In less than than a month, MLB rosters will expand and prospects from every organization will get their shot to contribute as the season winds down. With a deep farm system, the Red Sox will have to be judicious about whom they add; even with the added roster spots the club won't be able to give every deserving candidate the look he might deserve.
The range of choices gives Boston the luxury of filling areas of need while simultaneously giving some of the club's rising stars valuable MLB experience.
Here are five names to watch for next month as the Sox look to lock down a playoff berth.
Kalish broke into the majors last year as a result of numerous injuries in the Boston outfield. He enjoyed mixed results, posting a .710 OPS with four home runs and 24 RBI over 53 games. His 163 at-bats were enough to qualify him as a rookie.
The 23-year-old outfielder would have returned to Fenway earlier this season if not for a torn labrum. The shoulder injury sidelined him for much of the year in Pawtucket, but he's finally healthy and was activated from the minor league DL on August 8th, according to soxprospects.com.
In the two game since his return he's gone 3-for-8 with a pair of runs scored.
Look for Kalish to add outfield depth, rotating into the mix with Josh Reddick and the newly-acquired Mike Aviles.
Perhaps the most talked-about prospect in the system, Iglesias is still struggling at the plate but is a lock to be called up for his glove and pinch-running skills.
His slash line with the PawSox is an ugly .228/.272/.246 and shows just how much he needs to improve offensively. But there's still plenty of time for the 21-year-old to develop. At the moment, the Sox don't need him to be a producer at the dish.
Expect Iglesias to see limited time as a late-innings defensive replacement and a pinch-runner. He'll get a chance to flash some leather against big league competition, and being around so many high quality hitters can't hurt either.
We've been waiting to see Doubront back in Boston for much of the season, but forearm and leg injuries have prevented his return. After appearing in three games during April, he went back to Pawtucket where he assembled a 3.14 ERA in 14 starts.
Recovered from his latest setback, Doubront was activated on August 11th and will see some minor league action as a warm-up for his return to Fenway.
Expect Doubront to be used as a spot starter and in middle relief. He would have been helpful at certain points during the year when the rotation was floundering, but assuming he can stay healthy he'll still get a chance to contribute.
Weiland's first MLB start came back on July 10th and didn't go quite as well as Boston had hoped. Though the end result was an 8-6 win over Baltimore, Weiland was shelled for six earned runs in four innings. But he was a bit unlucky in the game, and there were moments when it was easy to see why the Sox are excited about his future.
His second start was better; six innings and three earned in a loss to the O's. After that, Weiland was optioned back to Pawtucket as Jon Lester returned to action following a lat strain.
With a 3.23 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 106 innings, Weiland has proven he can handle himself at the Triple-A level. Now the 24-year-old has to take the next step and show that he's major league-ready.
While he may get a spot start, Weiland's likely role will be as a long reliever.
Perhaps the most interesting prospect likely to be added is Lavarnway. The 24-year-old hasn't enjoyed the notoriety of some of the other prospects on this list, but he's been destroying International League pitching.
His slash line of .328/.410/.651 is impressive on its own. But taken in context with his 15 homers and 46 RBI in only 50 games, it's jaw-dropping. The IL isn't as offensively inflated as its rival the Pacific Coast League.
Lavarnway will get a chance to show that his 1.061 OPS is no fluke, albeit in a limited role. He's not a very good defensive catcher, which means that the team is likely to use him mostly as a pinch-hitter. he could get a spot start or two at DH as well.
Regardless, he's an exciting bat and it should be interesting to see how he fits in at Fenway. His future with the organization is unclear, and it's worth wondering if a call-up could end up being an audition for something larger.
- Lars Anderson, 1B (pictured): At one point Anderson was a much-discussed prospect, and he factored into a number of potential trade deals over the past couple of years. But a terrible first half this year has caused him to fall off the radar. He's picked things up of late, and that may be enough to earn him a call next month. Likelihood: High
- Junichi Tazawa, SP: In a recent post, soxprospects.com founder Mike Andrews called Tazawa a "definite" call-up. Admittedly, the Sox are eager to see what the 25-year-old can do following his return from Tommy John surgery in 2010. But with plenty of other options available, it could be a mistake to rush him to the majors. Tazawa's 5.08 ERA in the minors this year suggests he may not be ready. Likelihood: Medium
- Michael Bowden, RP: It's possible that Boston will bypass Bowden in favor of a position player or a more veteran reliever like Scott Atchison. But the truth is that the team needs to make up its mind on Bowden's future. The 24-year-old continues to put up good numbers in the minors but is no longer viewed as a starter. It appears that the organization missed its chance to trade Bowden when his value was high, and now the Sox are left with a reliever who has consistently struggled with allowing too many baserunners at the major league level. He needs to turn things around, and an extended chance to do so in September might be helpful. Likelihood: Medium
- Drew Sutton, IF: Sutton has been a quality hitter for both Pawtucket (.879 OPS) and Boston (.807). He filled in admirably when the team was working through injuries earlier in the year. But the 28-year-old isn't really a prospect, and the addition of Mike Aviles makes him less necessary. Likelihood: Low
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B: It's worth mentioning Middlebrooks because of the press he's been getting this season. Now Boston's top-ranked prospect, he's likely to see time in the majors at some point soon. Whether that's September or in 2012 remains to be seen. His call-up would be exciting for the fanbase, but the team should probably keep him in the minors in favor of more helpful role players. A little more seasoning will help prepare Middlebrooks for his future as a starter. Likelihood: Low