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January 28, 2011

Future Shock

Red Sox Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System in 20 Words or Less: The system was down a little, but the Adrian Gonzalez trade left it down a lot.

Four-Star Prospects
1. Jose Iglesias, SS
2. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
3. Josh Reddick, OF
4. Drake Britton, LHP
5. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
6. Brandon Workman, RHP
7. Yamaico Navarro, INF
8. Felix Doubront, LHP
9. Oscar Tejeda, 2B
10. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
11. Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Nine More:
12. Garin Cecchini, 3B: This fourth-rounder received a first-round bonus and can hit, but his bat is what will have to carry him.
13. Lars Anderson, 1B: There are still some things to like here, but the actual on-field performance has to return.
14. Bryce Brentz, OF: He packs a lot of power in a smaller package, but his huge swing was exposed as pro.
15. Ryan Lavarnway, C: An offense-oriented catcher, Lavarnway still has work to do behind the plate.
16. Sean Coyle, INF: As a 5-foot-8 second baseman with crazy-good bat speed, the unfair Pedroia comps are inevitable.
17. Kendrick Perkins, OF: This sixth-round pick has excellent athleticism, but he's very, very far from being a baseball player.
18. Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF: Hazelbaker showed power and speed at Low-A, but he was old for the level and had lots of swing-and-miss in his stroke.
19. Luis Exposito, C: He's solid across the board at a position where that's a virtue, but nothing stands out.
20. Che-Hsuan Lin, CF: A crazy-great fielder who can walk, it's easy to imagine his future as a bench outfielder.

1. Jose Iglesias, SS
DOB
: 1/5/90
Height/Weight: 5-11/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Cuba
2010 Stats: .350/.458/.500 at Short-season (13 G); .285/.315/.357 at Double-A (57 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Glove/power

Year in Review: This Cuban shortstop was as good as expected defensively, but Iglesias surprised with the bat as a 20-year-old at Double-A.
The Good: Any discussion concerning Iglesias begins with his glove, as he's the best defensive shortstop in the minors. One scout even said, “Often the highlight of an entire day in Portland was just watching him in fielding drills.” With uncanny instincts, a great first step, range to both sides, liquid-smooth actions and a strong, accurate arm, Iglesias is the rare 80 defender with true Gold Glove potential. An unexpected bonus was that while some worried that he'd be a Rey Ordonez clone offensively, he instead showed solid contacts skills with the occasional ability to drive a ball into the gap last year.
The Bad: While Iglesias will have enough bat to play every day, his offensive ceiling ends at the bottom of a big-league lineup. He'll never hit for much power, and he needs to tone down his aggressiveness and work the count better. He's quick, but not fast, clocking average times from home to first.
Ephemera: Maybe Iglesias should get the nickname “Vampiro,” as he hit just .148/.185/.164 in 17 day games for Double-A Portland, but .338/.365/.431 in 40 games under the lights.
Perfect World Projection: He would be a Gold Glove shortstop with a solid but unspectacular bat.
Fantasy Impact: It will be very little, but he'll be a “1” defender in Strat-o-matic.
Path to the Big Leagues: Iglesias is ready for Triple-A and could get a September look in preparation for the full-time gig in 2012.
ETA: 2012

2. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
DOB
: 9/9/89
Height/Weight: 6-7/225
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2010, LSU
2010 Stats: Did not play
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/command

