As the major league team continues to twitch and convulse like a car-struck deer begging to be put out of its misery, it is becoming increasingly clear that our focus should turn to the future.
Now that the rosters have expanded and the minor league season is winding down, this is as good a time as any to rank our prospects.
My definition of prospect is the generally accepted rookie definition: fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues. Under this criteria, most of the younger guys promoted throughout the year (Kalish, Doubront, Reddick, Bowden) still qualify at this point. Daniel Nava is only 13 at-bats away from reaching non-rookie status, and he’ll probably hit that milestone next week, so I’ll leave him off the list.
|Rank||Name||Position||2010 Stock Movement|
|2||Jose Iglesias||SS||Sharp Increase|
|3||Anthony Rizzo||1B||Sharp Increase|
|4||Lars Anderson||1B||No Noticable Change|
|5||Casey Kelly||SP||Slight Decline|
|8||Josh Reddick||OF||Sharp Decline|
|9||Ryan Lavarnway||C||Sharp Increase|
|10||Felix Doubront||RP ?||Increase|
|11||Oscar Tejeda||2B||Sharp Increase|
|12||Will Middlebrooks||3B||Sharp Increase|
|14||Che-Hsuan Lin||CF||Slight Increase|
|15||Stolmy Pimental||SP||No Noticable Change|
|17||Reymond Fuentes||OF||Slight Increase|
|19||Drake Britton||SP||Sharp Increase|
|20||Ryan Westmoreland||OF||Sharp Decline|
|21||Michael Bowden||RP ?||Sharp Decline|
|24||Brandon Jacobs||OF||Slight Increase|
|25||Junichi Tazawa||SP||Sharp Decline|
Ryan Kalish came into 2010 as a bit of an afterthought after names like Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson, and Josh Reddick, but now he has a foothold in the crowded 2011 outfield picture after hitting .294/.382/.502 between AA and AAA and holding his own in a considerable MLB stint. His presence may even allow the Sox to consider trade possibilities that would have been unheard of prior to this year.
I’m probably higher on Jose Iglesias than others, but there’s just something I find appealing about the prospect of stellar shortstop defense coupled with decent contact hitting. Of course, the lack of power and plate discipline is a concern, and while the former will likely never fully develop, the latter could certainly be improved upon with another year of seasoning in the minors. All in all, 2010 was a decent showing for a guy getting his first taste of professional baseball in America, and it appears as though he’s on track to take over for Marco Scutaro in 2012.
It’s really difficult to compare Anthony Rizzo and Lars Anderson at this point. Both seem to have All-Star first baseman potential, but Rizzo has been rising quickly, while Anderson’s stock has been stagnant after he was a tad over-hyped in his first pro season. Both players are young for their current levels, and both will likely repeat in AA and AAA next season, respectively. While neither player’s overall numbers are eye-popping, it should be noted that Anderson hit .286./376./486 on the road in AAA, while RIzzo has his .268/.356/.497 after the All-Star break.
Casey Kelly came into the year as the consensus top pitching prospect in the organization, but he has been overmatching a bit in Portland this season after being aggressively promoted (like Anderson and Rizzo). Right now, his fastball sits at around 91-92 MPH, so he’ll need to add some velocity if he is to reach his full potential. Still, Kelly has shown excellent command of multiple pitches, and was one of the youngest starting pitchers in his league this season. He has lots of time to develop.
With Iglesias receiving a lot of hype after his impressive debut, Yamaico Navarro is probably the most underrated prospect in the organization. It appears that a lot of folks are fogetting that Iglesias isn’t the only decent SS prospect in the system. Navarro, still only 22-years-old, has been very impressive since being promoted to Pawtucket, and even flashed competence during a brief trial in Boston.
Anthony Ranaudo is a 2010 bonus baby with a very high potential, albeit at a high risk. He was the best pitcher in college baseball before suffering an elbow injury, and has yet to return to form. Theo Epstein, as he is prone to do, shelled out top dollar for the high-upside arm in hopes that his potential will one day be realized.
Perhaps no other prospect saw his stock fall further (not including injured guys like Ryan Westmoreland and Junichi Tazawa) than Josh Reddick. However, Reddick has been hitting very well lately, raking at a .363/.385/.643 clip since the All-Star break. He still has the potential to be a decent starting outfielder at the Major League level, and his recent play has been very encouraging.
My favorite catcher in the system is the big-hitting Yalie, Ryan Lavarnway. A lot of folks discount him due to his defensive shortcomings, but honestly, I cannot remember the last time the Red Sox employed the services of a strong throwing defensive catcher on a regular basis (as a starter). The most recent guy I can think of would be Tony Pena, and I’d rather not see a return to those days. It’s time to accept that a team can win with an all-bat/no-arm catcher.
The left-handed Felix Doubront (along with his RHP counterpart, Michael Bowden) has found a role on the major league staff by lending his arm to a decimated bullpen, and he has performed somewhat impressively there. However, I think he still may have a career in the back-end of a major league rotation in his future, barring injury. His potential is similar to the injured Junichi Tazawa.
All in all, it seems like a fairly deep minor league system, with a lot of new talent added via a strong draft and the Manny Delcarmen trade. We’ll keep an eye on things as the Arizona Fall League and the winter leagues kick into gear.