The Red Sox Are Built for Sustainable Success

The Red Sox are edging closer to their first division title since 2013. At various times in recent memory, that seemed impossible. Too many collapses. Not enough nerve. But as the leaves change color and autumn truncates summer, things are falling into place just nicely this time. The offense is unstoppable, and the pitching has improved. Boston is galloping away with the American League East, and that may be the case for many years to come.

Red Sox

This current success is rooted in fairly recent failure. The Red Sox have made just one postseason appearance since 2009. They’ve finished in last place three times since then, including the past two seasons, while winning eighty games has proved difficult. Managers have changed. Front office members have been fired. New players have arrived on bloated contracts. Yet, through it all, hope still pervaded, for an exciting group of prospects received playing time in which to hone its craft. Now, we’re seeing the fruits of that labor at the Major League level, and it’s pretty magical.

How the Red Sox Built a New Core

In darker days, back when Pablo Sandoval flailed at off-speed junk or Bobby Valentine lost control, we heard so much about the new core developing below. Well, it’s finally here. And it’s finally attuned to big league ball. Mookie Betts has over 200 hits, 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Xander Bogaerts has 20 bombs of his own and he led the league in batting average earlier this season. Jackie Bradley Jr. may finish with 30 homers and 100 RBI with a late surge, complimenting his all-world defense. These players have an average age of just 24. They’re great, and they’re going to be around for a very long time.

Around that nucleus, there are more layers of young Red Sox talent. Andrew Benintendi is just 21, but his grace, poise and ability belies that fact. Yoan Moncada needs further refinement, but his raw skills saw him promoted to Boston before turning 22. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez has slowly returned to form, and he may be the Red Sox’ third playoff starter. Then we have Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, one of whom will eventually become the starting catcher at Fenway Park.

Few Teams Can Compete With This Talent

Quite simply, no other team in the AL East can match that cadre of young, cost-controlled, Major League-ready talent. Toronto is a strong opponent, but many of their aging stars will soon hit free agency. The Yankees are transitioning to a youth movement, and their farm is loaded. But in developmental terms, New York is probably where Boston was in 2014. Many of those bright young players still have a lot to learn, and that can be a painful process. Meanwhile, Baltimore relies on a veteran core, and Tampa Bay is so far removed from contention as to be almost irrelevant.

The Red Sox will have tremendous flexibility moving forward, as these players should remain in Boston for many years. However, right now, veterans like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello and Dustin Pedroia are providing valuable experience and leading the Red Sox back to contention. That blend of youth and know-how is crucial. It may just result in a deep championship run, if the magic dust doesn’t run out.

Whether the Red Sox win it all this year or not, fans can rest assured that other opportunities will arise in future years. At one point, just a few short years ago, that was a distant dream. Yet now, after building through the tough times, sustainable success is once again on tap in Beantown. It should be fun to watch.

Red Sox to Promote Yoan Moncada

With Major League rosters expanding in September, the Red Sox will promote phenom Yoan Moncada in time for Friday’s game in Oakland. The precocious Cuban has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Boston farm system, and he figures to provide an extra spark as the stretch run begins.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada was signed by the Red Sox early in 2015. Boston gave him an unprecedented signing bonus of $31.5 million, which spoke to tremendous confidence in his ability. Moncada excelled at Single-A Greenville Drive last year, before continuing his development this season. Over two levels of minor league ball, the versatile infielder has slashed .294/.407/.511. A willingness to adjust approach and position at Double-A Portland saw his stock rise, to the point where Dave Dombrowski thinks he can help Boston in September and beyond.

Welcome to The Show, Yoan Moncada

According to MLB.com, Yoan Moncada is the top prospect in all of baseball right now. The 21-year old stud follows Andrew Benintendi in skipping a whole level of minor league ball to reach Boston. Benintendi performed very well before suffering a knee injury, so perhaps Moncada can replace that youthful energy. The Red Sox will hope Moncada can replicate the performance of Xander Bogaerts when he was promoted in a similar situation in 2013. If another ring awaits in October, everybody will be satisfied.