Year in Review: After entering the year as the best college pitcher in the country, Ranaudo struggled with elbow problems in the spring and fell out of the first round. A fantastic showing in the Cape Cod League after the selection convinced the Red Sox that he was back, and he signed for just over $2.5 million.
The Good: When he's on, Ranaudo shows three average to plus-grade pitches. His fastball was 91-94 mph in the Cape, and was clocked as high as 97 as a sophomore. His curveball is a true plus offering with plenty of tumble and bite, and he gets good deception on a solid changeup. His height and long arms add a deceptive angle to all of his pitches, and he's a good athlete with strong makeup.
The Bad: Between the injury issue and some mechanical troubles, Ranaudo was a mess for much of the spring, with the quality of all of his pitches and his command varying wildly. He had starts where he failed to get out of the 80s in terms of velocity, and his ability to throw strikes completely abandoned him. However, his summer showing in the Cape was without any such incidents.
Ephemera: Ranaudo proved himself healthy before signing with a 0.00 ERA over 29 2/3 Cape Cod innings, in which he allowed 10 hits, eight walks, and struck out 31.
Perfect World Projection: If he's healthy and the player he was coming into the 2010 season, he has All-Star potential.
Fantasy Impact: He will be a very good starting pitcher.
Path to the Big Leagues: Ranaudo will be one of the most-watched prospects in the game in 2011, and has equal shots of flying up the Top 101 list or disappearing. He'll likely begin the year at High-A Salem.
ETA: 2013

3. Josh Reddick, OF
DOB
: 2/17/87
Height/Weight: 6-2/180
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 17th round, 2006, Middle Georgia Junior College
2010 Stats: .266/.301/.466 at Triple-A (114 G); .194/.206/.323 at MLB (29 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Arm/speed

Year in Review: Reddick began to press at Triple-A when Ryan Kalish passed him on the depth chart, but he rebounded with a strong second half.
The Good: He certainly impresses on a tools level. With plenty of bat speed and strong wrists, he has plus power to all fields and a good feel for contact. He's a good enough defensive outfielder to play center in a pinch, and his arm is the best in the system, rating as a 70-plus weapon on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
The Bad: Reddick does himself in with an exceedingly poor approach at the plate; he has a tendency to rush at-bats and swing at far too many bad pitches to be consistent offensively. He's a 45-50 runner who is not a threat on the basepaths.
Ephemera: As far as showing off a gun, Reddick has accumulated 59 outfield assists in 403 minor-league games in the outfield, a rate of nearly 22 per 150 games.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a solid everyday corner outfielder with power and a bit of batting average.
Fantasy Impact: He won't be an early pick, but he will certainly be of value.
Path to the Big Leagues: The signing of Carl Crawford leaves Reddick blocked, but he still needs to prove himself at Triple-A anyway. He'll return to Pawtucket in 2011, and he might need a trade to get his shot.
ETA: 2011

4. Drake Britton, LHP
DOB
: 5/22/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/200
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 23rd round, 2007, Tomball HS (TX)
2010 Stats: 2.97 ERA (75.2-69-23-78) at Low-A (21 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: This 23rd-round pick who signed for $700,000 made an impressive return from Tommy John surgery.
The Good: Britton has a power arsenal that is made all the more valuable by his left-handedness. Broad-shouldered and country strong, he parks his heavy fastball at 93 mph and touches 95 nearly every time out. He gets tight spin on a power breaking ball, and scouts were impressed by his competitive nature.
The Bad: Britton has made significant progress with his changeup, but it still lags well behind his other two offerings. He was used very sparingly due to his surgery, and he still needs to prove he can handle a bigger workload and carry his stuff deep into games.
Ephemera: No players drafted 714th overall have ever pitched in a major-league game.
Perfect World Projection: He would be an above-average starter.
Fantasy Impact: He should provide good numbers in every category.
Path to the Big Leagues: After a year of being very cautious with him--he never went more than five innings and averaged less than four--the Red Sox will take Britton's training wheels off when he heads to High-A in 2011.
ETA: 2014

5. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
DOB
: 4/1/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Ball State University
2010 Stats: .270/.360/.422 at Short-season (56 G); .275/.383/.400 at Low-A (12 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/glove

