Mookie Betts is taking the next step.
The Red Sox promoted Betts from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, continuing an impressive ascent through the organization for one of Boston’s top prospects.
“He’s really excelled in every area of the game, and that’s been going on,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said during a conference call Tuesday. “He’s controlling the strike zone, he’s running the bases, he’s playing defense, he’s obviously hitting, he’s hitting for power. At some point, we have an obligation to challenge our young players. When they are performing at a level where it’s not certain that they are being challenged, it’s up to us to make sure they are being challenged.”
Betts, a fifth-round pick in 2011, has dominated Double-A this season, hitting .355 with six home runs, 34 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and a .443 on-base percentage in 54 games. He has more extra-base hits (27) and walks (35) than strikeouts (20), highlighting his impeccable combination of hand-eye coordination, power and plate discipline.
Betts, who was ranked the Red Sox’s No. 7 prospect before the season by Baseball America, was drafted as a second baseman. The Red Sox obviously have a franchise second baseman in Dustin Pedroia, so the organization has begun to expose the 21-year-old to the outfield. Betts played center field in 12 of his last 17 games with Portland before Tuesday’s promotion.
“This conversation started a few days ago, and we wanted to avoid introducing too much all at once to Mookie,” Cherington said of Betts’ promotion to Triple-A. “Because he had started to play some outfield, we wanted to give him a little bit of time to fill in in the outfield before also introducing him to Triple-A. Now that he’s gotten a little bit of time in the outfield, and he’s gotten comfortable out there, we felt like this was the time to move him up to Pawtucket.”
Betts has produced at every level of the minors thus far. His 54 games at Portland are the fewest ever by a Red Sox farmhand before being promoted to Pawtucket or Boston — less than the number of Double-A games played by Jackie Bradley Jr. (61), Garin Cecchini (66), Dustin Pedroia (66), Jacoby Ellsbury (67) or Xander Bogaerts (79).
Betts now officially is on the doorstep of The Show.
Photo via Twitter/@TNGameTime