When the 2016 season opens the Red Sox starting outfielder or second baseman could potentially be Mookie Betts.
Betts has become a personal favorite for me and I will pay particular attention to his development in the next few seasons. Betts is exciting to watch and does have a stylish flair. My general view of prospects and their various scouting reports is that it is like astrology – fun to read but don’t take it seriously. I do certainly have a tinge of inconsistency on this and Betts is one reason why. Occasionally that player surfaces that just makes me do some serious tracking.
Betts has made some rather impressive advancement in his tenure after being selected in the 5th round of the 2011 June draft. Betts is quite similar in physical stature to the current occupant of second base – Dustin Pedroia. Hopefully he will eventually have the same performance results.
I saw Betts for several games with the Lowell Spinners back in 2012 and he is, like Pedroia, a dynamo. My own reaction was this is Pokey Reese. Betts also has speed, plenty of speed, and when I saw him had a few acrobatic plays at second that demonstrated that attribute. Kid can really move. Nice instincts and hands from what I saw in my brief observation.
In 2013 Betts split his season between Greenville in the South Atlantic League and the Red Sox high class A affiliate in Salem of the Carolina League. What stood out was the apparent pop in the diminutive Betts. Fifteen home runs and thirty-six doubles is a nice start. Maybe he can morph into another “Toy Cannon” like Jim Wynn? Betts managed to slash out at combined .314/.417/.506 with his Salem totals being .341/.414/.551. Betts early career trend appears to be improving his numbers with each move up the organizational ladder.
The Red Sox value OBP and Betts fits right in. In 127 games, Betts gathered in 81 walks and only 57K’s in his two stops during 2013. And then comes the pilfering. Snatching thirty-eight bases while being caught a miserly four times is impressive in any league.
Betts has gathered in all the appropriate attention of the various scouting guru’s and his stock is certainly rising. Betts ability to combine quality plate discipline and significant speed have top of the order stamped on his future. From what I have been able to glean from scouting reports, the only real downside is arm strength. So that is why I do believe Betts will be tossed in at second. But there seems a rather capable occupant at that position, so plan B may be in the long range future for Betts – the outfield.
Betts has the apparent athleticism that will offer other opportunities besides second. Like Pedroia he was originally a shortstop, but that arm question may limit him. But what about Pedroia? Would a team actually move a defensive mainstay to say third? Pedroia is the Charlie Gehringer of this generation. These are the kinds of problems that management of any team would love to have. So I doubt Pedroia is going anywhere in the near future as far as defensive alignment is concerned. Pedroia will be at second until they finally drag him away.
Betts is a long way off. He’ll be at Portland for 2014 and then, if all goes well, move up to Pawtucket for the following season. If he continues to trend the way he has it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox view him. Watch where he plays.