With Spring Training about to get into full gear, all eyes are on the states of Arizona and Florida. Of the 30 MLB teams in the two states, one of the most interesting teams to watch this Spring is none other than the Boston Red Sox.
A lot has changed since we last saw the Red Sox on the field. David Ortiz has retired, being replaced by former Texas Ranger Mitch Moreland. The BoSox gave up one of the biggest named prospects in baseball, Yoan Moncada, in a deal to land ace Chris Sale. Travis Shaw was swapped out for Tyler Thornburg.
So with all of this player movement, there is plenty to check out when it comes to the Red Sox. Now we all know everyone is going to be looking at Sale, so I am going to leave him off this list, as he is just too easy of a pick. He is a dominant ace who we know what to expect.
So let’s take a look at some guys who are just as intriguing in the Sox camp!
Many Sox fans would consider Pablo Sandoval’s contract the worst in the team’s history. Last year, he played in all of three games thanks to a shoulder injury. That was following a very disappointing first season with the team back in 2015 in which he hit .245 with 10 homers. But now, he has a chance to win back the third base job.
At the beginning of the Winter, it appeared as if Travis Shaw or Yoan Moncada would be handling the hot corner. But both of those men were traded away in the cold months that followed the 2016 MLB season. With those two out of the picture, the Kung Fu Panda become the early favorite to start at third.
But the role is not going to be handed to him on a silver platter. He will have to beat out Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge during camp to earn that spot. The team is holding him out of the World Baseball Classic because of last season’s shoulder injury. But that should actually benefit Sandoval, as he needs to keep his focus on the team. He needs to prove his worth to the Boston faithful and there is no better place to start than Spring Training.
This year’s hottest American League rookie comes in the form of a Red Sox outfielder who got a small taste of the Big Leagues a season ago. Benintendi had the chance to showcase his stuff over the course of 34 games in 2016. In that stretch he was given 105 at-bats, hitting .295 to go along with 14 RBIs and a .476 slugging percentage.
Now he enters this season as one of the favorites to win the AL Rookie of the Year. The 22-year-old is ready for the spotlight, and it is quite possible he will be thrust right into it. Early talk has the youngster as the potential two-hole hitter in Beantown, which would set him up for a prime season. But for that to come to light, he will need a solid Spring.
As a 22-year-old, he is far from a lock. Young kids can show flashes, only to falter in their first full test. So be sure to keep a close eye on this Red Sox outfielder. He could be an integral piece to their team this season, but will need to start off strong to avoid being held back in the minors.
When do you ever see a team’s number three starter be the reigning Cy Young Award winner? With Chris Sale and David Price in tow, that is exactly where Porcello sits. But when you have a breakout season out of nowhere like Porcello did in 2016, there is always reason for speculation.
So here is a quick breakdown on Porcello. He was a high draft pick (27th overall in 2007) and then a highly touted prospect with the Detroit Tigers to start his career. He spent six Major League seasons wearing a Tigers’ uniform, with his last (2014) being his best during his stint in Detroit. But even that season was not as good as the Tigers expected when they drafted him.
He was then dealt to Boston before the 2015 season in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes. 2015 was not kind to Porcello, as he posted an ERA close to 5.00. Then came his age 27 season and everything seemed to click! Porcello posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 22 wins and 7.63 strikeouts per nine innings on his way to the Cy Young.
So the reason he is a name to watch this Spring is we do not know if he has officially arrived, or if 2016 was simply a fluke. We can get our first impressions over the course of the next month. So keep an eye on the reigning Cy Young Award winner during Spring Training 2017.
So there you have it, three players to keep an eye on during Boston’s Spring Training down in Fort Myers, Florida! Who will you be watching this Spring? Tell us in the comments!