Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi. Of all these guys fit the bill of players who broke out in one way or another in 2018 for Boston. Through this article, we’ll try and identify a few guys who could take the next step in their contributions for the Red Sox next year. Barring a major acquisition to bolster the backend of the bullpen, the Sox are likely done making moves. So, with the roster all but set, let’s take a look at some potential breakout players for the Red Sox in 2019.
A former second rounder, Travis suffered a brutal knee injury a couple of years ago. He had potential to be the first basemen of the future, leading all of triple-A in RBIs before his ACL blew out. Sam Travis will turn 26 next season, and his chances to be an everyday major leaguer are looking slim. However, a role is still available for him. If one of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce significantly drop off, or the Sox need some power off the bench, Travis could find his way to staying on the roster. Travis has always been a high walk/low strikeout type player, which gives him immediate as a bench player. Having a smart hitter available in a late game situation is something that every contending team could use, and Travis will have his chance to earn this role. For the time being, he’s going to need another strong March to crack the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.
Like Travis, Michael Chavis is a former top pick of the Sox. A first rounder just a few years ago, Chavis looked to be on the right trajectory to being an everyday player in the Major Leagues. However, a suspension to begin 2018 set everything back for Chavis. Now that he’s hopefully learned his lesson regarding Performance Enhancing Drugs, he can get back to the basics. He hit just under .300 in the minor last season, mostly with double-A Portland, but he eventually made his way to triple-A Pawtucket. A fantastic pure hitter, Chavis’ bat will earn him a call-up a some point in 2019.
The issue for Chavis is that he runs into someone we’ll discuss more later, Rafael Devers. Devers is the long-term starting third baseman for the Sox, and that’s Chavis’ natural position. If he were willing to be moved to either first, or to take reps at DH and second base, he could have a good chance at an early call-up in 2019. If he’s successful, he could be in the lineup everyday by 2020.
There is one name that gets me incredibly excited, Durbin Feltman. Not just because he has a fantastic baseball name. Also because he has the chance to play a huge role on this team almost immediately. Feltman was the closer at TCU this time last year. Now he’s soaring through the ranks of the Boston minor league system. If Feltman can somehow even make his way onto the opening day roster, there’s a slim chance he begins as the closer.
However, we will see Feltman at some point this season for the Red Sox. It may not be right away, and it may not be in his comfortable position of the ninth inning, but we will get to see a taste of the possible future. Feltman is just 21 years old, and will likely begin the season in triple-A. This means that he will likely be pitching in big innings by the time he’s 22-23. If all goes well, he could be closing games in Boston for a long time. His potential call-up in 2019 should be one that makes Red Sox fans salivate.
The fourth and final name on this list, is the one of the four who’s a mainstay on the Red Sox roster. Rafael Devers has had an up and down start to his major league tenure. This makes people forget he’s only 22. Getting called up in the middle of a playoff race in 2017, Devers was able to hold his own offensively and earn the starting job.
He regressed at the plate in 2018, and his defense still leaves a lot to be desired. With that being said, Devers is very much due for a massive 2019. He hit better in the playoffs, and had some huge moments for the Sox in the World Series. Lots of fans have already written him off and labeled him as a bust. Me? I think that Devers is about to turn the corner and establish himself as a premier, power-hitting third basemen. If you haven’t already, it’s time to hop on the Devers hype train.
All of these men will play a role at some point in 2019 for the Red Sox, whether it be small or large. Each will also have a chance to earn themselves a spot in the bullpen or on the bench heading into 2020.