January 14, 2014 at 3:22 PM
BOSTON -- By no means is it a stretch to say 2013 was a breakout campaign for Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts. The athletic second baseman went from being ranked outside of the SoxProspects.com Top 40 entering the season to now residing at spot No. 10 on our list in a loaded farm system, picking up the site’s Offensive Player and Breakout Player of the Year awards along the way.
If you ask him though, the secret to his success is simple. “Just work,” Betts said at the New Stars for Young Stars fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund on Jan. 11. “Just trying to work hard in the offseason, trying to make things happen.”
Betts was taken out of high school as a raw four-sport athlete in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He played very little that season, and spent 2012 in extended spring training and Short-Season A Lowell. Though he batted .267/.352/.307 in 71 games that season, he came on strong in the second half after moving from shortstop to second, and many saw him as a having the potential to grow into a plus defender at second with an excellent approach at the plate and good speed on the basepaths.
But the 5-foot-9, 156-pound Betts was considered anything but a power threat at the time. He did not even hit his first professional home run until this past spring with Low-A Greenville. However, that first one came in just his fifth game of the season, and he never looked back, finishing the season with 15 longballs totaled across two levels, while hitting a cool .314/.417/.506 in 127 games.
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Photo credit: Mookie Betts at New Stars for Young Stars by Kelly O'Connor
Matt Huegel is managing editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP. SoxProspects.com executive editor Chris Hatfield also contributed reporting to this story.