Year in Review: The Mid-American Conference Player of the Year earned widely varying scouting reports, but he still landed in the bottom of the first round.
The Good: Vitek's bat is what put him in the first round. He has an excellent approach and a smooth swing, with excellent weight transfer that projects for average power. He is a tick above-average as a baserunner, and a good athlete with an excellent arm at third base.
The Bad: Many scouts wonder what Vitek's defensive home will be. He played second and third base in college, but he is a sloppy defender with poor footwork who might work best in an outfield slot. He showed far more swing-and-miss than expected in his pro debut, and he also had trouble with breaking stuff.
Ephemera: Vitek led Ball State with a 3.28 ERA in the spring as a weekend starter, showing plus command of a 90-93 mph fastball.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an average everyday player in the outfield, but he'll be more than that if he can stick at third base.
Fantasy Impact: He could bring 15-20 home runs and stolen bases annually, but that has less value if he is an outfielder.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Red Sox will use spring training to determine if Vitek should begin the year in Low- or High-A.
ETA: 2013

6. Brandon Workman, RHP
DOB
: 8/13/88
Height/Weight: 6-4/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010, University of Texas
2010 Stats: Did not play
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/change

Year in Review: One of the top college pitchers in the draft unexpectedly fell to the 57th overall pick, where Boston signed him at the deadline for $800,000.
The Good: Workman has two plus pitches; he pounds the strike zone with a low-90s fastball than can touch 94-95, and added a devastating overhand curveball that is a true out pitch. He's long and lean and might still have some projection. He's an intense competitor.
The Bad: Workman's changeup is still average at best, and he lacks consistency with it. While it doesn't seem to affect his stuff or command, he's mechanically complicated and could have trouble repeating his delivery.
Ephemera: A whopping 33 players drafted out of the University of Texas have pitched in the major leagues, combining to appear in more than 6,000 games.
Perfect World Projection: He would be a fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: He will be more of a solid performer than a star.
Path to the Big Leagues: Workman is polished enough to begin his career at High-A, and while he lacks a big upside, he could move quickly.
ETA: 2013

7. Yamaico Navarro, INF
DOB: 10/31/87
Height/Weight: 5-11/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2005, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .274/.358/.422 at Double-A (88 G); .283/.339/.528 at Triple-A (16 G); .143/.174/.143 at MLB (20 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/power

Year in Review: Navarro showed a much more mature game in 2010, and even earned a brief big-league call-up.
The Good: Navarro has few weaknesses in his game. His bat took a huge step forward in 2010 thanks to a much more patient approach. He has almost shocking power for his size, projecting to hit 10-15 home runs annually. He's an average shortstop with very good fundamentals and a solid arm, and his speed also rates as average.
The Bad: While he lacks any true dings in evaluations of his game, there isn't a ton to get excited about. Navarro is merely an average hitter with a looping swing that often generates poor contact. He's a better defender at second or third base; his range at short is merely acceptable.
Ephemera: Between his two minor-league stops and a stint in the majors, Navarro started at least one game at all nine lineup slots.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a second-division starter or an excellent utility player.
Fantasy Impact: Positional flexibility and some power should help in the end game.
Path to the Big Leagues: While Navarro could help now as a 25th-man type, he'll likely begin 2011 at Triple-A to get consistent playing time.
ETA: 2011

8. Felix Doubront, LHP
DOB
: 10/23/87
Height/Weight: 6-2/165
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 2004, Venezuela
2010 Stats: 2.51 ERA (43.0-39-17-38) at Double-A (8 G); 3.16 ERA (37.0-36-16-34) at Triple-A (9 G); 4.32 ERA (25.0-27-10-23) at MLB (12 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: This Venezuelan lefty had solid showings at Double- and Triple-A and held his own in a brief big-league stint.
The Good: Doubront is a loose-armed southpaw with a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s and has late downward bite. He has a deep arsenal beyond the heater, with a solid curveball and changeup, as well as a mid-80s cut/split fastball with good boring action.
The Bad: Doubront needs all of his arsenal to be effective, as he lacks that one go-to pitch that most top pitchers possess. His command and control comes and goes, and his tendency to overthrow was especially apparent during his time in Boston.
Ephemera: While Venezuela is a baseball hotbed, Johan Santana (133) and Wilson Alvarez (102) are the only southpaws from the country to reach triple digits in wins.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a back-end starter or a middle-inning reliever.
Fantasy Impact: It's limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: It will be tough for Doubront to win a big-league job this spring, but he should be among the first to receive a call-up from Triple-A when the need arrives in either the rotation or the bullpen.
ETA: 2011

9. Oscar Tejeda, 2B
DOB
: 12/26/89
Height/Weight: 6-1/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .307/.344/.455 at High-A (126 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/glove.

