While watching those spring training games minutely on a work computer or catching them here and there on the MLB Network, some Red Sox fans may wish the commentary focused more on who these non-roster players are.
Who's that guy pinch running for Jacoby Ellsbury?
He can't possibly get the starting job, so why is he there?
As with my previous article on non-roster invitee infielders, now I offer you a little run down on those young outfielders interloping at Red Sox camp.
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
Advancing methodically through the Red Sox farm system, Zach Daeges has demonstrated improvement from level to level.
The 2006 sixth-round pick hit for power during a full 2007 season with the Lancaster JetHawks (A+) where he launched 21 homers and posted a .579 slugging percentage.
However, the 26-year-old projects more of a line-drive hitter in virtually any other park, except maybe the new Yankee stadium.
In 2008, Daeges continued his success with the Portland Sea Dogs (AA). That year, the Creighton graduate batted .307 with an .866 OPS.
In 2009, Daeges advanced to Pawtucket (AAA), but he was sidelined for most of the year with a merciless ankle injury.
While Daeges can clearly hit and has all the tools to succeed at the Major League plate, he remains unconvincing with his glove. The Sox have shuffled Daeges between the corners—both infield and outfield—and played him most often as a designated hitter.
For the time being, Daeges wields a glove primarily in right field, but that’s only due to his tepid speed and unfortunately uninspired fielding ability.
Hometown: Shrewsbury, NJ
Ryan Kalish was a ninth-round draft selection out of New Jersey’s Red Bank Catholic High School.
Nearly explosive on the base paths and wide-ranging as a corner outfielder, Kalish has posted his best offensive numbers with the 2007 Lowell Spinners (A-), the 2009 Salem Red Sox (A+), and the 2009 Portland Sea Dogs (AA).
In 2009, Kalish won the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year Award for his .304/.434/.504 batting line at Salem and his .271/.341/.440 marks at Portland.
The almost 22-year-old has a long way to go, but his natural athleticism could easily carry him all the way to Fenway in the near future.
Hometown: Hualien, Taiwan
Signed by the Red Sox off the international free agent market in 2007, Che-Hsuan Lin has grown into the strongest outfield arm in the farm system.
Although Lin delivered only average numbers during a 2007 split between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox® and the Lowell Spinners (A-), he flashed some speed by swiping 17 bags in 54 games.
In 2008, Lin stole 33 bases for the Greenville Drive (A) while batting a respectable .249. At that year’s All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, Lin belted a two-run shot to give the World team a permanent lead and win the game’s MVP award.
If Lin can simplify his swing and put it together at the plate, the 21-year-old should have a great future with the Sox beyond 2010 spring training.
Hometown: Fort Collins, Co
Probably the least optimistic of the outfield bunch, Darnell McDonald owns a career .231 average over 122 MLB plate appearances for the Twins and Reds.
By far his best seasons have come at the Triple-A level, where McDonald produced impressive batting lines.
For the 2007 Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, McDonald hit .315/.382/.431.
For the 2009 Reds’ Triple-A squad, McDonald improved to a .314/.349/.539, a 70-point surge in OPS.
However, this 31-year-old cousin of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher James McDonald has never excelled with the bat in his big league time.
Despite his above-average defense, McDonald will struggle to achieve a regular spot in the majors as his age is starting to catch up with him.