The Red Sox have promoted catching prospect Connor Wong
The Boston Red Sox have a new backup catcher, at least in the short-term. Kevin Plawecki has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. The team has called up catching prospect Connor Wong to take Plawecki’s place on the active roster and fill his role backing up starter Christian Vazquez.
Wong getting called up comes as a bit of a surprise considering he’s been limited to only 16 games with Triple-A Worcester by a hamstring injury of his own that he recently returned from. He’s hitting a meager .148 with a .433 OPS, three doubles and a home run in 61 at-bats.
The 25-year-old spent most of the 2019 season in Advanced-A with a brief 40-game stint at the Double-A level in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system. Wong spent time at the Red Sox alternate site in Pawtucket last year after he was acquired as part of the trade package for Mookie Betts.
We’ve already had a good look at Alex Verdugo, the headliner of that blockbuster deal. Of the two prospects Boston received in the trade, Jeter Downs was expected to be closer to the big leagues but it’s Wong who gets the first chance to make his major league debut. Downs is the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox organization while Wong ranks 16th, according to MLB Pipeline.
Wong’s opportunity comes in part due to a lack of viable options. The Red Sox have a pair of veteran catchers in Jett Bandy and Chris Herrmann at the Triple-A level but neither is on the 40-man roster. Promoting Wong was the easier move since it doesn’t warrant clearing a roster spot. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Ronaldo Hernández, who is currently playing in Double-A.
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The Red Sox couldn’t risk being without a backup catcher but Wong might be the break glass in case of emergency option. He’s expected to join the team in Tampa Bay to begin a three-game series with the Rays but Wong isn’t in Tuesday’s starting lineup.
Expect Vazquez to handle the vast majority of the duties behind the plate while Plawecki is sidelined. Monday was an off day for the Red Sox so Vazquez should be fresh enough to handle at least the next several games against the Rays.
The upcoming schedule features mostly night games with the exception being the series finale with the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon. The day game after a night game is often when teams turn to the backup catcher so that’s a spot where we could see Wong.
Plawecki’s stint on the injured list is backdated to June 21. Assuming that the hamstring issue isn’t serious enough to keep him out longer than 10 days, he could return at the beginning of July.
The Red Sox rave about Wong’s defensive versatility, testing him at second and third base during his time in the minors, although that’s a kind way of saying they aren’t confident in his capabilities as a catcher. He projects as a player with some pop who should have some offensive upside, in which case that versatility will help him find more ways to get his bat in the lineup.
We should expect Wong to make his major league debut in the near future since the Red Sox can’t lean too heavily on Vazquez. As long as Plawecki’s injury isn’t more serious than expected, it could be a brief cup of coffee with the club before Wong is back on a bus to Worcester.