Edwin Escobar pitched for Team World at the 2014 Futures Game in Minneapolis. (AP)
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — It is immediately clear that Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree are the new kids on the block in the Pawtucket Red Sox clubhouse.
As other lockers are stuffed to the brim with gear, both Escobar and Hembree’s lockers are spare, barely beyond empty. A couple of uniforms hang in the lockers accompanied by the pitchers’ gloves.
That personal effects have yet to fill their lockers comes as little surprise. The duo, after all, did just move across the country from Fresno, Calif., home of the San Francisco Giants‘ Triple-A affiliate.
Both Escobar and Hembree were thrown slightly off guard when they learned that they were traded to the Boston Red Sox. Both hurlers were awakened Saturday morning by the news from Giants general manager Brian Sabean that they had been traded in exchange for Jake Peavy.
“This time of year, everybody has to be on their toes I guess,” Hembree said. “I was excited. It was a little bittersweet leaving some good friends, but definitely excited for the new opportunity.”
For Hembree, the Giants organization was the only one he’d ever known. The 25-year-old was drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of South Carolina. Deemed a closer of the future by Baseball America, he has posted a 3.89 ERA and saved 18 games in 41 appearances in Triple-A this season. Hembree has struck out 46 hitters and walked 13 with opponents hitting .263 off of him.
Hembree, who made his major league debut in 2013, is excited for the chance to make a mark on a new organization.
“It’s a little bit of a new beginning,” Hembree said. “[The Giants] are all I’ve known, but coming over here and being part of this team right now, it’s like a new beginning and I’m looking forward to it.”
Escobar was just excited to know that another team wanted his services.
“That moment wasn’t expected, but I feel great and I feel great for the opportunity,” Escobar said. “It’s just another opportunity to go to the show. I’m glad to be here and glad to get the opportunity and do the best that I can.”
This is not the first time Escobar has been dealt. The lefty was traded by the Texas Rangers — who signed him as an international free agent — to the Giants for Ben Snyder in 2010. Escobar, ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Giants’ farm system by Baseball America, has struggled in 2014 to the tune of a 5.11 ERA, .287 opponent batting average with 96 strikeouts, 37 walks and 111 innings pitched over 20 starts.
The struggles have not fazed Escobar.
“Baseball is tough and you’ve got to be mature. You’ve got to work hard everyday,” Escobar said. “It’s an up and down game and I’ve been having a really good couple of years and been working on that.”
Escobar will make his first start for the PawSox on Thursday while manager Kevin Boles hopes to get Hembree in a game within the next couple of days.
“We need to see what we have with both of those guys. The first couple of days with the travel, they had some rough travel,” Boles said. “We want them to get a workout in and we had the off day yesterday and now today, we pick things up and get things rolling for these guys, but we’re excited to have them.”
Boles says both pitchers have quality stuff.
“Hembree has a big arm with a feel for his slider. Escobar has a three-pitch mix. A young lefty,” Boles said. “Until you see them for yourselves, there is going to be all kinds of different scouting reports and everything. Until you see them for yourselves, you want to make sure that you watch them and pay attention to what’s going on and see how it matches up with the scouring reports and we’ll see what we get. We’ve had really good reports on them. I will say that.”