Today's The Day For Clay!

Clay Buchholz' timetable to reach the big leagues sounded aggressive June 10, 2005, three days after he was selected by the Red Sox with the 42nd pick of the draft. "I'd like to work my way [there] in probably three, three-and-a-half years," Buchholz told Diehard in an exclusive interview. "If that doesn't happen, I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to stop until I get there."

He gets there today. And by all indications, he's just getting started.

Buchholz, perhaps the most promising Sox pitching prospect since Roger Clemens, completes his meteoric rise and makes the most anticipated Sox big league debut in years this afternoon, when he starts the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Angels. Buchholz, ranked as Diehard's no. 1 prospect in our 2007 guide, earned the spot start after going 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings over 17 games (16 starts) at Double-A Portland and 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings over six starts at Triple-A Pawtucket.

His 164 strikeouts are tops in the minor leagues and his average of 12.68 whiffs per nine innings ranks second. In addition, he's limited opposing batters to a .187 average between the two levels and has fashioned a strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than 5:1.

Buchholz' progress has surprised even the Sox, who expected to proceed cautiously with Buchholz given that he began the year with just three games above low Single-A and his relative inexperience as a pitcher. Buchholz pitched in high school but was recruited to McNeese State and then Angelina College as an infielder before he began pitching regularly in 2005.

But his brilliance over the last two seasons (he went 11-4 with a 2.42 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 119 innings between Single-A Greenville and Single-A Wilmington last year) has forced the Sox' hand. Buchholz will likely return to Pawtucket after the game, but he should be in the bigs for good when rosters expand Sept. 1 and will almost surely occupy a rotation spot at the start of next year.

No one has covered Buchholz' rise like Diehard and, as longtime subscribers to our premium services already know. CLICK HERE to find a collection of the stories we've written about Buchholz over the last two years. If you like what you see, you can subscribe by CLICKING HERE.

Our coverage, of course, will continue at Fenway Park this afternoon, where we'll chronicle his league debut. Make sure to check our message boards for running commentary on his start and read our site afterward for our blanket coverage of the big event.

Our coverage of Buchholz is only an example of the comprehensive top-to-bottom coverage of the Red Sox you can find at Diehard and Remember: No one covers Red Sox prospects—from draft day to their big league debut and beyond—like Diehard and Subscribe today!

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or,

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