The Red Sox are promoting second base/outfield prospect Mookie Betts to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to Chris Hatfield of Sox Prospects. The move will happen Tuesday, when the PawSox are in Durham, while the Double-A Sea Dogs are returning to Portland for a homestand. WEEI's Alex Speier confirmed that it is indeed happening Tuesday.
Betts batted .355/.443/.551 in 54 games at Double-A, smacking 18 doubles, six homers, and 25 extra-base hits overall, while stealing 22 bases against just three times caught in the act. He also managed to collect more doubles and triples (21 total) than strikeouts (20), and drew 35 walks on top of that, all marks which helped him prolong his on-base streak, started in early August of 2013, through 71 games total.
There was some question about whether he'd get bumped to Pawtucket soon, though. Betts just recently began playing in center field, since he's blocked at second base in the majors by Red Sox mainstay Dustin Pedroia. The Sox don't seem to mind him learning the outfield at the same time he's adjusting to a higher level of competition, however. In addition, Boston tends to let many of their prospects stick around at their current level through their respective All-Star Games. There are exceptions, though: Xander Bogaerts was one a year ago, and now Betts receives the same treatment a month ahead of the Eastern League All-Star Game.
It's unknown if Betts will continue to be pushed aggressively, or if the Sox are going to let him settle in for a while. He's all of 21 years old, and doesn't need to be placed on the 40-man roster until after the 2015 season as a 2011 draft pick with this level of youth. At the same time, if he mashes at Pawtucket like he did for Greenville, Salem, and now Portland in the last 13 months, then the Sox might be able to use him on a team whose outfield picture is still not quite in focus two months into the season.
That's probably asking for a lot, though. It's not impossible, but let's see how he does in Triple-A when he starts to see more quality secondary stuff mixed in before we anoint him a present-day savior.
Pawtucket's outfield currently consists of Shannon Wilkerson, Justin Henry, and Corey Brown. Bryce Brentz is also around, but he's recovering from a hamstring strain suffered in mid-May. Betts should have priority for playing time over all of them, but the PawSox will be able to keep them all active since the plan is for Betts to play all of the outfield positions, not just center field. In the infield, Ryan Roberts is the only thing in the way at second base, but it's fair to wonder if Betts will be spending much time there now that he's only a level removed from his eventual destination.
As for what it means for Portland, not having to include Betts in the second base mix going forward should allow Sean Coyle to pick up more innings there. He's been a bit all over the diamond with Betts around, starting with last year in Salem when they were teammates, and an injury that put him out of action for a few weeks already this year didn't help matters, either.
If you're wondering why it was still a question for so long as to why Betts might be promoted on Tuesday instead of definitely will be promoted Tuesday, the Pawtucket Times' Brendan McGair has your answer.
Seems the key is getting Betts on a connecting flight to Durham. Portland Sea Dogs are home. Can't see too many direct flights from 2 spots— Brendan McGair (@BWMcGair03) June 3, 2014
Life in the minors, y'all.