BOSTON -- The brighter days for the Red Sox that could be in the near future stood along the first-base line at Fenway Park about an hour before Saturday's game against the Orioles.
There was shortstop Xander Boagerts, a dazzling prospect who is considered by most to be the best position player in Boston's farm system. A few feet away stood Jackie Bradley, Jr., the center fielder who has soared through the farm system after being drafted just 16 months ago.
This step-back season the Red Sox are having is made easier only when you catch a glimpse of the coming attractions who were on display on Saturday, here to collect their Minor League awards.
Bogaerts, who turns 20 on Oct. 1, was named the Offensive Player of the Year in the Red Sox farm system.
Considering the numbers Boagerts put up this year between Class A Salem and Double-A Portland (.307, 37 doubles, three triples, 20 home runs, 81 RBIs and 44 walks in 127 games), it's easy to imagine him settling into the right-handed batters' box at Fenway Park within the next couple of years.
"It's a dream come true," Bogaerts said of being at Fenway. "Everyone wants to play here, and hopefully that dream will come true in the future. Right now, I'm just appreciating this time to think of what it means."
How soon would Bogaerts like to call Fenway his home office?
"As quick as possible," Bogaerts said. "That's all I can say."
Bradley, Jr. was on hand to be recognized as the top defensive player in the organization. He had a one-word scouting report on Bogaerts, his teammate at Salem and Portland this season.
"Stud," bellowed Bradley.
The one thing that stood out when talking to both Bogaerts and Bradley was their comfort in their own skin.
What does Bradley think about the notion he could play for the Red Sox at some point during 2013?
"I hope it's kind of realistic. That sounds nice," Bradley said. "I don't know what their plans are with me. All I can really do, the only thing I can really control, is just playing baseball. That's what I'm going to go out there and do, and I'm going to do it to the best of my abilities."
While the Red Sox entered play on Saturday with a 68-84 record, the prospects know that things like that are cyclical.
"It's definitely not going to take one person to fix solutions or anything," said Bradley. "It's just one of those times. It's baseball, it happens."
There were several other award winners on hand during Saturday's pregame presentation. Righty Brandon Workman was named the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Third baseman Garin Cecchini got the organization's Base Runner of the Year Award. Right-handed pitcher Keivin Heras and outfielder Manuel Margot represented the Dominican Summer League Red Sox as Minor League Latin Program Pitcher and Player of the Year.
Daniel Nava, who spent much of the season with the Red Sox, received the Lou Gorman Award. Created in 2011, the award is given annually to a Red Sox Minor League player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team.
Red Sox playing it safe with Ellsbury
BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury's "little situation," as manager Bobby Valentine has termed it, kept the center fielder out of the lineup again on Saturday.
Though it's believed to be just a nagging injury, there's no reason for the Red Sox not to play it safe at this juncture of the season.
It sounds as if Ellsbury won't return until Tuesday at the earliest, when the Red Sox follow an off-day by hosting the Rays for the opener of a two-game series.
"Oh gosh, I have no idea," Valentine said. "We'll probably be conservative and cautious. But when he's ready to play, we'd love to have him play."
Would Ellsbury be playing if the Red Sox were in contention?
"I'm not sure," Valentine said. "It's something, I think, he wants to be cautious with."
Scott Podsednik played center in Ellsbury's absence.
Whatever the injury is, it hasn't impacted Ellsbury's play. Over his last four games, he's 7-for-15 with six RBIs.
Gomez quietly having good September
BOSTON -- While much of the attention has been on prospects Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway during the month of September, Mauro Gomez has been very productive under the radar.
The right-handed hitter has looked Major League-ready, hitting .305 with two homers, 17 RBIs, a .348 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage.
The 28-year-old Gomez never played in the Majors before this season.
"Gomez is a good hitter," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "He can hit right-handers, left-handers. I think the more at-bats he gets, the more power factor he could have."
The issue with Gomez is defense. He is a corner infielder, but is projected as more of a designated hitter by some. Valentine mentioned that playing left field in Winter Ball could make Gomez more valuable.
Valentine thinks that the perception of Gomez's defense might be too harsh.
"You know, I haven't seen him for an extended period at first," Valentine said. "I heard he catches everything that gets to him, that surrounds him. At third, I could see it being a bit of an issue, because he hasn't had a lot of reps."
Dice-K likely to start season finale
BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's next start is expected to be the last game of the regular season, according to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
That will be October 3 at Yankee Stadium. That could well be the last time Matsuzaka -- a free agent at the end of 2012 -- pitches for the Red Sox.
Zach Stewart will also make a start down the stretch, which Valentine expects will be on Sept. 30 at Baltimore.
Stewart, the pitching prospect acquired from the White Sox for Kevin Youkilis back in June, was shelled in his only previous start for the Red Sox, giving up nine runs over three-plus innings at Anaheim on Aug. 29.