With September call-ups on the horizon, it’s time to sift through the Boston Red Sox’s farm system and take a crack at who could be on the expanded roster Thursday.
All Major League Baseball teams will have two additional roster spots. The Red Sox already have started to undergo a renovation of the big league roster by designating Hirokazu Sawamura and Austin Davis for assignment, creating room to add rookie right-handers Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort.
As the Red Sox prepare for next season, they’ll want to get a look at some prospects on the verge of being major league ready.
Here are four September call-up candidates:
Triston Casas, first baseman
The one prospect all fans would love to see called up is Casas, who is hitting .294 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, 13 RBIs and a .914 OPS in 32 games since returning from the ankle injury he sustained in May.
Both chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora have not ruled out a call-up for Casas, though they are being cautious. But the two additional roster spots could change things. The 22-year-old slugger has bounced around since being drafted in the first round. Between promotions, the Olympics and his most recent injury, Casas has not had the opportunity to stay in one situation for a long stretch, which could hurt his case. Bloom values players sticking at one level and overcoming adjustments opposing players make to stump them. That said, Casas certainly appears to be major league ready.
Connor Wong, catcher
Wong has had quite the turnaround offensively and has been a capable defender for years. With Kevin Plawecki’s contract expiring at the end of the season, Reese McGuire is the only MLB catcher in the organization. There’s a great chance the Red Sox will want to see what Wong can provide in the final month before filling out the depth of the position this offseason.
The 26-year-old backstop is hitting .361 with 12 extra-base hits including seven home runs, 18 RBIs and a 1.187 OPS in August (14 games) for Worcester. The hot stretch has brought his season average up to .285 with 13 homers and a .818 OPS in 79 games. Between the need at catcher next season and his recent surge, the timing is perfect for Wong to be promoted for the remainder of the season.
Frank German, right-handed reliever
German started the season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs but was promoted after just 11 appearances and actually has been a tick better with Triple-A Worcester. The 24-year-old flamethrower’s fastball can reach the high-90s regularly along with a splitter and slider.
German is 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA, an impressive 60-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .159 batting average against in 44 2/3 innings this season. He’s also converted five of his six save opportunities. German is not on the 40-man roster which could hurt his chances of a call-up, but the Red Sox will have to add him sooner or later given his production of late. It might be worth doing so now.
Eduard Bazardo, right-handed reliever
Bazardo has a similar makeup to German but is not touted quite as highly. The 26-year-old prospect has posted a 3.45 ERA with an identical 60-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio as German in 57 1/3 innings, all with Triple-A Worcester.
Bazardo is of the most intriguing relievers currently sitting in Triple-A but has some question marks. For starters, he has a .280 batting average against. The other concern is that he not only is not on the 40-man roster but was waived after spring training in an effort to get him off the 40-man. For the Red Sox to call-up Bazardo, he’d have to get back on the 40-man. If the team does not see him as a candidate to make the roster next season, they’ll once again have to waive him for a spot in the offseason. He’s an intriguing option but might be just a tier below Kelly and German as bullpen options.
The Red Sox could bring back players with considerable service time to Boston
If the Red Sox are not going to treat the final month as somewhat of a tryout for the 2023 season, fans could see pitchers Josh Winckowski, Connor Seabold, Tyler Danish or Darwinzon Hernandez back on the roster over intriguing newcomers. The team also could elect to recall outfielder Jaylin Davis or second baseman Jeter Downs.
It sounds like Jarren Duran will be in full-on development mode to end the season, so a call-up is unlikely. Of the aforementioned options, Danish has a real good shot of returning but that wouldn’t neccasarily rule out multiple newcomers given the team’s willingness to reconstruct the 40-man roster earlier this week.