Boston Red Sox: Why prospect age shouldn’t be an argument right now

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 14: Daniel Nava #29 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a grand slam home run during the 6th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 14: Daniel Nava #29 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a grand slam home run during the 6th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Age shouldn’t be a factor when discussing Boston Red Sox prospects

It certainly isn’t a secret that I write about a lot of different prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization. I’m usually extremely optimistic about them. That leads to quite a few people disagreeing with me on certain players. Discussion is great, but there is a certain argument that just doesn’t make sense to me – especially right now. That argument is age.

People love to bring up age when talking about a prospect. “Oh, well he’s 24 already so he shouldn’t be mentioned!”. I have even seen people use the argument for Triston Casas (who just turned 22 in January). Saying if he was truly an elite prospect, he would’ve made his debut at a much younger age like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna Jr., etc.

First of all, this argument is absolutely ridiculous no matter what. I always bring up Jacob deGrom as a perfect counter to this. Aaron Judge is also a strong argument. But you can stay within the Red Sox organization and still find tons of examples.

Dustin Pedroia was 22 when he made his Major League debut and 23 during his rookie season. Jason Varitek was 25 and 26 respectively. J.D. Martinez was 23 and Mike Lowell was 24 when he made his debut and 25 his rookie season.

It doesn’t have to be superstars either. Brock Holt debuted when he was 24 and he finished eighth in AL ROY voting when he was 26. Maybe he’s not the biggest star in the world, but he’s the type of player everyone wants on their team. Extremely valuable.

Daniel Nava debuted at 27. He isn’t going to be remembered by anyone outside of Boston fans likely. But how sad would Red Sox fans be if they never got Nava? And it’s not like he was just a fan favorite. Nava was vital to the 2013 team and even hit .303 that year.

This also points to another argument about prospects. When people talk about their ceilings. Yes, not everyone is going to be a superstar, but they can all find ways to contribute. I’m sure if you asked 99% of scouts who Nava was before 2010 they would’ve told you he’s a career minor-leaguer at best. It’s easy to look at the negatives of a prospect, because you can always point to the fact that they’re in the minors – not doing it at a higher level.

Back to the age argument though, because there’s another reason why it makes no sense right now in particular. 2020.

The 2020 MiLB season was cancelled and that set things back considerably. Prospects just missed an entire season, but guess what – they still age. So now you’ll see people pointing to someone like Cameron Cannon or Stephen Scott and claiming the numbers don’t impress because of their age. But what do you want them to do about that lost season? They suffered setbacks and came back and did what they had to do.

Yes, it does maybe make it a bit more of an uphill battle for them. For example, Scott was 24 in Low-A and High-A last season. Maybe getting to the Majors is going to be tough from there, but it’s not impossible. The whole point of highlighting these players is to let everyone know about them and see that there is potential past the top-30 guys.

But the 2020 season did take its toll and that shouldn’t be used against the players. Not only did they lose a year, it very well could have stunted the development process a bit. Maybe Casas would’ve been in the Majors last year. Or Scott would have been working Double-A or even Triple-A last season. Chris Murphy and Brayan Bello could be further up. And someone like Jeter Downs could have gotten to Triple-A naturally instead of being thrust to the level because the Red Sox didn’t want to waste time with him after losing 2020.

The Red Sox have plenty of exciting talent in their minor league system and I’m all for discussions about them. They don’t need to be overwhelmingly positive (I usually am but I totally get it if others aren’t).

But the constant need to tear down young men working hard is weird behavior. If you want to say you don’t think they’ll be great, cool that’s fine. When you are clearly just doing it because you want to be right, that’s when it gets weird. And using their age as a slight is just lazy. If you’re going to be weird, at least don’t be lazy.

Next. Looking back at other shortened Red Sox seasons. dark