Who's hot, who's not for Red Sox heading into Opening Day


Who’s hot, who’s not for Red Sox heading into Opening Day originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Red Sox are ready for Opening Day after wrapping up spring training on Tuesday.

With a 4-1 win over the defending champion Texas Rangers, the Red Sox finished the spring with a 19-12-3 record. Now, they’ll shift their focus to Thursday night when they’ll open their 2024 regular season against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Before the 162-game grind begins, here’s a look at the players who are red-hot and ice-cold heading into the campaign:

Who’s hot

Rafael Devers, 3B: .380/.436/.720, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 14 K, 5 BB (18 games)

Devers is entering Opening Day in midseason form. The two-time All-Star raked throughout spring training, and he put the exclamation point on his stellar preseason with his fifth home run on Tuesday. Of course, no one is worried about how Devers will fare at the plate in 2024. The only concern is his defense at the hot corner, which was dreadful for most of the 2023 season.

Trevor Story, SS: .380/.448/.640, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 15 K, 6 BB (19 games)

Trevor Story returning to All-Star form would be a massive development for Boston. The former Colorado Rockies shortstop has struggled through injuries and lackluster performance since signing his six-year contract in 2022.

If Story’s spring is a harbinger of what’s to come, Red Sox fans should be excited. He’s looked more like himself at the plate while stabilizing the middle of the infield with his above-average glove at shortstop. He’ll be an X factor for Boston in 2024.

Ceddanne Rafaela, OF: .270/.319/.508, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 13 K, 4 BB (23 games)

We got a quick glimpse of Rafaela in the big leagues toward the end of last season, but we’re about to get the full Rafaela experience in 2024. The No. 4 ranked prospect in Boston’s system (per MLB Pipeline) is expected to get plenty of playing time in center field and could also help out at second base. Wherever he plays, he’ll bring his elite defensive talents.

As much as Rafaela is known for his glove, the Curaçao native can do serious damage at the plate. He showed that with six doubles and three homers this spring. The number one area he’ll need to improve is chasing bad pitches, which has led to high strikeout totals in both the minors and the majors.

Connor Wong, C: .341/.386/.634, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 SO, 2 BB (16 games)

The Red Sox are in good hands at the catcher position until No.3 ranked prospect Kyle Teel is ready for The Show. Wong, while not a huge offensive threat, is capable of getting hot at the plate. He’s proven that this spring as one of Boston’s most consistent hitters. His real value comes as a defensive backstop who can throw out runners, but he’ll be just fine offensively while we await Teel’s arrival.

Garrett Whitlock, SP: 21.2 IP, 0.88 WHIP, 22 K, 3 BB (six starts)

There was some debate earlier in the winter over whether Whitlock should start or return to his relief role this season. The right-hander has fared far better out of the bullpen so far in his MLB career. However, Lucas Giolito’s season-ending injury and the lack of noteworthy offseason additions made that argument moot and forced Whitlock into the rotation.

Whitlock will hope his spring success carries into the regular season. The 27-year-old has held opposing hitters to a .193 batting average through six starts and, most importantly, looks 100 percent healthy after battling elbow injuries.

Tanner Houck, SP: 15.0 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 16 K, 3 BB (five games, two starts)

Houck will join Whitlock at the back end of the rotation following speculation he’d serve as a reliever. The 27-year-old did a little of both this spring, appearing in five games and starting in two. Like Whitlock, he mowed down opposing hitters and held them under the Mendoza line (.189 BA). That’s a good sign for Boston entering a season where Whitlock and Houck’s performances will be critical.

Bullpen additions

New Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has taken heat for the club’s lack of offseason activity, but his under-the-radar bullpen additions have made their presence felt this spring.

Right-hander Greg Weissert, acquired from the New York Yankees in the Alex Verdugo trade, notched a 0.96 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 10 appearances.

Righty Isaiah Campbell, who arrived via the Luis Urias deal with the Seattle Mariners, didn’t allow a run in his nine outings (9.0 IP) and posted a 0.67 WHIP and 11 strikeouts.

Left-hander Lucas Luetge, who signed a minor-league contract, had a 2.61 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 14 strikeouts in nine games (10.1 IP).

Righty Justin Slaten, plucked from the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, didn’t allow an earned run in his six appearances and kept opponents to a .091 batting average.

It’s far too early to praise Breslow for building an elite bullpen, but the potential is there. These anonymous hurlers could develop into household names for Sox fans in 2024.

Who’s not

Nick Pivetta, SP: 18.0 IP, 5.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 22 K, 4 BB (five starts)

Pivetta hasn’t been as sharp as Whitlock or Houck thus far. The veteran righty has allowed 10 earned runs and 17 hits (three homers) through 18 innings. On the bright side, the command is there as he has walked only four batters, resulting in a respectable 1.17 WHIP. Pivetta will be the Red Sox’ No. 2 starter this season, so he’ll be counted on to look more like his 2023 second-half self when he makes his 2024 debut later this week.

Wilyer Abreu, OF: .127/.286/.270, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 26 K, 14 BB (26 games)

Abreu is one of the most intriguing players on Boston’s roster heading into 2024 after showcasing his talent through 28 big-league games at the end of last year. Unfortunately, he was unable to carry that success into the spring. He struggled mightily at the plate, amassing a measly .556 OPS while leading the team in strikeouts. The Red Sox will hope their exciting rookie got his slump out of his system.

Jarren Duran, OF: .250/.280/.438, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 K, 2 BB (16 games)

Duran was one of Boston’s few bright spots before undergoing season-ending toe surgery last year. It was a quiet spring for the former top prospect, however, as he posted a .718 OPS with just one homer in 16 games. While this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, there’s no doubt the Red Sox will need more out of their speedy outfielder in 2024.

Pablo Reyes, INF: .159/.333/.250, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 12 BB, 8 SO (23 games)

Reyes is on the roster for his defensive versatility, not his bat. Therefore, his poor offensive numbers aren’t worth getting worked up over. If anything, it’s a regression to the mean after his surprisingly strong stint with the club last year.

David Hamilton, 2B/SS: .128/.150/.179, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 11 K, 1 BB (18 games)

Hamilton didn’t make the team out of spring training and that isn’t surprising when looking at his numbers. The speedy infielder went just 5-for-39 at the plate. While the Red Sox could use the additional middle infield depth and his speed on the basepaths, Hamilton hasn’t shown the ability to have competitive at-bats at the big-league level. That’ll keep him in the minors for now.



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