Bradley Jr. has spent the last couple of weeks with the Red Sox, and the second time went much better than the first. He wasn't all-world, by any means, but he did pop a pair of doubles and his first big-league homer, and brought up his season OPS 131 points in seven games. He's probably not quite ready for everyday major-league play, but he looked a whole lot closer in these past seven games than he did when the season began.
He returned to play on Sunday in Pawtucket, and pushed his season plate appearance total over 100 by coming up to bat six times. He's now at .341/.440/.529 with 11 extra-base hits in 21 games interrupted by two MLB stints and a stay on the disabled list. The 23-year-old is assured of being under Red Sox team control in 2019 regardless of how much more he plays in Boston this year, and if he can keep mashing in the minors and take that next step, he just might get the chance to take advantage of that contractual quirk.
Rubby De La Rosa, RHP
Rubby De La Rosa was in line to pitch at a time the Red Sox could have used him for a doubleheader against the Rays, but instead, the schedule rearranged itself so that he pitched Saturday instead. It wasn't his strongest outing, with three walks against one strikeout, but he held Syracuse to one run and four hits over five innings, his longest start of the year. By month's end, you would have to think that the Red Sox would have loosened the reins entirely, and allowed De La Rosa to be stretched out enough to be in the discussion for starting depth, should Boston require it.
De La Rosa owns a 1.49 ERA in his last 31-2/3 innings with Pawtucket, in which he's struck out 31 batters while walking 14. That's still more walks than you'd like to see, but he does have filthy stuff that's likely going to lead to some weak contact that could offset at least part of that, and has shown himself capable of inducing outs on the ground as well. After posting a 7.11 ERA in the month of April, De La Rosa posted a 0.59 mark in May, and is off to a great start in June as well.
Remember two years ago, when the Red Sox had to call up reliever-but-currently-starting Kyle Weiland to try to stave off disaster in their rotation? Rubby De La Rosa presents a wee bit of an upgrade on that situation, should Boston have a similar need later this season. There are still some kinks to work out, but he's close.
Bryce Brentz, RF
Brentz had a huge Sunday, driving in four runs on three hits, including a homer, and he even managed to avoid striking out. While not a huge problem, whiffs are still a concern, as he's struck out nearly 23 percent of the time in 2013, and drawn walks in just over six percent of his plate appearances. The power is nice, but it's not quite enough with his on-base percentage so reliant on his batting average still.
He's doing well of late, at least, with a .286/.348/.500 line over his last 10 games that includes three free passes and five extra-base hits. He's managed to perform well against right-handed pitching this year -- it's a long-term concern that Brentz will be a lefty-mashing platoon player -- and has also mutilated the ball outside of home park McCoy Stadium, to the tune of .348/.407/.607. Is he having a better season than his line suggests, between the odd and likely fluky struggles against southpaws combined with a home park in which he's found little success? It's something to consider, especially since the right-handed Brentz would be more of a threat in hitter-friendly Fenway, anyway.
It's hard to tell in two-month samples broken down into even smaller ones, but for now, it's something to keep in mind as the year progresses: there might come a point where his line improves significantly if for no other reason than his results against lefties and at McCoy regress in a positive way.
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