PAWTUCKET — At a time when a host of Boston’s top prospects are stationed in Double-A and Triple-A, the organization arrived at the decision to provide the PawSox coaching staff with an additional voice.
To be clear, Kevin Boles is Pawtucket’s new manager while fellow Triple-A newcomer Bruce Crabbe is classified as coach, not bench coach. The pair will be joined in the trenches by pitching coach Rich Sauveur and hitting coach Dave Joppie, two holdovers from Gary DiSarcina’s staff who will be returning to McCoy Stadium in 2014.
Boles and Crabbe certainly know their way around the minor-league system. Boles, who turns 39 next month, has been managing Red Sox farmhands since 2008 with the past three seasons unfolding in Double-A Portland. Crabbe, 51, has been in the organization for the last nine years. He served as manager for Single-A Lowell in three of the past four years and has also held the position as Boston’s roving minor-league infield coordinator for four consecutive seasons (2006-09).
It’s believed that Pawtucket has never had an additional coach outside of the traditional positions. As Boston farm director Ben Crockett explained Thursday, the decision to expand Pawtucket’s coaching staff coincides with the impending arrivals of highly touted farmhands such as Garin Cecchini and Henry Owens along with the wave of talent that has already reached the Triple-A level.
“A lot of teams are using four coaches at different levels and we felt this would be an opportunity to do this at a level that is clearly an important one in general. It’s an important time to the minor-league organization as it relates to our major-league club,” Crockett explained. “Finding the right time to do it is always a challenge, but given the player group that we expect to have at the upper levels in 2014, we felt like this was an excellent time to add an extra staff member that will allow all staff members to give a little more individualized attention.
“We felt really good about Kevin making that transition to Pawtucket after being the favorite internally from the get-go. He’s come through our system and knows exactly what we value and what we believe,” continued Crockett. “With him and the addition of Bruce, this has positioned us very well to have a strong staff in Pawtucket, one that’s going to focus on teaching and be able to bridge the gap between younger players and veterans.”
While Boles’ title needs no explanation, the general one given to Crabbe does. To that end, Crockett noted that Crabbe’s primary role with the PawSox will entail working with the club’s infielders.
“I’ve got to see the work Bruce has put in with our infielders along with the energy and the attention to detail,” said Boles, who is presently serving as a bench coach on a team in the Venezuelan Winter League. “I’m looking forward to working with Bruce. He’s a terrific instructor.”
Boles emerged as the top choice to succeed DiSarcina not long after the ex-PawSox skipper left to take a coaching job with the Los Angeles Angels in early November. While working with the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Will Middlebrooks can certainly do wonders for one’s coaching portfolio, Boles has a reputation as a hard worker and someone who understands the importance of putting players in a position to succeed at the next level.
Case in point, the Opening Day roster that Boles began with in Portland this past season was bursting at the seams with talent. By season’s end, many of them ended up with the PawSox with several going on to have key roles with the parent club.
“From Double-A on up, you start to see what a future major leaguer looks like,” said Boles. “The biggest challenge is to make them understand that things can move very quickly. We as coaches have to do everything we can on a daily basis to make sure they are prepared. Last year was a perfect example with (Brandon) Workman, (Xander) Bogaerts and (Drake) Britton.”
The son of a former big-league manager, Boles mentioned that he plans to reach out to Arnie Beyeler, the former Pawtucket bench boss who also made the jump from Double-A to the front lines of the minor-league system.
“Arnie definitely knows what is expected there. He’s been through it and is a resource I will tap into,” said Boles.
To go from Single-A Greenville and Salem to Portland and now Pawtucket, Boles’ journey through the minors is not all that different from the one that the players go through.
“The opportunity the Red Sox have provided for me, I couldn’t ask for a better organization. It’s definitely been a blessing and I feel very fortunate to be here,” said Boles before rattling off the primary creed of his mission. “Hopefully we get these players to continue to progress towards the major-league level.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03