Boston Red Sox: The 5 Most Disappointing Players in Spring Training So Far

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2017

Boston Red Sox: The 5 Most Disappointing Players in Spring Training So Far

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    Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price.
    Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price.Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    We're several weeks into spring training, which means you're sick of hearing about how the stats don't matter.

    It's true to an extent. This is a time of year when grains of salt should be sprinkled liberally, and panic buttons securely stowed.

    That said, it's always better to put up good numbers. There are plenty of examples of players who went cold in the exhibition slate, only to heat up when the games started to matter. It doesn't have to work that way, though.

    Like all teams, the Boston Red Sox have a handful of spring underachievers, including a touted young infielder, an All-Star outfielder, a plummeting pitching prospect and a pair of injury-bitten left-handers.

    It'd be foolish to write any of them off based on their Grapefruit League output, but Boston fans are permitted to raise an eyebrow.

Rafael Devers, 3B

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Rafael Devers is 20 years old and was in big league camp for the first time. No one expected him to channel vintage Wade Boggs.

    Still, Devers is the top third base prospect in the game, according to MLB.com. He entered the spring with some hype.

    Before being sent to minor league camp Tuesday in the first round of cuts, Devers went 3-for-22 without an extra-base hit, "good" for a .136/.208/.136 slash line.

    Manager John Farrell said Deverswho is listed at 6'0", 195 pounds—needs "to maintain body composition and the streamlined physique to maintain the range" necessary at third, per Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. (Sound familiar?)

    The Boston skipper also praised Devers for his "very good offensive mind" and called him "a really good-looking player," per Drellich. 

    As far as first impressions go, however, this one could have been better.

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Last season, Jackie Bradley Jr. married a strong offensive line to his typically stellar defense and went from perennially talented "what if?" to a genuine All-Star.

    The Red Sox are expecting more of the same from the 26-year-old, which makes his spring stats at least slightly concerning. 

    In 24 at-bats, Bradley owns a .167/.231/.417 line. If not for one big day March 2, when he hit two home runs against the Tampa Bay Rays at his home JetBlue Park, the stats would be truly abysmal. 

    It's tempting to write this off as a meaningless exhibition blip. Remember, though, Bradley's production tailed off last season, as he hit just .198 in August and .233 in the second half. 

    "More peaks, less valleys," Bradley said of his goals at the plate for 2017, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Which means I want to be more consistent."

Drew Pomeranz, LHP

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    The first of three starting pitchers on this list, Drew Pomeranz made his spring debut Tuesday after battling elbow issues.

    The left-hander surrendered a homer and two earned runs in two innings. That's to be expected for an initial, shaking-off-the-cobwebs outing.

    Pomeranz's health issues, however, dredge up memories of the 2016 trade-deadline deal that sent Boston's top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, to the San Diego Padres.

    The league ultimately determined the Padres withheld medical information and suspended Padres general manager A.J. Preller for a month without pay, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune

    Pomeranz was an All-Star last season for San Diego, but posted a 4.59 ERA in 14 appearances for Boston. The fact that his elbow's still barking and he owns a 9.00 spring ERA won't move the needle toward "reassuring."

Henry Owens, LHP

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, Henry Owens equaled optimism in Beantown.

    After getting demoted to minor league camp Tuesday, the 2011 first-round pick equals uncertainty bordering on pessimism. 

    Sure, Owens is only 24 years old. He also posted a gaudy 15.95 ERA and walked 13 in 7.1 innings this spring. He's the poster-child for expectations versus reality, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe outlined:

    Owens, once considered a key part of the Red Sox' future, now represents uncertainty, with questions arising this spring about whether he is at a crossroads or, worse, has already passed one. A fan base once eager for his big league arrival—how long ago the clamor for his call-up in September 2014 now seems—expresses loud doubt about whether it will ever come.

    Owens could deliver. He's on the right side of his prime and went 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 137.2 innings last season at Triple-A.

    The clock is ticking, however, and the red flags are piling up.

David Price, LHP

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    David Price hasn't pitched an inning this spring, which makes him the ultimate disappointment. 

    After signing a seven-year, $217 million deal in December 2015, Price surrendered an MLB-leading 227 hits with a 3.99 ERA in his first season with Boston.

    It wasn't a disaster, but it was a letdown.

    The Red Sox engineered a blockbuster trade over the winter, sending a bushel of blue chips to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for another ace left-hander, Chris Sale.

    The idea, presumably, was to augment and take pressure off Price. Now, it looks like the $200-plus million man will begin the season on the disabled list after complaining of pain in his elbow and forearm.

    "I think at this point, yeah, it'd be hard to see him ready to go at the start of the season," Farrell said, per Drellich. "You know, we really won't have any kind of idea until he gets on the mound the first time. And right now I don't know when that's gonna be."

     

    All statistics current as of Tuesday and courtesy of MLB.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.