston sent to his Dominican Academy in El Toro. when the coronavirus shutdown ended spring training on March 12.
“He came to spring training in good shape as he usually did,” Romero said. “But he really took off once he got to the Dominican Academy. We couldn’t have coordinated activities. But he really got down to it, and he got into the gym and put on about 12 pounds of strength and muscle. He was one of the guys who worked the hardest during that downtime. These guys for six months didn’t leave the resort just because we were still uncomfortable with the situation. And we were able to have these guys in a safe environment in a little bubble there.
“By the time we were finally able to run this training league camp (in the fall), his bike had increased dramatically,” Romero added.
Bazardo’s fast ball speed was previously 91-93 mph. He was at 93-96 mph and touched 97 mph on fall instructions, Romero said.
The 25-year-old right-hander also showed an elite spin rate on his curveball, which has always been his best throw.
“He had worked a few pitches during the downtime,” Romero said. “He worked on his slider and split finger which was new ground for him while still having the power curve. And so the cursor is displayed really well. The split develops like a weapon against left handed hitters.
Jimenez also added weight
20-year-old fast center fielder Gilberto Jimenez – who Baseball America ranked Boston’s No.7 prospect in 2021 – also spent the closure in the Dominican Republic, his native country. He was training in a stadium near his home. He also trained on the beach.
Romero said Jimenez uses “old school tactics” to train, which is not surprising. Jimenez told MassLive.com in 2019 that his cousins were throwing tiny kernels of corn at him both overhand and smooth.
“Lots of workouts on the beach. Strengthen and run on the beach, ”Romero said. “He’s just a natural athlete with a lot of monster strength. … There is a good group where there are professional players. And so he had been able to carefully – keeping in mind what was going on with the virus – dealing with live pitching and continuing to work on both sides of the plate. “
A natural right-handed hitter, Boston turned Jimenez into a switch hitter after signing him. He hit .359 with a base percentage of .393, a hitting percentage of .470, .863 OPS, 11 doubles, three homers, three triples, 35 points and 14 stolen bases in 59 games (253 appearances at home plate ) in 2019 in the Lowell short season.
“By the time he got to Fort Myers (for fall school) he was in really good shape,” Romero said. “He had also gained good weight. And really didn’t miss a thing. It’s a bit of a relief but it’s also very encouraging when you know that the guys in their downtime are taking care of what they need to do physically and fundamentally.
Jimenez, like Bazardo, also added muscle. The 2020 Red Sox media guide listed Jimenez at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. He now weighs probably between 205 and 210 pounds, Romero estimated.
He can still fly around the bases although he is taller. Ian Cundall of SoxProspects.com reported that he sprinted to the first goal in under 4 seconds.
“I still think it’s more of an online driving approach,” Romero said. “I think he’s going to be a guy that he’s going to hit a ball really hard in a space and still be able to make it a hat-trick. He’s that kind of player. I love the way he came with the strength of his arms.
Jimenez has yet to improve his flying ball readings, but he can make up for it with his speed.
He is currently training at the Dominican Academy of the Red Sox. He was able to record around 150 live hitters between fall classes and the Dominican Academy.
Ramirez also impressed at the fall instructions
Right-handed pitcher Aldo Ramirez trained on a baseball diamond near his home in Mexico. The staff were also impressed with his fitness when he arrived at the fall instructions.
The 19-year-old has added significant velocity since Boston “bought him from Aguascalientes for $ 550,000 in April 2018” (by Baseball Savant).
Romero remembers seeing him for the first time pitch in central Mexico.
Red Sox scout Sotero Torres pointed out Ramirez despite not having blistering speed.
“We saw this kid who I think was 17 at the time. Maybe 16, ”Romero said. “I don’t remember the exact date. But he’s up against Alexei Ramírez, the former White Sox, and a few older guys who played 10 years in the big leagues. They pushed him around a bit, but he wasn’t afraid. He kept hitting the hitters. And at the time, it was interesting because he had 87.88 (mph). But the delivery was good and he was a good athlete. With him, we could project ourselves.
He had both delivery and arm speed. He simply lacked strength.
“Now that he’s starting to grow into that, the bike is right in that range (92-95 mph),” Romero said. “He’s always had change. I think that’s an argument that comes naturally to him. And the bullet that breaks is advancing well.
Ramirez has a formidable leadership. At the age of 18 in 2019, he posted a 3.94 ERA in 14 outings (13 starts) at Lowell. He averages 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.3 walks.
“He has a really good throwing feeling overall. No matter the height. He just has an innate ability to locate it and put it anywhere he wants. He can assess. And since it’s 92-95, it helps him play even more when he’s able to point him around the corner or as I mentioned, evaluate with him…
The Red Sox have done a good job finding talent under the radar in the international amateur market. Jimenez signed for $ 10,000 and Bazardo signed for $ 8,000. Pitchers’ top prospect Bryan Mata signed for just $ 25,000.
“It’s hard to project onto some of these guys because we don’t know exactly where their bodies are going when we look for them at 15 and 16,” Romero said. “So many guys, they’re hungry. … In Jimenez’s case, I think he was an athlete. He was primarily an athlete rather than a baseball player. And I think he did such a good job of acclimating to the difficulties that are presented with his swing and everything. He’s so athletic, it allows him to do anything. And as he gets older, his instincts start to kick in. He has huge hitting instincts. When you combine that with his athletic abilities. But he also has a divisive work ethic.
“And I think that’s something that these guys, when we talk about the Matas of the world, these guys maybe haven’t (signed up for) a lot of money but they’re hungry. They have that work ethic. And also the physical gains they were able to make.
Romero said scout Manny Nanita identified Jimenez as a formidable athlete.
“He was a 6.5 runner. He could fly, ”Romero said. “And once we signed him and made him a switch hitter, he really got into that.”
Jimenez worked at the Dominican Academy before signing.
“We were able to have him in our academy for a little while where he learned some things. … We came back two weeks later and saw him and he had already made a lot of swing improvements, a lot of course improvements. And we were like, “Dude, for this type of player, we’re going to feel really comfortable because given his athleticism, he’s got a chance.” “