One of the biggest accomplishments on Craig Breslow’s resume that helped land him the chief baseball officer job with the Boston Red Sox is his impact in pitching development.

In his previous role with the Chicago Cubs, the 43-year-old served as the director of pitching for the organization. As a former veteran reliever who played for more than a decade in the majors, Breslow found a working combination of his own on-field experience with modern analytics to optimize arms.

As the Cubs continue to return to contention, they certainly have the pitching depth to do so, with plenty of that credit going to Breslow. In 2023 alone, Chicago saw the outcome of an improved pitching department.

Chicago had three starting pitchers post an ERA under 4.00, headlined by an emerging ace in Justin Steele, who won 16 games with a 3.05 ERA in 30 starts. The lefty struck out 176 batters in 173 1/3 innings with just 36 walks.

Story continues below advertisement

In the bullpen, the Cubs featured two elite relievers in the back end of games. Setup man Julian Merryweather struck out over 12 batters per nine innings in 72 innings of work with a 3.38 ERA. As the club’s closer, Adbert Alzolay enjoyed a career year to the tune of a 2.67 ERA with 22 saves while striking out more than a batter per inning.

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

By the time of his departure, Breslow left Chicago’s pitching operation better than he found it. Now, he has the chance to do the same for the Red Sox. Particularly in the minor leagues, Boston has struggled to develop homegrown arms that contribute in the big leagues. With a special need for starting pitching, there are a few potential options in the farm system that could take a step forward under Breslow.

1. Wikelman Gonzalez
As the organization’s best starting pitching prospect for the season, Gonzalez dazzled between two levels in 2023. Most notably, the right-hander tossed the first six innings of a combined no-hitter for the Portland Sea Dogs in July.

Story continues below advertisement

Gonzalez posted a 2.42 ERA in 10 starts in Double-A and showed promise with quality stuff and high strikeout numbers.

The 21-year-old is still young enough to take significant steps and appears to be the most likely arm in the system to eventually make an impact in Boston.

2. Shane Drohan
The 2020 fifth-round got off to a magnificent start to the 2023 season in Double-A, posting a 1.32 ERA in six starts with 36 strikeouts in 34 innings with just nine walks. The lefty was quickly promoted to Triple-A as a result.

Drohan struggled during his time in Worcester, recording a 6.47 ERA in 19 starts. The southpaw still struck over a batter per nine. After a decline against better competition, Breslow will look to unlock the Red Sox lefty to put him back on track.

Story continues below advertisement

3. Hunter Dobbins
Dobbins has not caught much attention in the system despite posting decent production.

In 2023, Dobbins recorded a 3.67 ERA and pitched well for the Portland Sea Dogs. Before the promotion, the right-hander walked just five batters in 41 innings for High-A Greenville.

The Red Sox’s 2021 eighth-round pick could find a way to challenge hitters with his established control with the right guidance in Breslow’s program.

Featured image via Chris Cameron