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OTM Roundtable: Which prospect comes first?

Who can come up and make an impact on this team?

Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Red Sox are finally starting to turn things around, though it remains to be seen if this level of play can continue against teams that are not the Rangers. Still, we’ll take wins when we can get them. But even with the wins, it’s still clear that the current roster is not going to be the one that takes them through the season, whether it be due to underperformance or injury or whatever other reason. With Boston’s improving farm system, we’re at the point where there are a handful of prospects who are on the verge of being ready to come up and make some sort of impact. That was the topic of this week’s roundtable. I asked the staff which prospect would be the first to come up and make an “impact” this season, allowing them to define for themselves what exactly impact actually means in this context.

Mike Carlucci

I might be pushing the definition of a prospect getting called up but as the prompt was very broad, I’m going to say Jarren Duran. He’s had a couple cups of coffee in the majors already, runs like the wind (that triple!), and at this point has more potential with the bat than Jackie Bradley Jr. long term. To be fair to JBJ, he’s had a hot May hitting .296/.345/.444, and while there are zero homers on the season, we’ve seen his power come in spurts. But this isn’t really about Jackie Bradley. It’s about the future of center field which in 2023 is either Duran or bust. He’ll be the prospect called up for the longest stint this year and with a big run of games, will provide the most value.

Phil Neuffer

I know everyone is stoked about Triston Casas, but it just doesn’t seem like he’s going to get much of a shot this year. With that in mind, I think Connor Seabold is the most likely prospect to make a real impact this year. The 26-year-old right-hander made his MLB debut a year ago and although he struggled, there’s no way that’s the last chance he’s going to get. He’s still a top 10 prospect in the Red Sox’s system, according to FanGraphs, and he’s pitched relatively well in Triple-A this season (2.93 ERA, 3.38 FIP in 30 2/3 innings as of May 12), although his expected FIP isn’t great (4.92).

With Chris Sale and James Paxton both further from returning than we originally thought and Michael Wacha on the 15-day injured list right now (not to mention Rich Hill being on the COVID-19 list), the Red Sox will need some folks to make starts and Seabold can do just that. Of course, the same could be said of Brayan Bello or Brandon Walter, two prospects with higher ceilings than Seabold, but I think the Red Sox would go with Seabold first since he’s older and has some experience (however little) at the MLB level, giving him a better chance at making a real impact.

Brendan Campbell

We’ve already seen him for one game earlier this month, but I believe Jarren Duran will get another shot with the Red Sox this season and make an impact once he gets there. Between his speed and improved approach at the plate, I do feel better about Duran than I did last September. If the Red Sox find themselves in a position where they are not competing for anything in October, I would expect Duran — assuming he is still with the team — to get an extended look in the outfield and I have faith the 25-year-old can make the most of his opportunity. I guess I’m thinking about what Jackie Bradley Jr. did during the second half of the 2015 season as a reference point.

Stephen Thompson

This was a tricky question because, while I think the Red Sox’s most pressing need is a reliable bat — preferably that can play first base too — it’s pretty unrealistic to expect someone like Triston Casas or Nick Yorke or whoever can provide a meaningful lift. Sox executives and coaches have been pretty explicit that they won’t rush anyone up to be a savior of the lineup and that seems like a smart move to me. So, with that in mind, I look toward pitchers. Brayan Bello has torn up Triple-A so far this season, posting a 0.83 WHIP and a K/BB ratio of 3.5. He also induces a ton. of ground balls, something that I think would serve him well as he makes the transition to the bigs. Right now he seems like the most MLB-ready pitcher that the Red Sox farm system has, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him brought up in midsummer to bolster the bullpen or make some spot starts.

Bayleigh Von Schneider

For me, I feel like, with some more seasoning in Triple-A, as there is no need to rush, Triston Casas might just have an impact in 2022. The largest scuffle Casas faces now is hitting lefties, but he might just be a great compliment to come up in September and help mash righties. His on base is still very high, as he had a great command of the strike zone, something the Red Sox have struggled with this season. Again, no need to rush, as he’s not ready yet, but he might burst in the scene sooner than later.

Bryan Joiner

Let’s get extremely boring and say Triston Casas. With Bobby Dalbec struggling mightily, and in the exact ways it was prophesied he might struggle, Casas should be able to slide right into Dalbec’s spot at first and make an immediate contribution. I know hitters from the minors have had difficult periods of adjustment, but for whatever reason, I think Casas’s will be smoother than most. Bring on the kid and let’s party. I would very much like to party!

Avery Hamel

Although this is a probably predictable answer, I believe that Kutter Crawford is the prospect that will most soon make a significant impact on the team. Although he was just sent down on Saturday, I really think that due to Garrett Whitlock’s changing role, he was thrust too quickly into a position that he wasn’t fit to be in. That being said, if he gets more minor league innings and can find a way to dampen contact against him, he will be a very nice bullpen piece for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

Bob Osgood

It’s the easiest answer but it feels like the right answer, and that is Triston Casas. With a .242 batting average through May 13, it hasn’t been the most dominant start to the season for Casas. However, even if he is deemed ready in June or July, I’m not sure there’s a prospect in the system whose major league relevance is more imminent than Casas is. He has managed to walk 13.3 percent of the time, leading to a .343 OBP. While he has struggled against lefties a bit this year, I don’t believe the expectation would be for Casas to play every day out of the gate in his 22-year-old season. Bobby Dalbec has hit .268 in his career against LHP, as opposed to .206 vs. right-handed pitching, which should make for a pretty clear platoon unless Dalbec’s season-long slump continues at the level that it has been at thus far. I’ll go with June 20th against the Tigers for the call-up date for Triston Casas.

Keaton DeRocher

My pick is Jaren Duran. Outfield depth is a well documented issue for the team at the major league level and think the changes he’s made the year are legit. It’s obviously paying off at Triple-A, and with his speed as an additional factor Duran could have a real sustained impact on the 2022 season when given the chance.

Matt Collins

I’ll go off-board a little bit and say Josh Winckowski. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seabold get the first shot when a spot starter is needed (obviously timing comes into play with who would be rested in that scenario, too), but I’m going with Winckowski because I think he profiles better to the bullpen. Seabold can be a fine back-end starter, but Winckowski is a guy I can see coming up for a start then sticking around as a multi-inning option out of the bullpen, something the Red Sox are very much leaning on this season.