Mark Prior: Red Sox Should Promote Former Phenom from Triple-A

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJune 14, 2012

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 5:  Pitcher Mark Prior #22 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during Spring Training at Peoria Sports Complex March 5, 2007 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If you thought that Mark Prior’s career was over, think again.

The Boston Red Sox signed the former Chicago Cubs phenom to a minor league deal in early May, and for the last couple of weeks, he has been pitching lights out for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Though Prior has not made a big league appearance since 2006, GM Ben Cherington was willing to give him a shot as a reliever, saying this shortly after signing him in May:

He looked good, the velocity’s been good. We’re going to leave him down there for a while just to build strength before we send him out to a minor-league club. He signed a minor-league deal and will keep pitching in extended for a while.

After nearly a month in extended spring training, Prior was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Through four games, he has been very impressive.

June 2 1.0 0 0 1 1
June 5 1.2 2 0 0 5
June 8 2.0 1 0 1 4
June 12 1.0 0 0 2 3

That's 13 strikeouts, a 0.00 ERA and a .150 opponents’ batting average in 5.2 innings of work. Apparently, Prior still has some life in that arm.

While the sample size is small and the walk rate could be better, the former star pitcher is making a strong case so far for a call-up. 

The Red Sox bullpen has been pretty good lately, but if someone gets injured or hit hard over a prolonged stretch, Prior should get the call.

Mark Melancon just received another chance at pitching in the majors after a horrendous start to the season. Daniel Bard was downright awful as a starter and is currently in Pawtucket trying to figure things out.

With question marks surrounding several pitchers on the team, who knows what the future holds for Prior?

In 106 career games in the MLB, the right-hander has never made an appearance out of the bullpen. With any luck, his first one will come sooner rather than later.