Boston's Restrictions Push Workman
BOSTON—When the Red Sox took Brandon Workman in the second round of the 2010 draft, the big Texas righthander was coming off one of the top seasons of any college pitcher in the country. That being the case, it seemed curious that he not only spent all of his first pro season in low Class A Greenville in 2011 but also that he posted pedestrian numbers (3.71 ERA, 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.3 walks per nine) while there.
But in a sense, Workman was pitching with one hand tied behind his back. He had developed a dominant cutter as a junior at Texas, but when Boston didn't let him throw it for most of the 2011 season. The Red Sox wanted him to focus on refining his fastball command, increase the consistency of his curveball and develop a changeup.
"I didn't throw it probably the first three-quarters of the season last year," Workman said. "At that point, I didn't have the best command of my curveball and my changeup was borderline nonexistent. They didn't want me to be able to use the cutter as a crutch, if you will, and not force me to throw my curveball for a strike and learn to throw my changeup."
This year, though his cutter has returned as a bad-contact pitch, Workman, 24, used that offering as merely part of his repertoire rather than his first option. He enjoyed considerable success in high Class A Salem, turning in a 3.40 ERA while striking out 8.5 and walking 1.6 batters per nine innings and working six or more innings in 11 straight starts. His consistent work earned him a promotion to Double-A Portland in August.
Questions about Workman's pitch mix and the effort in his delivery made it uncertain whether his long-term role was as a starter or reliever at the time he was drafted.
"The development of the curveball and changeup is a sign in my mind that I can do it as a starter," Workman said. "I just try to go out there and pitch the way I pitch. The rest of it is not in my hands, not in my control."
• Lefthander Brian Johnson, a first-round pick out of Florida in June, was hit in the face by a line drive on Aug. 18. While that ended his season with short-season Lowell, he did not sustain a concussion.
• Third baseman Garin Cecchini had 44 steals in 48 attempts with Greenville this season.