Allen Webster, RHP
Webster has only made three starts for the PawSox, but that's a bit misleading when considering his season of work to this point. He had a rained out start back in early April that washed away two innings with four strikeouts and no walks, and he also popped into the majors briefly to start the second game of a doubleheader for the Red Sox against the Royals. In that major-league debut, Webster struck out five batters in six innings against one walk while giving up a pair of solo homers. He'll have to learn to keep the ball in the yard against big-league hitters, but that's something he can try to work on before he enters the majors again for an extended period of time.
The right-handed starter isn't Boston's top pitching prospect in the eyes of most prospect analysts, as his command and control were a bit too touch-and-go for their liking compared to the potential of Matt Barnes. However, if Webster's command has improved enough via slight mechanical changes that see him in the middle of the rubber instead of on the third base side, then it's an open debate as to which of the two is the superior prospect, and not just because Webster is already in Triple-A and doing well there. His combination of swing-and-miss stuff plus high ground ball potential is promising even without the command -- if he's got that last bit mixed in, he's got serious potential in the top half of a rotation.
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Lavarnway's start to 2013 is promising after a mediocre 2012, but let's not get carried away just yet. He's hitting .327, so that .462 slugging is just a .135 Isolated Power, slightly lower than last year's ISO when everyone was wondering where his power is. Granted, if you can manage to post a near-900 OPS before your bat actually heats up, that's a positive, and a credit to Lavarnway -- as is matching strikeout and walk rates -- but let's not say he's back in pre-2012 form just yet.
There is reason to hope that he's back on the right track, though, between adding muscle while slimming down this winter, and coming in to the season with additional experience against big-league pitching. His defense behind the plate remains the primary issue with him, but if he doesn't outright mash, finding a place for him on the Red Sox becomes less of a priority. With that, we await the mashing.
Chris Hernandez, LHP
Hernandez's run as a starter to begin this season didn't go quite as well as his initial stint at Pawtucket, and one wonders if his last appearance coming out of the bullpen is a reaction to that. The pen is Hernandez's eventual workplace, anyway, so the Red Sox might be speeding up the process in order to see if the southpaw is a viable option for depth in 2013, or, like with Alex Wilson a year ago, perhaps they are just getting that switch in now to give him the experience before fully committing him there.
That, or it was just a relief appearance because Alfredo Aceves has been demoted and is starting for the PawSox while he attempts to resurrect his career -- perhaps Hernandez will slot right back in if and when that ends. It's one of those things we'll just have to see, whether the timing was fortuitous or this is the only way to compensate for Aceves' presence. As said, though, Hernandez is likely a big-league reliever, anyway, and just one step from the majors, so this isn't going to interfere with his development at this point.
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