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In a lot of ways, the Red Sox season may have ended on Sunday when the White Sox completed their sweep of Boston. However, September is also a month of hope and renewal in baseball. With the 40-man roster, teams are able to bring up reinforcements from their farm systems and hold spring training tryouts as the season runs down. Currently nine games back of the first place Yankees and 7.5 games back of the Rays in the Wild Card race, the Sox are playing for 2011 as much as 2010.
On Monday, two more top prospects joined he big league club: Josh Reddick and Lars Anderson. With Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre all entering free agency and questions surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, these few weeks could be the difference between signing a veteran and continuing the youth movement.
Reddick made his major league debut last season and was up with the big league team earlier this season. In his 88 major league at bats, Reddick has hit .167/.205/.321/.526. He’s struggled, but the sample size is very small. At the start of the season, Reddick was considered the closest outfielder to the major leagues, but while struggling in both Triple-A Pawtucket and at the major league level, he was passed by Ryan Kalish who the Sox called upon when Ellsbury and Cameron were declared done for the season.
A slow first half has depressed Reddick’s numbers this year, his season line at Triple-A is .266/.301/.466/.767, but since the All-Star break the outfielder has been on a tear, hitting .351/.372/.627/.999. In whatever form momentum exists in baseball, Reddick couldn’t ask for a better hot streak to carry him into the majors. With two of the three outfield spots available on any given day, Reddick will get his share of at bats, likely taking time away from Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. J.D. Drew is entering his last year in Boston (2011), so this is a big opportunity for Reddick. The Red Sox have holes to fill and a strong showing in September won’t hurt his chances to contribute to the team through trade or by claiming a spot on the roster for himself.
Monday night, Lars Anderson made his major league debut as the starting first baseman of the Boston Red Sox. Anderson has been the subject of a lot of speculation and hype over his years advancing through the Red Sox farm system and it’s been a bumpy ride. Entering the last three seasons, Baseball America ranked Anderson the 40th, 17th and 87th best prospect in baseball. Coming off a short stay in Double-A where he hit .316/.436/.526/.962 to conclude the 2008 season. his future looked bright.
It’s easy to see how people were excited about Anderson entering 2009, his second go at Double-A, with murmurs about a September call-up attached to the young first baseman before the season even began. But things did not go according to plan, as Anderson followed up a strong 2008 with a weak .233/.328/.345/.673 showing with just 9 home runs in 2009. At the start of the 2010 season, Anderson was again at Double-A and exploded with a .355/.408/.667/.1.086 line and five home runs through his first 17 games. Needless to say, the Sox struck while the bat was hot and finally brought Anderson to Triple-A.
In Pawtucket things didn’t go nearly as well, but Anderson recorded a .262/.340/.428/.768 line with 10 home runs before his call up. A .768 OPS in the majors doesn’t usually cut it at first base, though through parts of five seasons, the Dodgers’ James Loney has an OPS of .790. Lars has a chance to show what he can do in the majors while Mike Lowell battles through his rib injury. At 22, he’s still young enough to become an impact player, and the Red Sox could move Youkilis to third base and use Lars to replace the departing Beltre. After 2009, Anderson needed a bounce back season this year and his September call-up could be the chance he needs to convince the Red Sox he’s ready to be trusted.