Red Sox's Stroup Proves Far From Irrelevant





BOSTON—Kyle Stroup was the last pick of the 2008 draft, and so even when he signed with the Red Sox for a $150,000 bonus, the idea that he could emerge as a prospect seemed far-fetched. That was particularly the case when the big 6-foot-6 righthander showed up for both his first instructional league and then his first spring training in poor shape, with the Red Sox making him spend the first half of 2009 working on his conditioning.

Stroup made the physical and lifestyle adjustments to advance his career, though. In instructional league at the end of 2009, he showed the Sox enough stuff to be on their radar for a potential assignment to low Class A Greenville, but he blew out his ACL in his first spring training start of 2010 and lost the entire year.

As much as the odds had appeared stacked against him, Stroup did not contemplate quitting, instead working both to recover and to improve his overall conditioning relentlessly.

"People have asked me that: 'Why didn't you quit? There's no way I would have been able to do that,' " Stroup said. "If you can do it and get through stuff like this, that means the stuff that you go through later is so much easier . . . If I did that for 10 months, then I'm going to make sure it's worth something, ultimately in the big leagues."

When Stroup arrived in spring training in 2011, the Sox noticed a different demeanor. He was in excellent shape and, at 21, determined to progress in his career. He broke camp in Greenville's rotation. He struggled to a 1-4, 7.88 record through eight starts, but over his final 13 starts—a stretch that began with a dominant outing on a night when he removed his knee brace—Stroup went 5-2, 1.55 with 53 strikeouts and 12 walks in 64 innings.

His improved fitness also gave him a velocity bump, as Stroup threw 92-95 mph, with the team charting him at 97 on a couple of occasions. He also featured an impressive changeup while mixing in a get-me-over curve.

"There's still a ways to go here," assistant GM Mike Hazen said. "[But] he has the ingredients of a really good pitcher. He throws strikes, he's got angle and deception, he's got a swing-and-miss secondary pitch and obviously he has velocity."

Sox Yarns

• Catcher Ryan Lavarnway lost 20 pounds due to illness during a brief stint in the Venezuelan League, regained it after returning to the U.S. and then lost it again while working out at Athletes' Performance.

• The Red Sox extended their player-development agreements with both Greenville (through 2016) and short-season Lowell (through 2014).