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Red Sox promote prospect Trey Ball to Low-A, Pat Light to High-A

A pair of first round picks from the last two drafts move up a level early in 2014.

Ball, center, spending time at Fenway with Johns Farrell and Lackey.
Ball, center, spending time at Fenway with Johns Farrell and Lackey.
Gail Oskin

It might just be April, but that doesn't mean prospects can't already be on the move. Trey Ball, the Red Sox' first selection and the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been activated and promoted to Low-A Greenville according to Sox Prospects. He'll be taking the roster space of 2012 sandwich-round pick, Pat Light, who is moving up to High-A Salem.

Ball was the highest regarded lefty in last summer's draft, and is athletic enough that he could have been drafted as an outfielder instead. He's all of 19 years old until the end of June, and threw just seven innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox before 2013 ended. It's likely he'll be in Low-A Greenville for some time, as, like with talented-but-raw southpaws such as Henry Owens and Cody Kukuk before him, there is no rush, nor should there be, for this lefty. He'll need time to get used to a professional workload and regimen, as well as pro opposition, and his youth allows him that time.

Ball wasn't allowed to throw a breaking ball for much of his high school career, leading him to focus on a change-up instead. Because of this, his off-speed offering is far more advanced than that of your average 19-year-old, and at the same time, his bender isn't behind in its development despite its lack of use through his teen years. Ball can sling his heater in the low-to-mid-90s, and as he ages and fills out, he might pick up some velocity, just like Owens did when he added some bulk after his first full season.

The focus for Ball this first full year as a pro will be on cleaning up his arm action and developing fully as a pitcher now that he's full-time on the mound. He has the pitches, the potential, and the raw ability, but now he needs to shape all of that into success. It might not come together at Greenville, but even steps in the right direction will work for a pitcher who has as much upside, if not more, than any other arm in the system.

As for Light, he was the 37th-overall selection in the 2012 draft, and likely has a future in the bullpen. He missed time in 2013 with injury, and was ineffective when he was on the mound, but has already looked significantly better in his three starts in 2014, striking out just under 10 batters per nine while limiting both walks and homers, two problem areas for him a year ago.

While he only has 45 combined innings at Greenville in his pro career, Light is already 23 as a former college arm, and should have been in High-A already if not for last summer's combination of issues. Now, he's at the level he should be at, and with only a few weeks of 2014 gone by: if he can keep missing bats while keeping the ball out of the stands, it will be easy to forget about his past struggles.

As is Red Sox custom, Light will continue to start likely until he's in the upper minors, possibly even until he's in Triple-A. When he was drafted, he had potential as a set-up man or closer, and still has that so long as his slider develops into a viable weapon to pair with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s, instead of the average offering it's been.