NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Bees lost a number of key players down the stretch of the first half of the season, but have reloaded their roster as they prepare to take another shot at the postseason in the second half of the 2019 campaign.
The Bees announced the addition of four players on Friday, including a trio of pitchers and a position player in Mike Carp who was a World Series champion with the Red Sox in 2013.
The arms added by the Bees include Akeel Morris, David Roseboom and Chris Reed, who appeared in 21 games with the Bees last season.
“It’s great to be able to add players of this caliber to the team as we get ready for the second half of the season,” Bees general manager Brad Smith said. “Mike is a World Series champion with an immense amount of experience in the Major Leagues, and will bring an established power bat to our lineup. Akeel, Chris and David are all reliable relievers that will be excellent additions to our pitching staff.”
Carp, 33, was a ninth-round draft pick of the New York Mets in 2004, and last played at the professional level in 2015, when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. Carp heads to the Hardware City with 12 seasons of professional experience, including six at the major league level. His most memorable came in 2013, when he posted a career-high .885 OPS with the Red Sox through 86 games before compiling eight at-bats in the postseason with Boston, which won the World Series over the Cardinals.
Over exactly 1,000 career plate appearances in the majors, Carp compiled a slash line of .254/.330/.414 with 27 home runs.
A fellow Mets draft pick joins Carp with the Bees in Morris, who was drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. The 26-year-old made his big league debut with the Mets in 2015, but appeared in just one game before getting his next taste of the majors in 2017 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. The righty was then traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where he tossed 14 innings in 2018 and allowed 18 hits and three home runs before being designated for assignment in August.
This will be Morris’ first taste of the Atlantic League after throwing 466 2/3 career innings in the affiliated minors, where he posted a 3.32 ERA with 585 strikeouts.
Yet another draft choice of the Mets is heading to New Britain in Roseboom, who was drafted by the club in the 17th round of the 2014 draft. The 27-year-old reached the Triple-A level in the Mets organization and spent most of this season at Double-A Binghamton, where he threw 12 1/3 innings and allowed 12 earned runs. His last appearance came on June 30, his first start back with Binghamton after two outings at Triple-A Syracuse.
The lefty comes to the Bees for his Atlantic League debut having compiled a 3.60 ERA and 239 strikeouts over 227 1/3 innings. The New York native isn’t far removed from a spectacular season with Binghamton, when he held a 1.87 ERA over 57 2/3 innings in 2016.
Reed makes his return to the Bees for his second Atlantic League stint after posting a 3.91 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 23 innings in a Bees uniform last season.
The 29-year-old is a former 16th round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2011. He was traded to the Miami Marlins in 2015 and made the big leagues that season, throwing four innings and allowing six hits and two runs. He spent the rest of his time in the Marlins’ minor league system before coming to New Britain last year.
Reed pitched 540 innings at the minor league level throughout his career, compiling a 4.12 ERA with 458 strikeouts.
The addition of Reed, Roseboom and Morris gives the Bees 17 pitchers listed on their current roster, though starter Cory Riordan is still battling injury.
More changes coming to the Atlantic League
As the Bees begin the second half of the season with a new-look roster, the Atlantic League itself will look much different as well. After recent reports of changes in the second half of the season that would include a universal use of the automated ball-strike system and the ability to steal first base on any pitch that wasn’t caught in flight by the catcher, the league officially announced a number of other rule changes as well, as part of the league’s partnership with Major League Baseball.
In addition to those two tweaks as part of MLB’s effort to increase pace of play and implement more action and balls in play, the Atlantic League will now forbid pickoff attempts by the pitcher unless the pitcher has stepped off the rubber. This new rule is part of MLB’s attempt to cut down on the number of throws to first from the pitcher’s mound, which it believes tends to slow down at-bats.
From the batter’s perspective, things will be a bit more lenient in another attempt to cut back on strikeouts, which are currently at an all-time high at the MLB level. Starting on Friday, batters will be permitted one foul bunt with two strikes before a strikeout is ruled, as opposed to the first half of the season, where one foul bunt with two strikes would mean the end of the at-bat. In addition, the ‘check swing’ rule will be made more batter-friendly. The common ruling was that if the head of the bat broke the plane of home plate, it would be ruled a strike. It’s unclear what the exact stipulations of the new ‘check swing’ will be, but the league certainly wants umpires to give the batter the benefit of the doubt from here on out.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org