The Boston Red Sox are trying to figure out which young players deserve consideration for a roster spot in 2015, and rookie outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo made compelling cases in Friday’s 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Betts got the start in center field and made a powerful impact at the plate. He reached base three times, collected two hits, scored a run and tallied four RBIs. One of his hits was a grand slam in the second inning that gave the Red Sox a commanding 8-0 lead. It was Betts’ first career grand slam and third home run of 2014.
In fact, Betts became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a grand slam since Tony Conigliaro in 1965.
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“He generates quite a bit of bat speed. … In the short period of time in his pro career, I think the last two years, he’s led the organization in extra base hits or slugging percentage,” Farrell said of Betts. “And it is a little surprising when you see the stature of him. But when you boil it down to the bat speed, it’s very good.”
Betts has collected 10 hits with a .391 on-base percentage since being recalled to the Red Sox on Aug. 18. He’s tallied a hit in eight of 11 games over that span. The 21-year-old outfielder consistently makes a positive impact defensively with his range and ability to make spectacular catches, and if he can continue to improve at the plate, his chances of making the MLB roster in 2015 will dramatically increase.
Betts wasn’t the only young player who impressed in Friday’s victory.
Anthony Ranaudo improved his record to 3-0 with another quality performance. He allowed three earned runs, five hits, three walks and struck out four in six innings. He’s pitched at least six innings in all three of his major league starts this year.
“I thought tonight, of the three starts he’s made for us, (this was) probably the best overall mix of the three pitches he had. Particularly a little more use of his changeup tonight,” Farrell said.
“His mound presence and his poise are things that continue to shine through in the three outings he’s made for us.”
Ranaudo is making a strong case to be in the 2015 rotation. He doesn’t get rattled on the mound, attacks the strike zone and keeps hitters off balance with a good changeup and a curve ball that is steadily improving.
The 24-year-old right-hander is among the most intriguing young players to watch over the final month of the season.
Here are some other notes from Boston’s win over Tampa Bay.
— The Red Sox have won three of their last four games following an eight-game losing streak.
— Six of Boston’s nine starters collected at least one hit.
— Boston is 33-13 when scoring five or more runs this season.
— The Red Sox are 42-20 when scoring first this year.
— The Sox scored eight runs through the first two innings.
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— Newly signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo will play Sunday in the Gulf Coast League finals.
— Yoenis Cespedes has tallied 22 RBI in his last 20 games, including two in Friday’s win.
Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images