So, where will Yoan Moncada play? Well, third base looks most likely. Following a hot start by Travis Shaw, that position has become something of a weakness for the Red Sox. In the past thirty days, Shaw has a .167/.250/.292 slash line, while Aaron Hill is at .204/.306/.222. They have combined for just 2 home runs and 9 RBI over that stretch, which isn’t good enough at the hot corner. Yoan Moncada can’t do much worse, and the potential upside in giving him regular playing time is huge.

The Potential Impact

But, more than numbers and matchups, this promotion is about energy. It’s September. The dogs days of August are history, but teams are still beat up. These guys have been grinding every day since late February. At this point, every team could use a stimulant. We saw it with Gary Sanchez and the Yankees, and we saw it with Benintendi. The Red Sox will benefit from having a fresh body in the clubhouse and more raw talent on the roster. Yoan Moncada will also benefit from the experience, as he’s able to learn at the deep end with a slew of veteran teammates.

The future is now. Let the fun begin.

Red Sox Promote Andrew Benintendi

Overnight, the Red Sox promoted prized prospect Andrew Benintendi to the Major Leagues, adding to the trade deadline intrigue. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald broke the news, and Michael Martinez was designated for assignment to make way for Benintendi. The outfielder will join the team in Seattle on Tuesday.

Who is Andrew Benintendi?

Andrew Benintendi

Benintendi was a first round pick in the 2015 draft, and his rise has been meteoric. He reached Single-A in his first professional season, and has dominated this year, too. A .312/.378/.532 slash line at High-A Salem earned Benintendi a promotion to Double-A Portland. In 63 games with the Sea Dogs, he slashed .295/.357/.515 with 8 home runs and 44 RBI. That piqued the attention of Dave Dombrowski, who will slot the 22-year old in left field amid a heated pennant race.

Andrew Benintendi is the Red Sox’ number two prospect, behind Yoan Moncada. A lefty hitter, he is above average in every facet of the game, with obvious upside offensively. His promotion should provide a jolt of energy to the Red Sox, with Brock Holt likely sliding back into a utility role.

The Risk of Skipping Triple-A

Even though Benintendi is very highly rated, this is a risky move. The guy has still only played 151 professional baseball games. None of them were above Double-A. By all account, his makeup and ability should enable a smooth transition, but skipping an entire level of minor league development is rarely advisable. Whether people like it or not, Andrew Benintendi will still have plenty to learn. The Red Sox just figure that process should happen at the Major League level.

Benintendi is likely to be in uniform tonight against the Mariners. His debut will come Wednesday, as the youngster is given time to settle. Andrew is likely to see plenty of playing time against right-handed pitching, with further opportunities arising based on his performance. He will join other young stars like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to create a great core for the Red Sox.

“Our people kept coming up and saying, ‘We think he can play at the big league level,'” said Dombrowski. “Don’t look for him to hit in the middle of the lineup like he will eventually, but he’s a well-rounded player, he’s a good defensive player, and he runs the bases well. He has a good arm, we’ve been working him out at left field and he’s been able to play the wall well in Portland there.”

It will be fun to see how this plays out. Every young player is likely to struggle at some point, especially after jumping two whole levels in a system. But the future face of your Boston Red Sox has arrived. Andrew Benintendi has reached the Majors. It’s time to get excited.

The Incredible Potential of Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox are loaded with young talent throughout their organization, but the player who excites me the most is possibly Yoan Moncada, the Cuban infielder with enormous potential. A 21-year old phenom, Moncada has now been promoted to Double-A Portland, and that should really enthuse Red Sox Nation, which is in for a treat when the youngster finally arrives at Fenway Park.

Yoan Moncada

In sixty-one games with the Class-A+ Salem Red Sox this season, Moncada hit .307 with 4 home runs, 34 RBI and 25 doubles. His on-base percentage was .427, and he stole 36 bases in 44 attempts. That is a lethal combination that can really help a team win, and excite the fans simultaneously.

