Patience Is Key With Red Sox Young Players

The final month of the Red Sox season is upon us and if the Red Sox go 27-0 down the stretch they would finish with 92 wins, good enough for a Wild Card right? Well no one expects that to happen so for the final month the Red Sox will be looking to two things. How their younger players continue to play and the chase of David Ortiz’s 500th home run.

With the young outfield of Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. continuing to show what they are capable of the Red Sox have to be happy with what theyYoung Players are seeing. Down the stretch all three expect to get time in all three outfield positions to help figure out what is the best alignment for the BBC. Castillo has been playing left field for about a week now and has not had any Hanley Ramirez moments yet and likely will not. Betts has played center field for every appearance so far this season, but has been working in left and right the last few weeks and will likely appear in a game on the corners soon. Bradley Jr.’s defense is something that will keep him in the big leagues, but his hitting of late has kept him in the lineup after an extended stay in Pawtucket early on this season. His arm I believe is something that has him fit for right field in Fenway Park. Shane Victorino who was a center fielder for most of his career, excelled in moving to the spacious right field in Fenway.

The pitching staff is something that has handcuffed the Red Sox all season long. Eduardo Rodriguez has looked like someone who will be at the top of the rotation for the Red Sox rotation next season, of course likely below an ace they expect to acquire this off-season. Henry Owens has looked good at times, kept down his walks that he struggled with in minors this year but has had some stinkers against teams with good offenses. Both are players who started the year in Pawtucket and will be likely skipped a few times down the stretch because of an innings limit the Red Sox are looking to adhere to, but not quite a Mets Matt Harvey situation because obviously the Red Sox are not in playoff contention.

The slumps and forgetfulness of young players is something that is all over the game. Patience is something the Red Sox have not had with young players as of late as they tried to win at all costs and not allow players battle through adjusting to the big leagues. The Royals and Astros are examples of players coming up together through the system and go through the slumps together and learn how to win together with a core.

Veterans are important to every team and the Red Sox have David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia but the next great Red Sox team will likely come together and learn some lessons this September.

Eduardo Rodriguez Innings Limit Near

Eduardo Rodriguez has a bright future with the Red Sox and clearly the team knows this. Rodriguez will skip his next start because he has thrown 140.2 innings between Triple-A Pawtucket and the Boston Red Sox this season, only 4.1 innings of his career high in a season of 145, according to NESN.

The Red Sox are being smart here—the last thing the team needs is a potential top-of- Eduardo Rodriguezthe-rotation starter throwing out his arm and going in for Tommy John Surgery before he even has a chance to reach his full potential. One bad injury could mess up his whole career, which would be unfortunate for both Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox organization. Torey Lovullo told NESN that he’s going to keep an eye on Rodriguez, as well as Henry Owens, since the team doesn’t want to put either guy in harms way.

Eduardo Rodriguez has a 7-5 record and a 4.39 ERA in 16 big league starts. He’s had his ups and downs as a major leaguer, but he has shown flashes of what he can bring to the table. When he’s on, he mixes up his pitches well—like he did in his debut against the Texas Rangers back in May. He has also been roughed up a few times, like in the game against the Miami Marlins a few weeks ago when he gave up 8 runs.

Overall, though, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him, and I like the move to limit his innings and save him for next season. The team has nothing to play for and absolutely no reason to push him harder than necessary. If they over-extend him, it’ll leave me wondering “Why did they need to do that?” If they push him needlessly, it’ll derail the career of a promising talent for a year for nothing. The team has a pretty big sample size already to look at and analyze, so I would say let him go out there once or twice, then shut him down after that. But, I’m not a general manager or a manager, so my opinion won’t matter to the guys who will eventually have to make the decision. If anyone from the Red Sox management does happen to read this, do the right thing. Don’t push Rodriguez any more than necessary this year, please.

Travis Shaw Making His Case for 2016

The good thing about the Red Sox being so far out of playoff contention at the moment is the team getting a good, hard look at some of their guys down on the farm. Notably, guys like Henry Owens and Travis Shaw have gotten an extended look at the big league level, and for the most part they have responded pretty well.

Especially Travis Shaw. With Mike Napoli traded to the Texas Rangers, there is now an Travis Shawopportunity for a guy like Shaw to fill in, and he has responded very well. Since his August 1st call up, he’s hit .372, and has hit all 5 of his big league home run since his call up. Overall, he’s hit .321, 5 home runs and 10 RBI’s in 21 big league games for the Red Sox.

For the time being, Travis Shaw has dismissed any doubts about bringing up Allen Craig from the Pawtucket Red Sox or potentially moving Hanley Ramirez over to first from left field. And, for the time being, can anyone complain about that? His production more than warrants his place in the lineup at the moment, and the other 2 possibilities are far less appealing at the moment.

Hanley’s offensive production has been there for the most part, but his defense is an entirely different story, and the idea of moving him to one of the most important on the field scares me. While Allen Craig might be a better defensive option, his performance at the plate has been pretty disappointing for the most part since being sent to Boston in the deal that sent John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals at the 2014 trade deadline. While Travis Shaw is still finding his feet with the big league team, he is the team’s best option at first base at the moment, outside of possibly Brock Holt, who has shown he can play just about every position.

