Though the Red Sox have been out of contention for quite some time, they have had a number of young prospects come up and provide some excitement for the future. One of those prospects being Mookie Betts.
Betts tore through the Red Sox minor league system this season as between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket he batted .346 with an astonishing on-base percentage of .431. The 21-year-old also had a flabbergasting 71-game on-base streak, including the postseason, beginning in 2012 with Class-A Salem.
The fifth-round draft pick in 2011 was a second baseman until late this spring when the organization saw the need for a center fielder. They initially had the athletic Betts take fly balls during batting practice when he was with Portland and eventually that turned into playing time in center, where he played the majority of his games in Pawtucket.
With Shane Victorino battling injuries all season, Betts was called up to the majors on June 29 when the Sox were in New York and he recorded his first hit in his first game played. He was optioned back to Triple-A on July 19 when Victorino came back, but given Boston's outfield situation, he went back-and-forth for much of August.
Having been with the big league club since Aug. 18, Betts has made a lasting impact while getting a chance to hit out of the leadoff spot, with Brock Holt missing extended time with a concussion. Now with the addition of Rusney Castillo and with Dustin Pedroia out for the season because of wrist surgery, Betts is back to his natural position of second base.
In 16 games batting leadoff, Betts is hitting .302 with an on-base percentage of .380. He’s also adjusted well to the big leagues as in 36 games between August and September he is hitting .294 and posting an on-base percentage of .383 – not bad for a 21-year-old who started the year in Double-A.
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Now the question is, where does Betts play next season?
Castillo seems like the choice to play center field and Pedroia will be back at second base. Or the club could have Castillo shift to right field, with the uncertain health of Victorino, and have Betts play center.
“We’re happy that they’re both here," Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. "I’m sure it’ll work itself out. Next April, there will be nine guys in the lineup and there will be 13 position players on the team .... A lot could happen between now and then.”
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter: @RyanHannable