It hasn’t taken long for Mookie Betts to go from top infield prospect, to major league outfielder and potential lead off hitter for the Boston Red Sox.
In 52 games with the big league club in 2014, Betts impressed many while hitting .291/.368/.444 with 18 extra base hits, 18 RBIs and 21 walks compared to just 31 strikeouts.
So far this spring, the story has been much of the same.
Betts contributed a hit and a RBI in Boston’s 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, and so far is hitting .273/.273/.444 with an RBI and two runs scored in three games this spring. He has also looked good in center field—a position that was totally foreign to him not even one season ago.
“It speaks more to some genuine and natural confidence,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell in an interview with CSNNE.com. “He’s an inquisitive person, so he asks a lot of questions and he’s not afraid that he comes across as not knowing something. He wants to know what a certain game situation would cause him to do and he works through it. He’s one of those guys who asks a question once, you give him an answer and that question doesn’t come up anymore. I think it speaks to how smart he is.”
When Farrell was asked by CSNNE’s Sean McAdam about Betts’ ability to hit from the lead off spot in the order, he seemed more than confident in the 22-year old Nashville, TN native.
“He looks pretty comfortable,” Farrell stated. “When you get on base two or three times per game (it helps). It’s a spot that he’s been most comfortable in, and hit out of. He profiles that spot very well,” he stated.
Although it has been rumored that Betts will compete for the center field job with Rusney Castillo during camp, early injuries to both Castillo and Shane Victorino seem to indicate that there’s a good chance Betts will make the Opening Day roster.
The Red Sox saw first hand in 2014 how the lack of a lead off hitter can effect an offense’s production, and if Mookie Betts can continue to provide contributions from that spot in the lineup, he should see plenty of playing time in Boston this season.