The Red Sox have obviously undergone quite a bit of roster turnover in the last couple of weeks given the COVID outbreak that is running through their clubhouse. As a result, they’ve had to turn to some names that otherwise wouldn’t have even been up in the majors, much less playing a big role on the team. Those players include, but are not limited to, guys like Jonathan Araúz, Jack López, Stephen Gonsalves, and Kutter Crawford. For this week’s roundtable, I wanted to know which player stood out the most to the OTM staff in terms of longer-term potential.
I’m not super confident in most of the new guys long-term, but Jonathan Araúz has certainly impressed me the most. He’s been nothing more than a bench option since being selected as a Rule 5 draft pick after the 2019 season, and has even struggled in the minors; he’s actually been a below-average hitter in Triple-A this year. But he’s stepped up for the Sox in a big way since the COVID outbreak, providing multiple clutch homers, good at-bats, and much-needed defense at SS. Araúz still has many improvements to make (his season totals are quite lackluster despite the hot stretch), but this is a step in the right direction for him. At just 23 years old, he still has time to put it all together.
Jonathan Araúz impressed me the most in terms of potential moving forward. The main factor is purely his age compared to others. Jack López put together some good at-bats, but he’s already 28. Taylor Motter has been very up and down, but he’s 31. The pitching replacements are also in their late 20’s. Araúz is only 23-years-old with serious pop in his bat and solid defense. He is the only player that could have a long-term impact on the team down the road. Araúz has also hit multiple clutch home runs to keep this COVID infested stretch from being an absolute nightmare. He certainly needs to get more consistent but his potential is there. Nobody else really piqued my interest.
Of all the players the Red Sox have called up from Triple-A Worcester amid this COVID-19 outbreak they are navigating through; I would say I was most impressed with John Schreiber while he was with the big-league club. Schreiber appeared in just one game (Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Indians), but was solid in his Red Sox debut, allowing just one earned run on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over three innings of relief following Kutter Crawford’s short start.
35 of the 56 pitches the right-hander threw went for strikes, and he also used a healthy mix of four-seam fastballs, curveballs, sinkers, and changeups while inducing six total swings-and-misses on Sunday.
Because he was called up as a COVID-19 replacement, Schreiber was returned to Worcester and taken off Boston’s 40-man roster without having to be exposed to waivers. With that being said, I believe Schreiber, who is under team control through 2025, could be an interesting relief option for the Red Sox moving forward. Whether he makes it through the offseason without being moved has yet to be determined, but, yeah, I’m definitely intrigued.
I’m going to go with Stephen Gonsalves. He’s made three appearances totaling 4.1 innings pitched allowed two runs on two hits and striking out 4. You can never have too many arms and especially with a bullpen as volatile as the Red Sox. Gonsalves has an interesting mix of pitches starting with a 93 mph fastball that he throws 50 percent of the time, and mixes in a slider and curveball offings at 20 percent and 30 percent respectively. There are two major differences for Gonsalves this time around in the major compared to his last stint with the Twins in 2018, one is his velocity is up about four miles an hour, and the other is he’s ditched his changeup which he threw 17 percent of the time. The stuff has been effective enough to earn more use going forward and if he can be consistent I think he can carve out a role here long term.
Due to the flurry of roster moves spurred by the Red Sox’s recent COVID outbreak, fans have gotten the chance to see a multitude of new players take the field for their home team. Some have impressed us, others have merely, at the very least attempted to, stop the bleeding over the last weeks of volatile play. One of the most impressive, though, is not a player plucked from Worcester, but a player whose role was redefined over the past month. Garrett Richards has taken on significant innings over the past month, and he’s kept the team alive when much of their bullpen was depleted by the outbreak. In 15 2⁄3 IP since August 10th, Richards has a 1.51 FIP, almost two runs better than his expected FIP of 3.32 and a K% almost five times his walk rate (30.6 percent compared to a 6.5 percent BB rate). Richards has the most IP over this period, 15 2/3 , by a Red Sox reliever. When called upon, Richards has provided needed stability for this team, and this last month is hopefully a solid glimpse into the future of his potential in relief during what is bound to be a close race for Boston as they attempt to secure a spot in the postseason.
