Red Sox: Yairo Muñoz deserves a promotion after tying hitting streak record

Yairo Munoz #60 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a two run home run. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Yairo Munoz #60 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting a two run home run. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Yairo Muñoz tied a Red Sox record with his minor league hitting streak

Red Sox history was made Friday night at Polar Park in Worcester when Yairo Muñoz slapped a ground ball down the third base line that he beat out for an infield single. Muñoz extended his hitting streak to 34 games with that single, tying Dom DiMaggio for the longest hitting streak in the history of the Red Sox organization.

Granted, the Little Professor’s streak in 1949 came at the major league level during an All-Star campaign that ended with the Red Sox falling one game short of the American League pennant. Muñoz is piling up hits in Triple-A under less crucial circumstances. Still, it’s an impressive accomplishment to put together a hitting streak of this length at any level.

Muñoz nearly had his streak snapped just shy of history. He was 0-for-3 entering his final plate appearance of the night. When he came through with the record-tying base hit, the ball didn’t leave the infield dirt until the third baseman fumbled it into foul territory. No error was charged since it would have required a remarkable play to throw out the runner at first even if he had picked it cleanly but Muñoz was still a bit fortunate to reach safely. That’s how close Muñoz was to seeing his streak come to an unceremonious end, which goes to show how difficult it is to keep it going.

The 26-year-old is now batting .318 with a .794 OPS, six home runs and 17 stolen bases in 76 games with the WooSox this season.

It makes you wonder why the Red Sox haven’t called up Muñoz to get his scorching hot bat in their lineup for the stretch run. He’s certainly earned an opportunity with his production in Triple-A. We saw him thrive during a brief 12-game sample with the Red Sox last season when he hit .333 with an .844 OPS. He had modest success in parts of two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before that so there’s sufficient evidence to show he can handle the big leagues.

Unfortunately, getting him from Worcester to Boston isn’t quite as easy as putting him on a bus. The biggest obstacle keeping Muñoz from joining the major league team is that he isn’t on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox would need to designate someone for assignment to clear room for Muñoz’s promotion.

Boston already DFA’d Marwin Gonzalez when they activated Kyle Schwarber from the injured list, paving the way for Chris Sale to rejoin the 40-man roster in time for his season debut on Saturday. Ryan Brasier could be activated from the 60-day IL next week so there’s another spot they need to clear soon. The Red Sox have a few other candidates who they could consider cutting but they can’t start getting rid of everyone who isn’t performing since that would sacrifice depth they might need to lean on later.

The Red Sox will face a roster crunch this winter when they need to add prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Some players will depart in free agency to alleviate the log jam but space will still be tight. We also assume the Red Sox will be active on the trade and free-agent markets to bring in more talent for next season.

If Boston adds Muñoz now, there’s risk that they could lose him if he ends up being one of the odd men out in order to clear room for more valuable assets in their system or from offseason moves to upgrade the major league roster.

The other question is where will Muñoz play if he is called up? Muñoz has played six different positions in his career but first base isn’t one of them and that’s the most obvious position of need. Boston is already planning to experiment with teaching Schwarber to play first after they ease him in with a few games as the DH, so they could take the same gamble on Muñoz learning on the fly.

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Then where would Schwarber play? Left field is the most likely solution if the move to first doesn’t pan out. That pushes Alex Verdugo to center field. So then Jarren Duran doesn’t fit in the lineup?

The same conundrum occurs if Muñoz plays second base. Kike Hernandez would be the primary center fielder, which means one of the other outfielders needs to sit.

Having too many options worthy of playing time is a nice problem to have. Their depth could provide a valuable way to rotate players through various positions to keep everyone fresh down the stretch.

It also means there’s no way that Muñoz finds himself in the lineup every day even if he did get a call-up. His versatility makes it easier to squeeze him in but the Red Sox won’t want to rest their regulars too frequently. Muñoz might be better off piling up hits every day in Worcester rather than spending half his time on the bench in Boston.

That could change in September when the minor league schedule ends and rosters expand to allow the Red Sox to carry a couple of extra players. The 40-man roster concerns would still remain but at least the playing time issue would be negated when there are no more games to play in Worcester.

Muñoz deserves another chance in the majors but it doesn’t appear the opportunity is imminent. In the meantime, he’ll attempt to keep extending that hitting streak. He can take sole possession of the Red Sox organizational record this afternoon when the WooSox face the Syracuse Mets at 4:00 p.m. ET. Fans will be a bit busy celebrating Sale Day at that time but take a moment to flip over to NESN+ to see if Muñoz can make history.

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