Kevin Aherne (@KAherne17)
Red Sox top prospect Mookie Betts made his AAA debut Tuesday night with Pawtucket, reaching base just once in five plate appearances as part of a losing effort to the Bulls in Durham, NC.
Betts, a 21-year old second baseman is considered Boston's #1 overall farmhand according to SoxProspects.com. Since being drafted out of John Overton High School (TN) in the 5th round of the 2011 draft, he has quickly climbed his way through the system, making brief stops in Lowell, Greenville, Salem, and Portland.
After finishing the 2013 season with a .313 batting average, 15 home runs, and 65 RBI--splitting time between Greenville and Salem--he began the 2014 campaign in Portland with he Sea Dogs.
In 54 games at the AA level, Betts posted some impressive numbers; .355 batting average, 6 home runs, 34 RBI, an OBP of .443, and an OPS of .994. He's also has speed in the base paths, earning 22 steals in 25 attempts, and well poised on defense with a .981 fielding percentage at second base.
Betts was called on to make his AAA debut on Tuesday, and was tossed straight into the fire. Batting from the leadoff spot, Betts connected on a 1-1 pitch from Nate Karns and drove it deep into center, directly into the glove of Mike Mahtook--just shy of the warning track--to record the first out of the game in his first at-bat as a member of the Paw Sox.
In the 3rd inning, Betts came to the plate again, this time with 2 outs and none aboard, swinging into a strikeout on the sixth pitch from Karns.
In the 5th inning, with two out and two on, Betts reached base for the first time, drawing a 5-pitch walk.
And in the 7th inning, facing lefty CJ Riefenhauser, he popped an 0-2 pitch to shallow right field for the inning's second out.
Betts' first true test came in the top of the ninth. Down three runs and with one out, he approached the plate representing the go-ahead run. He watched the first pitch; a ball high and outside from Durham closer Kirby Yates. He watched the second pitch, a fastball down Broadway for a called strike. Betts took a rip at the third pitch, hitting it on the screws, but directly at third baseman Cole Figueroa.
Outlook: Hedging your Betts
Clearly, you can't judge a prospect on one (or even 20) games. But, it did seem that Mookie Betts was a little overwhelmed at the plate. However with speed, pop, and a solid glove, he will definitely be part of Boston's future plans: most likely as trade bait.
Betts is a 5-tool player, young and promising, but the Red Sox have made a significant commitment to Dustin Pedroia through 2021. The Sox have tried Betts out in the outfield--an area where they clearly lack depth--but don't be fooled. This guy is a second baseman. He has the mentality of, and is built like a major league infielder... now it is just a matter of determining who's jersey he will wear when he takes his spot on a Major League roster.
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