By Brett LoGiurato
June 18, 2012

Mark Prior, now with the Boston Red Sox organization, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Working as a reliever, Mark Prior has dominated with the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, striking out 15 of the first 19 batters he has faced. And he could already be nearing a big-league call-up from the Red Sox.

Opponents are hitting .130 against Prior, the 31-year-old right-hander, who has not pitched in the major leagues since 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Prior burst onto the major league scene with the Cubs in 2002, but injuries soon derailed a promising career.

But Clayton Mortensen, a reliever and former teammate at Pawtucket who was recently called up to Boston, told WEEI that he thinks Prior is just about ready for a call-up himself:

“In my opinion, he’s pretty damn close. He’s throwing the ball hard, locating his pitches and looks good,” said Mortensen, noting that Prior’s fastball has been 90-94 mph. “His fastball is pretty electric. He hides the ball well. A lot of guys get a lot of [downward] plane, but he throws that sneaky one that guys always swing underneath all the time, and he’s locating it to both sides of the plate. It’s worked well with his curveball. He’s getting both fastball and curveball strikeouts, which is huge.”

The Red Sox signed Prior back in May, and promoted him to Triple-A Pawtucket in early June. Although the Red Sox have struggled overall this season — currently sitting at 32-33 and in last place in the American League East — the bullpen has been a bright spot as of late. The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham pulls out this stat: After a horrendous first few weeks of the season, the Red Sox bullpen has a 2.01 ERA and 1.02 WHIP since April 21.

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