Many of the Red Sox have reported to Spring Training, but which are poised for breakout campaigns this season?
It’s an annual phenomenon for most Major League organizations. There are players that under perform, while there are others that out perform preseason expectations. In the Red Sox camp, they are coming off of a World Series title and while many analysts expect them to contend for a repeat performance, there are individuals that may surprise and bolster the chances to repeat.
SP – Eduardo Rodriguez
There is an argument to be made that Rodriguez would have completed his breakout campaign if it weren’t for a fluke injury against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before the All Star break last season, the left hander posted an 11-3 record, combined with a 3.44 ERA.
During his short career, ERod has flashed frontline starter potential. His arsenal includes a mid-90’s fastball, mixed with a plus slider, and solid changeup. Unfortunately, his inability to find the strike zone, coupled with injuries, has derailed any true opportunity to have a breakout campaign.
Entering his 5th season with the Red Sox, expect to see Eduardo Rodriguez emerge as a top tier starter in the AL East.
OF – Andrew Benintendi
Let me be clear – Andrew Benintendi is an excellent baseball player, but he’s yet to produce as the top prospect in all of baseball. Yes, it wasn’t all that long ago that the Red Sox young outfielder was dubbed the number one overall prospect in the game.
Benintendi has produced at an above average level and has become a staple in the Red Sox lineup, but in 2019 he should take the next step alongside Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and assert himself as a perennial All Star candidate. He’s yet to put together a season with 100 RBI’s, not a season with 25 HR’s or a .300+ batting average.
It would be highly unsurprising to see him hit .300 with 20+ HR’s at the top of the defending World Champions’ order.
RP – Travis Lakins
If you’re looking for a dark horse candidate to emerge in the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen, look no further than Travis Lakins. The young reliever will be looking to make his Major League debut in 2019. It wasn’t too long ago that there were major questions about the Buckeye alumni’s development, but those were answered swiftly when Lakins was shifted into the bullpen.
Last season, the relief prospect posted a 2.61 ERA in Portland and earned a mid-season call up to AAA Pawtucket. After earning a promotion, he didn’t disappoint by posting a 1.65 ERA and earning multiple saves. His quick ascension to earn a Spring Training invite, coupled with the opportunity for high leverage innings with the Red Sox, should point to him as a potential breakout candidate in 2019.
Prospect / SP – Jay Groome
While this candidate won’t make his mark on the Red Sox roster this season, he should be primed for a breakout campaign in the upcoming season. In May of last season, Groome underwent the dreaded Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. If you hadn’t heard of Groome after being selected by the Red Sox in 2016, it’s likely that you heard of him being mentored by Sox ace, Chris Sale.
The young left hander has yet to complete a full season at the minor league seasons, twice being derailed due to injury. At this point, many prospects may get written off as a “bust” or “injury prone”; however Groome is only 20 years old and has plenty of potential at his disposal. In the weeks leading up to the draft, he was considered to be the best young arm available, but slid due to questions over being able to sign him to a contract.
He signed with the Red Sox, but will look to put together his first full season as a professional. Despite coming off of TJ, Groome is ranked as the Sox #2 overall prospect and should allow fans to get excited about his future potential as an ace.