The strides made by Bradley and Webster this spring constitute the highlight of the camp for many Red Sox fans. It is heartening to have someone like Webster as the next pitcher in line instead of someone like Aaron Cook.
Other young players that were really impressive were Christian Vazquez, Dan Butler, Jose De La Torre and Henry Owens.
De La Rosa:
The odds are in favor of De La Rosa being a reliever more so than a starter, even though the Sox want to stretch him out over the course of the season.
He has that potential to be a top of the rotation pitcher. There's a good argument to be had over whether Owens or Webster has the higher ceiling -- noting of course that it's easier to have a higher ceiling when you've only pitched in Low-A, as is the case with Owens. He's got dominant strikeout stuff with his fastball and changeup, and if he can harness his control, he can be really good. He's still only 20, though, and a few years away.
He had a rough spring (8.59 ERA in 7 1/3 innings) and has tempered expectations a little bit. He doesn't look like the first Triple-A starter in line like he did before spring training started. Then again, if he goes to Pawtucket and strings together three or four strong starts, he might be right back in the picture again. The knuckleball is a mysterious thing.
It's kind of amazing how far off the radar Ranaudo fell after a season in which he'd been hurt. He went 13 up, 13 down and pitched in the upper 90s with three pitches in his last outing of the spring yesterday. That's nothing to scoff at.
We use the term make-or-break year a lot with players, but this does look like a make-or-break year for Lavarnway. You can explain away his offensive struggles last year by saying he was getting used to catching full-time for the first time as a pro. He won't have that excuse this year. If he gets back to the offensive production he showed in 2011, now you have a catcher you can feel good about starting in 2014.
It might be tough for him to be Opening Day ready for 2014. He's played 20 games at Double-A. But then again, Jackie Bradley, Jr....
He will not be a full time Sox outfielder by 2014. Not unless he can handle breaking pitches a a little better and calm some of his streakiness. Then again, he could grow into a power-hitting righty who can tattoo the Green Monster.