The Clay Buchholz era has come to an end.
The Red Sox traded away their longest-tenured pitcher Tuesday in a deal that helped Boston shed salary while alleviating an apparent logjam in the team’s rotation. In exchange, the Philadelphia Phillies sent over Josh Tobias, which begs the question: Who is Josh Tobias?
Well, let’s start with the basics. He’s a 24-year-old, switch-hitting second base prospect who was drafted in the 10th round by Philadelphia out of the University of Florida in June 2015. He’s spent the last two years playing at three different levels of Single-A, ultimately joining High-A Clearwater, where he hit .254 with two home runs, 14 RBIs, four stolen bases and a .681 OPS in 146 plate appearances over 34 games in 2016.
Tobias, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, did plenty of damage before reaching High-A. He hit .321 with four homers, 37 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and an .837 OPS in 260 plate appearances over 61 games with Low-A Williamsport upon being drafted in 2015. He then hit .304 with seven homers, 55 RBIs, six stolen bases and an .819 OPS in 415 plate appearances over 93 games with Single-A Lakewood this past season before being promoted to Clearwater in late July.
Tobias, who had a great senior season at Florida, has performed well for the most part since joining the professional ranks. But he had relatively high batting averages on balls in play (BABIP) before reaching High-A — .371 and .343 at his first two levels, respectively — and his 20.5 percent strikeout rate with Clearwater suggests there is some swing-and-miss potential, so Tobias definitely needs more seasoning.
Here’s what Baseball America’s Vince Lara-Cinisomo wrote about Tobias after Tuesday’s deal:
“Tobias doesn’t have loud tools, but has a feel to hit. Despite an aggressive approach, he works the count and walks. His defense has improved but is below-average at second base, and he’s an average runner, but a little better than that underway. He’s been compared to Marlon Anderson or Johnny Giavotella as a bat-first second baseman who will have to hit enough to make up for his defensive limitations.”
And here’s what Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said about Tobias during a conference call Tuesday to discuss the move:
“Basically his plus is he’s a good hitter. He can play second base, he’s played a few games in the outfield, he’s a switch-hitter recently. He took up switch-hitting about a year ago in which did that, so he’s a natural right-handed hitter. We really like his bat. We think he has a chance to hit as he continues to progress up the ladder so that’s his real plus.”
If you’re more of a visual person, here’s a highlight to whet your palette:
Tobias, a native of Greensboro, N.C., has some familiarity with the New England area, having played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2012 while attending Florida.
Video evidence of that stint can be found below:
Oh yeah, and he’s cool with cats, apparently:
The Red Sox have a pretty good second baseman in Dustin Pedroia, but maybe someday Tobias will make his way to Boston in some capacity. For now, Tuesday’s move is more about who the Red Sox shipped away, as Buchholz had plenty of highs and lows over his 10 major league seasons with Boston.
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