It’s a roll of momentum unlike any we’ve seen around these parts in quite some time, one in which Mookie Betts credits a trip to the Arizona Fall League as the bridge that gapped the end of a successful 2013 into a red-hot start to his 2014 campaign.
Going back to last August, and including his Carolina League Championship playoff run with the Salem Red Sox, Betts has reached base in a jaw-dropping 68 straight games.
“I don’t think I’d be in this spot unless I went to the fall league,” said Betts. “Because I did see this type of pitching every day, I feel like the fall league put me in a good position to learn and experience what all of this is about.”
Last year, Betts struggled out of the gate in Class-A Greenville, but caught fire and received a July call-up to High-A Salem, where again he stumbled a bit before catching fire, becoming the organization's Minor League Offensive Player of the Year
Debuting in Double-A Portland to start this season, there has been no lull as the 21-year-old has hit safely in 31 of 33 games, posting league bests in batting average (.399), on-base percentage (.462), and slugging (.601), all while adjusting to the game at a new level.
“Pitching is a lot different,” said Betts of life in the Eastern League. “I may have a little success now, but it doesn’t mean that I’m fully used to it or that it’s coming easy, because every day it’s something new to learn.
“Still, I try to play the game every day, no matter success or failure, I’m still trying to get something out of it.”
The recent hype machine riding in the wake of Betts’ momentum has also brought with a heady question about the youngster’s path to the majors.
With Dustin Pedroia locked up for seven more seasons, many have wondered, including Betts himself, where he might best fit in positionally when he arrives.
“You got to think about it,” Betts said. “You know it’s there, you know you want to be there and you know who’s in front of you. I do think about it sometimes, but when I play the game I know I’m the second baseman, I know I have to get my work in at second base, so I don’t worry about it too much.”
All Betts is truly concerned with, like all of his teammates, is making it to the big leagues.
“I don’t care who it’s with or where I’m playing, I just want to make it, that’s the goal.”
Henry Owens – The organization’s top pitching prospect allowed one hit versus New Hampshire last Thursday, a two-out double in the eighth inning. It marked the 24th time in 55 career starts that the left-hander had allowed three or fewer hits.
Squeezing the system
Pawtucket (AAA) – The PawSox are yet to drop a series this season. They are 4-0-6 in the first 10 series they have played, including two four-game splits with the Buffalo Bisons with whom the team is currently tied with atop the International League’s North Division.
Portland (AA) – A quick rebound from a slow start has first baseman Travis Shaw back on track. After getting only four hits in his first ten games, Shaw has 33 over his last 23. With a vastly improved plate patience he has drawn 21 walks to only 13 Ks, to go along with 13 extra base hits and a team high 29 RBIs.
Salem (A+) – The Salem Sox have four players with nine or more doubles, with Ryan Dent’s 12 leading the way. The team leads the Carolina League with 78 total doubles, averaging over two per game. Salem also leads the league with 16 triples.
Greenville (A) – Outfielder Kendrick Perkins, who started the season in extended spring training, has reached base in seven of his first nine games with the Drive. Over his last six he has collected 11 hits, including two doubles and two home runs, and has driven in eight, scored four times, and walked twice.