Top 50 Quotebook: Mike Hazen (Pt 1)

In compiling the third annual Diehard Top 50, we spoke to numerous Red Sox players and executives, including director of player development Mike Hazen. Here are his thoughts on Justin Masterson, Lars Anderson, Aaron Bates and Michael Bowden. For the complete write-ups of the players in the top 50, please subscribe to today!

(Part one of four)

Justin Masterson, P:
Mike Hazen:: The goal was to start him. It wasn't to be in the bullpen to begin with. We just limited him to some appearances [at short-season Single-A Lowell] when he first signed, as you've known and probably seen with just about everyone that's gone through Lowell. But he did well. I think that the adjustments he made when he was in Lancaster were significant, especially with his ability to attack the strike zone with his sinker. We really felt like that's when the light turned on for him and he ran off a long string of success that carried over right to Portland. I think some of the things we saw at the end of the year [was] fatigue due to being his first full year and throwing 150 innings and throwing everyday for the first time. So we're pretty happy where he is right now and we think this guy has a chance to come on.

I think he'll go into the season as a starter again, just like most of our [promising] young pitchers. Ultimately, if the role to help the Red Sox is in the bullpen, I don't see any reason why he couldn't transition into that role. If he makes it as a starter, even better.

Lars Anderson, 1B:
Mike Hazen: Very encouraged by the performance. His inherent knowledge of the strike zone is very advanced for his age. He brought that to the table from the second he stepped into camp. We want to see him get a little more aggressive in certain situations [and improve] his ability to hit the ball to all fields. We're happy with where he's at.

Aaron Bates, 1B:
Mike Hazen: Good—very happy with him. He had a monster year at Lancaster moved up at the end and [struggled] with consistency. Ankle issues and a staph infection kind of really sidelined him. What effect that had on his performance at Portland, who knows? Some fatigue, some moving up to a higher level. Certainly coming out of Lancaster—all those added up. I don't think we really saw who he is as a hitter in Portland. But I think coming into spring training and into this year, we're going to get the opportunity to really see what we have here overall. In his first full year, we were very encouraged by what we saw.

Michael Bowden, P:
Mike Hazen: We were pretty happy overall when you look at the total body of work that he produced this year at both High-A and at Double-A at 20 years old. To expect him to continue what he did in Lancaster was probably a little unrealistic. We're happy with a lot of the development we've seen with [his] stuff and with refinement of his delivery. The thing with Lancaster was extremely impressive—the lack of fear and pounding the strike zone. He did some of the same things when he was in Portland and we'd like to see him build on that a little bit more now the second time around.

(Part two of our quotebook with Hazen will appear Tuesday)

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