The MLB season is barely a week old, but Mookie Betts is already being called a future superstar by his teammates.
Betts, a 22-year-old who was made his MLB debut last year, won the battle for starting center fielder and lead-off batter this spring, beating out Cuban rookie Rusney Castillo, who signed a giant seven-year, $US72 million deal last August.
Castillo is now out with a shoulder injury, making the Red Sox’s decision easier, but according to Steve Silva of Boston.com, Betts was winning the competition when Castillo was healthy, too.
Amazingly, Betts had hardly ever played center field until last season when the Red Sox called him up and moved him from second base to the outfield. Nonetheless, he has given the Red Sox a jolt of energy on defence and offence.
On Monday afternoon at the Red Sox’s home-opener, Betts put on a show.
In the first inning, Betts robbed the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper of a home run with an insane snag over the fence:
After being walked on his first at-bat, Betts stole two consecutive bases, showing off his speed once again:
In the bottom of the second, Betts crushed a three-run home run over the Green Monster:
After the game, Betts was drawing rave reviews from coaches, teammates, and opponents.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “He basically took the game over.”
“He’s a kid, an unbelievable athlete. It’s how hard he works and the way he tries to do something different every day. At that age, as smart as he is, his athleticism and the way he approaches the game, it’s a no-doubter that he’s going to be a superstar.”
Harper said after the game, “Mookie is a great player. Being able to go from second base to center field is pretty impressive. He’s got ups. It’s pretty impressive to see him jump over the wall like that and rob a homer. Great players make great plays.”
Betts’ uncle Terry Shumpert, a former MLB player, told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that when Betts was called up in 2014, he told another writer that Betts would be as good as the Dodger’s Yasiel Puig:
“I told the guy, ‘Mookie Betts is going to do what Yasiel Puig did for the Dodgers two years ago.’ You know how L.A. was on fire and everything was ‘Puig, Puig, Puig’? I told him, ‘Mookie could have the same kind of impact.’ I know his competitiveness and what kind of person he is, so nothing he does surprises me.”
Betts’ basic stats are not terribly impressive, but he has only played 58 MLB games to date. He’s essentially a rookie, but is playing like a veteran, making plays that are impressing people across the league.
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