Four reasons to be encouraged by 2023 Red Sox season

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Four reasons to be encouraged by 2023 Red Sox season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Red Sox are on the brink of their second straight last-place finish in the American League East. They just fired their chief baseball officer ahead of what will be a pivotal offseason for the organization.

Suffice it to say, the vibes at Fenway Park aren’t exactly brimming with positivity these days.

But as disappointing as they were, the Red Sox still gave fans a few reasons to reflect on the 2023 season with a glass-half-full perspective. The one common theme of that positive outlook? Promising young talent.

Here are four reasons to be encouraged by the 2023 Red Sox, despite their results.

As the Red Sox’ former top prospect, Triston Casas was arguably the most hyped player on the roster entering the 2023 season. So when he experienced growing pains in April, there understandably was some disappointment.

Casas erased all doubts about his talent after the first month of his rookie season. From May 1 on, the 23-year-old first baseman hit .291/.385/.531 with 18 doubles, 21 homers, 57 RBIs, 54 walks and 99 strikeouts in 107 games.

Casas is the likely runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award behind Baltimore Orioles star Gunnar Henderson. As of Tuesday, he leads all qualified AL rookies with an .842 OPS.

While his season ended on a sour note due to a shoulder injury, Casas left fans with plenty to look forward to in the coming years. He already is living up to the hype as the potential next face of the franchise alongside fellow slugger Rafael Devers.

Many had written Jarren Duran off after another letdown season for the former top prospect in 2022. The tipping point came in late July/early August. His blunder in the outfield led to a Toronto Blue Jays inside-the-park grand slam, and two weeks later he misplayed two fly balls and got into it with Kansas City Royals fans at Kauffman Stadium.

Those unflattering moments are distant memories thanks to Duran’s 2023 redemption tour. The 27-year-old was one of Boston’s best all-around players before a toe injury ended his season in August.

Duran’s speed was a game-changer for the Red Sox offense. He consistently turned singles into doubles (34 in 102 games) and was a pest on the basepaths with 24 stolen bases out of 26 attempts.

It remains unclear whether Duran can produce consistently against left-handed pitching. Even so, his emergence is among the most positive takeaways from the 2023 season. Barring an offseason trade, he should play a significant role in any success the club has in 2024.

In 2023, “Bello Day” was born.

As part of a lackluster Red Sox rotation, the 24-year-old gave fans something to look forward to every fifth day. He leads all Boston starting pitchers in ERA (3.71) and innings pitched (148). He’s second in strikeouts (127) behind swingman Nick Pivetta (166).

Bello took a no-hitter into the eighth inning back in June against the Miami Marlins. The right-hander has earned a reputation as a “Yankee killer” because of his success against Boston’s archrival.

While he has yet to consistently showcase ace potential, Bello’s first full season in the majors was a success. He figures to enter 2024 as a rock-solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter, assuming the Red Sox find an anchor for the staff this upcoming offseason.

Ever since it became clear that the Red Sox weren’t making the postseason, the young guns have been the only compelling reason to tune in to games. More specifically, the tandem of outfield prospects Wilyer Abreu and Ceddanne Rafaela.

Abreu, who was acquired from the Houston Astros along with infielder Enmanuel Valdez in last year’s Christian Vazquez trade, has been on fire since his late-August call-up. The 24-year-old enters Tuesday’s action hitting .364/.435/.509 with one homer, 10 RBIs, seven walks, and 16 strikeouts through his first 20 big-league games.

It’s a small sample size, but one that should still intrigue Sox fans entering the offseason. It’ll be interesting to see how Boston approaches its outfield situation, because there’s another young outfielder who will be vying for a spot on the 2024 Opening Day roster.

Rafaela already is considered an elite defensive center fielder, and he has the ability to play both middle infield spots if needed. Although he still has issues chasing pitches out of the strike zone, the 23-year-old put up monster numbers at the plate for Triple-A Worcester and carried that success into his first MLB stint.

Through his first 19 MLB games, Rafaela is hitting .296/.321/.500 with two homers.

If this impressive collection of young talent can build off its success next season, it’ll go a long way toward returning the Red Sox to relevancy. Of course, the only real way to shake off the negativity surrounding the club heading into 2024 will be to make some big moves this winter. It remains to be seen who those moves will be made by.

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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