The Red Sox are a veteran filled ball club. Players like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and even Jon Lester have been faces of the franchise for years. Other players like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli bring plenty of experience to the field each day. But, the future of the Red Sox hinges on some of their top young ball players. There are four young ball players who hold the keys to the defending champ’s future.
In 2012, Will Middlebrooks quickly opened the eyes of the Red Sox brass with an impressive rookie campaign. His strong May, in which he batted .316 and slugged six homeruns, allowed the team to confidently move fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. This move allowed Middlebrooks to remain an everyday player. Though he was unable to finish the season due to injury, Middlebrooks showed great power, hitting 15 homeruns in less than 100 games.
While he again showed power throughout the first month of 2013, the season began as a nightmare for Middlebrooks. He batted just .194 in April, and he struck out in almost a third of his at-bats. The next month didn’t get much better as he only hit two homers and batted .211. But after a brief demotion, Middlebrooks was able to earn a call-up and put up respectable numbers.
Entering 2014, Middlebrooks needs to cut down on his strikeouts and find a way to consistently get on base. If he can, the 25 year old third basemen can be counted on for 20-plus homerun power that is often expected from corner infielders.
Xander Boggarts is the crowned jewel of the Red Sox farm system. Since Nomar Garciaparra, the Sox have not had a player at short with as much game-changing potential as Boggarts brings. Entering last season, Boggarts was a top 20 prospect by Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. Baseball Prospectus currently ranks him as the number two prospect in baseball entering 2014.
Last year, similarly to how the team traded Kevin Youkilis, the Sox traded Jose Iglesias to allow Boggarts to play full time. The young, five-tool shortstop prospect played well in limited action. He was able to bat .250 and hit a homerun. He also gained valuable playoff and World Series experience when he earned a spot on the club’s postseason roster.
At just the age of 21 on opening day, Boggarts should continue to develop more power as he gets stronger. Already a strong shortstop, Boggarts looks to be the next young Red Sox superstar.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was to talk of spring training last season after putting up impressive numbers. But after being thrust into the starting lineup on opening day, Bradley struggled. During last season Bradley was bounced around from AAA to the majors. With each promotion his numbers got better.
In the field, Bradley has great range and all to tools to be an above average centerfielder. At the plate he is even better. He is an gifted hitter, who has often been able to find gaps in his minor league career. If he can tap into all of his tools at the big league level, Bradley can help to make fans forget about the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury quickly.
Lefty fire-baller Henry Owens is currently rated as the Red Sox top pitching prospect and second best lefty pitching prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Last season, the 21 year old jumped two levels making it all the way to AA, by compiling a 2.67 ERA and striking out over a hitter per inning. If he can improve his command and get ahead of hitters more frequently, he can become a top arm in the daunting Red Sox rotation very soon.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference