Bobby Dalbec Takes Strides Toward Boston
Though the Red Sox brought Bobby Dalbec to Fenway Park for a week at the end of his 2019 minor league season, it wasn’t as a September callup.
Instead, the team wanted the 24-year-old third baseman to get exposure to the big league environment in which it soon expects him to contribute while also engaging in focused work to help him get there.
Some of that work focused on footwork and technique at first base—a position where Dalbec got an increasing amount of playing time late in the 2019 season because Rafael Devers anchors third base in Boston. The Red Sox also wanted to work with Dalbec on the consistency of his stride to the ball, something the team’s coaches felt might help reduce his strikeout rate.
Already, Dalbec made significant strides putting the ball in play in 2019, dropping his strikeout rate from 32 percent in 2018 to 25 percent last year. Still, while the righthanded-hitting Dalbec can mis-hit the ball yet still drive it out to right-center field, the consistency of hard contact was less than ideal.
Dalbec hit .239/.356/.460 with 27 home runs between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season.
At times, Red Sox hitting coaches felt that Dalbec got locked up on his back leg in his swing rather than achieving a smooth weight transfer to his front foot. When he stayed on his back leg, he’d reach towards the ball with his front foot and end up spinning off the ball, resulting in either swings and misses or weak contact.
After that behind-the-scenes work, Dalbec had a chance to test his adjustments in the Premier12 international tournament. While hitting .250/.364/.500 with 10 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances, Dalbec felt the adjustments take hold.
"That was the best I’ve felt hitting, and that was after a month and a half off,” said Dalbec. "I think I’ve had two pretty good back-to-back years, but to me I see them more as developmental years. I feel like I have a ton more in the tank. It’s exciting for me.”
— Outfielder Colin Willis, a 27-year-old whom the Red Sox signed out of independent ball after the 2019 season, led the Australian Baseball League in average (.427) and on-base percentage (.520) while playing winter ball for the Melbourne Aces.
— First baseman Triston Casas said he has grown an inch since being drafted in the first round in 2018, putting the 20-year-old at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds.