Balcom-Miller Feeling At Home With Red Sox

BOSTON—Chris Balcom-Miller was surprised to learn that he'd been traded on Aug. 31, 2010, but once he recovered from that initial shock, the team that had acquired him from the Rockies came as no surprise.

The Red Sox had scouted Balcom-Miller, 22, heavily while he was at West Valley (Calif.) JC. By the righthander's account, Boston saw nearly three-quarters of his outings in his sophomore year, So it came as something of a surprise when it was Colorado that selected him in the sixth round of the 2009 draft.

"I did have a good idea, down the road, that if I had to get Rule 5'd or traded, it could be the Red Sox," Balcom-Miller said. "I know they wanted me from before."

The Sox lamented leaving him on their draft board for too long, and so when the opportunity emerged to acquire him from the Rockies for Manny Delcarmen, they jumped at the chance. The Sox viewed him as a strike-thrower with a power sinker and the makings an average- to above-average changeup and slider.

In 2010, Balcom-Miller enjoyed a strong first full pro season, leading the low Class A South Atlantic League in strikeouts per nine innings (9.4) while walking just 1.5 per nine innings and forging a 3.30 ERA in 115 innings. In four season-opening starts in 2011 with high Class A Salem, he was 3-0, 1.89 with 21 strikeouts and four walks in 19 innings. But his two-seam fastball is perhaps even more notable for the groundballs that it elicits than the swings and misses that it generates. Balcom-Miller attacks the strike zone, confident that the movement of his bread-and-butter offering means he can miss in the zone and still generate weak contact.

"The swings and misses help me, but I don't try to make them miss. I just try to throw strikes and let hitters get themselves out," he said. "If they miss it, they miss it."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Balcom-Miller has been more comfortable throwing the two-seamer to his arm side, making him a particularly tough at-bat for righthanders. While his velocity is largely around 89-92 mph (topping out at 93), that has been plenty thus far this year with Salem. "It's similar to (Justin) Masterson," farm director Mike Hazen said of the velocity and movement of the pitch. "I don't think too many righthanded hitters are too geeked up about chasing that fastball."

Sox Yarns

• Triple-A Pawtucket outfielder Juan Carlos Linares tore ligaments in his ankle on a hard slide into second base and was slated to have surgery.

• Outfielder Bryce Brentz, a 2010 sandwich round pick, set a low Class A Greenville franchise record when he reached base in his 26th straight game.