The last line of Eduard Bazardo’s scouting report on SoxProspects.com — a fantastic resource for anyone interested in Boston’s farm system — reads thusly: “Progress has been slow and could be accelerated in a relief role.”
Pressure is being applied to that gas pedal.
A starter all last season at Lowell and Greenville, Bazardo has been impressive out of the Salem bullpen this year. The right-hander entered Friday’s game against Winston-Salem with a 1-0 record and 1.11 ERA in 11 relief appearances.
Among pitchers with at least 30 innings, Bazardo owns the lowest ERA in the Carolina League and the third-lowest in any High Class A circuit. He trails only Twins farmhand Bryan Sammons (0.94 ERA in the Florida State League) and top Padres pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore (1.07 ERA in the California League), who was the third overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
It’s not like this guy was bad as a rotation man. Opponents hit only .217 last season against Bazardo, who fashioned a 2.67 ERA over 14 starts.
He’s found another level in his new role, though. It started on opening night, when he fired three scoreless innings to pick up the victory in Salem’s 10-2 waxing of Wilmington. The success has continued in every outing that’s followed — all of which have lasted at least 2 1/3 innings. Bazardo hasn’t allowed more than three hits in any appearance. He’s missing plenty of bats, too, striking out 39 batters in 32 1/3 innings. His best performance came May 7, when he retired all seven Wilmington batters he faced, fanning six of them.
At 23, Bazardo is still slightly younger than the league average. Career acceleration has commenced.