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Daily Red Sox Links: It’s time to believe in Jalen Beeks

One of the better prospects in the system has always been projected to be good, but he is reaching new heights in Pawtucket. There’s only one step to make after that. Plus some #content about J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and more.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

During the offseason, we asked you, the readers of Over the Monster, to vote on the best prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization. During that voting process, Jalen Beeks was named the No. 5 prospect in the system. Clearly he has his believers among you and among the staff here at OTM, as well as in the Red Sox’s organization. Slowly, but surely, those believers have grown and it may be reaching a point where if you aren’t on the Beeks bandwagon, you’re pretty much by yourself.

As Matt detailed in Minor Lines and Christopher Smith outlined for MassLive, Beeks is dealing at a hereinbefore unheard of pace. In 19 23 innings for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Beeks has twirled a 1.37 ERA while striking out 37 batters. Thirty. Seven. That is a whole lot of punchouts. In fact, his strikeout per nine inning rate (16.9) is in more of a closer realm than that of a starter. But he has paired that insane strikeout rate with a 2.7 walk per nine inning pace, which, if it held for a full year, would be his lowest mark since 2015. That improved ability to control his pitches and use them effectively is just what you want to see as a pitcher develops.

Beeks has always had the potential to be a solid starter, if not a dominant one. Despite some bumpsalong the road since he was drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Arkansas, he has done nothing but improve. He had a 4.32 ERA in his first minor league season, pitching for Single-A Greenville in 2015. He then slowly whittled that mark down, posting an ERA of 4.21 in 2016 with Portland and Salem and then a 3.29 reading with Portland and Pawtucket a year ago. He got to Pawtucket in 2017 on the back of a dominant start in Portland, when he had a 2.19 ERA and 58 Ks in 49 1/3 innings. He then went 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 95 23 innings with the PawSox. He also struck out 97 batters.

In 2018, Beeks seems to have continued the trend of learning and adapting to a new level at the end of a season (2017) before dominating at that same spot the following spring (2018). At this rate, Beeks will make starts in Boston in August and September and then be challenging for Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. While that is far from a certainty, it is very likely that he is going to get a chance to get into the rotation in the near future. So, if you haven’t already, make sure you get your ticket to the Beeks bandwagon posthaste.

J.D. Martinez reminds Alex Cora of Manny Ramirez. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

Chris Sale is having a good year already, with a WHIP below 1.00, ERA and FIP below 3.00 and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. That doesn’t mean he’s not trying to improve. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)

A drop in velocity and less life on his slider has made Sale need to adjust. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)

Meanwhile, Rick Porcello is pitching better than he ever has as a Red Sox. That includes 2016 when he won the Cy Young. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

Hector Velazquez may not be on a Cy Young level, but he’s contributing plenty. (Sean McAdam; Boston Sports Journal)

Dustin Pedroia is trying to be back by the end of May. Mookie Betts will be back much sooner. (Ian Browne; MLB.com)