Spring training is underway, we are weeks away from a limited number of fans being able to pay for an overpriced beer and enjoy the Red Sox at Fenway. The part of that you should focus on is “enjoy.” The Red Sox are heading in the right direction.
Bobby Dalbec is primed to step into the spotlight in 2021. The infielder has leaned out and cut ten pounds. The best part? He doesn’t appear to have lost any of the power that secured him as a top prospect for the Sox. In a tiny sample size of 10 at-bats, he is hitting .400 with five runs and three home runs so far this spring. With Mitch Moreland’s departure this off-season, there is a big gap at first base and it looks like Dalbec has locked himself as the starter.
The departure of Jackie Bradley, Jr., an anchor in the outfield for years in Boston, creates a massive opening in center field. The answer to those woes may be Jarren Duran. Duran is a speedy outfielder that upon his arrive last season impressed players like Michael Chavis. “He’s fun to watch, honestly,” said Chavis at this time last year. “He’s got, I don’t know what you call it, just that factor that makes him fun to watch. He’s fast as hell. Watching him run, it’s special.”
In 10 at-bats, Duran has a .500 average, with two home runs in the early going. More likely than not, the Red Sox will start the season with Alex Verdugo in center, but if Duran keeps up strong performances at the plate and in the field, he could make the trip from Worcester to Fenway before the quarter mark of the season.
Jeter Downs was an underrated addition in the Mookie Betts trade (I know the wound is still fresh, stay with me). He is another player primed to fill an empty gap at second base. He has all the athletic ability in the world. In Sunday’s game against the Twins, he was able to get a two-run homer and an RBI single. He has refined his hitting in the minors, but he still needs some work so he doesn’t make “rookie mistakes.” He won’t start Opening Day, but he will make his debut sooner than later.
The Red Sox biggest issue has been their pitching at all levels. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom found an ace hiding in Philly. Nick Pivetta got his spring training debut for the Sox Wednesday as they faced the Twins. His velocity was on full display as his fastball topped out at 96 MPH. Pivetta was only given a small window to display his ability and the stats might scare some people, but he got had one strike out, and gave up one hit which translated to one earned run. He will most likely bolster the purifying rotation, but with Chris Sale’s velocity being a biggest question mark for the Sox rotation, Pivetta could step in and be the cannon to attack batters early.
No fan likes a rebuild. These coming years (yes, plural) are going to be tough and the Sox are going to lose to the Yankees, a lot. But fans need to keep the faith, in the rebuild, in Bloom, and in the team. The Sox have a wealth of talented prospects that can translate to big time major leaguers in the next couple years.