The Boston Red Sox have promoted rookie Mookie Betts for tonight’s game against the New York Yankees. It will be a quick indoctrination to the rivalry for Betts who will play outfield after playing second base almost exclusively in the past.
The move is a surprise to some after Red Sox manager John Farrell said last night the Red Sox would not be making any imminent roster moves. It’s the kind of move reserved for a one-of-a-kind talent like Mookie Betts. After being drafted in the 5th round three years ago, Betts has made remarkable progression through the Red Sox minor league ranks.
He’s the first Red Sox position player in 25 years to reach the majors three years after being drafted. Scouts rave at Betts’ pitch recognition, hand-eye coordination and feel for the strike zone.
“He’s just on everything,” said Alex Hassan of the PawSox, whose had a front row seat during Betts’ rapid rise.
The Red Sox roster now heavily features rookies. Betts’ promotion means he’ll be in the lineup alongside fellow newbie’s Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Betts is already saying all the right things.
“I’m just here to contribute,” Betts said. “The tables are turning. This is a good team, world champions last year. So I’m sure the table will turn. It’s not just on me. It’s a group effort.”
Betts was stellar in the minors this year batting .355 in 54 games played with Portland. After being promoted to AAA Pawtucket, Betts reached based in all 23 games he played.
Defensively there might be concerns. Betts has played a grand total of 29 games in his career as an outfielder.
If intangibles matter, Mookie Betts at least passes the name test. Mookie being a classic sports first name shared by fellow Mookie’s, Mookie Blaylock of the NBA and Mookie Wilson of MLB fame.
Standing at just 5 foot 9 Betts makes up for lack of size with great speed. The Red Sox are counting on his athleticism to translate to the outfield. If outfielding doesn’t work out, the Red Sox have a potential log jam at second base with stalwart Dustin Pedroia holding down that spot.
After being selected out of John Overton High School in Nashville, Betts immediately made nine throwing errors playing shortstop in the minor leagues. After the position switch to second, Betts has been nothing but a spark plug, once reaching base in 66 consecutive games.