It was 2013 when the journey began. The journey in reference is the beginning of the career for pitcher Trey Ball. The 2013 draft was one of the worst drafts the Red Sox have had on record. The top two players in that draft are still in baseball, and still in the Red Sox organization. Many of the players in this draft including the remaining 8 in the top ten are no longer in the Red Sox organization and many of these players are no longer in professional baseball.
Ball was drafted 7th overall by the Red Sox. He was drafted as a pitcher and at the time of the draft; Ball was known as a project. Even though the pitcher was considered a project, his upside was tremendous and worth taking the flyer on. If the Red Sox did not draft Ball another organization would have.
The pitcher’s career has not been nearly what the Red Sox or the pitcher would have expected. In his 5 years as a pro Ball has an ERA over 5 and is 13 games under 500 as a pitcher. The pitcher is still with the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. This is seemingly where the story takes a turn. In the second go around with Portland, the pitcher is experiencing his worst season in the organization. With an ERA near 8.
At the beginning of this month the Red Sox front office also took notice of the never-ending struggles of Ball on the mound. In a game near the end of the season the Sea Dogs decided to place the pitcher in the lineup as a hitter. He played DH in that game, and in the first at bat he received in almost 5 years he ripped a Double.
This move could mark a huge milestone in the career of the former 7th overall pick. The Red Sox front office has talked about moving the pitcher to the outfield and making him a position player. Nothing is official yet, as Ball is still currently listed as a pitcher. In regard to the move to the outfield it does not appear that Ball is opposed to it. He wants to see his career on an upward trajectory and not stall out.
Photo Credit: Kelly O' Conner
Boston still shows an interest in having Ball in their organization. His ceiling is high and appears that his best route to the Major Leagues may be as an outfielder. Ball profiles as a corner outfield power hitter. He is going to have a great arm in the outfield wherever he plays. Players fizzle out all the time as pro players and a lot of teams miss on sure fire prospects.
It is hard to believe that if Ball were drafted in any other round but the first the Red Sox would not be investing this much into him. Boston’s front office wants to have something to show for the dollars they have spent trying to turn him into a viable major league option on the mound. If the project of moving Ball to the outfield is agreed upon and fails, don’t be surprised if the former pitcher is released or traded to a different organization.
If Boston were to go the trade route, the return would be minimal. The move to the outfield will be beneficial to both parties. Ball is blocked at the major league level by numerous proven outfielders, and players who have produced. If the former first round pick sticks as a hitter, the best option at this point for the Red Sox would be to trade him. Perhaps a fresh start in a new organization could be exactly what he needs to get his career back on track.
As no final decision has yet to be made regarding the future of the pitcher on the mound. He may never get another at bat. The Red Sox would be smart to make this move, as mentioned above it will help his trade value as well as keep the players best interest at heart. Dave Dombrowski has yet to fail Boston and all his moves have worked out for the better. If he can turn the first rounders career around that will be another plus on his long list of plusses since he has arrived in Boston.