October 23, 2007 - South Atlantic League (SAL) - Augusta GreenJackets
Augusta, GA - Five players who came through Augusta on their way to the Major Leagues are getting set to play in the World Series on Wednesday night. The five players all play for the Boston Red Sox and include three pitchers and two infielders. Pitchers Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield along with infielders Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all played for Augusta during their Minor League career\'s.
Although all five players are currently on the Red Sox roster, only one was not in the Red Sox organization when playing for the GreenJackets when Augusta was a Red Sox affiliate. Wakefield played for Augusta in 1989 when Augusta was still affiliated with the Pirates.
Now a knuckleball pitcher for Boston, in 1989 Wakefield was an infielder splitting time between third base and first base. Wakefield batted .235 for Augusta in 1989 and was eventually sent down to short-season Welland where he gave up hitting to become a pitcher. Wakefield was eventually released by the Pirates in 1995 on April 20th and six days later signed with the Red Sox and has been with the organization ever since. Wakefield is taking part in his second World Series, having helped the Red Sox in the 2004 sweep of St. Louis to end an 86 year drought for Boston.
Pedroia was the most recent of the five to come through Augusta on his way to the Major Leagues, having played for the GreenJackets in 2004. The second baseman batted .400 (20-for-50) over his 12 games played with a home run and five RBIs before being promoted. Pedroia made his Major League Debut in 2006 with the Red Sox playing in 31 games and compiling a .191 average. 2007 was a different year though as the Boston second baseman has been mentioned as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate finishing the regular season with a .317 average, eight home runs and 50 RBIs in 139 games played.
Delcarmen has the distinction among the five players to have played the most games in a GreenJackets uniform. Delcarmen was a second round pick for Boston in 2000 and his first taste of full season baseball came in Augusta playing in 26 games during the 2002 season. Delcarmen started 24 of those 26 games and finished the season with a 7-8 record and a 4.10 ERA. The righty struck out 136 batters that season over 136.0 innings pitched. Delcarmen made his Major League debut in 2005 and pitched in 10 games, all out of the bullpen, and compiled a 3.00 ERA.
While Delcarmen played the most games in a GreenJackets uniform among the five, Lester was not far behind. Like Delcarmen, Lester was a second round pick for the Red Sox two years later in the 2002 draft and spent the entire 2003 season with Augusta pitching in 24 games, 21 of which he started. Lester compiled a 6-9 record with a 3.65 ERA over 106.0 innings pitched. Just 19 years old in 2003, Lester eventually made his Major League debut in 2006 at 22 years old. In 15 starts Lester was 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA for Boston in 2006.
Like Wakefield, Youkilis is also in his second World Series with the Red Sox, although the first baseman did not play during the 2004 series. Youkilis had two tours with Augusta playing five games in 2001 and 15 games in 2002. Youkilis was the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year in 2002 and eventually made his Major League debut in 2004 playing in 72 games and finishing with a .260 batting average. Youkilis also had seven home runs and 35 RBIs that season.
Since baseball returned to Augusta in 1988, 89 players have come through Augusta that have eventually made it to the Major Leagues. The GreenJackets have won more games over the last two seasons than any other Minor League team having compiled a record of 181-98. The GreenJackets 2008 schedule is available now and season seat packages start as low as $55.00 per seat. For more information on season seats call the GreenJackets at 706-736-7889 or visit www.greenjacketsbaseball.com.