Allen Webster, RHP
Webster has finally reached the 10-start mark -- it took some extra time for him, thanks to random shuffling, a rained out game, and a couple of call-ups for big-league starts. It's hard to complain about what he's accomplished at Triple-A, despite a few hiccups along the way, as he's striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings, and has 2.6 times as many punch outs and free passes despite a walk rate you'd like to see a bit lower than it is. Some regression on balls in play would likely hurt him -- his batting average on balls in play is just .202 -- but part of the reason he's had so much success in that area is due to grounders.
Webster has induced nearly twice as many outs on the ground as in the air, courtesy that hard-sinking two-seam fastball of his. He'll give up more hits than he has, and will see his ERA rise as a result, but let's not take away from the fact he's developing. Webster was in Double-A this time last year, and he's started to combine the grounders and strikeouts his potential suggested he could despite the promotion. He's still just 23, and with Rubby De La Rosa stronger than he was a few months back, Webster's development might not need to be interrupted for the big-league club again this year.
Brandon Workman, RHP
Workman hasn't dominated in his first three career starts for Pawtucket, but it's good to see him at least land on his feet at the level. He's averaged 6-1/3 innings in his three starts, struck out 18 batters in those 19 frames, and while he's walked eight, he's been able to pitch out of trouble effectively. There's work to be done here before he climbs any further, but if he's able to finish out 2013 after a promotion the same way he did in 2012 with Double-A, then neither Workman nor the Red Sox will have anything to worry about.
If Workman is able to solve the puzzle that is the more advanced hitters of the International League swiftly, he very well could show up in the majors by year's end. Workman is one of a large collection of Red Sox prospects who need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this off-season, so if the Red Sox have the need and the space, he could be one of the arms called up for September duty, extending his season and giving him some time with the big-league club. That's a ways off, though, and a goal for down the line. For now, Workman needs to focus on what got him here to begin with: continue to pound the strike zone, and keep the ball down.
Chris Hernandez, LHP
With so many rotation options at Pawtucket, it seems Hernandez's time as a starter has come to its end. He'll still likely make the odd start here and there, as he did in his most recent outing, but if Alfredo Aceves is to remain in Pawtucket until the next time he's summoned, Workman is a permanent fixture in the PawSox rotation, and Anthony Ranaudo ends up with a promotion from Double-A to join him, then it's tough to justify Hernandez's continued starting.
Plus, he's a better fit as a reliever, anyway. He's left-handed, and while he doesn't miss many bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His struggles mostly come against righties, where he's nowhere near as effective for either strikeouts or ground balls. It's good he can go a couple of innings if need be, and can fake it enough against righty batters if need be, but with a slew of high-potential starters surrounding him and more on the way, it's probably worth it to see how a permanent relief role will look on him, especially when you consider that one area the Red Sox continue to see turnover in due to injuries and ineffectiveness is in the big-league pen.
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