The Boston Red Sox have a pitching problem, but there could be help on the way. Left-handed pitching prospect Kyle Hart earned the start in a simulated minor league game and had a fantastic performance. The lefty retired 18 consecutive batters during his time on the mound and could earn a shot in the majors before long.
Kyle Hart Retires 18 Consecutive Batters – Could Earn Major League Opportunity
Hart’s emergence is no one-game wonder, as the former 19th-round pick actually started to become a legitimate prospect early in 2019. Hart always put up decent numbers during his early years in the Red Sox farm system and even earned a spot on the minor league All-Star team in 2018.
Hart’s first step to becoming more than just a good minor leaguer began in 2019. Hart spent the entirety of the 2018 season with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, recording a 3.57 ERA and a 4.20 FIP in 138.2 innings of work. This was a solid season, but nothing remarkable, so he began 2019 back in Portland.
Hart immediately looked like a different guy. The lefty made nine starts with Portland to the tune of a 2.91 ERA and a 3.01 FIP. The organization decided that his impressive play earned a promotion, and Hart spent the rest of the year in Pawtucket. While his numbers weren’t as good, he wasn’t overwhelmed by the increase in competition. Overall, Hart pitched 100.1 innings in Pawtucket, allowing a 3.86 ERA and a 4.32 FIP.
The 2020 Boston Red Sox are going nowhere fast, and Kyle Hart appears to be improving on a yearly basis. At first glance, promoting Hart to the majors to see what he’s got seems like a good idea. However, there are a few concerns with that philosophy.
Kyle Hart knows how to get minor leaguers out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he can do it on the major league level. Hart doesn’t have the best “stuff”, and advanced hitters could tee off against his relatively pedestrian fastball and offspeed pitches.
According to Sox Prospects, Hart’s fastball sits in the 87-90 range, which could be a kiss of death. Some starters are capable of getting away with subpar fastballs, but those players are the exception to the rule. Hart has solid command, but nothing exceptional. Last year, he posted a 3.23 BB/9 during his time with Pawtucket. Quite frankly, it’s going to be hard for him to get by with this toolset.
Additionally, there is the risk that bringing him up too soon could mess with his current development. Hart is already 27, which is definitely on the older side for a minor leaguer. However, the fact that he’s still improving suggests that he is still learning the subtleties of the position and hasn’t plateaued as a prospect.
What to Do With Kyle Hart?
Frankly, the pros of bringing up Kyle Hart vastly outweigh the cons. Boston’s pitching is an absolute trainwreck right now, and it would be hard for Hart to be worse than any non-Nathan Eovaldi starter. In a best-case scenario, Hart can come up and pitch a few innings every five days. Nobody is expecting him to be the next Pedro Martinez, but he deserves the chance to show what he can do at the major league level.
If, however, Hart isn’t ready, the Red Sox can easily send him back down to the minors. Pitching well against AAA talent is certainly encouraging, but there’s no way to truly prepare for major league talent. If Hart clearly isn’t ready for the big stage, he can go back to Pawtucket and spend the rest of the season working on his game.
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