By Jeff Louderback
Jose Iglesias was scratched from Triple-A Pawtucket’s starting lineup on Monday. Could this be a sign that he will be called up to replace Carl Crawford on Boston’s active roster?
Renowned for his highlight-reel defense at shortstop, the 22-year-old Iglesias has made tremendous strides at the plate this season at Pawtucket. Over his last 10 games, Iglesias is batting .361 (13-for-36) and has worked six walks. The Red Sox are encouraged about the top prospect’s improved plate approach. Since Iglesias has little power, patience at the plate will be a critical part of his transition to Major League pitching.
Overall, Iglesias has a .269 average with one home run, 23 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 27 walks in 349 at-bats for the PawSox. Considering that Boston is 59-63 and 7.5 games behind Baltimore for the second wild card spot, it would be ideal for the team to recall Iglesias and start him at shortstop. Likely, the Red Sox will either trade or non-tender current shortstop Mike Aviles in the off-season, or even by the end of August.
The emergence of 26-year-old Pedro Ciriaco as a super utility player, and the fact that uber shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts is raking at Double-A Portland, has made Aviles and veteran utility man Nick Punto expendable.
If Iglesias is not recalled in time for Tuesday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels, the Red Sox could bring back 24-year-old outfielder Ryan Kalish, but Kalish would benefit from regular at-bats at Pawtucket as he continues to recover from missing much of last year and part of this season due to shoulder and neck injuries.
A more deserving call-up candidate is 27-year-old Cuban free agent signee Juan Carlos Linares, who can proficiently play all three outfield spots and is a right-handed hitter, an area in which the Red Sox are lacking in depth. Linares has a .298 average with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 191 at-bats at Pawtucket after hitting .333 with eight home runs and 33 RBI at Double-A Portland.
Ideally, Iglesias and Linares will be called up and the Red Sox will option Mauro Gomez to Pawtucket. Linares’ outfield versatility and right-handed bat would help, and Iglesias is an upgade at shortstop over Aviles, who can play multiple infield positions.