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Red Sox Notes: Thoughts on Shane Drohan, Logan Gillaspie, Isaiah Campbell as Craig Breslow makes his first decisions
Shane Drohan not protected
I’ve had a Shane Drohan piece in my drafts forever now with an analysis on his stuff, so now’s a good time to whip it out. Drohan was not put on the 40-man roster by the deadline, and can now be picked up in the Rule 5 Draft in September — but I do doubt any team will. Some Red Sox people on Twitter were surely expecting him to be protected by the deadline, but given the hype around him for the past two seasons I wasn’t all that impressed with his pitch shape data and wasn’t necessarily surprised by Boston’s decision.
The lefty received a promotion to Triple-A following a dominant start to his season in Double-A across six outings, but it was a rather disappointing stint with the WooSox for the left-hander from there.
Drohan finished with a 6.47 ERA in 21 outings for Worcester along with a rather high 5.85 BB/9, dropping drastically in Red Sox prospect rankings throughout the season. In his final nine outings of the year he also had a 8.10 ERA.
Who the Red Sox protected are Wikelman Gonzalez and Luis Perales — Gonzalez has struggled with command throughout his time in the minors but seems to have great stuff while Perales has the highest fastball ride in the organization. If we’re going solely off of stuff, while I don’t have their full arsenal data, they seem like much greater candidates to be picked than Drohan.
Back to Drohan — for one, velocity sat at an average of just 92 on the fastball at a fairly low spin rate of ~2100. He’s flashed 94–95 before but it’s clear the stuff has taken a dip. It’s a dead zone fastball at ~14" of ride and ~11" of run along with a -5.2° VAA which yielded a very poor avg EV at 93 mph at what was also a 50% usage rate. He struggled to command the zone with it and I imagine the xwOBA number on the pitch doesn’t look great at all.
Drohan did however make great use of the changeup — he garnered a 20.8 SwStr% at the Triple-A level while also yielding a ground ball rate on it near 60% on top of very soft contact; EV was at a very impressive 78. It worked great as a two-strike pitch, and its development was featured in Chad Jennings’ (The Athletic) deep dive on Boston’s farm system, as the main component that was mentioned was the ride on the fastball; the Red Sox aimed to try and get less ride/backspin out of the pitch due to it looking too much like a fastball. It now sits at an effective 5" of ride and 12" of run averaging an 83.5 velo.
Craig Breslow rolling the dice on leaving Shane Drohan off the 40-man roster, exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft?
The rest of the arsenal isn’t anything special. Drohan tossed a gyro cutter with little-to-none horizontal movement and 9" of ride at 87, which was added before the year. With the slider on the other hand it’s not exactly clear — it looks as if it’s a gyro slider at mid-to-low 80s along with solid spin, but the movement profile looks like he was mixing in a sweeper along with the slider. The slider I’m assuming is an addition made by the Worcester staff (Paul Abbott) with him being a four-pitch arm when he got to Worcester. Neither the slider or cutter were real swing-and-miss pitches for him and he struggled to throw both for strikes at times, though the 75-curveball on the other hand had minimal usage but generated weak contact at an arch-heavy -10° VAA.
Isaiah Campbell acquired for Luis Urias
The Red Sox and Breslow dealt Chaim Bloom’s lone 2023 trade deadline acquisition to the Mariners this week in exchange for reliever Isaiah Campbell, who made his major-league debut in 2023. And, in 27 outings, he posted a 2.87 ERA for Seattle.
Campbell’s fastball gets a pretty 17" of carry at 95 with great spin (2440 RPMs), but the spin efficiency was at just 83% in 2023 which likely contributed to an odd -5.4° VAA. I’d like to see Andrew Baily and Co. try and get the spin efficiency up to give the pitch more life, because aside from that there’s a lot to like with the fastball. It received a 101 FanGraphs Stuff+ and a .419 xwOBA against — but there’s a ton of upside with it and he still salvaged a 30.4 Whiff% with the pitch, actually higher than both his sweeper and slider. Its chase rate of 27.7% was also one of the best in baseball.
Speaking of those two, what gave him the 2.87 ERA was his was the elite combo of the sweeper and slider. The slider had a 16.0 SwStr% and a 31.1 Whiff% and was a huge generator of soft contact, while the sweeper was a very effective counterpart. The 87-mph slider had a near 40% usage and was one of the better sliders in baseball with a .217 xwOBA. It gets great spin at 2700 RPMs, ~5" of sweep, and around a 120 Stuff+ (FanGraphs doesn’t differentiate between the slider and sweeper unfortunately but Pitch Profiler has it at 124). Sweeper is at 82 with ~13" of sweep and a .253 xwOBA with around a 15% usage rate. The two pitches seem to play off of each other very well.
I dug up older scouting reports of him, which say he actually used to throw a splitter, but he seems to have ditched that. There’s a lot to like with Campbell and he could certainly be a stable in the pen for the Sox — though again I’d like to see that fastball improve; that’s honestly the only thing stopping him from being an elite reliever.
Padres claim Logan Gillaspie from Sox
The Padres claimed Logan Gillaspie off of waivers from the Red Sox this week, as Gillaspie was claimed off waivers by Boston in September but the Sox decided to not keep him around in order to make space on the 40-man for Gonzalez and Perales (protecting them from Rule 5 as mentioned, unlike Drohan). He posted a flat 6.00 ERA in 11 appearances for Baltimore in 2023 and ended the year with the WooSox.
Before you dive deeper into the fastball, it looks great. It sits ~96 with, again, a pretty 17" IVB, but the rest of it isn’t anything impressive. FanGraphs gave it just an 83 Stuff+ for the 2023 season with a spin rate on the lower side of things at ~2200, and it was flat-out crushed by hitters — the pitch’s xwOBA in 11 outings was an embarrassingly high .513, and the avg EV on 18 balls in play was 97.5.
Gillaspie does mix in a 132 Stuff+ sweeper at 84, which is a solid secondary pitch for him but he struggles to generate whiffs with it — however, his sweeper did have a respectable .329 xwOBA against and it was the one pitch he consistently got strikes out of (18 CStr%). The rest of the arsenal includes a changeup — which had a solid 17 SwStr% at the Triple-A level but had just an 18 Whiff% with the O’s — and a curveball which received a GB% north of 70 in Triple-A and was a solid asset for him.
There seems to be upside with Gillaspie but I heavily question it with such struggles on the fastball and the inability to generate any deception — and it seems like the Red Sox agree.
Follow Quinn on Twitter @QuinnRileyBB
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