There is plenty of time between now and Opening Day 2016, but right now, I would put Travis Shaw as the front runner to start at 1st on Opening Day next April. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, but I would be happy with him as our Opening Day first baseman.

Andrew Benintendi Already Turning Heads

Andrew Benintendi can play. The Red Sox first pick in the 2015 MLB Draft is already showing the organization that he has some serious potential in his first few months as a member of the Red Sox organization.

Right now, Andrew Benintendi is with the Class A Short-Season Lowell Spinners, but is Andrew Benintendiheading for a late season promotion to Low-A Greenville with the way he has performed so far, according to NESN. He’s shown a little bit of everything in Lowell, hitting .278 with 7 home runs and 6 stolen bases so far in 31 games with the Spinners. He hit 2 home runs on Tuesday, giving him 3 in 3 games. And he’s drawing positive reviews from his coaches. Spinners hitting coach Iggy Saurez said that it seems like nothing bothers him, and wondering how he can be so calm amidst the hype that being picked 7th overall can surely bring, according to NESN.

This speed/power combo that Andrew Benintendi has shown is one of the main reasons the Red Sox were looking at him in the first place. Also worth noting is his plate discipline – he has 23 walks to 15 strikeouts with the Red Sox organization.

Benintendi also mentioned that he is learning a lot, according to NESN, which is a good thing for him, obviously. It’s great to see him putting in the work, and he seems genuinely excited to try and get to the big-league Red Sox, which is a good thing. NESN points out, and rightfully so, that it’s hard to pinpoint where his ceiling is right now, but I think it seems pretty high at the moment. He’s got the work ethic, and the talent to go with it, and I’m really excited to see where this kid can go.

It’s still a while before he’s major-league ready, but if he keeps going like this, then he’ll get there sooner rather than later. It’ll still be interesting to see where he ends up in a couple years, with the Red Sox outfielder situation at the moment, but he has the talent to make an impact. Assuming he keeps putting in the work, which won’t be a problem, I don’t think.

Henry Owens to Stay in Rotation

Henry Owens was (mostly) not at fault after Tuesday’s blowout 13-3 loss to the New York Yankees. He left after 5+ solid innings with runners on 2nd and 3rd, 0 outs, and a 2-1 lead. The implosion that followed was largely a result of bad bullpen work, starting with Robbie Ross and going downhill from there.

At one point, Owens had set down 12 in a row after struggling in the first inning, when he Henry Owensthrew 34 pitches. He ended up throwing 96 pitches and striking out 5, and secured his place in the rotation for the time being according. Part of it was the flashes of promise he showed, but most of it was due to the team’s circumstances—both Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello are on the DL, so Henry Owens will have a shot to show more of what he can do.

John Farrell came away from Henry Owens’ start with good things to say as well, telling the Boston Globe that Henry Owens seemed to keep the emotion of the moment in check and made some quality pitches. To Owens’ credit, Farrell is correct in his assessment in this case. The pressure of a playoff race may be off, but making your major league debut against the Yankees in New York is always a tough task and Henry Owens handled it pretty well.

I was personally pretty happy with what I saw from Henry Owens, as he did show that he had pretty promising stuff. His change up looked pretty good at times and he mixed it in well with his fastball. He also did well to pitch out of a tough first inning and limit the damage, and to settle in after that tough first inning. He showed us a good glimpse of things to come. I’m not going to go so far as to say he’s the team’s savior, but he’s one of the Red Sox top prospects for a reason, and he showed us why.

He joins Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson as the 3rd lefty to make his major league debut this season. Nowhere to go but up from here.

Henry Owens Makes Debut Against Yankees

Finally, something to look forward to. Henry Owens, highly touted Red Sox pitching prospect, was set to make his season debut against the New York Yankees on tonight, according to MassLive.com. He has a 3-8 record, but that’s not indicative of how well he has pitched—he has a 3.16 ERA this season, 103 strikeouts, and opponents are hitting under .200 against him, .193 to be exact. In 96 career minor league appearances, he has a 3.30 ERA, and 572 strikeouts to 230 walks.

These are the things that will make this season worth watching until the end. At the very Henry Owensleast, the team can give opportunities to these young guys, since any pressure of a playoff race is off and the games are meaningless. At least if Henry Owens has a tough outing, Red Sox fans won’t get frustrated because we’re losing ground in the playoff hunt, since we’re pretty much out of playoff contention, barring a major miracle.

So, why bring him up now? Part of John Farrell’s reasoning in bringing Henry Owens up now, according to MassLive, is that the Yankees have struggled this season with left-handed pitching, which makes sense. I’m guessing most of it has to do with the fact that the Red Sox are just about done, as far as playing meaningful baseball goes, so they might as well see what they have down on the farm. Maybe Henry Owens can spoil the Yankees party a little bit with a solid performance. The Yankees currently sit atop the AL East, 6 games ahead of the Orioles and Blue Jays. If Henry Owens goes out on his debut and shuts down the Yankees, that will at least provide some small comfort to a few Red Sox fans, myself included. The Red Sox won’t win anything this year, but at least Henry Owens can offer us a glimpse of what the future holds.

Here’s to hoping he can give Red Sox fans a small ray of hope.