Seven Red Sox players made the cut: Mookie Betts (2), Chris Sale (9), J.D. Martinez (17), Andrew Benintendi (50), Xander Bogaerts (57), David Price (69) and Nathan Eovaldi (98). The New York Yankees (9) and Houston Astros (7) were the only other teams with that many representatives.
So, who’s next for Boston?
ESPN’s David Schoenfield on Thursday nominated one candidate from each MLB franchise to be the next player from that team to crack the top 100 list. His Red Sox selection was …
Here’s what Schoenfield wrote about the left-hander:
Rafael Devers certainly has top-100 potential, but his defense and plate discipline will keep him below that bar for at least another year. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez has the ability to put everything together this year and become a rotation anchor. He has been working on a new slider to go with his 93 mph fastball and outstanding changeup. Various injuries — knee surgery in 2017, an ankle injury last year — have limited him to a career high of 24 starts, so he needs to stay healthy and get to 180-plus innings.
Rodriguez could very well be on next year’s list with a solid 2019 campaign. He has shown flashes of his potential at various points in his four-year MLB career and is turning just 26 on April 7. It’s fair to reason the best has yet to come for E-Rod, who’s coming off a 2018 season in which he went 13-5 with a career-best 3.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings over 27 appearances (23 starts).
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been making a concerted effort this spring to push the young southpaw, recently saying Rodriguez must be more efficient with his pitches in 2019 after failing to last deep into games on far too many occasions last season. Perhaps the tough love will pay off.
As Schoenfield mentioned, Devers is another viable candidate to join the top 100 conversation a year from now. He had some highs and lows in 2018 after an impressive 58-game debut in 2017, but his offensive upside is undeniable. Devers is just 22 and coming off a season in which he hit .240 with 21 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .731 OPS. The Red Sox’s stacked lineup will provide plenty of protection.
As for other (perhaps less likely) candidates: Rick Porcello and Dustin Pedroia are a couple of established veterans — although Porcello is set to become a free agent next offseason and Pedroia is coming off a serious knee injury — and Jackie Bradley Jr. is a defensive wizard in center field who absolutely is a top-100 player if he reaches his offensive ceiling in 2019.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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