The Red Sox on Tuesday promoted second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts to Triple-A Pawtucket, general manager Ben Cherington confirmed.
The 21-year-old Betts -- the organization’s No. 1 prospect, as ranked by SoxProspects.com -- hit .355 in 54 games for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs this season. He had 6 homers, a .994 OPS and 34 RBIs in 214 at bats.
"We looked at his performance over the course of the season today, he's really excelled in every area of the game and that's been going on," Cherington said on a conference call to discuss the upcoming draft. "He's controlling the strike zone, he's running the bases, he's playing defense, he's obviously hitting -- he's hitting for power. I think at some point we have an obligation to challenge our young players when they are performing at a level where it's not certain that they are being challenged. It's up to us to make sure that they're being challenged."
The career second baseman just recently spent some time in center field in Portland, the club figuring it will have a need for an outfielder long before a second baseman, with Dustin Pedroia under contract through 2021.
"This conversation started a few days ago and we wanted to avoid introducing too much all at once to Mookie," Cherington said. "Because he started to play some outfield we wanted to give him a little bit of time to settle in in the outfield before also introducing him to Triple-A. Now that he's gotten a little time in the outfield, and he's gotten comfortable out there, we felt like it was the time to move him up to Pawtucket."
Before the Red Sox's game Tuesday in Cleveland, manager John Farrell said “you can’t rule out” the possibility that Betts could be summoned at some point this season to help the major league team. Farrell said the plan for Betts at the outset of his time in Pawtucket is to play second base. Eventually, however, Farrell expects Betts also to be used in center field, where he had played a handful of games for Portland.
“A positional fit defensively is going to be part of this,’’ Farrell said of Betts’s big-league prospects. “It’s exciting to see a young player who this time a year ago was in the South Atlantic League. He’s moving quick.
“A player tells you when he’s ready for the next challenge, and his performance at Double-A suggests that. He’s doing some things offensively that are eye-popping, when you see how productive and consistent he’s been.’’
Betts, 21, started the 2013 season with Greenville in the lower Class A South Atlantic League before being promoted to high Class A Salem of the Carolina League, where he hit .341 with 22 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases in 51 games.