Zolak & Bertrand

Zolak & Bertrand

Zolak & Bertrand

  • WORCESTER - Triston Casas steps up to the plate during the final home game of the inaugural season at Polar Park on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette via Imagn Content Services)

    WORCESTER – Triston Casas steps up to the plate during the final home game of the inaugural season at Polar Park on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette via Imagn Content Services)

    After waiting far too long to start cutting dead weight off the big league roster, the Red Sox finally initiated that process by designating Hirokazu Sawamura and Austin Davis for assignment on Monday.

    While it should’ve happened weeks ago, there’s still time to bring up different guys to audition for a role on the 2023 Red Sox and beyond. Especially with September callups just a day away.

    Here are five names that are currently rotting away in Worcester that could create some clarity for the Red Sox and Chaim Bloom as he enters a make or break offseason.

  • 1. Triston Casas, 1B

    Dating back to Opening Day, Red Sox fans have been clamoring for 22-year-old Triston Casas to make his big league debut. Currently occupying the No. 2 spot on SoxProspects.com’s August rankings, he’s had an up-and-down season after a mediocre start and a high-ankle sprain that kept him out from May 17-July 22.

    Despite the bumps in the road, he’s put together a solid campaign in 68 games, slashing .271/.385/.478/.863 with 10 homers, 20 doubles, and a 128 wRC+.

    Once the calendar flipped to August though, Casas took it to another level after finding his timing again. Since August 1st, he’s put together a slashline of .329/.462/.541/1.003 with a 168 wRC+. All while being the 4th youngest batter in Triple-A East to accumulate at least 250 plate apperances.

    If Casas was healthy all season, it’s hard to imagine that he would still be in the minors. It’s time for him to get an extended opportunity down the stretch so the Red Sox can figure out if they want to pencil him at first base on Opening Day.

  • 2. Frank German, RHP

    Acquired in the trade for Adam Ottavino, Frank German has emerged as the Red Sox best pure relief prospect. He’s seen his stock skyrocket since transitioning to the bullpen at the end of last season and has put up dominant numbers between AA and AAA. SoxProspects.com has him ranked as the 30th best prospect in the system.

    After opening the year with the Sea Dogs, German posted a 3.18 ERA/2.08 FIP in 11 ⅓ innings before he was summoned to Worcester. He didn’t stop shoving following his promotion either, with a 2.97 ERA/3.47 FIP in 33.1 IP. Even against better competition, he didn’t struggle to miss bats with a 11.3 K/9. Like a majority of relievers, his control can escape him with a 4.3 BB/9, but his stuff would already stand out in the Red Sox bullpen.

    German throws a trio of pitches, with his upper 90s fastball leading the charge and a splitter and slider to work off of. He’s still working towards consistency with his secondaries, but they’ve shown the ability to miss bats.

    It’s also a big offseason coming up for German, since he’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Getting a chance to see if he’s worthy of a 40-man roster can’t hurt, especially with the stakes for the big league club not being particularly high. You don’t want to put yourself in a position to lose an arm that could help a bullpen that’s been short for years now.

  • 3. A.J. Politi, RHP

    A.J. Politi is another right-handed relief option currently putting up impressive numbers in Worcester, who’s the 56th ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization, per SoxProspects.com.

    While Politi’s stuff might not be as electric as German, he followed a similar path in 2022, earning a promotion from AA after opening the season with a 3.18 ERA/2.08 FIP in 13.1 IP. Since moving to the next level, he hasn’t skipped a beat, with a 2.78 ERA/3.72 FIP across 45.1 IP in Worcester with a 10.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.

    Currently, Politi’s arsenal is a fastball-slider combo with a curveball mixed in. He used a changeup in previous seasons, but he’s axed it in his 2022 outings.

    Politi is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at the end of 2022, so he’ll need to be protected on the 40-man roster if the Red Sox don’t want to risk losing him. Plenty of room for him with arms like Ryan Brasier and Jeurys Familia still on the roster.

  • 4. Connor Wong, C

    Out of the guys on this list, Connor Wong is the only one who’s already made his big league debut and spent a few short stints in Boston. Despite getting banged up at a few different points in 2022, it’s hard not to be impressed with his offensive production and receiving ability behind the plate. He comes in at No. 17 on SoxProspects.com’s rankings.

    After a subpar showing at Worcester last season, he’s gone on to hit .285/.348/.480/.827 with 14 long balls and a 119 wRC+ in 79 games this time around. His athleticism is also showing up as well, stealing 7 bases during that stretch.

    In recent weeks, Wong has started getting work at second base again, which wasn’t a consistent thing for him after landing with the Red Sox. It’s easy to see the similarities with him and someone like Austin Barnes, which has led to many projecting him as a back-up catcher. Always helps when Nate Eovaldi is complementary of your work behind the dish as well.

    When it comes to throwing out runners, his arm has always rated out as average. So far this season, he’s caught 12 out of 49 attempted base stealers, which puts him at 24 percent. Still better than anything Kevin Plawecki is giving you in that department.

    As Wong’s age-26 season winds down, why not let him audition for the back-up role? He could form an intriguing platoon alongside Reese McGuire and give the Red Sox a better idea of how to approach the position during the offseason. Plawecki has been an asset for the pitchers, but at this point in his career, his arm has become way too much of a liability for a team already struggling defensively.

  • 5. Eduard Bazardo, RHP

    Entering 2021, Eduard Bazardo was an arm generating a ton of buzz as a possible call-up for the Red Sox down the stretch. He only made two appearances in the bigs last year after a strained right lat left him missing time and with diminished velocity.

    Things looked even bleaker for Bazardo after he was DFA’d at the end of spring training, but he slipped through waivers and remained with the organization. He currently holds the No. 38 spot in the SoxProspects.com’s rankings.

    Bazardo has bounced back nicely this season with his velocity ticking back up, which has led to a 3.45 ERA/3.58 FIP in 57.1 IP. His peripherals point in the right direction as well, with a 9.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Not too shabby considering he owns a .353 BABIP on the year.

    So far this season, Bazardo has topped out at 95 MPH with his fastball. He still features his signature power curveball, along with a slider and splitter.

    Following 2022, Bazardo has the ability to be a minor league free agent and chase opportunities elsewhere. This could be the Red Sox last shot to see him work in the majors before he’s doing it somewhere else.

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