Moncada has also taken a big step forward since 2015. Last year, he hit .278 with 8 homers and 49 steals for the Class-A Greenville Drive. After proving himself at the lowest levels of minor league ball, the hulking specimen will now face his first real challenge, adjusting to what many people regard as the most talented tier below the Majors. While Triple-A is often home to diminished veterans, Double-A is typically loaded with elite prospects, which means more time is required there than at any other stage of the development process.

It’s important that the Red Sox give Yoan Moncada time to adjust at that level, where he’ll learn a lot about the game and American culture. The process of acclimating to the professional game can be a challenge for Cuban players. Boston has learned that with Rusney Castillo, who passed through waivers this week, just two unsatisfying years after agreeing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. Yet with Dustin Pedroia marshaling second base at the big league level, Moncada has time to smooth off some of the rough edges in his game, particularly defensively, before arriving in Boston.

When Will Yoan Moncada Arrive?

He should be ready to join the big league club by the end of next season, perhaps as a September call-up, so there’s room to breathe here. A lot can still go wrong, as the poor performance of Cubans such as Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler illustrates, but the potential upside is enormous. If he isn’t rushed, Yoan Moncada can be the cornerstone around which the Red Sox are built for the next decade.

Right now, MLB.com ranks him as the fifth-best prospect in baseball, and the third-best position player. The speed is electric, while the swing is fluid from both sides of the plate. He has a tremendous arm, and his overall defense should improve with more preps. Red Sox execs have spoken about potentially getting Moncada to play multiple positions to aid his versatility, but they want him to master second base before worrying about that.

The Red Sox made a huge commitment when they signed Yoan Moncada to a $31.5 million bonus, shattering the previous record. Ownership went the extra mile for Red Sox Nation, beating the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres to the signature of a player capable of transforming a franchise. That willingness to spend big to accrue elite prospects should be lauded, as the Sox try to win now and in the future. Therefore, I expect Moncada to be untouchable as Dave Dombrowski attempts to trade for pitching, except for the most elite of returns, namely Jose Fernandez.

The kid is on a path to superstardom, and it’s going to be fun to watch. All he needs is a little nurturing, before an elite player will emerge. I, for one, cannot wait to see him pull on a Red Sox uniform, as the pipeline of young talent continues to overflow.

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.

Brian Johnson to Make MLB Debut

After months of hoping and wishing by the fans, top Red Sox prospect Brian Johnson will make his major league debut early next week after the team had to place #1 starter Clay Buchholz on the 15-Day DL, per ESPN.

Right now, it’s possible he’ll start the last game of the series against the Los Angeles Brian JohnsonAngels of Anaheim on Monday—or open the series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, manager John Farrell told ESPN. Farrell wouldn’t say who the other starter would be, but he did rule out Justin Masterson, who he said would remain in the bullpen.

Right now, the best guess would be Steven Wright. Joe Kelly came out of last start for Pawtucket in the first inning after being drilled with a line drive to the forearm on July 9th. That would probably kill any chance of him coming back to the big-league Red Sox for the time being.

But I digress. Back to Brian Johnson. Fans have been clamoring for his call up with the Red Sox pitching staff struggling this season, and it’s easy to see why. He has an 8-6 record for the AAA PawSox with a 2.73 ERA in 85.2 innings pitched. Personally, I think he’s ready for his shot, and with our ace at the moment on the DL (Clay Buchholz), it’s a great time for him to come up and try to make an impression on the big stage. I hope he can come up and be successful, because the Red Sox pitching staff could use a boost right now. This could be a crucial next couple of weeks for Brian because the Red Sox are struggling and he has a chance at the very least to show the fans a glimpse of what he can do. If he can help the team get back on a winning track, all the better, but I don’t think it’s fair to him to put that on his shoulders right now.

For now, I’ll settle for a few solid starts from Brian Johnson.