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Ballou on Baseball: September 27, 2023

September 27, 2023

Officially, the Worcester Red Sox will open the 2024 season on March 29 at Lehigh Valley. They may just as well have opened it last week in the same place given the roster turnover they had to wade through in 2023. Not one player who played on March 31, 2023

Officially, the Worcester Red Sox will open the 2024 season on March 29 at Lehigh Valley.

They may just as well have opened it last week in the same place given the roster turnover they had to wade through in 2023.

Not one player who played on March 31, 2023 — Opening Day in Worcester — played in Worcester’s final game of the season at Lehigh Valley on Sept. 22. More than half that lineup last Friday, including replacements, has a strong chance of being on the field for the 2024 opener. Those strong candidates include DH Stephen Scott, *first baseman *Niko Kavadas, *shortstop *Christian Koss, second baseman Tyler McDonough, right fielder Corey Rosier and reliever Luis Guerrero.

What happened to the 15 players who got into the game Opening Day, 2023?

Bobby Dalbec, David Hamilton *and *Ryan Fitzgerald all spent most of the season in Worcester and had excellent years. At season’s end, Dalbec was back in Boston; Hamilton and Fitzgerald were both injured. *Enmanuel Valdez *was up and down a lot, needing to find some consistency and get better with the glove, but still a prospect.

Jarren Duran *has shown continued improvement during his three stints in Boston and was a very dynamic player in 102 games in the majors, then got hurt. Imagine a Boston Red Sox team with Duran, Hamilton and *Ceddanne Rafaela in the batting order.

*Garrett Whitlock *was the starting pitcher on Opening Day and that was all about injury rehab. He was inconsistent when healthy and never really got it going, but figures to still be in Boston’s longer range plans.

Worcester’s lineup on March 31 also included veterans Jorge Alfaro at catcher, Daniel Palka *as DH, *Niko Goodrum *at third base and *Greg Allen in left field. None finished the year in a WooSox uniform. Palka was released and signed on with Syracuse. Alfaro opted out of his contract and wound up playing for five different teams including Boston and Colarado in the majors. He wound up batting .291 in Triple-A, .146 in the majors. Goodrum was very good with the WooSox, then opted out of his contract for bigger money in Korea. Allen was traded to the Yankees as part of anopt-out in his contract and wound up released before signing to play with the Brewers Triple-A team in Nashville.

The WooSox relievers in that game included *Jake Faria, Joe Jacques, Chase Shugart, Ryan Sherriff *and *A.J. Politi. *Faria was released, Sheriff chose free agency, Shugart had an up-and-down year and both Jacques and Politi were important members of the Worcester pitching staff.

The WooSox used a record 79 different players in 2023. The trend is upwards, so we’ll see how the roster that closed this season compares with the one that opens next year.


The Boston farm system finished above .500 for the third straight season with Worcester being a part of it for those three years. The Sox’ minor league teams combined to go 352-349. They were 381-339 last season, 385-270 in 2021.

Not everybody puts a lot of stock in minor league won-lost records, but the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham is very good almost every single year.

A more telling number than the farm system’s overall record is the record of its top four affiliates, the traveling teams. Boston’s affiliates in Worcester, Portland, Greenville and Salem combined to go 270-272. That is a bit better than the 2022 mark of 266-280.


There are some variables involved in this, but there has to be a connectionin the difference between the new balls-and-strikes system and the old days. WooSox pitchers threw 1,033 more pitches this season than in 2022, and in the same number of games, 147. This year’s average was 152.4 a game. Last year it was 144.4. That adds up over the course of a season. … Some of the most difficult numbers to digest during the WooSox’ three years in business have been produced by Christian Arroyo. Arroyo has played 31 games total in three brief stints here and is 12 for 104 (.115) with one double and two RBIs. … So the WooSox did not have any players who were in both the first and last games of the season, but did have a Niko in each one. Goodrum in the opener, Kavadas in the last one. … *Chad Tracy *has moved into 15th place on the all-time list for games managed in the Red Sox’ Triple-A history. That goes back to Minneapolis in 1938. Tracy is 154-141 in 295 games over two seasons. He has managed three more games than Hall of Famer *Dick Williams, *20 fewer than *Gene Mauch, *who managed 26 years in the major leagues.


The WooSox both hit a record number of home runs, 215; and allowed a record number of home runs, 197. Some facts:

Worcester batters hit 132 solo homers and 82 with runners on base. They produced 355 of the WooSox’ 834 runs. Opposing batters hit 106 solo homers and 91 with somebody on, resulting in 333 of the 786 runs scored against Worcester.

While Dalbec led the team with 33 homers, 29 of them came with nobody on base. The most productive WooSox batters hitting home runs were Nick Sogard *and *Stephen Scott. Sogard hit at least one of each variety and drove in 15 runs with his eight homers. Scott drove in 27 runs with his 13 homers including six three-run shots.

In the WooSox-PawSox history timeline, Dalbec’s home run total is tied for fourth-best ever with *Phil Plantier *in 1990. You would not be far off saying that Plantier was the left-handed hitting version of Dalbec, or vice-versa.

Dalbec batted .269, hit the 33 homers, drove in 79 runs, was 18 for 20 stealing bases and struck out 169 times. He played in 114 games and walked 64 times.

Plantier batted .254 in 109 games with 33 home runs and 79 RBIs. He walked 62 times and fanned 148 times. Both players had three triples. Plantier had 22 doubles to Dalbec’s 14, but Plantier was just 1 for 9 stealing bases.


If one of the WooSox’ goals for 2023 was to count down on strikeouts, they succeeded. Just barely, though. Worcester batters fanned 1,390 times this season after striking out 1,391 times in 2022. … The WooSox set records in stolen bases and home runs and tied one for triples, at least with the PawSox-WooSox history. They had 36, same as the 1996 team that hit the 209 homers. … That ’96 team matches up pretty well with this year’s WooSox in a few categories. Its final record was 78-64 compared with 79-68 this year. Some familiar names on that PawSox squad were Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Greenwell, Scott Hatteberg, Lou Merloni, Kevin Mitchell *and — for two games — *Jose Canseco. Here’s a trivia question for you: Who is the only player in that group to also play pro baseball in Worcester? … It’s just one season, but it was a good one. Joe Jacques might go down as one of Boston’s best Rule 5 picks through the years, especially in the Triple-A phase. … Trivia answer: Canseco played for the Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League in 2012 where he hit one home run in 20 games.