There are many rungs on the ladder to the major leagues. For those who have endured the climb to Triple A, the fruits of their labor lie within reach.
The highest level of the minor league is just one step from the ultimate goal for all players. Where young starts meet old, as hyped youthful talent looking for a first taste intermingles with journeymen holding out for that one last shot.
Though there is only one more level up, there are still hurdles that a Triple-A player must clear before even having the opportunity to reach the majors, including making a 40-man roster and position congestion. On the bright side, travel becomes a bit more pleasant, with planes replacing long, overnight bus rides for the most part.
Eighteen players with New England ties entered the season on one of the 30 Triple-A rosters. Among this group are five on their big league affiliate's 40-man roster, putting the majors that much closer. Only five of these players have yet to make their Major League debut, though many other have only experienced light tastes as part of a September call-up.