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Unheralded Red Sox players who could surprise

Jalen Beeks had a 3.29 ERA in 26 starts in Double A and Triple A last season.Pawtucket Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox, for the moment, will have 56 players report to spring training. But much of the focus over the next six weeks will be only on those most likely to be on the Opening Day roster.

For teams that are tanking, prospects and underdogs will be the story of spring training. But immediacy rules for contending teams like the Sox. Maybe 10 percent of the fan base could name even one of the nonroster invitees to camp.

In the interest of broadening your horizons, let’s take a look at some players who could push their way into the headlines during spring training:


LHP Jalen Beeks: If Beeks makes it to the majors, it will probably be because of what happened last March 9.

Team USA was in Fort Myers to play the Sox and manager Jim Leyland didn’t want to use any of his pitchers in advance of the World Baseball Classic. So Beeks was assigned to be one of Team USA’s relievers.

But Red Sox starter Roenis Elias strained a rib cage muscle warming up and Beeks was told he would start against Team USA only 11 minutes before game time.

Facing a lineup of All-Stars that went on to win the WBC, Beeks retired six of the eight batters he faced. Even mighty Giancarlo Stanton grounded back to the mound.

Beeks was given a chance to start in the minors and he went 11-8 with a 3.29 ERA for Portland and Pawtucket. He has since been put on the 40-man roster and is one of the depth starters.

INF Michael Chavis: He was a first-round pick in 2014, so Chavis isn’t an unknown. But he is a bit of an underdog.

A third baseman, the 22-year-old Chavis is now blocked by 21-year-old Rafael Devers. But he did play some first base in the Arizona Fall League. Until last season, Chavis was a bit of a bust. He hit .235 over his first three seasons, dealt with injuries and fell off the prospect charts. But Chavis hit 31 home runs and drove in 94 runs over 126 games in 2017 and advanced to Portland.


He’s a personable kid with power, so expect to see some stories. If the Sox fail to add another hitter, he just might be a factor, too.

RHP Justin Haley: The Minnesota Twins, who are run by smart people, thought enough of Haley to obtain him via the Rule 5 Draft in 2016. They returned him to the Sox in July after he appeared in 10 games as a reliever and was hit hard. The Sox put Haley in their Triple A rotation and he had a 2.66 ERA.

There’s something there if Haley can continue to improve. Giving up fewer home runs (13 in 82⅓ innings last season) would be a good start.

LHP Bobby Poyner: At the moment, the Sox have three lefthanded relievers on the 40-man roster and that counts Brian Johnson, who last pitched in relief when he was a sophomore at Florida.

There’s opportunity for a lefty and Poyner could grab it.

The 25-year-old was a 14th-round pick out of Florida in 2015 and has made his way to Double A Portland. He doesn’t throw hard but last season managed to strike out 84 over 60⅓ innings. Eastern League opponents hit .142 against him.


It will be interesting to see how he fares when the Sox conduct live batting practice.

RHP Mike Shawaryn: He wasn’t invited to camp. But the Sox always add a few minor league pitchers to the roster for each game and quite often they’re players the major league staff wants to get a look at.

Shawaryn was a fifth-round draft pick out of Maryland in 2016. The 23-year-old has a 3.71 ERA over 32 professional starts with 191 strikeouts over 150⅓ innings. Dave Dombrowski claims there is better pitching depth than the organization is given credit for and Shawaryn is one of the reasons why.

The Sox have a game against the Rays in Port Charlotte on March 21. With seven games against the Rays in the first 11 days of the regular season, that seems like a good excuse to use somebody like Shawryn instead of giving Tampa Bay a look at a pitcher they will face a week later.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.