Red Sox' Doubront Keeps Rolling

BOSTON—Few pitching prospects in Red Sox spring training camp were more impressive than Felix Doubront. The 22-year-old lefthander hadn't slowed down nearly two months into the season.

Doubront, in major league camp for the second straight year, delivered seven shutout innings and showed a solid three-pitch mix (low-90s fastball, changeup, curve) that impressed team officials. 

Sox pitching coach John Farrell proclaimed Doubront an "outstanding starting pitching prospect," while advance scout Mike Cather—who was pitching coach for Double-A Portland in 2009—said his progress with his curveball represented a noteworthy step forward.

So it came as at least a mild surprise when Doubront was sent back to Portland to start the year. He had spent all of 2009 at the level, going 8-6, 3.35 in 121 innings.  
But the Sox wanted to see Doubront, who signed out of Venezuela in 2005, become more pitch efficient and show that he could maintain his stuff late into games. By mid-May, he had accomplished those goals, resulting in a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.

In eight starts for Portland, Doubront went 4-0, 2.51 with 38 strikeouts and 17 walks in 43 innings. He worked at least 5 2/3 innings in each of his last four outings with Portland, including seven shutout innings on May 18. In those four starts, he compiled a 1.48 ERA while striking out 22 in 24 innings. 

"We were starting to see the consistency and work that he was putting in start to start: the consistency of the stuff, the delivery. We felt like it was time to challenge him," farm director Mike Hazen said. "With the consistency of his stuff deep into games, he's really pitching, which is very impressive. We wanted to challenge him at the next level."

Hazen suggested that Doubront has shown improved command of all three of his pitches. Still, he suggested that there remained room for improvement, since Doubront had walked 3.6 batters per nine innings, down from 3.9 last year but still leaving room for improvement.

"When he learns to really attack the zone with the three pitches he has, because they are pretty good pitches, there's an even higher ceiling here," said Hazen. "Now he's going to have to do it at the next level."

Sox Yarns

• Arnie Beyeler became the winningest manager in Portland Sea Dogs history with career win No. 230 on May 12. 

• First baseman Anthony Rizzo homered in his second game after a mid-May promotion from high Class A Salem to Portland.