With the non-waiver trade deadline having recently passed; the waiver deadline bearing few fruit in terms of rumors; and September call-ups right around the corner, I thought I’d take a little bit of time to examine who the Red Sox might consider promoting once the rosters expand on September 1st. According to Mike Andrews of SoxProspects.com, the Red Sox typically call up between seven to eleven players to take on roles to various degrees. With a roster chock full of talented players, who will the Red Sox promote? What roles will they play?
Felix Doubront – Coming into Spring Training, the plan was to have Doubront compete for a spot in the big league bullpen. An injury to his throwing elbow sustained early in ST derailed any chance of him winning the competition. Once recovered, he was optioned back to the minor leagues to give him an opportunity to prepare his arm for pitching in the big leagues. Unfortunately, he sustained injuries to his groin and hamstring; further delaying his return to Boston. To date, he’s thrown only 72-2/3 innings, nearly all of which were in the minors as a starting pitcher. He hasn’t had nearly the same luck with the long ball as he did last year, but he’s pitched pretty well. He’s posted a 55/23 K/BB ratio and a 3.14 ERA; although his 4.25 FIP and .257 BABIP indicates he’s been a little lucky. Still, as the Red Sox enter the stretch run without an obvious option to pitch to lefties, the seemingly healthy Doubront re-enters the picture as organization’s best internal candidate. Provided he stays healthy and performs down the stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play a prominent role during the postseason for the Sox.
Kyle Weiland – Weiland’s had quite the meteoric rise in the prospect ranks this season. Starting out 2011 as the 18th best prospect in the organization per Sox Prospects (and Minor League Ball), Weiland jumped to number six; thus earning a couple of much deserved spot starts with the big club. While his performance was less than spectacular (5.61 FIP and 4/5 K/BB), he showed solid fastball velocity, an effective curveball, and ability to induce ground balls. Considering his incredibly strong showing for AAA Pawtucket this season (3.75 FIP and 114/46 K/BB in 111-1/3 innings), he’ll be given opportunities to nail down some big outs in September. If he proves worthy, it’s not unreasonable to think he could make the postseason roster.
Ryan Lavarnway – With Tim Federowicz having recently been moved to the Dodgers in the Erik Bedard trade, and Luis Exposito‘s career stalling out in AAA, Lavarnway jumps to the top of the Red Sox’s minor league catching depth chart. It’s not as if he needed any help though. This season, Lavarnway has turned another corner offensively. In 475 plate appearances to date, he’s slaughtered AA and AAA pitching to the tune of .383 and .428 wOBAs respectively. While the 24-year old catcher’s defensive skills are still in question, most scouts have noted a marked improvement this year. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek soaking up the majority of the playing time, Lavarnway probably won’t see much action. Still, it’s always good to have an extra catcher on the active roster in September when Tek and Salty could use a little extra time off.
Lars Anderson – It’s tough to believe Anderson was the team’s top prospect only two short years ago. Now, not so much. If it wasn’t evidently clear that he wasn’t in the Red Sox’s future plans when they pulled the trigger on a deal bringing Adrian Gonzalez to Boston; it certainly was when they nearly traded him to Oakland for SP Rich Harden. Anderson started out 2011 slowly producing a .255/.355/.389 triple slash line in the first half, but has caught fire since the All-Star break hitting .287/.403/.528 with excellent power. Only 23, he still has some time to develop into the future All-Star the Red Sox thought they were developing. If he does develop into that type of player, it will likely be with another team. Expect Anderson to get called-up for a pseudo audition in hopes of improving his offseason trade value.
Ryan Kalish – Prior to Opening Day, many figured Kalish would make his 2011 debut at some point around the All-Star break. That was, of course, before a separated should robbed him of 2+ months worth of development time. In his absence, Mike Cameron‘s been released; J.D. Drew‘s gone on the DL with shoulder impingement (please, no jokes); and fellow outfield prospect Josh Reddick‘s ousted Kalish as the leading candidate to assume the role of starting RF in 2012. Kalish is still well thought of in the organization, and has retained his spot near the top of the prospect listing at Sox Prospects. Barring injury, he’s a shoe-in to get a call-up this September.
Jose Iglesias – To say that Iglesias has strugged at the plate this season would be an understatement of gross proportions. Even with his plus range at shortstop, his .248 wOBA in AAA is completely unacceptable. Could he just be suffering through a bad year? Absolutely, but considering his long-term scouting projections (all glove, no bat), I have a feeling his performance won’t change too drastically in the near future. Considering his superior abilities defensivly and on the base paths, he seems like a pretty good bet to get called-up once rosters expand next month.
Junichi Tazawa – After missing all of 2010 due to having Tommy John surgery, Tazawa returned in earnest this season hurling 46-2/3 innings. Despite a stellar 46/13 K/BB ratio, Tazawa’s struggled with command at times. This isn’t surprising since it’s a common occurrence with pitchers in their first season or two after returning from TJ. Considering his recovery process, I doubt the Red Sox will be interested in promoting Tazawa; especially if they’re in a tight race with the Yankees for the division. That said, I can envision a scenario where he’s promoted and allowed to work a few low leverage innings.
Che-Hsuan Lin – With Kalish likely being promoted to compete for time in an already crowded outfield, Lin’s inclusion on the September active roster seems like a bit of a long shot. He has good range defensively, a cannon arm, above average speed, and solid on-base abilities. His complete lack of power puts him in Iglesias territory as a player that could come in as a late inning defensive replacement. Considering his Rule V eligibility after the season, the Red Sox may look to add Lin to the 40-man roster in November, provided he’s not added in early September.
Who do you think should be called up in September? Is there anyone on the list you feel should be kept off of the roster? Or are there players you think should be added to my list? Share your thoughts in the comments section provided below!