With roster expansion less than a week away, let’s take a look at the players that the Red Sox may promote from the minors and add to the active major league roster in September.
In the past six years, the club has added somewhere between seven and 12 minor leaguers to its active roster each September, in varying capacities. Some have come aboard as impact role players, while others have joined the club just to get their first taste of a major league clubhouse atmosphere. Similarly, some are added immediately on Sept. 1 when the active roster expands from 25 to 40, others are not promoted until Triple-A Pawtucket’s season ends (which is Sept. 2 this season, but could be later as the PawSox have a very good chance at making the playoffs), and still others are only promoted for a cup of coffee during the final week of the season.
Here’s the pool of players Boston will look to when considering who will be added this September.
C Ryan Lavarnway -- The 26-year-old backstop has already spent a decent portion of the season with the big club. It seems highly likely that he’ll get the call on Sept. 1 to serve as a pinch hitter and third catcher.
IF Brock Holt -- Seeing that Boston is currently utilizing Will Middlebrooks as its backup second baseman, it’s a safe bet that Holt will be added to the Red Sox roster on Sept. 1 as well. The 25-year-old infielder is capable of playing second base, shortstop, and third base. He’s hitting .265/.329/.322 with Pawtucket.
OF Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Bradley could provide a spark off the bench and a bench option in center field behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino. He could be up on Sept. 1, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Triple-A until the end of the PawSox season. In 2012, the PawSox season went all the way through Sept. 13, when they won the Governors’ Cup.
RHP Rubby De La Rosa -- The Dominican right-hander has appeared in five games with Boston this season, and already has 67 major league innings under his belt. He was moved to the Pawtucket bullpen upon his most recent option to Triple-A. He should get some situational relief innings with Boston in September, with an eye toward possibly making the big club out of the gate in 2014.
RHP Jose De La Torre -- the 27-year-old righty hasn’t had great success with Boston in 2012 (6.35 ERA in 7 appearances), but he’s posted a 2.94 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and struck out 55 batters in 49 innings with Pawtucket. It’s expected he’ll get the call to Boston in early September. He’ll most likely be utilized when the team needs another arm in extra innings affairs or in mop-up duty. He should be back with Pawtucket in 2014.
RHP Allen Webster -- Webster has had a tough run since May, lacking consistency at both the major league and Triple-A levels. He’s shown flashes of brilliance every few starts, but he’s had too many poor showings over the past few months. He’ll likely stick with Pawtucket until the end of the Triple-A season, but Boston may be best served to call him up to the big club and let him loose in some low-leverage situations to help rebuild his consistency and confidence. He obviously factors into the team’s plans for rotation depth in 2014.
ON THE BUBBLE
RHP Alex Wilson -- Wilson is technically in Pawtucket rehabbing a sprained right thumb, but he has not pitched since Aug. 5 when he re-aggravated the injury. He’ll seemingly be activated when he’s healthy.
RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Steven Wright, and RHP Brayan Villarreal -- All three pitchers are currently on the club’s 40-man roster, and all have been with Boston at some point this season. None of the three would seemingly be called up to pitch in high-leverage situations, but it’s always good to have extra arms available in emergency situations. Any of the three could get the call at the end of the PawSox season.
OF Alex Hassan -- Hassan, hitting .315/.429/.459 with Pawtucket, was seemingly in line for a September call-up, especially given that he’s already on the team’s 40-man roster. But he suffered a fractured middle finger on his right hand when he was hit by a pitch during a bunt attempt on Aug. 15, and the timetable for his return is unclear. The 25-year-old Massachusetts native is capable of playing left field, right field, and first base.
C Dan Butler and C Christian Vazquez -- The two catchers are each having excellent seasons with Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, respectively. Both are presently on the 40-man roster and both could be in the club’s long-term plans, at least as backups. Vazquez is an elite defensive backstop who would provide another option as a late-inning replacement. Butler, also a solid defender, is hitting .266/.355/.487 with 14 home runs for Pawtucket.
RHP Brock Huntzinger and LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith -- The two pitchers have excelled out of the Pawtucket bullpen this season -- coincidentally both have a 1.57 ERA. Both are set to be minor league free agents this offseason if not re-signed or added to the 40-man roster. It’s the latter point that could create issues, as the team would have to get creative to open up spots on the 40-man roster this season. That said, Alex Wilson could be transferred to the 60-day DL if he’s not on track to return. After that, IF Brandon Snyder is a candidate to be outrighted to Pawtucket. Even if promoted to Boston, the pitchers would presumably be behind De La Rosa, De La Torre, Webster, and Beato on the depth chart.
RHP Daniel Bard -- Currently assigned to Portland, Bard was placed on the minor league disabled list on June 9 with an abdominal strain. He had been shut down since May 15 after struggling with his control with the Sea Dogs (6.39 ERA in 13 appearances). He was placed in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League on a rehab assignment on Aug. 26. Even if healthy, it’s still questionable whether the team would promote Bard to Boston in September.
Former major leaguers -- Barring a major roster overhaul or a rash of injuries, a number of PawSox and Sea Dogs with previous major-league experience are unlikely to get the call to Boston this September. This list includes pitchers Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Chris Carpenter, Charlie Haeger, Rafael Perez and Matt Maloney; infielders Drew Sutton and Jonathan Diaz, and outfielder Mitch Maier.
Rule 5 eligible players -- A handful of prospects might receive limited consideration for a call-up if the front office has already determined that it will add them to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. This group includes pitchers Anthony Carter (a potential minor league free agent), Anthony Ranaudo, and Chris Hernandez; third basemen Garin Cecchini and Michael Almanzar; and outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker, Bryce Brentz, and J.C. Linares. All seem highly unlikely to be called up, with the possible exception of Hazelbaker, who could be utilized as a dedicated pinch runner. Boston previously used speedy outfielder Joey Gathright in that role in September 2009 and September 2011.