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When will Boston’s top prospects play?

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And when should they?

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
See you in the summer, I hope.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox will not win the World Series this year. This might be disappointing to hear, and the good news, at least, is that I’m wrong a lot. I don’t think I’m wrong about this one, though, and the silver lining on this cloud is that we should get to see a lot of some great young players.

I say “should” because there’s no guarantee Chaim Bloom brings up the team’s top prospects early in the year. On Wednesday’s Over the Monster podcast, Matt and I predicted our season superlatives, and in so doing it became clear that I expect a more aggressive approach to prospects than he does, with him hewing to a more traditional schedule of promotions.

I hope the Red Sox are more aggressive than they’d usually be, though, with three position players who figure to be regulars from the moment they set foot on the big-league diamond. As I said on the ‘cast, I’d usually expect pitchers to be promoted first out of sheer need—it would not surprise me at all if Connor Seabold was the first minor leaguer promoted to his first big league action. But with the minor-league season now officially delayed, these three guys will be at or around the Alternate Site until it’s their turn to jam, which I hope they do sooner than expected.

First and more obviously, I’d like to see Jarren Duran in center field as soon as possible, perhaps even on Opening Day. This would start his service time clock immediately, effectively sacrificing a year on the back end of his team controlled years, but there’s precedent: The Sox, albeit under different general management, did the same thing with Jackie Bradley Jr.

The situation isn’t exactly the same, however, and it seems far more likely the Sox wait at least the requisite two weeks before elevating Duran. Most relevantly, the Sox aren’t even pretending to be competitive from the jump in a year they begin without Chris Sale. On the other hand, Duran has been forcing the issue for a year now between the Alternate Site, his play in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Series and now, in a tiny sample, spring training. I am increasingly certain that when the season is over Duran will have played the lion’s share of the Sox’s games in center, and both parties will be better off for it.

Should be called up: Mid-April

Will be called up: Mid-April

Next, Jeter Downs is the team’s second baseman of the future, but that future probably begins later than Duran’s. In a way that’s not as true for Duran in center, the Sox have good options at second base between super utility additions Kiké Hernández and Marwin Gonzalez and more traditional backup infielders like Christian Arroyo and Jonathan Araúz. Downs will have to fight his way past these guys to earn a shot, and it could take a little while longer than I’d like.

But I am confident he will eventually do it. He offers, in theory, pop that none of the others can really provide, and he is plainly set to be full-time in the role next season. I don’t see the need to wait around for him to play, but I’m sure Bloom with think of something.

Should be called up: Early May

Will be called up: June at the earliest

Finally we come to Triston Casas, who might be the best of the bunch but also the furthest away. A natural corner infielder, the Sox are pretty jammed up with Rafael Devers, Bobby Dalbec, plus J.D, Martinez at DH, on the roster. If those three stay healthy, I don’t see a lot of at bats open for Casas this season.

That said, the boy can hit. Imagine Dalbec, but way better. The Sox won’t be able to keep him down forever, but they might be able to squeeze a another full year of development out of him before finally pulling the trigger. It’s not what I want, but it’s value-neutral for a team that’s treading water this year anyway. When he arrives, so will the Sox.

Should be called up: August

Will be called up: September, if at all