Triple-A Pawtucket: Pat Light, RHP
Less than three months ago, Pat Light looked like he might be a little behind schedule. He was just getting to Double-A for the first time to begin the year, even though he was drafted in 2012 and threw 30 innings in the pros that same summer. Injuries and an awful combination of secondary pitches that never quite came together conspired to keep Light from thriving as a starter in either Low- or High-A, and he had been pushed off to the bullpen permanently for 2015.
That wasn't surrendering on Light, so much as giving up on the idea that he could continue to learn what he needed to while remaining a starter. The Sox moved Light to the pen, shelved his change-up and breaking ball, and had him reintroduce the splitter he threw back at Monmouth University. The results have been stunning, especially since they stopped pushing him to throw 2-3 innings per appearance after the first couple of weeks of the season: Light produced a 0.87 ERA over his final 20-2/3 innings and 17 games at Portland, holding opponents to a .118/.221/.118 line in the process. Sure, he walked nine batters in those 20-plus frames, but he also struck out 21 of them and induced over twice as many grounders as he did fly balls.
His reward? A promotion to Triple-A on Tuesday, that now has him right back on schedule as a college arm drafted three Junes ago. Light could take some time to adjust, or he could continue to mow down the opposition with his fastball/splitter combination in the role he was always meant to pitch in. He very well might be a relief arm the Sox can fast track to the majors later this summer if need be, and if the bullpen to this point has been any indication, there's not going to be a lot of if about it.
Boston Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Rodriguez has now made three starts in the majors, and they've been everything the Sox could have hoped for and then a little more. He's allowed just one run over those three games and 20-2/3 innings, striking out 21, giving him three times the punch outs as free passes. There's been some luck involved, and he's still iffier out of the stretch than the windup, but there is so much to like here that the thought of sending him back down was squashed around nine innings in.
It's worth remembering that Rodriguez is just 22 years old -- the Red Sox drafted players the same age on Tuesday -- and has succeeded relative to his age and level every step of the way. Maybe all the numbers haven't looked as sexy as those of some other prospects, but it's always been a Rodriguez against the odds situation from the start: he was initially something of a non-prospect, got himself upgraded to a back-end starter after a couple of seasons destroying older competition in the rookie leagues, and has since had louder and louder whispers speak of his potential to lead a rotation one day in the years since.
Will he actually be that pitcher? It's going to take a whole lot more than three starts, as good as they've been, to find out. But he has the opportunity to give it a shot, and the Red Sox are better for it.
High-A Salem: Kevin McAvoy, RHP
We're 10 starts in to McAvoy at High-A, and there is as much to like as there is development to be done. Despite the aggressive promotion -- McAvoy was drafted last year and debuted 11 months ago -- he's managed to post a 3.54 ERA and average 5-1/3 innings per start. He's also only struck out 31 batters in his 53 innings, while walking just as many.
Where does Benintendi rank in the Sox system?
The Red Sox picked a center fielder out of Arkansas with their first selection in the 2015 MLB draft, so let's give him some context.
The upside to all this is that he doesn't have to be an extreme strikeout pitcher to succeed, because he's a ridiculous ground ball arm: McAvoy is inducing grounders 69 percent of the time on the season. The downside is obvious, though, as all those attempts at forcing ground balls hasn't helped his walk rate. He'll find a balance at some point, and that's what matters. Sure, his 2015 season line might never fully recover from his walk rate over the first two-plus months, but that's not what development is about. It's whether or not he learns to correct his earlier mistakes, and be a better pitcher going forward. He has that capacity, so we should give him the time.
Low-A Greenville: Michael Chavis, 3B
Speaking of patience, it's needed for 19-year-old Michael Chavis, Boston's first pick from the 2014 draft. The reports coming in from the start were that Chavis was going to take time to develop into the first-division corner player his draft profile suggested he could be, and the .199/.249/.349 line he has in 2015 is helping prove that plea for patience existed for a reason. There is no need to panic or anything like that yet -- Chavis is a year younger than this year's first-overall Red Sox pick, despite being selected a season earlier -- but what progress he does or does not make the rest of the season is worth following.
The main problem right now is that Chavis strikes out constantly. He's been sat down by way of the K 36 percent of the time in 2015, so even though his batting average on balls in play is a low (but not obscenely so) .286, he's batting under .200. As he gets a better sense of how to handle what's being thrown at him, the BABIP should rise as the strikeout rate drops, so this will all even out eventually, and he'll look like a prospect again. In the meantime, things will be a bit ugly.