In my previous article, I mentioned I was going to write about a couple of prospects who the Boston Red Sox needed to promote immediately.
With the Sox calling up Mookie Betts from Triple-A Pawtucket yesterday, that whole idea is kind of busted. Well, actually, it’s completely busted. Betts was going to be the focal point of said article. So considering Boston is making moves faster than I can write them, we’ll have to settle with the news that Betts will be making his Major League debut tonight.
Batting eighth and playing right field, Betts, 21, will step out onto the grass inside the new Yankee Stadium and play the first game of his professional career.
With Boston’s offense stuck in neutral, the decision was made to enter uncharted territory: a full blown rookie movement. With Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts — all in their first full season — already on the roster, Betts would make it a fourth rookie to enter the defending champs’ lineup.
And this rookie is special.
No other player has moved as quickly through the Red Sox’ minor league system than Betts. In just two short years, he has gone from the 172nd overall pick to the starting right fielder for Boston in a summer game against their most hated rivals.
Consider this: Before this year, Betts had never played anything higher than single-A ball. Betts began 2014 in Portland with Boston’s Double-A affiliate. In 54 games there, he posted a line of .355/.443/.551 with 34 runs batted in and 22 stolen bases.
After making some noise and picking up steam, Boston’s top brass took notice and, rather quickly, promoted him to Triple-A. He had to adjust to changing positions from second base to outfield in order to open the door for himself, but his offensive abilities never suffered at the next level.
In his first game with the PawSox, Betts went 3-for-6, including the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning. In his 90 at-bats at AAA, Betts continued to hit, posting a line of .322/.425/.444.
A surging young talent and a struggling offense created the perfect storm for Betts to make his debut so soon.
But let’s not throw this guy into the hype machine and let him get chewed up and swallowed by the media. He is not the second coming of Jesus. Nor can he single-handedly turn around the Red Sox’ season. He won’t steal 40 bases, hit .330, or drive in 100 runs.
But he will hopefully be a productive player who can keep developing on the fly. Because if not, then the scariest part of all this comes to a head: the repercussions if he fails. Nothing lets the air out of the balloon faster than early struggles for a young player. Guys can go from saviors to trade pieces REAL quick in this town.
So be patient, for Mookie’s sake.
Visit the Boston Red Sox team page for more news and opinions. Also, be sure to check back next week for more trade rumors.