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Eduard Bazardo spent last summer at the Red Sox Dominican Academy where he lifted weights, ran, threw, ate, slept and played a ton of video and online games, especially Fortnite.

Bazardo was one of 15 Red Sox minor leaguers from Venezuela who lived in the bubble after coronavirus ended spring training March 12. No coordinated activities were allowed. Players made their own schedules.

“It was like, ‘Whenever you guys want to train, you can train.’ So I would wake up at 7:30 a.m. to work out in the gym,” Bazardo said through translator Bryan Loor-Almonte. “After the gym, I’d have a throwing session and do a lot of running. I did that for seven months.”

The 25-year-old put on about 12 pounds of muscle, and the development staff noticed a significant increase in his fastball velocity at fall instructional camp. Bazardo’s fastball velocity previously sat 91-93 mph. He was 93-96 mph and touched 97 mph at fall instructs, assistant GM Eddie Romero said back in December after Boston placed the righty on the 40-man roster.

The 6-foot, 190-pound righty has elite spin on his curveball and he arrived at spring training camp with an eye on winning an Opening Day roster spot. He has pitched two perfect innings so far. He needed to throw just eight pitches (seven strikes) to retire the side in order in his first appearance against the Twins on Sunday. He threw 12 pitches (eight strikes) to retire the side in order in his second outing against Minnesota on Wednesday.

“My mentality is to make it on the roster,” Bazardo said. “I’m working very hard and trying to find ways to learn more from everybody. I’m trying to find a place on this roster and just compete. That’s why we’re here in this camp. That’s the mindset that I have right now is trying to do everything I can possible to be able to get on that roster and make it to Opening Day.”

He said being at the academy allowed him the time to work as hard as he did. He lifted weights in the gym and ran outside.

“I threw a lot of sides and I was throwing at 100%,” he said.

He said he long tossed “hundreds of yards.”

“Even if I couldn’t reach it, I was still throwing it,” he said.

“A lot of long tossing, a lot of side work, which helped build up to where I am and it’s why the velocity is where it’s at right now,” he added.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “Everybody in player development is proud of the work he put in, in the summer, in the offseason and so far in camp. He gained some weight. He got stronger and the fastball is better now. The velocities up. Everybody knows about the breaking ball but I do believe the fastball is going to make a difference. Very likable guy. For how young he is or whatever, he’s always walking with a smile, feels comfortable within the group. He’s one of those guys that just watching the video, especially (from) instructional league, you’re like, ‘Wow. This is impressive.’”

He threw three fastballs in his first outing this spring, averaging 94.3 mph and topping out at 94.7, per Statcast. He averaged 93.8 mph and maxed out at 94.6 mph with his six four-seamers in his second outing.

His spin rate on his curveball is what really separates him from others. His curveball is what caught the Red Sox’s attention the most Wholesale Baseball Jerseys when they were scouting him in Venezuela.

“They have told me my spin rate on my curveball is pretty big and I probably have the highest right now in camp,” Bazardo said.

Bazardo also worked on his slider and a split-fingered fastball while in the bubble. The splitter is new to his repertoire and a pitch the Red Sox feel can be effective against left-handed batters.

“He was one of the guys that worked the hardest during that downtime,” Romero said. “Those guys for six months didn’t leave the complex just because we were still uneasy with the situation. And we were able to have those guys in a safe environment in a little bubble there.”

There was a lot of downtime in the bubble, which meant a lot of video and online games.

“It was a lot of Fortnite that I was playing,” he said.

Big league brother

Bazardo’s brother Yorman Bazardo pitched in the big leagues (2005, 2007-09), making 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Marlins, Tigers and Astros. Yorman, who is 11 years older than Eduard, then pitched in the Italian Baseball League in 2013, posting a 4-0 record and 2.59 ERA in seven starts.

Yorman Bazardo now serves as a pitching coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. He is with the Gulf Coast League Pirates after previously serving as pitching coach for the Dominican Summer League Pirates.

“Once I was 10 years old, that’s when I was totally dedicated to baseball,” Bazardo said. “Baseball was the sport I loved and something I always played growing up, especially since my brother also played baseball. Being able to go when I was younger to see him Cheap Pittsburgh Pirates Jerseys in the field, that’s what really motivated me more.”

Bazardo grew up in Maracay, Venezuela, which has produced several great baseball players, including Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, José Altuve, Elvis Andrus, Carlos Guillén, Aníbal Sánchez and Martín Prado.

Bazardo idolized his brother and his brother’s former Tigers teammate the most.

“Obviously the reason I became a pitcher was because of my brother,” Bazardo said. “He was my first motivation. But also the person Authentic Baseball Jerseys Cheap I loved watching was Justin Verlander because he’s obviously one of the best pitchers to ever play this game.”

Bazardo said he occasionally talks pitching with his brother but he added, “We always just talk about other things that we feel are more important.”

An overlooked amateur free agent

Most of the top prospects on the amateur international free agent market are signed at 16 and 17 years old. The Red Sox signed Bazardo at 19.

“He had been passed over,” Romero said. “We really liked his secondary pitches.”

The Red Sox knew he needed to add velocity.

“We thought, ‘If this guy’s velocity is to tick up…’” Romero recalled. “He probably weighed 145 pounds when he signed; 140 pounds.”

Bazardo has come a long way since then. The hard work paid off when the Red Sox called him in November to tell him he was being added to the 40-man roster.

“My mom was the first person I told,” he said. “She was extremely happy I got this opportunity to be on the 40-man roster. It just shows all the hard work that I put in.”