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Legends On Deck

Game Of The Week: Sox Struggling In ’15, But Next Generation On Horizon

 

The Red Sox may have been baseball’s most active team during the offseason, signing players like Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to big money contracts. They also added some mid-range talent by signing Justin Masterson and trading for Rick Porcello.

However, 2015 hasn’t been kind to the offseason winners. Through 80 games, the 2013 World Series champs sit at just 36-44– good for last place in the American League East. Probably not what Red Sox fans, ownership, or GM Ben Cherington envisioned this season.

The good thing is, help is on the way.

Perhaps not this season, but the Red Sox are flush with the type of young talent both already in the majors and in the minors that could bring them back to the level of success that we’ve come to expect from this organization.

Here’s a look at some players who can be cornerstones for the next generation of Red Sox glory:

In MLB

Xander Bogaerts, SS

It feels like Bogaerts is already a veteran, having come up in 2013 at just 20 to help the Red Sox win the World Series, but now at 22, the native of the tiny island of Aruba finally appears to be reaching his potential. So far in 2015 the shortstop has hit .289/.325/.403 with three homers and 16 doubles in 291 plate appearances. Not the flashiest numbers, but he’s also cut his strikeout rate by nearly 10% this season compared to last. All that in addition to his very good defense at baseball’s most important position and you have a player who’s accumulated a 1.8 fWAR so far– ranking him second amongst all AL shortstops.

Mookie Betts, CF

Although Betts hasn’t exactly carried his tremendous, although small-sampled, 2014 performance in to 2015– he’s been plenty good. In 331 plate appearances thus far this season, the 22-year old former 5th round pick is slashing .273/.326/.447 with 8 longballs, 18 doubles and 12 steals. All while playing a very good defensive centerfield. His 2.3 fWAR places him in the top 5 amongst his peers in centerfield in the AL.

Blake Swihart, C

The 23-year old Swihart has had a rough go of it in his first taste of the majors, hitting just .241/.279/.343 with one homer and eight doubles in 141 plate appearances. However, catchers often struggle to produce offensively when first breaking into the majors, due to the heavy physical and mental workload that goes into being a good catcher. The future still looks bright for Swihart, who is expected to contribute both with the bat, and behind the dish when he reaches his stride.

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP

Rodriguez came over in a trade with the Orioles last season, and was immediately considered one of the Red Sox top prospects. The 23-year old southpaw has a solid three-pitch mix and has shown improved command in the majors. Through 41.1 innings spanning across seven starts, the Venezuelan has posted a 3.92 ERA, and his 3.37 FIP suggests he’s been even better than that. He’s struck out 7.84 batters per nine innings, and has just a 2.83 BB/9.

Others: Matt Barnes, Deven Marrero.

On The Farm

Rafael Devers, 3B

With the call-ups of players like Swihart and Betts, combined with his play in 2015, Devers may just be the Red Sox best prospect still down in the minors. The 18-year old Dominican native has hit .303/.335/.446 in 63 games at Class-A Greenville. He’s also slugged three homers and tallied 19 doubles all while being 3.5 years younger than the average age of his league.

Yoan Moncada, 2B

Moncada was the biggest international signing of the offseason, landing a $31.5MM signing bonus from the Red Sox– and figure unheard of for a teenage signing. The now 20-year old Moncada has struggled in his first few weeks in A-ball, hitting just .229/.311/.321 with a single longball and 9 stolen bases through 30 games. However, the Cuban sensation still projects to be a potential five tool monster.

Henry Owens, SP

Owens, a southpaw like Rodriguez, is the Sox best pitching prospect and a potential 2 or 3 starter at his peak. He’s had an up and down season in Triple-A, posting a modest 3.26 ERA in 90.2 innings. His crux has been control– or lack therof– as he’s walked 4.76 batters per nine innings while his strikeout rate has tumbled to a meager 6.85 K/9 after having a rate north of 9.0 in each of his previous seasons.

Manuel Margot, CF

The 20-year old Margot may not have the flashy skills of previously mentioned players, but he’s a steady all-around player who should easily reach his projections. So far this season, which he’s played mostly at High-A Salem (with a recent promotion to Double-A), the 5’11, 170 pound Margot has hit .287/.323/.431 with four homers, five triples, nine doubles, and 23 steals (5 CS) in 55 games while playing an above-average centerfield.

Others: Michael Chavis, Javier Guerra, Michael Kopech, Garin Cecchini, Brian Johnson.

So while the outlook may seem bleak for 2015, the cupboard is fully stocked with shiny new toys. I wouldn’t bet on the Red Sox staying down for long.

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Kirk Cahill

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Kirk is very knowledgeable of MLB's minor league system and brings a passion for writing about the stars of tomorrow. Kirk is also a contributing writer for MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net. He is a native New Yorker and lifelong Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @KirkC_.