Most of the moving parts during the COVID outbreak transaction wire regarded players that have already played in the minor leagues for a long period of time or just simply MLB veterans that were signed for a short-term stopgap. The player that strikes me as having the most potential in the future is Kutter Crawford. While he was anything but sharp in his first major league outing, I believe that at the young age of 25, he has plenty of time to continue to develop in Triple A and eventually be a resourceful asset to a Red Sox club that still has question marks in the bullpen. His numbers this season have not been spectacular, but his track record over his few years in Boston’s minor league system as a starter has shown him to be a serviceable pitcher, as his statistics reflect.
A role change would likely be in order for him to thrive as a pitcher in the big leagues, but one cup of tea in his first outing as a major leaguer is not necessarily enough to rule him out as a candidate to pitch in the majors again and give him some more time to get accustomed to more competitive lineups.
I’ll be honest: when I saw this prompt I wrote about a hundred words on Taylor Motter. Thinking there’s a little bit there, a good glove, and he was crushing the minors this year so maybe at 31 was having a bit of a hot streak that could last a few weeks. Anyway he was DFA’d so I’m going with Jonathan Araúz. He can play all around the infield - which is good with Xander Bogaerts on the IL and Jose Iglesias somewhat played out at this point in his career. Sure he can’t hit, but while the team was shedding players left and right he was able to step in to any of the various holes created. From what we’ve seen, Araúz can field and has gotten a few hits to boot saw gravy. He’s not helping as an everyday player, but as a COVID bench relief break-in-case-of-emergency player he’s done his job. Sorry Taylor Motter, we hardly knew you.
Bayleigh Von Schneider
For me, I’d say that Stephen Gonsalves has been the player called up during the COVID outbreak that has left a relatively decent impression. In his three games, and 4 1/3 innings pitched, Gonsalves has a 2.30 xERA, 3.40 FIP, 8.31 K/9, .182 BABIP, four strikeouts, zero walks, two earned runs, and a 0.92 WHIP. A big issue in Gonsalves’ game has been health, when healthy, he possesses a 94 mph fastball, and a slider/curveball combination.
Gonsalves is a big lefty that can pay dividends to the depth of the Red Sox bullpen, much like he has with lefties Taylor and Hernandez being out for an extended period of time. Taylor is back off COVID protocols, and with Hernandez set to return from an oblique strain, Gonsalves will most likely be sent back to Worcester, but he did show up well enough in his short MLB stint, to be given a chance again, if the big league club needs reinforcements. Gonsalves may have also done just enough to stick around after the September 1st roster expansion to 28 men, time will tell, once everyone comes off healthy from the COVID-IL.
I know Kutter Crawford’s debut did not go as planned but whose did over the last two weeks? Is anyone longing to get one more look at Brad Peacock, Michael Feliz, or Taylor Motter? My apologies to whichever colleague wrote a blurb on Motter today. Crawford did not get much of a heads up that he’d be starting last Sunday, and after a walk and a couple of soft singles opened the game, his fate was nearly sealed. However, I saw a pitcher who frequently touched 94-95 with his fastball and mixed in a decent cutter (don’t make the joke) and a curve ball. Crawford had consistently walked more than four batters per nine innings in the minors until 2021, but between Double-A and Triple-A this season he only walked 1.55 batters per nine in 75 2/3 innings, while striking out 12.25 per nine. Crawford may not be a name that the Red Sox want to rely on as a rotation piece long term, but a depth starter who can throw strikes and give 5-6 innings when needed is an essential part of the organization and Crawford can be that.
Good gravy the pickings are slim here... I mean, Jonathan Araúz has been awful but he’s hit three home runs, is still young, and can fill in at either middle infield position just fine. The Sox have needed a guy with Araúz’s skillset all year, especially with Christian Arroyo having so many battles with injuries. But everyone they’ve had at that slot has been a disappointment. It’d be a huge boon for this team if he could be a role 4 bench player, but for now he looks like a role 2. His AAA performance isn’t inspiring, but we’re l talking about literal replacement level players here. Araúz becoming role 3 and being an up and down bench guy would be a win.
Put me in the Kutter Crawford camp. I certainly don’t think he’s a future ace or anything, and I’m not really convinced he’s a starter long-term, and I know the spot start he made wasn’t great. But all that said, the stuff impressed me. He’s been one of the most interesting players to me in the minor-league system all year, and I’m happy he’s at least a name on people’s radar now. Coming into a spot start like that for your major-league debut with relatively little notice is going to be tough on anyone, but I at least saw someone with the stuff that can hang around in a big-league bullpen with a little more refinement, and someone who still has some chance at sticking in the back end of a rotation with a little more development.