Allen Webster, RHP
Webster was roughed up in parts of June and July, the bookmarks to his last stint in the majors. He seems to be over that with his recent performances, though, as the right-hander has 26 strikeouts against seven walks and runs a piece over his last four starts and 23-1/3 innings. That's much more the kind of performance the Red Sox want to see out of one of their better pitching prospects, and it's what he's capable of when he's on his game and hitting his spots.
It's easy to forget sometimes that this is not only Webster's first stint at Triple-A, but also that he was pushed to the majors out of necessity at a time when he still had things to learn. If he's able to maintain some consistency, he's a valuable asset to the Red Sox and capable of starting in the majors. Stretches like this are a reminder that this remains a possibility, even when things haven't always gone as planned during this season.
Chris Martin, RHP
Martin's ERA over his last 10 appearances isn't stellar at 3.92, but reliever ERA is a fickle thing over a full season, never mind 20-inning stretches. More important than that is what Martin's been doing, which is missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the ball on the ground. Martin has punched out 21 batters in those 20-2/3 frames, handed out walks to just four, and has induced 2.4 times as many outs on the ground as in the air. You can't ask for much more than that from a peripheral perspective.
He would have to be added to the 40-man roster in September were he to be called up, and that might be a long shot given how crowded things are there for the Red Sox. The independent league signing has been doing well, though, and isn't eligible for the Rule 5 draft until November of next year, so Boston still has time to work him into their plans without having to worry about losing him.
Brayan Villarreal, RHP
Villarreal is the other piece the Red Sox got back in the Jake Peavy trade, and as he was on the disabled list and started out on a rehab assignment with short-season Lowell, he hasn't even been noticed yet. He's off the DL and now with Triple-A Pawtucket, though, and his performance there will matter, as he's taking up a 40-man roster spot and has some potential.
It's been a rough 2013 for him at the major-league level, with eight walks and 10 runs allowed in just four innings, but you don't have to look back too far before you find why the Sox wanted him around. Villareal struck out just under 11 per nine in 2012 for the Tigers, throwing 54 innings with a 2.63 ERA. He's going to walk his share of batters, always, but there's value here if the Red Sox can get him back to where he was a year ago. He's the latest in a long line of relief options the Sox have picked up in the hopes of fixing: remember, Andrew Miller seemed like a lost cause not all that long ago, and now he's turned things around to the point that his injury was a significant blow to the bullpen.
Villarreal averaged 97 miles per hour on his fastball last year, and can gas it more than that when necessary. He's very much a fastball/slider guy, but with that heat, that's all you need, assuming you can manage to be effectively wild with it. With any luck, the Sox will be able to tweak him as needed, and he can be a useful contributor going forward. That would be significant, as he's under team control until 2018, and not even arbitration-eligible until 2015 at the earliest.
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