Red Sox's Tejeda Develops Abilities, Physicality
FORT MYERS, FLA.—
There was a time when Oscar Tejeda looked lanky and even a touch frail. When he signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old in 2006, he weighed 177 pounds, but after making his U.S. debut as a very impressive 17-year-old in 2007, he required offseason surgery to repair a minor heart defect that all but stopped him from working out. He subsequently developed a staph infection that further limited his activity.
That time now seems like a distant memory. Tejeda, now 21, is a robust 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.
Physically, it is tough to find a parallel for him at second base. Asked to do so, one talent evaluator suggested that he looked more like wide receiver Terrell Owens than a second baseman.
"Every time he steps on the field, you're like, 'Whoa,' " noted Sox minor league field coordinator Chad Epperson. "You notice him."
But Tejeda's 2010 season was noteworthy for more than physical growth. In a season in which he shifted from the left side of the infield (shortstop and third) to the right, he had a tremendous season for high Class A Salem, hitting .307/.344 /.455 with 48 extra-base hits (including 11 homers) and 17 steals in 508 at-bats.
After being added to the 40-man roster this winter, Tejeda continued to impress in spring training. In his first dozen games in big league camp, he hit .391/.440/.696 with a homer and two triples.
Tejeda felt that he always had raw power and the ability to drive the ball, but made adjustments in 2010 that proved instrumental in his improved results. He eliminated a leg kick, allowing his swing to be shorter, more direct and smoother to the ball.
"That way, I could recognize the pitch—curveball, slider, whatever the pitch," he said.
Meanwhile, he embraced playing second base. One official noted that he will have to learn how to "play smaller" at second if he wants to stay at the position. Still, if there are any restrictions on his ability to remain at second, he would appear capable of making the transition to the outfield.
But that is a matter for another time much further down the road. For now, the Sox plan to continue his development at second as he advances to the upper minors.
• Sox manager Terry Francona said that outfielder Juan Carlos Linares, who signed out of Cuba last year, is "on our radar" as a potential depth option at the major league level in 2011.
• Righthander Michael Bowden, working in relief this spring, added a cutter to his arsenal while pitching in Venezuela over the winter.