We check in on the Red Sox minor league affiliates to see how the future of the ballclub is fairing. We give a look at the Top 5 stars according to MLB.com adjusted for those that are currently up on the major league roster.
Xander Bogaerts, 20, SS – Bogaerts has had another outstanding season in the Red Sox minor league system. He started the season with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, and was promoted quickly to AAA Pawtucket. He has an exceptional fielding ability, a strong arm and above average speed, which makes his defensive contribution significant. At the plate this year, he has a .297 average, with 20 doubles, 6 triples and 14 homeruns. It’s not the prototypical power bat but his ability to get on base and create advantages for his team has him nearing his pro debut. Bogaerts played in his second Futures Game as well as being an All Star for the International League. It will be on the sports writers in Boston soon to consistently spell his name correctly, a problem I expect they will relish having.
Allen Webster, 23, SP – Webster has spent most of the season with the AAA Pawtucket Paw Sox, with several spot call ups to the Boston rotation to make starts in place of injured pitchers. His season at Pawtucket has gone well, with a 4.04 ERA and a 5-4 record over 15 starts. Hitters have a measly .193 batting average against him. His six starts in the majors haven’t gone as well, with a 1-2 record and a 9.57 ERA. His last start on July 9th, he gave up seven runs in two and a third innings. He has an above average fastball with plenty of sink, allowing him to get ground outs regularly but is still struggling to develop his other pitches. Those pitches will likely determine Webster’s future as a starting pitcher.
Henry Owens, 20, SP – After spending all season with the A Salem Red Sox, Owens was called up to AA Portland this week. Owens went 8-5 with a 2.92 ERA over 20 starts for Salem. He has 123 strikeouts and 53 walks while holding hitters to a .180 batting average. Owens has a pro ready fastball and changeup and is working to develop both a curve and slider to complete his repertoire of pitches. The walks are a bit high for someone that has only thrown 104 innings but he gets the ball over the plate consistently. In my opinion, Owens likely won’t make the roster for the Red Sox this season, but could see spot starts by 2014 if things continue to progress as they are now.
Matt Barnes, 23, SP – Barnes has spent the season so far with AA Portland, with a record of 5-7 over 20 starts. He has had a challenging year so far, especially with runners in scoring position, with a ballooned ERA of 11.37 in those situations. His overall season ERA is 4.38 and his fastball is definitely swing and miss stuff, with his 113 strikeouts so far this season. The All Star break seems to have helped Barnes out, as he has gone 1-2 with a 1.33 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 4 starts. He has a solid strikeout to walk ratio of 3 to 1, so if he can improve with runners on, he should see a promotion to AAA Pawtucket by year’s end. He is still developing his curve and changeup but should continue to improve and could have an outside shot at the Red Sox rotation in 2014.
Anthony Ranaudo, 23, SP – Ranaudo is a big presence on the mound at 6 foot 7 inches tall. He has had a pretty successful season dominating hitters in the Eastern League with 106 strikeouts and only 40 walks in 109 innings worth of work. He is 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA over 19 starts with AA Portland. Hitters are barely breaking the Mendoza Line against him with a .204 average against. Ranaudo was selected to pitch in the Futures Game along with Bogaerts, as well as being named an Eastern League All Star for 2013. He has had a rocky start to the second half of the season, going 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA in his three starts since the All Star break. Ranaudo has two major league ready pitches in his fastball and curve and is working to develop his changeup. In my opinion, you could see Ranaudo get some spot starts in 2014 for the Red Sox, but until the third pitch is developed I do not see him holding down a spot on the Boston roster.
This gives us a little glimpse into where the Red Sox developing stars stand. Bogaerts, as we touched on, is considered a lock to be called up this year to the Red Sox. Webster needs to continue to improve at AAA and I would expect to see him compete for a roster spot in 2014. Owens, Barnes and Ranaudo all are seemingly in the same place in their development, lacking the fine touch on that last pitch or two that will bring them to the big leagues. Any of the three could get called up if the Red Sox experience injuries but I wouldn’t expect significant contributions from these pitchers until mid to late 2014 at the earliest. I look forward to tracking these players as they progress through the Red Sox minor league system.
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