5 Boston Red Sox Minor Leaguers Who Will See Time in the Majors This Year
As the Boston Red Sox attempt to defend their World Series title, they will undoubtedly require some help from down on the farm along the way.
Early injuries to Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks have already given Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt opportunities to play in Boston. Which other Red Sox minor leaguers are likely to get promoted to the big club in 2014?
This is by no means a complete list; the potential for injuries and trades makes it impossible to predict what Boston's needs might be as the season progresses. However, the following five players will no doubt see time in a Red Sox uniform at some point this year.
*Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
It's a bit of a disservice to Brandon Workman to refer to him as a "minor leaguer."
Workman threw 41.2 innings for the Red Sox last year and registered a 0.00 ERA over 8.2 frames of relief during the postseason. He also broke camp in the majors this season but was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket when left-handed reliever Craig Breslow came off the disabled list.
Boston is taking a different approach with Workman now, though, stretching him out into a starter.
In his first start for Pawtucket, Workman tossed 3.1 innings while being held under a 65-pitch limit. His second trip to the mound lasted five innings and 77 pitches, 54 of them strikes.
Via Brendan McGair of Pawtucket, Rhode Island's The Times, Workman said the following about his new role: "It’s nice to be in a routine and know when I’m throwing. I can set my workouts accordingly. I’m more comfortable with starting because I’ve done that my whole life, so, yeah, I enjoy that more."
If Felix Doubront continues to struggle in the Red Sox rotation (1-3, 6.00 ERA, 1.71 WHIP in five starts), Workman could find himself back in Boston in the not-too-distant future.
Ryan Lavarnway made his first appearance with the Red Sox as a September call-up in 2011. He played in 46 games for Boston in 2012 and another 25 in 2013. In 77 major league at-bats last season Lavarnway hit .299 with 14 RBI.
Now 26 years old, Lavarnway's days as Boston's potential catcher of the future appear to be in the past.
The Red Sox have a pair of top prospects at the position set to leapfrog him in Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. For the time being Lavarnway is still the most major league ready, and he could be brought up to Boston if A.J. Pierzynski or David Ross get hurt.
Vazquez has taken over the role as Pawtucket's regular catcher, and Lavarnway is being given an opportunity at first base, where he's played 11 games so far this year. Other possible avenues for Lavarnway's return to Boston might include the Red Sox needing an extra bat on their bench or a first base fill-in.
Rubby De La Rosa
Rubby De La Rosa had a disappointing spring training with the Red Sox, allowing six earned runs and 13 hits in 7.1 innings pitched spanning four outings.
But since his season began in Triple-A, De La Rosa has been dominant. He's made four starts for Pawtucket, lasting at least five innings on each occasion and never giving up more than one earned run. In 22.2 innings he has 21 strikeouts, a 1.19 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP and a batting average against of just .151.
WEEI's Alex Speier had this to say following De La Rosa's most recent start:
He hasn’t just been beating his opponents. He hasn’t given them a chance. He’s shown a tremendous three-pitch mix (fastball, change, slider) that he can use to throw strikes. His pace, sometimes lethargic last year in a fashion so extreme that it raised questions about his focus, has picked up considerably this year, a sign of his growing confidence.
And so, at 25, he has made the most compelling case imaginable that he deserves a shot to start in the big leagues. He only needs to wait for the opportunity to present itself.
It won't be long before an injury or rainout-induced doubleheader puts the Red Sox in need of an extra starter. And when that happens, De La Rosa will be ready and waiting.
Rich Hill is by no means a prospect.
The 34-year-old made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs back in 2005. Hill struggled to stay healthy in three seasons with the Red Sox from 2010 to 2012, pitching a total of only 31.2 innings. However, in that time he also managed to strike out 36 batters while posting an ERA of 1.14.
Last year with the Cleveland Indians Hill made 63 appearances but surrendered 27 earned runs in 38.2 innings. This past offseason Boston signed the Milton, Massachusetts, native to a minor league deal that included an invitation to spring training. He pitched in three Grapefruit League games, throwing 2.2 innings without allowing a run.
Hill's numbers in Pawtucket so far are unspectacular—a 3.97 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 11.1 innings out of the bullpen. But the left-handed veteran has proven in the past that he can succeed in Boston, and it's hard to imagine he won't get another shot at some point this season.
Garin Cecchini claims he is still trying to figure out the Triple-A strike zone. From Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Cecchini offered up the following analysis after recently taking a called third strike on a pitch that looked outside:
In Double-A, they’re good, but they’re not going to pound it there every time. Here and in the big leagues, they’re going to pound it there — and, eventually, the umpire is going to be like, 'Am I missing that pitch?' and then he’s going to start calling it for a strike. They’re going to keep pounding it until they give it to them, and eventually he’s going to give it to him, even though it’s not a strike.
His numbers seem to indicate Cecchini is adjusting to Triple-A just fine. Through 19 games in Pawtucket he's batting .324 with a .378 on-base percentage.
Third base is a crowded position in the Red Sox's organization at the moment. Brock Holt recently made a jump to the majors while Will Middlebrooks spent time on the disabled list. The 23-year-old Cecchini may have to wait until September to get a chance to play in Boston.
If he keeps hitting at his current pace it will be very difficult for the Red Sox to be that patient.