Xander Bogaerts, SS
You might have noticed Xander Bogaerts is having himself a pretty okay season. Despite being the youngest player in the International League, he has a career-low strikeout rate for full-season ball, as well as a career-high walk rate. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is even better in Triple-A than it was in Double-A, and it was already looking pretty good. Throw in that he's got eight homers and 16 extra-base hits to go with an Isolated Power that fits in with his career levels, and you can see what all the fuss is about.
He's been playing third base lately, likely to get him to complete Third Base Defense 101 in time to help the Red Sox out at the hot corner in 2013. For now, they're going with Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder, but eventually, Bogaerts will take over the position in the hopes of giving the Sox a significant boost to their lineup. Whither Middlebrooks, you ask? Chances are good he's going to spend his next two months proving that he belongs on the 2014 Red Sox, and throwing him into the pressure of a pennant race might not be the way to accomplish that goal.
Alex Hassan, OF/1B
Hassan has mostly played the corner outfield spots, but he's also spent some time at first base. That's worth talking about, because next year, assuming Mike Napoli is released back into the wilderness, potentially with a qualifying offer in hand, Hassan might have himself a place on the big-league roster. Picture, for a moment, a platoon at first base that features Mike Carp and Alex Hassan, for the grand total of whatever Carp's first-year arbitration price is combined with Hassan's league-minimum salary. There's promise there, as Hassan is a patient righty with some pop so long as he uses his lower half when he swings, and Carp is a lefty hitting .311/.373/.589 thanks in part to manager John Farrell picking Carp's spots very well.
Combine the two, and you've got a potential platoon monster that gets on base often thanks to Hassan, and hits for plenty of power, courtesy Carp. If it doesn't work out, little has been invested in it, and there are always in-season upgrades. An inexpensive duo like this would leave plenty of money for elsewhere on the diamond, too, should the Sox feel the need to make upgrades or additions in any of the holes that open up between now and the winter. It's, at the least, something to consider, given the success of these two and their places on the 40-man.
Dan Butler, C
Butler slowed temporarily, but has wiped those moments from the record of late, thanks to a 10-game slash of .444/.512/.917. There's a real argument to be made that Butler should be brought to the majors in place of Ryan Lavarnway, whom the Red Sox have gone out of their way to avoid using as often as possible, instead allowing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to carry far more of the catching load than was planned back in February. After all, Butler is the superior defender to Lavarnway, and isn't all that much older -- plus, he's shown more with the bat at Triple-A than Lavarnway has for a couple of years now.
If the Sox don't trust Lavarnway to play more, finding out what Butler, who is already on the 40-man, could do in the majors seems like an important point. Salty is going to tire eventually, and while David Ross is set to return from the 60-day DL at some point in August, it's not entirely clear what condition he'll be in after a second concussion and months off.
Read more Red Sox:
- Even with Jake Peavy, Red Sox flush with cash for 2014
- Jake Peavy changes rotation, bullpen now and later
- With Jose Iglesias gone, will the Red Sox look to re-sign Stephen Drew?
- Should the Red Sox call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts?
- The complicated left side of the Red Sox infield