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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Josh Pennington: Boston Red Sox Pitching Prospect on the Comeback Trail

The Boston Red Sox are enduring a disappointing 2015 campaign, languishing in the cellar of the American League East for much of the season. Although things have gotten to the point where several veterans have been sent away by trade or release, not all is lost. The broken expectations have led to extended opportunity for young players, whose spots in the minors are now being seized by other industrious prospects. One youngster who could make a rapid ascension is pitcher Josh Pennington.

The right-hander attended Lower Cape May Regional High School in Cape May, New Jersey. Unfortunately, torn elbow ligaments derailed his senior season in 2014, and he had to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Despite a scholarship to attend St. John’s University, he elected to start his professional career and was selected in the 29th round by the Red Sox in that year’s first-year player draft.

Having spent the last year rehabbing his arm, Pennington has worked his way back and finally took the mound as a pro for the first time this year. The 20-year-old has been eased along slowly as to not tax his repaired arm. Pitching for the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate, he has appeared in seven games, going 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA, notching 22 strikeouts in 22 innings.

This season will be all about him building back his strength and getting his feet beneath him. However, beyond that, the future looks bright. Although his injury and inexperience make him a raw prospect, there is talent there to spare. With a repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball, he could develop into an intriguing prospect.

Pennington was gracious enough to answer some questions for me this past year. Keep reading to learn more about Boston’s young hurler on the rise.

Josh Pennington Interview:

Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite team growing up was the Phillies just because I grew up in a family that loved Philadelphia sports. My favorite player was Jimmy Rollins because he was the face of that franchise. He also was a great example of a professional on and off the diamond.

You had Tommy John surgery during the summer of 2014; how are you progressing from that?: I am progressing very well. Everything has been by the book, nothing out of the ordinary. It's really been a very straight forward rehab process given that I still have a while until I pitch in a game.

What pitches do you throw and which do you think needs the most work?: The pitches that I throw are four-seam, two-seam, slider, curveball, and a splitter. I know my splitter needs the most work since I just started throwing it right before I had TJ. I think it could be one of my best pitches as soon as I develop it.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: I first found out the Red Sox were interested in me when they sent a draft questionnaire the fall of my senior year; along with when my area scout Ray Fagnant came down for a home visit in the winter. My draft experience was amazing. My dream was always to play professional baseball. Although the wait was killing me, as soon as my name was called, I was just so happy that I was being given a chance.

You suffered your injury in April and had previously committed to St. Johns. If you remained healthy, do you think your draft would have turned out differently?: If healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that things would have been different. Yet I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

What are you primary goals for 2015?: My primary goals in 2015 are to first get 110% healthy. Also I want to finally get back out on that mound and be able to show everyone what I can do.

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