With roster expansion less than two weeks away, let’s take a look at the players that the Red Sox may promote from the minors to add to the active roster in September.
In the past five 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 limit 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 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. This analysis could change if the Red Sox make some moves before the waiver trade deadline.
OF Ryan Kalish -- Kalish has spent the better part of this season trying to make up for lost time and some believe he may be pressing and overcompensating. He’s been inconsistent with Pawtucket, but he’s still in the mix for a starting outfield spot with the big club in 2012, particularly if Boston doesn’t re-sign Cody Ross. Expect the 24-year-old to get some regular playing time during the final month of the season.
RHP Daniel Bard -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said Bard will rejoin Boston this season, perhaps before Sept. 1.
SS Jose Iglesias -- The Cuban shortstop is hitting .284/.344/.326 for Pawtucket since the All-Star break. He’s been ready defensively for more than a year. As soon as he gets called up, the audition begins for the starting job in 2013. On days he doesn’t start, he also could serve as a late-inning defensive replacement or a pinch runner.
RHP Chris Carpenter -- Acquired from Chicago as compensation for the loss of Theo Epstein, Carpenter spent most of the season on the disabled list after surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. The flame-throwing righty has been fairly dominant since his return, posting a 0.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and striking out 15 in 14.0 innings with Pawtucket.
OF Che-Hsuan Lin -- The athletic Taiwanese import has the makings of a solid fourth or fifth outfielder. He has phenomenal defensive skills, above-average speed and impressive plate discipline, but his hitting and power tools are fringy at best. His skills may be better suited for the National League, so he’s a trade candidate.
RHP Pedro Beato -- After being acquired from the Mets for Kelly Shoppach, Beato was immediately optioned to Pawtucket. A reliever with a 93 mph fastball and an average mid-80s slider, he pitched in 67 major-league games for the Mets in 2011 and 2012. He’ll be in the mix for a spot with Boston in 2013, but because he’ll have two options left after this year, he’ll likely end up back in Triple-A next season.
ON THE BUBBLE
All of the above players are presently on Boston’s 40-man roster, which is currently full at 40 players. Accordingly, the Red Sox would need to clear space to add non-40-man players to the major-league roster before season’s end. That could be accomplished in a number of ways, such as moving Carl Crawford or Will Middlebrooks to the 60-day DL, shutting down Daisuke Matsuzaka for the season, unloading marginal major leaguers who don’t have a future with the club or via trade.
RHP Alex Wilson -- I’ll put Wilson in the “more likely than not” category. A converted reliever with sixth- or seventh-inning potential, Wilson has posted a 3.07 ERA out of the Pawtucket bullpen, but he’s had some control issues, walking 24 in 55.2 innings. He’s Rule 5 eligible this offseason, so it’s expected he’ll be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 20.
LHP Drake Britton -- The 23-year-old left-hander has pitched very well since joining Double-A Portland on June 1, returning himself to legitimate prospect status after a subpar 2011 season. He’s already on the 40-man, and as such Boston may consider giving him a late-season call-up to get him acclimated to a major-league setting. But it’s certainly reasonable to question whether the current Red Sox clubhouse is the best atmosphere for that type of call-up.
C Dan Butler -- The Red Sox almost always call up a third catcher in September. While he’s not a top prospect, Butler is a reliable defensive backstop and is seemingly next on the depth chart.
RHPs Stolmy Pimentel and Zach Stewart -- Of the players currently on Boston’s 40-man roster, Pimentel and Stewart may be the least likely to join the major-league club in September. While he’s still a decent prospect, Pimentel hasn’t been able to show much consistency against Double-A competition in 2012. Stewart, acquired as part of the Kevin Youkilis trade, has been mediocre, going 3-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 10 games with the PawSox.
RHPs Steven Wright, Jose De La Torre and Will Inman -- All three pitchers have impressed with Pawtucket, and all three are eligible for minor-league free agency this offseason. While the Red Sox could keep them under control for the foreseeable future by adding them to the 40-man roster, the club can only add so many players this season, possibly leaving this trio on the outside looking in.
OF Juan Carlos Linares and LHP Chris Hernandez -- Like the above group, both Linares and Hernandez have performed admirably in Triple-A, but their contract status might keep them from getting to the major leagues this season. Both have another year before they are Rule 5 eligible, and the club may choose not to use valuable roster space on them until necessary.
Former major leaguers -- Barring a major roster overhaul or a rash of injuries, a number of PawSox with previous major-league experience are unlikely to get the call to Boston this September, including pitchers Billy Buckner, Nelson Figueroa and Tony Pena, Jr., catcher Mike Rivera, infielders Nate Spears and Andy LaRoche, and outfielder Jason Repko.
Rule 5 eligible players -- A handful of borderline prospects may receive 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 Brock Huntzinger and Josh Fields, catcher Christian Vazquez and outfielders Alex Hassan and Jeremy Hazelbaker.