As the first few rounds of cuts go down in Red Sox camp, many exciting names have and will be sent packing.
What are the future plans for these players? Some have a clear path to the majors. Some are blocked but we have good faith they will be successful. And a third group will have to fight for the right to call themselves big leaguers.
1. Clear Path:
OF Ryan Kalish - Widely seen as the heir to right field, could end up in center if Theo and company decide Ellsbury's skills are redundant now they they have Crawford and decide to make a move. Probably won't be the first called up if someone is has a minor injury. Will be first called up if someone goes down long-term (see: Drew, J.D. and Ellsbury, Jacoby).
SS Jose Iglesias - The defense is stout. The offense is coming along (if this year's spring training is any indication). Terry Francona said he thought the youngster was pushing too hard. Good thing for him, the way the team is built for the foreseeable future allows for it's shortstop to be a light hitter. Marco Scutaro is gone after this year and what and who Jed Lowrie is is still in flux. He should solve the revolving door at the 6.
2. Blocked, but high upside
LHP Felix Doubront - The word "prized" gets thrown around a lot about this lefty. Theo thinks he is a Major League reliever in 2011, or a Major League starter in 2012 and beyond. With the rotation locked in for both this year and next year contractually, Doubront will have to prove Dice-K is truely expendable (or worth giving up on) or he'll have to be flexible. Either way, he'll be in the majors in 2012 barring major injury or complete failure.
RHP Alfredo Aceves - Always liked him, even as a Yankee. Seems to be a diamond in the rough as far as signing an injury project. Should see time in some form in 2011 and could hook on for beyond with good MLB success.
RHP Andrew Miller - Low-risk, high reward. It's become cliche but Theo may have done well here. There is rush as they got him on a minor league deal. This figures to be another Aceves-type call-up. If we see Miller have a good April and May, you can expect him to see Fenway in June and July.
LHP Rich HIll - His new motion has given him 7.0 innings of no-run baseball in the spring. It has been said he needs more time to become consistent, but he is exactly what the teams needs moving forward as both depth and a specialist.
C Mark Wagner and C Luis Exposito- Depending on what happens to the Salty/Varitek combo in 2011, this is an intriguing pair for the future. If all goes well, Salty makes both of these guys solid trade chips. The depth at catcher in the lower levels makes them good insurance as the bridge if Salty falters. If Varitek retires (not planned) or Salty hits .200 (hey, it could happen) then these two could fight for one or both slots in 2012 as Wagner is the defensive minded receiver and Expo is the slugger. They both fall into this category because they are still on pace to debut in their respective timelines.
3. Fighting for a Spot
RHP Michael Bowden - This would feel really good for Sox fans if Bowden panned out. He's been inconsistent in the MLB but effective in the minors. If he still has his tail, it's time to work it off.
OF Josh Reddick - See above. Reddick needs to take a walk and figure out his slumps to become anything more than a bench player.
OF Daniel Nava - Similar to Reddick, but Nava has been nothing but positive both every team he has played for. With the outfield stacked around him at both levels, expect either a brief callup to fill an injury or a trade down the road.
OF - Juan Carlos Lineres - Francoa loves him. He has come on as of late and could see time in the Boston OF in 2011. 2012 is more realistic but don't forget about him.
SP Junichi Tazawa - Injuries hurt, but you have to battle back. Still waiting on the rebound to see if he'll end up like Kei Igawa and Dice-K.
See too: Lars Anderson and Yaminico Navarro