Blake Swihart, C
Swihart has only drawn two walks in 18 August games, but it's hard to complain about that when he's hitting .354/.366/.468 with seven doubles and eight extra-base hits overall for the month. Despite having caught 30 more games than he did in 2012, Swihart is finishing up strong at the plate, and has rebounded from a tough July that had threatened to ugly to his overall season line.
It's expected that Swihart will find himself in Double-A Portland to begin his age-22 season, while the current Sea Dogs backstop, Christian Vazquez, will make the move up to Triple-A at the expense of either Dan Butler or Ryan Lavarnway. Swihart and Vazquez are likely the future at the position in Boston, possibly as soon as 2015 for one or both of them. Swihart still has plenty to work on -- his platoon splits aren't awful, but they exist, and while 2013 is an improvement, there's room to grow offensively overall. Despite this, though, this year has been a quality one that should get him back on those top-100 prospect lists.
Mookie Betts, 2B
Betts has just been flat-out ridiculous this year. He's only 20 years old, and has been better after a promotion than he was before it. He's walked more often than he's struck out while at High-A, has 19 extra-base hits in 45 games, and has even managed to steal 35 bases while only getting caught four times. His future with the Red Sox is highly unlikely to be at second base in the long-term, not with Dustin Pedroia now signed through the rest of this decade and the start of the next one. Betts is a former shortstop, though, and if he keeps on hitting, the outfield should be no challenge for someone with his athleticism.
The concern with Betts was size -- he's just 5-foot-9 and 156 pounds. Unlike the slender Jose Vinicio, though, Betts has added strength to his small frame, and he's got enough pop to produce despite his size. You don't want to just throw the P word around -- hint: it's "Pedroia" -- but if Betts is able to drive the ball with authority despite a body that says he should not, then it might be something we can bring up in the future. Let's let him finish up with High-A and keep it up in the high minors first, though. Given he's slugging .619 in the past month, we probably won't have to wait long for the former to happen.
Brian Johnson, LHP
Johnson finally made his way to Salem, and he didn't disappoint his debut at the level with six scoreless frames and five strikeouts against two walks. Johnson would have been in High-A long ago, if not for the loss of his 2012 season thanks to a line drive to the head, and time spent on the disabled list this season that cost him even more development time. He's where he should have been now, though, so it's about making up for lost time from here on out.
He's a fairly polished pitcher who was expected to make his way up the ladder in short order, so it wouldn't be a shock to see Johnson's time at High-A as brief, with a promotion to Double-A in 2014 occurring at a junction where meaningful time remains on the schedule. He'll have to produce more starts like his last one for that to happen, of course, but after reversing course and shutting down Low-A opponents following his return from injury, that does seem a likely occurrence.
Read more Red Sox:
- Breaking down Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts
- GIF: Xander Bogaerts' first MLB RBI and extra-base hit
- Is Jacoby Ellsbury another Carl Crawford waiting to happen?
- What to do with Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks, and Xander Bogaerts in 2014?
- Jacoby Ellsbury's resurgence