Roman Anthony’s spring training debut an unexpected sign for 2024 Red Sox?

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

When manager Alex Cora was asked if Red Sox Nation would be seeing highly-touted prospect Roman Anthony in any upcoming spring training games, his answer was clear.

"That's a hard no," Cora said.

No less than three days later, Anthony made an appearance in the starting lineup with Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida and Lucas Giolito against the Twins in Sunday's split-squad action. He started in center field and batted ninth for the Sox.

Anthony walked twice, scored a run, and struck out once in his three plate appearances, showing good command of the plate.

“I just stuck to my approach, stuck to what I do,” Anthony said, per Sean McAdam of MassLive. “What I try to do best is fight and compete, work the count and get a pitch to hit. I was seeing it well today, so I felt good in the box.”

Red Sox prospect Roman Anthony could debut sooner than anyone expected with extra spring training experience

Cora confessed to media that he quickly changed his mind about Anthony not seeing any spring training action after the Red Sox faced the Orioles' young phenom Jackson Holliday in the first Grapefruit League matchup of the preseason.

The skipper admitted that it's important for young players to get experience seeing big-league pitching and to have a chance to play a televised game in front of fans. The big-league experience is full of hurdles minor league players don't have regular exposure to, and spring training provides just that.

Anthony's start could be a sign of promise for Red Sox Nation. Many reporters have theorized that Holliday could have a meteoric rise through Baltimore's farm system and could be seeing major league games sooner than anyone would have imagined upon his selection in the draft. Having Anthony face big leaguers early in spring training could allow for a similar outcome in Boston.

Starting Anthony in spring training games also gives him a chance to interact with the Sox's seasoned pros. Spring training games are more of a learning experience than a competition and allowing Anthony to play alongside Boston's biggest stars will help him learn from them and hear valuable coaching tips.

Cora's quick change in tune about Anthony playing in spring training games may mean Sox fans could see him in the bigs sooner than anticipated — many reporters have suggested Boston could see Anthony late this season or at the beginning of 2025.

Maybe, with all the extra practice and advice he's bound to get, Anthony could debut even earlier than that.

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