In case you haven’t been paying attention to baseball, or minor league baseball specifically, for the past few months, allow me to inform you of a certain center fielder making some noise in the Boston minors.
Mookie Betts is his name, and being an offensive force is his game. Mookie, a former fifth round draft selection, started the season off in Double-A Portland. To say he was hot during his time in Portland is an absolute understatement; a .355 batting average, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 6 home runs, 34 runs batted in, and 22 stolen bases. He began the season primarily playing the second base position, but was converted to center field about halfway through his stay in Portland. Betts put his name on the map early and quickly, and soon enough found his way up to Triple-A Pawtucket. Through 14 games, Betts has a .296 average, and a .397 on base percentage. Yeah, he’s the definition of a pure hitter.
So, he’s only spent 14 games at the Triple-A level, and he’s only 21. Boston is typically known as a franchise that doesn’t like to rush their prospects, but with the success of 21-year old Xander Bogaerts, maybe the Sox could rethink their strategy. He still has plenty of time to continue to develop in the minors, but if he’s ready, is it worth it to keep him bottled up down in Pawtucket?
Maybe if Boston had a capable outfield, it would be easily justifiable to keep the hot hitting Betts down in the minors. Unfortunately, they have one of the worst outfields in the entire league. Aside from youngster Brock Holt, who just recently began playing outfield, Boston is getting next to nothing from their outfield. Shane Victorino has only played in 21 games, and Johnny Gomes is only batting .235. Jackie Bradley Jr. is only swinging a .202 average, and spring training stud and former All-Star Grady Sizemore was designated for assignment after batting .216 in 52 games. Essentially, anything could be an upgrade at this point.
It’s still unknown whether general manager Ben Cherington will look to pursue any outfield help at the trade deadline this July, but maybe they don’t have to. Maybe their best, cheapest option is in house. Maybe his name is Mookie Betts, just tearing his way through the minors, ready to jump up to the next level and save Boston’s outfield, before it’s too late.