On the Horizon: Justin Masterson

The Red Sox drafted Justin Masterson out of San Diego State in the second round of the 2006 draft. The 22-year old pitched well in college (despite some elevated ERAs) and dominated as a closer in the 2005 Cape Cod League. He’s another baseball product of Oregon. He’s known as a hard worker, but some scouts have said he he is destined to be a middle reliever. The Red Sox, however, are grooming him as a starter, with some very encouraging results.

Justin’s smiling baby face is kind of deceptive, considering his 6′ 6″, 245 lb frame. His best pitch by far is a very heavy sinker, though he also throws a passable slider and a circle changeup. Think of a young Derek Lowe. He can pull the string on his sinker, and vary its speed and location, making it very tough to hit anything but grounders all over the infield. Try 74% ground balls at Lowell last year and 74% (a GB/FB ratio of 4.22) at Portland this year. Masterson has exhibited very good control, averaging only 1.70 BB/9 in the minors. He’s not been a huge strikeout threat, but recently is mowing down hitters with the best of them.

Masterson has put up some pretty impressive numbers in just over a year of professional ball, and has already worked his way up to double-A Portland. He was the Red Sox pitcher of the month in June of this year, and in his last six starts before being promoted was 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA in an extreme hitter’s league. Masterson was 8-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 17 starts at Lancaster in the California League, where ERAs are always inflated, but is now 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA so far at Portland. He’s struck out 32 and walked only 5 in 26 innings of work. He’s only allowed 10 hits at that level!

The Red Sox might have a gem on their hands in Masterson. He could very well become an innings-eater at the back of the rotation behind Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Buchholz, Bowden… oh wait. That’s too many pitchers, isn’t it?

One Response to On the Horizon: Justin Masterson

  1. Pingback: Masterson gets the call « Red Sox Talk

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