2014 Red Sox awards roundtable: Does Betts or Owens have the brightest future?
Different from the Rookie of the Year, this distinction is for the player BSI writers are most excited about watching next year, five years from now, maybe ten years down the road.
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Who has the brightest future among Red Sox players?
Drew Peabody: Mookie Betts. I was in the minority in selecting someone other than Betts as Rookie of the Year for the Sox. I will not overlook him for this category. Betts is my choice because he is flat-out an exciting player. He can run (seven steals at the Major League level) and can hit (.291) and he can hit for some power (five homers, .812 OPS). As a new outfielder, he showed he could play at the Major League level in both center and right field. When he is in the leadoff spot, there is an extra energy to the lineup. If Xander Bogaerts can translate his September resurgence into 2015 success, the Red Sox should have no problem producing runs. The question remains whether Betts bright future is in Boston or elsewhere.
Conor Duffy: Mookie Betts. It’s hard to argue with the long-term potential of Xander Bogaerts, but Betts has the potential to be similarly good for future Red Sox teams. Betts has a unique combination of speed, power, and an incredible contact rate which profiles him as an elite player in the long run. Even in his first Major League experience this season, Betts slashed .291/.368/.444 in 52 games and posted a remarkable 1.9 fWAR, a mark which would be in the 6-7 range in extended over the course of a full season. That would place Betts as one of the best outfielders in baseball and, while it’s impossible to project him to be in that range immediately, there’s no doubt he could reach those heights in the next five to ten years. Plus, with Betts’ hustle and natural gifts, he’s just fun to watch and, in a spectator sport, that has as much value as anything.
Rick McNair: Mookie Betts. His maturity with the bat certainly showed how inept some other members of the team are. Nice OBP, contact rate, stroke, power, average and his speed. Really covers the plate well and avoids fishing expeditions. A five tool player? If he can get 20+ jacks a year, most certainly. Then comes his ability to seamlessly shift to the outfield. Betts will be a future All-Star and that future could be as close as 2015.
Jul 13, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; USA pitcher Henry Owens throws a pitch in the first inning during the All Star Futures Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Loper: Henry Owens. This season, for Boston, was all about featuring young, exciting talent with a ton of potential. While a number of these players may end up being regular contributors, the one I’m most excited about didn’t pitch in the Majors this year. Left-hander Henry Owens dominated in Double-A Portland, going 14-4 in 20 starts with a 2.60 ERA and 126 strikeouts. He was then promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket where he continued his run, going 3-1 in six starts. His ERA was a little higher there at 4.03, but he threw in another 44 strikeouts. In a well-documented and discussed move, the Red Sox traded their lefty ace Jon Lester to Oakland, leaving a gaping hole in their rotation. Perhaps they see Owens on the horizon. 2015 may be a little too soon to hope for a top-of-the-rotation spot for him, but it’s not far-fetched to think that Owens will have some sort of role next season in Boston and will be a huge part of their future going forward. There’s nothing like being a fan of a team with a dominant number one pitcher, and Owens looks like he has all of the attributes to become just that.
Joe Meehan: Henry Owens. Projections on Owens vary greatly depending on who you ask: some see him as a future top of the rotation guy while others project him more as a number 3-4. What can’t be argued is that Owens has dominated at every level of the Minors so far. At only 21 years old, it’s hard not to be excited about his future. There are certainly others with great potential, but something about a potential dominant lefty at the top of the Sox rotation has me extremely anxious to see what he can do.
Sean Sylver: Xander Bogaerts. As much as I loved following Henry Owens this summer, like a young Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, flummoxing Minor League batters with his stuff, there’s reason to question whether or not he will be an ace. Mookie Betts brings a dynamite combination of tools to the table and flashed them quite capably at the Major League level. But does anyone have as high a ceiling as shortstop Xander Bogaerts? Remember, Bogaerts was just 21-years old this season. When Derek Jeter was that age, he was booting 29 balls at Columbus. Bringing back Stephen Drew was the worst thing thing this team could have done for his development – not even psychologically, just for the lack of reps. Let the guy play the position; let him grow into a middle-of-the-order Major League hitter. That’s what we expect him to be. I can’t wait.
Victor Barbosa: Dustin Pedroia. Far from prospect status any more, Pedey still takes the cake as the player I’m most pumped to watch over the next three, five, seven years or maybe even longer! Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and a host of other youngsters are certainly deserving of this nod, but I will never get sick of watching Pedroia’s fiery passion, leadership, and all-out one million percent effort on the baseball diamond. Even at 31 years old now, I see Pedey continuing his display of the ultimate grinder mentality well into his 30s and beyond for the Sox.