The 24-year-old right-handed hurler had such an impressive spring campaign that he became a permanent fixture in the Red Sox' bullpen rotation almost right off the bat in 2009. Now, after finishing the season with 63 strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA in 49 1/3 innings, he's the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon for the closer's job.
Who will be the 2010 version of Daniel Bard? Who will be so impressive this spring that at this time next year, Red Sox Nation will be counting its lucky stars that he was discovered?
Josh Reddick presents an interesting case. The outfielder was used sparingly in 2009 when J.D. Drew, Jason Bay or Jacoby Ellsbury were plagued by injuries, and he performed well enough to suggest that he could become a permanent fixture before long, at least as a backup. The Georgia native, who will turn 23 on Feb. 19, played in 27 games with the Red Sox and had 10 hits in 59 at-bats with four RBIs and two home runs. In 12 games in left field and two games in center, he boasted a perfect fielding percentage, and he made just one error in 10 games in right field.
Reddick was selected by Boston in the 17th round of the 2006 draft and he is currently listed as the No. 4 prospect in the organization. He spent the majority of his 2009 season in Double-A Portland, where he hit .277 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs in 63 games. Reddick also played in Pawtucket for 18 games, where he hit .127 with six RBIs.
When Reddick was called up out of the blue last year, he showed tremendous poise and proved that with some regular playing time, he could eventually be an offensive force. Reddick has shown above-average power at the plate and good bat speed.
Another plus is his versatility. As he has made his way through the minor-league ranks, he has proven he can play any of the three outfield positions, although he is perhaps best suited for right field because of his power and his throwing accuracy, according to soxprospects.com.
One of the areas in which Reddick is most glaringly in need of improvement, however, is his plate discipline. The Red Sox pride themselves on patience at the plate and on working the count, and Reddick's aggressiveness is something coaches have tirelessly worked on with him. His walk totals have never been particularly high — in 386 at bats in 2009, he walked just 38 times — and no manager wants to send someone up to the plate who's just going to swing away at everything (although Reddick has proven to be a great fastball hitter). Reddick's lack of discipline was never more obvious than last season, when he was promoted to Double-A to start the year and saw a spike in his strikeout totals as he faced better pitching.
It's doubtlessly going to take some work for Reddick to prove he can be a staple on the Red Sox roster, particularly considering the recent trade for Jeremy Hermida, who will go into spring training as the favorite to be the fourth outfielder. Reddick will have his work cut out for him this spring, but for him, the hard part is already over with. He had a tiny window of time to prove he could handle the pressures of the major leagues in 2009, and he succeeded. Now, he just needs to prove he can do it consistently, and there's no better time to do so than this spring.
NESN.com will answer one Red Sox question every day through Feb. 23.
Saturday, Jan. 30: How will DeMarlo Hale's move to bench coach impact the coaching staff?
Monday, Feb. 1: Is Junichi Tazawa ready to make the opening day roster?