Jackie Bradley Jr. is one of several Red Sox prospects who could make an impact in 2013.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox have risen to the top of the AL East not because of superlative superstar performances, but rather due to the contributions of many.
They have taken a step back from their stars-first approach and have instead looked to piece together a team filled with capable veterans and young players determined to make an impact.
The results, thus far, have been beyond what most experts could have expected.
As in previous years, though, the Sox have had injuries serve as the greatest impediment to their success.
Key players like Clay Buchholz, Shane Victorino and Andrew Bailey have already spent significant time on the DL, and have also proven to be susceptible to reinjury once they do make it back.
Fortunately, the Sox also have a well-stocked farm system that has talent at multiple positions.
The organization has placed a lot of emphasis this season on getting these younger players experience at the MLB level even when tradition dictates they might not be 100 percent ready.
Here are five of these prospects that Sox fans may see in the second half of the season:
The Sox’s top prospect absolutely mashed at Double-A Portland, batting .311 with a .909 OPS in 56 games with the Sea Dogs before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket two weeks ago. Since arriving, he’s flashed solid power (three home runs) in an otherwise limited sample size of just 43 at bats.
While it’s too early to determine if he’ll be able to make it up to the MLB roster this year on a permanent basis (he’ll need more time in Pawtucket for that), it’s telling that GM Ben Cherington told ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that “there's no such thing as a prospect in Triple-A” and that he sees it as “an extension of the big league team.”
An injury here or a trade there, and Bogaerts could be in Boston before the season is through.
It’s sort of cheating to include Bradley here, considering he started the season on the MLB roster and has since made another brief appearance in late May/early June. However, the fact remains that he has spent far more time in Pawtucket this season than in Boston, despite his incredible spring training.
While it was brief, Bradley’s seven game stint with the Sox a few weeks ago yielded far better results than his previous one, and the young outfielder is poised to take over should a trade or injury limit the number of available outfielders on the roster.
Another call-up for Bradley, who is destroying the ball in Pawtucket (.899 OPS), is inevitable.
The Sox highly value the versatile De La Rosa, which explains how much he has been babied this season—just 49.2 innings pitched in 13 starts, an average of under four innings per outing—in his return from Tommy John surgery.
He made one brief appearance with the MLB team, going up and down without working in a game.
As the season goes on and more pitchers wear down and succumb to injuries and/or ineffectiveness, De La Rosa’s arm will be fresh, and the right-hander will be ready to make his MLB return.
The Sox have been using Allen Webster in the rotation of late, but De La Rosa is the more talented of the two. and once fully healthy. seems poised to claim a spot on the MLB roster either as a starter or out of the bullpen.
This is not a name Sox fans expected to be hearing a lot about this season, but Ranaudo’s incredible performance in Double-A Portland this season will likely soon warrant a call-up to Pawtucket. He has gone 7-2 over his 14 starts, posting a 2.28 ERA and striking out 86 hitters in just 79.0 innings.
While he certainly would not become a regular in the Sox’s rotation, if things fall right he could be needed to make a spot start or two late in the season. Given his success in the minors, it would certainly be warranted for the Sox to give him an early taste of MLB life.
Brentz has enjoyed a great season so far in Triple-A Pawtucket after a spring training marred by him shooting himself in the leg.
It seems this Plaxico Burress-esque incident did little to slow him down at the plate, as the outfielder has hit .321 with 15 home runs and 14 doubles in 270 at-bats thus far in 2013.
The logical next step for Brentz is a trip to Boston, which seems inevitable before the season is out.
The continuing health issues of Shane Victorino means that a spot in the Sox’s outfield could open up at any time, and beyond Jackie Bradley. it seems that Brentz is the player best suited to fill that void.
At a minimum, he’ll get to spend some time in Boston when rosters expand in September.