When the rosters expand to 40 players on September 1st, some teams will be using those call-ups for reinforcements as they approach the playoffs, but for others not in contention, it’s an opportunity to look at the future of the franchise.
The Boston Red Sox, unfortunately, will be getting a good glimpse at the best players in their minor-league system since they won’t have much to play for in the final month of the regular season.
September call-ups aren’t necessarily a bad thing for those franchises that won’t be playing in October. Front offices get to see how close some players are to the majors and how they already look against big-league arms and batters. In most cases, a team has a few exciting prospects that everyone gets to watch for a few weeks.
The Red Sox have several exciting prospects in their minor league system, but only a few who will get called up once the rosters expand. The fact of the matter is that some players aren’t high enough in the organization for a major jump. It’s better that they stay down in the lower levels and develop further.
As I was saying, the Red Sox have a couple of guys down on the farm that will definitely turn some heads when they get the opportunity in just over a week.
Here’s a look at who they are what they’ve done this year at their respective levels.
2012 Statistics: 1-0, 0.64 ERA, 14 IP, 15/7 K/BB (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Chris Carpenter is who the Red Sox got in return for former general manager Theo Epstein joining the front office of the Chicago Cubs during this past offseason. Carpenter had elbow surgery in early April and has been recovering in the minor leagues ever since.
As you can see by Carpenter’s statistics in Pawtucket this season, he’s having a dandy ole time trying to get back to the majors—he briefly pitched for the Cubs in 2011. He will likely be called up once September starts as an extra reliever coming out of the bullpen.
I project that Carpenter will join the major-league roster full-time by the start of next season. He’s a hard thrower—he can hit 100 mph according to SoxProspects.com—who should be a big boost to the future bullpen of the Red Sox
2012 Statistics: .269/.321/.309, 11 XBH, 46 R, 23 RBI (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Jose Iglesias will play in the minor leagues as a full-time shortstop for the last time this August. Iglesias will absolutely be promoted to the big-league club and should take over as the starting shortstop for the 2013 season.
There’s no reason why Iglesias can’t take Mike Aviles’ job at shortstop, or at least compete with him, for the remainder of the season and the start of next season—should Boston bring Aviles back. He’s been with Pawtucket this year for the same reason he’s been in the minors for the last couple of years: to improve his hitting.
Iglesias is not a sound hitter by any definition of the term, but he is a great defender. It doesn’t seem like he’s improved much compared to last season, but it’s time to just give him a shot and see what happens. There’s a chance that he surprises us, but an even better one that he doesn’t.
2012 Statistics: 4-5, 3.60 ERA, 75 IP, 63/34 K/BB (Double-A Portland)
Drake Britton was absolutely horrendous with Single-A Salem last year, going 1-13 with an ERA approaching 7.00. He’s turned things around this season and, although he doesn’t have the best numbers, it’s a big improvement.
Britton has split time between Salem and Portland this season, combining for 24 appearances and 22 starts. He’s shown much better command and looks like a completely different pitcher out on the mound.
It seems to me as if Britton will be promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket for the start of 2013. He could be in Boston by the end of next season should he succeed with consistency at that level. For now, putting Britton on the mound at Fenway Park would be a true test of how far he’s come.
2012 Statistics: 4-6, 5.16 ERA, 97.2 IP, 71/37 K/BB (Double-A Portland)
Stolmy Pimentel is the other big name starting pitcher currently hurling for the Portland Sea Dogs. Much like his teammate Britton, Pimentel was about as bad as it gets when he was promoted from Single-A Salem to Portland last season.
Pimentel was 6-4 with a 4.53 ERA before his promotion and then just lost it. He went 0-9 in 15 starts with the Sea Dogs, recording an ERA of 9.12. He hasn’t been perfect in 2012, but he has been better and could be a part of Boston’s long-term plans.
Pimentel only projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a late inning reliever, as SoxProspects.com writes, but getting him some time in the majors could be a good thing for his development. He has pitched in big games against big-time hitters before—mainly the 2010 MLB Futures Game—and it would be interesting to see how he approaches big-league hitters.
2012 Statistics: .309/.405/.756, 9 XBH, 8 R, 7 RBI (Double-A Portland)
Boston’s No. 1 prospect is easily Xander Bogaerts and boy did he play well in Single-A Salem this year. In 104 games with Salem, he hit over .300, smashed 15 home runs and drove in 64 runs. He’s been on fire since his promotion to Portland and could progress through the system rapidly.
Throwing Bogaerts into the major league mix this September would be a great idea. I don’t think that he should see a ton of time, but getting him exposed to big-league pitchers couldn’t hurt. Who knows, maybe he grabs a couple of hits and gives the front office the confidence to start him in Triple-A Pawtucket next season.
The only question surrounding Bogaerts is where in the field he’ll end up playing. He currently plays shortstop, but if the aforementioned Jose Iglesias controls that position, where does he go. I think he eventually is converted into a corner outfielder since third base is blocked by Will Middlebrooks.
The important thing is to get Bogaerts more at-bats which would be ensured should he be promoted. And should he be promoted, there would be nothing more that Red Sox Nation will want to see than him hitting at Fenway Park.