With the trade that shall not be named and possible long-term absence of Chris Sale, some Sox fans might be feeling a bit uninspired to watch the 2020 season. Fear not, my friends. Not only do we have Xander Bogaert’s swagger, Rafael Devers’ smile, and JBJ making incredible catches in centerfield, we also will have a few new faces in Fenway Park. I’ve put a list together of a few guys who could make their big-league debut in the coming year and what we should expect to see from them.
Prior to the Red Sox re-signing Mitch Moreland, I thought there was a non-zero chance Bobby Dalbec would break camp with the Red Sox. Just like Michael Chavis before him, Dalbec is naturally a third baseman but will make the move across the diamond because of our large adult son, Rafael Devers. While Dalbec has and always will have swing and miss issues, he doesn’t seem to have major holes in his swing. (Please please Michael. Lay off those high fastballs). He has decreased strikeout rate by becoming a little more selective at the plate. He decreased his strikeout rate from around 30% to 20% and while maintaining a double digit walk rate. He should begin the year in AAA but should make it up to Fenway quickly. In my mind, the perfect scenario is Dalbec at 1B, with Moreland as the backup, and Chavis/Peraza splitting time at 2B.
ETA: Early May
There is little doubt that we will see Tanner Houck in Fenway this year. The bigger question is what role he’ll fill. The team still views him as a starter but he did finish the regular season in the bullpen, mostly due to the big club’s relief woes. The Sox had tweaked with his delivery and approach in the past by focusing more on his four-seam In the end, it was not very effective and he has returned to his two-seam ways. He went back to the starting rotation in the Arizona Fall League and performed well, even though the walks were still a problem. He has looked okay so far this spring but has walked three out of the nineteen batters he has faced. Honestly, I feel he is a reliever but the lack of starting depth in the system, the team will keep him in the rotation. He will begin the year in AAA and it will depend on what the team needs as to where he will make his debut.
ETA: Late May/ Early June
Many scouts and evaluators thought Durbin Feltman was going to be the fastest player from the 2018 draft to reach the majors. In his last year at Texas Christian University, he struck out 54 batters in 51.1 innings of spectacular relief. However, Feltman massively struggled with his command in AA this year. The first couple of months were exceptionally painful with a 6.05 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 7.0 BB/9. However, he started to figure it out towards the end of the season. In the last two months, Feltman still had a high ERA but his control was greatly improved and BB/9 dropped to 3.4 BB/9. If all goes well and Feltman returns back to the dominating reliever, we should see him mowing down batters this summer.
ETA: Early July
C.J. Chatham is the perfect example of the major league bench player start up kit. He is a natural shortstop with his smooth side to side movement and soft hands but can also play other positions in the infield. As a hitter, there is not much in the power department but he has average bat to ball skills that should play fine in a pinch. He has been slowed this spring due to some shoulder soreness but if someone in the infield is hurt, we might see Chatham get a couple cups of coffee sometime in the summer.
ETA: TBD...injury replacement