Theo Epstein would be proud. The player development machine that he spoke about in 2003 while he was general manager of the Boston Red Sox has finally come to fruition under his protégé Ben Cherington.
The Red Sox have been able to weather numerous injuries to their major league roster this season because the farm system has been able to produce capable replacements. Boston has been able to mesh their large payroll with a fertile farm system.
Recently, when Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a compression fracture in his foot, there was no panic within the Red Sox; they simply called up top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. During Will Middlebrooks' struggles during the season, Boston was able to adapt by using Jose Iglesias and Brock Holt to man the position.
Boston has had problems with their bullpen throughout the season, but they have been able to recall Brandon Workman and Drake Britton to support during the season while increasing the role of Junichi Tazawa. When David Ross was lost for months due to a concussion, in stepped Ryan Lavarnway.
It is exactly what the Red Sox had hoped would occur: have a solid major league team, build through the farm system, sign key free agents to fill certain needs.
It is not that the Red Sox haven't needed to make trades this year, but they haven't had to make them out of desperation. When Boston traded Jose Iglesias as part of the deal for Jake Peavy, it was a sign that the Red Sox were trading from a position of strength with Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero waiting in the wings.
Success breeds success. While the Red Sox are on the brink of returning to the playoffs at the major league level, they are seeing success throughout their entire system.
Craig Forde from The Boston Globe has the report on the Red Sox Single-A affiliate Salem winning the Mills Cup championship last night. Triple-A Pawtucket in currently playing in the Governors' Cup championship. Both teams have prospects, not just career minor league players.
Boston looks to have many impact prospects on the brink of hitting the major leagues in the next couple of seasons, allowing the Red Sox to field a team of largely homegrown talent. Bogaerts, Bradley and Henry Owens are only a few of the names who will lead the charge.
The really exciting thing for fans and the organization is that this was looked at as a bridge year, and instead the Red Sox are solidly in first place, showing that they could be on the brink of something special.