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The Red Sox have plenty of high powered talent to contend in 2018. Despite complaints from fans, there are a few players to keep an eye on.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, it felt appropriate to highlight five players that Sox fans will be smitten with in the upcoming season.
It would be very easy to highlight the likes of Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Andrew Benintendi, Kimbrel, and others for this list, but this will focus on players that are seeking a breakout in 2018.
1. Rafael Devers
What didn’t the rookie do in his first taste of the majors? Devers flashed power numbers, poise at the plate, and his defensive potential. Yes, the rookie was a bit of a liability in the field, but there is no doubt that it will become a focus of new manager, Alex Cora.
In his first season, he clobbered 10 home runs and drove in 30 runs which should look to continue to grow with playing time.
Rafael Devers has the potential to become a 25+ home run hitter and it is very possible that the Red Sox will get a first hand taste of that in the upcoming season.
2. Christian Vazquez
The catcher position has resembled a bit of a turnstile since Jason Varitek occupied those duties. The Red Sox have seen Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Ryan Hanigan, Sandy Leon, and others get innings behind the plate since the Captain retired.
Finally, it appears that the Red Sox will have a mainstay behind the plate.
Vazquez posted career high numbers in nearly every offensive category. The young catcher posted a .290 batting average and had one of the biggest hits for the Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians.
— Marino Pepén (@Marino_Pepen) August 5, 2017
New manager, Alex Cora has expressed the desire to end the platoon behind the plate and there is no reason why Vazquez won’t surpass Sandy Leon as the full time catcher.
3. Carson Smith
The Tommy John victim was one of Dave Dombrowski’s first move as GM. In a move that sent Wade Miley to Seattle, the Red Sox may have found a set up man.
Smith flashed his potential on the mound in his return to Boston last season. He posted a 1.35 ERA in 8 appearances but showcased his put away slider and his ability to get ground balls.
Carson Smith and this absolute filth is officially back for 2018 pic.twitter.com/YbTi7myImX
— Section 10 Podcast (@Section10Pod) January 8, 2018
Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and others have all tried their hand in the 8th inning over the past few seasons, but have lacked consistency. Assuming he can stay healthy, it is very possible that Carson Smith will become the set up man – and potential closer – of the future.
4. David Price
Yes, that David Price. The $217 million man that has already upset nearly every Red Sox fan on the planet.
The reality is, Price is finally healthy and showcased his ability towards the end of the season. There are rumblings from fans to leave him in the bullpen, but there are no plans to put that much money in the middle innings.
In Fort Meyers, Price has already expressed the desire to remain in Boston and complete his 7 year contract. Who could blame him if he wanted to leave? He’s been oft-injured and lost the interest of many fans, but props to the multi-year all star for remaining committed to this phenomenal organization.
Sure, this is controversial, but Red Sox fans will fall in love with David Price in 2018 if he is able to remain healthy.
5. Marco Hernandez
Hernandez is a little-known commodity among Red Sox fans. Before suffering a season-ending injury in 2017, the utility player was valuable with a .276 average.
Dustin Pedroia has vowed to be back by Opening Day; however with his extensive injury history there is no reason to rush him back. With the door opening, Marco Hernandez is primed to step in and excel as the second base option.
There are certainly a number of factors involved with this choice, such as the potential re-signing of Eduardo Nunez, but as the current roster stands – Hernandez may get a chance to prove his value in 2018.
Enjoy this Valentine’s Day, Sox fans.
Men, take your significant other out and express your love to them, but don’t be afraid to mix a little Red Sox talk in there.
If nothing else, you can always get your wife / girlfriend a framed Andrew Benintendi picture, right?