As the Red Sox front office continues to build the major-league roster for the coming season, the roster for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox also is beginning to take shape. After winning the Governor’s Cup in 2012, the 2013 team will be led by newly anointed manager Gary DiSarcina and will be built on a similar construct of major-league-ready prospects, former big leaguers and career minor leaguers with untapped potential.
Many of this group will see time in Boston in 2013, evidenced by the fact that a whopping 26 players were called up directly from the PawSox roster to Boston in 2012 (not including the 10 players recalled from injury rehab assignment). Here’s a (very) early roster projection for the 2013 PawSox, with 2012 cumulative minor league stats in parentheses.
Projected: RHP Allen Webster (6-9, 3.86), RHP Steven Wright (10-7, 2.54), LHP Chris Hernandez (5-12, 3.26), RHP Graham Godfrey (9-2, 3.29), RHP Terry Doyle (6-3, 2.83)
Webster and Wright were recently added to Boston’s 40-man roster and are essentially locks to start the season in the PawSox rotation. Hernandez, Godfrey and Doyle are all safe bets to make the club, but not necessarily the rotation -- any of the three could work out of the bullpen if need be.
Three other pitchers are early candidates for the Pawtucket rotation: RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Stolmy Pimentel and LHP Drake Britton. Any of the three also could be in line for a transition to the bullpen or could begin the season with Double-A Portland. De La Rosa is coming off of August 2011 Tommy John surgery and only threw 13.2 innings in 2012. Given his history, the club might not overload him with a full season in the Triple-A rotation in 2013 -- his innings will likely need to be controlled in some way. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a piggyback starter’s role to begin the year.
Projected: De La Rosa (1-0, 2.08), RHP Alex Wilson (5-3, 1 save, 3.72), RHP Chris Carpenter (1-0, 4 saves, 2.08), RHP Anthony Carter (4-6, 2 saves, 4.60), RHP Oscar Villarreal (3-4, 1 save, 2.88), RHP Jose De La Torre (9-1, 4 saves, 2.80), RHP Brock Huntzinger (4-5, 6 saves, 4.01)
The bullpen should be a strong suit for the PawSox in 2013, which may be the main reason why the Boston front office elected to leave RHP Josh Fields and RHP Ryan Pressly unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft. Any of the above relievers could make contributions to the major-league bullpen next year, and De La Rosa and Wilson have the potential to be used as high leverage relievers later in the season.
Other possibilities for the Pawtucket bullpen include RHP Daniel Bard and RHP Junichi Tazawa, both of whom will more than likely end up with Boston; RHP Clay Mortensen, who is out of options and may not clear waivers; RHP Sandy Rosario and RHP Pedro Beato, who may not survive the offseason 40-man crunch; RHP Aaron Kurcz, RHP Chris Balcom-Miller and RHP Chris Martin, who are probably slated for Portland; and RHP Jeremy Kehrt and LHP Will Latimer, both long-time reliable organizational pitchers who are on the bubble for roster spots.
Projected: C/DH Ryan Lavarnway (.295/.376/.439), C Dan Butler (.247/.342/.403)
Lavarnway had a rough go at the plate during his major-league stints in 2012 and might be better off doing some retooling with Pawtucket to kick off the 2013 campaign. Butler, recently added to the 40-man roster, should see an equal amount of time behind the dish, especially when Lavarnway sees time at designated hitter. The club also will have backstops Albert Rosario and Matt Spring in reserve if Lavarnway and/or Butler are promoted or injured. Christian Vazquez, 22, almost surely will start the season back with Portland, having spent only 20 games with the Sea Dogs in 2012.
Projected: 1B/3B Mauro Gomez (.310/.371/.589), 2B/3B Drew Sutton (.242/.354/.335), 3B/2B/OF Justin Henry (.300/.372/.357), 2B/SS Ivan De Jesus (.304/.343/.416)
Bench: IF Jonathan Hee (.243/.325/.335), IF Ryan Dent (.236/.313/.293)
Boston typically likes to keep a set of versatile infielders in Pawtucket that can be called upon as utilitymen if an injury arises with the big club. That should be the case again in 2013, as each of Sutton, Henry and De Jesus are capable of playing multiple positions.
Other players that could end up in Pawtucket are SS Jose Iglesias and 1B/OF Jerry Sands, both of whom may land in Boston. Second baseman Tony Thomas should battle for a backup role with Hee and Dent. Don’t expect SS/2B Pedro Ciriaco to be in the Triple-A mix, as he is out of options and probably wouldn’t clear waivers this offseason. Similarly, don’t expect top prospect SS Xander Bogaerts to break camp with the PawSox, but he could continue to rocket through the system quickly as the season progresses.
It also would not be a surprise to see at least one more veteran minor leaguer with major-league experience added to this mix, particularly if Iglesias is going to be Boston’s starting shortstop. Perhaps someone like SS/2B/OF Alfredo Amezaga, who has 584 major-league games under his belt but is currently a minor-league free agent.
Projected: LF/RF Alex Hassan (.256/.377/.365), CF Ryan Kalish (.265/.347/.424), RF Bryce Brentz (.290/.349/.465)
Bench: OF/DH J.C. Linares (.316/.364/.510), LF/RF Jeremy Hazelbaker (.273/.335/.472)
Outfield should be another area of strength for the PawSox in 2013. It will be a big season for former top prospect Kalish, who needs to get back on the right track and show he can stay injury free for a full year. With continued strides, Brentz could develop into a first-division starting outfielder. The club has similarly high hopes for Hassan, who recently was added to the 40-man roster, but he’ll need to work in more power to have value as a corner outfielder. Linares and Hazelbaker should get extended looks in spring training, and both will have a shot to be contributors when rosters expand in September.
Daniel Nava also could be in the mix if he doesn’t make the big club out of spring training.Mitch Maier, 30, also will fight for a roster spot. Capable of playing all three outfield positions, Maier has played 359 major-league games with Kansas City. Organizational veteran Ronald Bermudez also will be given an opportunity, although he’s more likely on the outside looking in. Due to the logjam, highly regarded center field prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. likely will start the 2013 season in Portland.