Looking Back On Notable Red Sox Late-Season Call-Ups, How They Fared


July 24, 2017

Few things get Red Sox fans more excited than a top prospect receiving a call to the major leagues.

Third baseman Rafael Devers, Boston’s top-ranked prospect, is the latest in a long line of young players who’s looking to make good on what probably are unfair expectations. Hype tells us the the 20-year-old will be the team’s saving grace at the hot corner, but history suggests we shouldn’t get carried away yet.

With Devers set to make his MLB debut Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, we’re winding back the clocks. Here’s a look at how some of Boston’s notable late-season call-ups have fared, starting with one noteworthy arrival in 2006.

Dustin Pedroia — Aug. 22, 2006

“The Laser Show” generated considerable buzz as a prospect, but still was often dismissed for his diminutive frame and seemingly limited skill set. His first 31 games in the big leagues didn’t do much to quiet doubters, as Pedroia batted just .191 after being called up in 2006. The next season, though, the second baseman took off.

Pedroia hit .317 in 2007, earned American League Rookie of the Year honors and was a key contributor for the 2007 World Series Champions. Since then, he’s become one of the most accomplished players in Red Sox history.

David Murphy — Sept. 2, 2006

Drafted 17th overall in the in the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft, Murphy was one of the rising stars in the Red Sox organization. But a crowded Red Sox outfield, along with a dire need for bullpen help, led to Murphy being traded in 2007 to the Texas Rangers in a package that brought Eric Gagne to Boston.

The Red Sox probably would take the deal back if they could, as Gagne was miserable in Boston, and Murphy went on to hit .274 with 104 home runs over 10 years in the big leagues. The 35-year-old hasn’t appeared in an MLB game since 2015, though.

Jacoby Ellsbury — June 30, 2007

Ellsbury was one of the most buzzed-about Red Sox prospects in recent memory, and he largely lived up to the enormous hype. The Oregon native was a dynamic, though often-injured, member of the Red Sox outfield for nearly seven years, and was a key contributor during the team’s 2007 and 2013 World Series Championship seasons.

Splitting town to join the arch-rival New York Yankees in 2014 left a sour taste in many fans mouths, but its hard to label Ellsbury’s Red Sox career as anything other than a success.

Clay Buchholz — Aug. 17, 2007

Buchholz carried enormous expectations when he was called up in 2007, and he immediately delivered. He threw a no-hitter in his second start in the big leagues, and looked like a top-of-the-rotation starter in the making.

But his 10-year career in Boston ultimately produced one of the most polarizing resumes of any of the city’s pro athletes in recent memory. Equally capable of dazzling and infuriating performances, Buchholz generally is remembered more for what he could have been, rather than what he was. A trade to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2017 season seemingly gave the right-hander the fresh start he needed, but surgery on his right arm after just two starts ended Buchholz’s season before it really could get started.

Michael Bowden — Aug. 30, 2008

A first-round pick by the Red Sox in the 2005, Bowden appeared in just 39 games over parts of four seasons in Boston. He never showed much, either in the rotation or out of the bullpen, to endear himself to the Red Sox front office.

Bowden was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2012, and last appeared in an MLB game in 2013.

Ryan Kalish — July 31, 2010

Kalish made a splash after being called up in 2010, as his blend of athleticism and ability to hit for both contact and power made his future look bright. But injuries significantly derailed his career, and the Red Sox essentially let him walk to the Chicago Cubs after the 2012 season.

The outfielder appeared to find new life in the Windy City, but knee surgery in 2016 has put this once-promising career in serious jeopardy.

Xander Bogaerts — Aug. 20, 2013

Considered one of the best prospects in baseball — if not No. 1 — prior to his call-up, Bogaerts has largely lived up to the hype. His even-keeled nature and ability hit to all fields shined during the team’s run to the 2013 World Series Championship, and he’s done nothing but impress ever since.

Some argue that Bogaerts hasn’t hit for nearly as much power as promised, and that he generally doesn’t make the considerable impact on the game that someone with his talent should. But he consistently hits for a high average and has earned back-to-back Silver Slugger honors.

Mookie Betts — June 29, 2014

A fifth-round draft pick in 2011, Betts initially didn’t generate much hype. But an absurdly productive and accelerated stint through the Red Sox farm system elevated him to top-prospect status during the summer of 2014. Since being called up, Betts has proven to be one of the best all-around players in baseball, and, unfortunately for Boston, appears in line for an astronomical pay day.

Rusney Castillo — Sept. 17, 2014

At this point, it’s fair to label Castillo was one of the biggest busts in recent Red Sox history. The Cuban outfielder signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston in 2014, and made his debut later that season. In 10 games, Castillo hit .333 with two homers and showed impressive athleticism, but he’s gone downhill ever since.

Poor pitch recognition and a general lack of feel for the game have left Castillo buried (though rich) in Pawtucket, where he’s not even a member of the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

Henry Owens — Aug. 4, 2015

At just 25 years old, there’s still time for Owens to live up to his initial can’t-miss prospects status. But as it stands right now, his future looks iffy. The lanky left-hander showed flashes after being called up in 2015, but a 4.57 ERA in 11 games, along with obvious control issues, showed he still had a lot of improving to do.

That was nearly two years ago. Since then, Owens’ numbers have gotten progressively worse, with a recent demotion to Double-A Portland suggesting his days in the Red Sox organization could be numbered.

Andrew Benintendi — Aug. 2, 2016

A highly decorated collegiate career at Arkansas, along with being the seventh overall pick in 2015, made Benintendi a can’t-miss prospect. At one point, the outfielder seemed destined to be part of a blockbuster trade package, but the Red Sox surely are glad they held on to him.

The 23-year-old has done nothing but hit since being called up, and was one of the few bright spots during Boston’s disappointing playoff performance last season. He probably won’t win the 2017 A.L. Rookie of the Year, thanks to New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, but Benintendi has shown he’s capable of being one of the best hitters in baseball.

Yoan Moncada — Sept. 2, 2016

Signed as an amateur free agent in 2015, Moncada joined the Red Sox organization already considered one of the best prospects in baseball. The pressure clearly didn’t get to him, as his performance in the minor leagues cemented his status as one of baseball’s rising stars.

His inability to hit off-speed pitches was evident after his call-up last summer, though, and Moncada was sent back to Pawtucket for more seasoning. During the offseason, the Cuban native was packaged in a deal for Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, a trade that, for now, has paid immediate dividends for Boston.

Rafael Devers — Scheduled debut: July 25, 2017

Signed by the Red Sox as a 17-year-old free agent in 2013, Devers has been labeled a hitting phenom since his days in the Dominican Republic. Because of his youth, Devers initially seemed many years away from reaching the big leagues. But consistent production and improvement during his time in the minors has him in a Red Sox uniform way ahead of schedule.

Thumbnail photo via Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports Images

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