By Brian Maloney
NoontimeSports’s coverage of previewing the Boston Red Sox continues today with our thoughts on the middle infield.
Second Base – The “laser show,” Dustin Pedroia, is expected to be in the Red Sox line up everyday at Second Base. Pedroia’s foot injury should not be an issue come Opening Day, so his usual consistent fielding and solid hitting is expected to continue come April.
Of course, Jed Lowrie is also the reserve option here too, as his abilities will be used all over the infield and not just at second base.
Yamaico Navarro is probably the number one option in Pawtucket to fill in as a utility infielder. He and Oscar Tejeda are the only middle infielders on the 40-man roster that are not expected to be on the Opening Day lineup card against Texas. Navarro has experienced time in Boston, but Tejeda is over a year from even being seriously considered a true “back-up.”
Most reserve players in the infield will have to show their versatility to get called up, but the Red Sox brought in Nate Spears, Drew Sutton, and Brent Dlugach as non-roster Invitees to camp this spring, so consider all three of these young men options. All three have played second base at the professional level, but would need to show what they are truly worth before the season begins. Spears would probably be the first called up, but these players are virtually interchangeable. Tejeda is probably the top prospect in the system amongst second basemen, but a name to watch for in the future is Sean Coyle. The third round pick in last year’s draft is expected to spend the year in Greenville and has drawn early comparisons to Dustin Pedroia.
Starter: Dustin Pedroia
Backup: Jed Lowrie
40-Man Roster: Yamaico Navarro and Oscar Tejeda
Hot Prospect(s): Nate Spears, Drew Sutton, Brent Dlugach, Hector Luna, Oscar Tejeda, Yamaico Navarro and Sean Coyle
Shortstop- The shortstop position has always been a true toss up with the Red Sox, but clearly, Marco Scutaro is the favorite for the job and will be on the field Opening Day roster. That being said, this is also Jed Lowrie’s job too. Lowrie, while serving as primary backup across the infield, will take over the starting shortstop job this season, but don’t expect it to occur in April or May. The Red Sox want him in the lineup every day and if he is healthy, he can certainly contribute.
Yamaico Navarro goes for the three-peat and shows up again as the primary minor league option for help at shortstop. Oscar Tejeda is also on the 40-man roster and is eligible to be called up too.
However, Jose Iglesias, the shortstop of the future, could very well be less than a season away from Boston. There is little argument that Iglesias is the shortstop for the next ten years; it’s just a matter of when we first see this kid in a real Red Sox uniform. The very latest would be a September “call-up,” but a mid-summer preview could be in the works if any of the infielders sustain injuries.
While still very young, Iglesias’s glove is big-league ready and analysts have compared him to the Chicago White Sox shortstop, Omar Vizquel. This comparison is not unwarranted. He will make very few errors in the field, but he is undisciplined at the plate and shows little pop. He projects as an end of the lineup type hitter. The Non-Roster Invitee trio of Drew Sutton, Nate Spears, and Brent Dlugach are also shortstop possibilities. Hector Luna could also see some time if he gets added to the 40; he could be that 26th man for the Sox that goes up and down 95 throughout the season.
Starter: Marco Scutaro
Backup: Jed Lowrie
40-Man Roster: Yamaico Navarro, Oscar Tejeda and Jose Iglesias
Hot Prospect(s): Jose Iglesias, Yamaico Navarro Nate Spears, Drew Sutton, Brent Dlugach and Hector Luna