By Jeff Louderback
Though they don’t carry the same pizazz as deals that involve well-known names, players signed to minor league deals offer depth at the Triple-A level and sometimes help the parent club as well. Pedro Ciriaco and Mauro Gomez are prime examples of mostly anonymous minor leaguers who were brought aboard by the Red Sox during the offseason, opened the year at Pawtucket and then helped the Sox during the regular season.
Over the last week, the Red Sox have inked six players to minor league contracts. They include pitchers Terry Doyle, Anthony Carter, Oscar Villarreal and Jose De La Torre; utility infielder and outfielder Drew Sutton; and outfielder Mitch Maier.
The 27-year-old Doyle is intriguing. The Boston College product and Concord, Mass. native has a 33-27 record, a 2.94 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 90 games (including 77 starts) over five minor league seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization. In 2012, Doyle was 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 12 games (11 starts) at Triple-A Charlotte before he asked and was granted his release so he could pitch for Softbank in Japan (where he made three starts).
The 26-year-old Carter, who features a mid to high 90s fast ball, has a 4.70 ERA over seven minor league seasons in the White Sox organization, including a 4.60 ERA in 39 games at Triple-A Charlotte in 2012.
Over parts of six Major League seasons, Villarreal is 24-15 with a 3.86 ERA in 258 games, including a 10-7 mark and a 2.57 ERA in 86 – yes, 86 – appearances in his rookie season in 2003. The right-handed reliever last pitched in the majors for Houston in 2008 and last season he was 3-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 34 games for Triple-A Norfolk (Baltimore).
The 27-year-old De La Torre boasts a 2.84 ERA in six minor league seasons in the Mets, Indians and Red Sox organizations. He was acquired from Cleveland during the regular season for Brent Lillibridge. The right-handed reliever logged a 2.45 ERA in 12 appearances at Pawtucket.
Sutton, who is 29, is familiar to Red Sox fans. The super utility player hit .315 in 54 at-bats for Boston in 2011. He spent 2012 in Tampa Bay (.271) and Pittsburgh (.243). Sutton provides infield insurance since he can play all four spots. He can also play the corner outfield spots, if needed.
A first round pick of Kansas City in 2003, the 30-year-old Maier has a .248 average over parts of six Major League seasons with the Royals. The left-handed hitting Maier has a .298 average and a .805 OPS in eight minor league seasons