Local product Chase Shugart makes his mark with Red Sox organization and moves to Triple A – Orange Leader
Former Bridge City and University of Texas standout pitcher Chase Shugart continues to rise through the ranks, being called up for the Triple A ball by the Boston Red Sox and playing for Worchester.
In his first relief appearance, Shugart pitched three innings, allowing a run on a single hit while striking out two. He struck out the first seven batters he faced at the Triple A level.
On his second outing, Shugart pitched an inning, allowing a hit with one strikeout and allowing no runs.
Shugart started his season at Double A Portland. He went 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA. He had 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in 31 innings of action.
Shugart was drafted in 12e round by the Red Sox in the 2018 Major League Draft.
Shugart was a two-way athlete in high school, playing football and baseball. He also showed many skills as a quarterback for the Cardinal football team.
“Going into high school and getting drafted (to baseball), that’s when I realized this was a real possibility, I can make a future out of it,” Shugart said.
The former Cardinals standout ace continued to show potential during his high school career, eventually making the decision to commit to the University of Texas at Austin and play college ball for the Longhorns.
Shugart was initially drafted as a two-way player, having played left field and first base while coming out of the bullpen. Once he joined the Longhorns, he became a full-time pitcher.
“Doing both really helped me as a pitcher because I knew what the batter was thinking,” Shugart said. “The mental aspect really helped me too.”
Growing up an hour and a half from Houston, Shugart noted that he had always been an Astros fan, but was also very fond of the Red Sox. Discovering his fondness for the Red Sox at a young age, he admired Mike Lowell because he “liked the way he did business.”
As for the mound, the young pitcher looked up to Roger Clemens, a former Longhorn and Red Sox, and had the opportunity to form a close relationship with the former pitcher while playing with his two sons at the university.
While the elder Clemens wasn’t coaching the Longhorns, the multiple-time Cy Young Award winner would occasionally step in and give the team words of wisdom when needed.
“He didn’t want to override the coaches,” Shugart said. “When the pitching team wasn’t as good as it should be, Roger would walk into the hotel conference room and tell us that if you didn’t have the talent, you wouldn’t be in Texas. “
At the start of his third year at Texas, Shugart was training to prepare for the 2018 Super Regionals when he was told he had been drafted. He received a call from his regional away scout when he returned to the locker room to be greeted by his entire team excitedly breaking the news.
A junior at the time, he described listening to the news as an out-of-body experience.
“It was like, okay, I was playing professional baseball after that,” he said.
The Longhorns eventually lost in the Finals to the Arkansas Razorbacks, but Shugart never looked back, forgoing his senior year of college to make the jump to professional baseball. The right-hander was ready to “get on the horse and go.”
Shugart got to see some action after being drafted in 2018, splitting time between Rookie League and Low-A. In 2019, he earned a full season of work in Greenville, pitching 89.2 innings in 16 games while hitting a 2.81 ERA. Advice from Greenville coach Bob Kipper helped him in ways he didn’t think he needed to improve on.
Shugart spent time focusing on the mental side of the game. He knew that when he had a bad outing it was because he was trying to do too much. The farmhand talked about the time he spent visualizing the work he had to do to make it to the big leagues.
“I would go through bats in my head in Greenville or watch a tape,” Shugart said. “I was wondering, what was I thinking there, why was I so good that day? Why was I so bad that day?
Shugart has had a busy offseason preparing for what lies ahead this summer as he seeks to grow as a reliever in the Red Sox organization.
Shugart was one of several Red Sox minor leaguers who spent part of their offseason playing winter ball outside of the United States.
Adapting to the Mayaguez Indios of the Puerto Rican Winter League, Shugart posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with nine strikeouts in two walks in five relief appearances, covering 6 1/3 working innings during the regular season.
In the playoffs, Shugart’s star shone even brighter. The right-handed pitching prospect allowed one run on five hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in six outings (6 1/3 innings pitched) out of the bullpen for Mayaguez. That’s good for an ERA of 1.42.
Prior to making the trip to Puerto Rico in December, Shugart had only been used as a starter since being drafted.
To start his career in Texas, the Bridge City native came out of the bullpen during his first and second seasons before moving to the Longhorns’ starting rotation in 2018.
Shugart could fill any role, but Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham likes what he brings as a reliever.
“I think there’s still an opportunity to start, but I think ultimately we see it more as a loose reliever-type role,” Abraham said of Shugart. “He was very successful in Puerto Rico in the short time he had there. It was a very good experience for him based on the conversations we had with him today.
Shugart, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, is a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a fastball that hovers around 93-95mph and tops out at 97mph, a 74-80mph curveball, a 81- 84 mph slider and change from 84 to 87 mph.