Year in Review: Tejeda was formerly a highly-regarded prospect, and almost fell off the radar after two nondescript years at Low-A, but he rebounded in the Carolina League with a position switch from shortstop to second base.
The Good: He has an impressive bat, and makes consistent, hard contact. He uses all fields and showed much more power in 2010, driving balls into the gaps with aplomb. He projects for 10-15 home runs annually. He's an average runner and a tick above that from first to third.
The Bad: There are still concerns about Tejeda's defense. While his lack of range and instincts didn't hurt him as much at second base, he remained a sloppy defender who committed 24 errors in 2010. He's an aggressive hitter who needs to develop a more patient approach to be able to fit toward the top of a lineup.
Ephemera: Of Tejeda's 11 home runs for High-A Salem, six of them came in the fourth innings of games, in just 60 at-bats. He hit five in 448 at-bats counting all other frames.
Perfect World Projection: He would be a second baseman with average and a bit of power.
Fantasy Impact: Tejeda could have more fantasy than real-life value, with his ability to put up double-digits in both home runs and stolen bases.
Path to the Big Leagues: Double-A will give everyone a much better idea of just how good Tejeda can be.
ETA: 2013

10. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
DOB
: 2/1/90
Height/Weight: 6-3/186
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 4.06 ERA (128.2-120-42-102) at High-A (26 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/curve

Year in Review: This highly-regarded right-hander was awesome at times in High-A, but then again, he was pedestrian in others.
The Good: Pimentel certainly looks the part of a pure power pitcher, as he has filled out to significantly larger than his listed size. His low-90s fastball touches 94 mph consistently, and his changeup is among the best in the system, featuring outstanding arm action and plenty of depth. He'll flash a decent curveball at times, and he tends to get ahead of hitters.
The Bad: He frustrates scouts, as he is rarely as good as his stuff would suggest. The quality of his stuff and his command vary from start to start, and he needs to improve his secondary stuff to be more effective against left-handed batters, who hit .290 against him last year.
Ephemera: Pimentel was born in the southern coastal town of San Cristobal, whose current mayor is former big-league outfielder Raul Mondesi.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: It's nothing horrible, but it's nothing great, either.
Path to the Big Leagues: Pimentel was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, and will begin the year at Double-A Portland.
ETA: 2013

11. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
DOB
: 9/9/88
Height/Weight: 6-4/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2007, Liberty Eylau HS (TX)
2010 Stats: .276/.331/.439 at High-A (114 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Glove/speed

Year in Review: This big bonus baby from 2007 finally began to fill up the stat sheet at High-A.
The Good: Middlebrooks has all the tools to be a big-league regular. His above-average raw power began to show up in games during the 2010 season, and scouts think plenty of his doubles will turn into home runs down the road. He's a very good defensive third baseman with good reactions, soft hands, and a strong, accurate arm.
The Bad: Unfortunately, Middlebrooks still swings at too many bad pitches, and has a bad habit of expanding his strike zone when behind in the count. His swing can get a bit long, and he needs to let his natural strength work for him, as opposed to muscling up his swing. He's a slightly below-average runner.
Ephemera: He hit nearly 60 points lower (.235 vs. 294) against lefties, yet his slugging percentage was 11 points higher against them.
Perfect World Projection: Middlebrooks could be a solid everyday third baseman with plus defense.
Fantasy Impact: He won't be an early pick, but he will be decent.
Path to the Big Leagues: Middlebrooks will face the big test at Double-A this year, but some scouts wonder if he's similar to Reddick in the sense that he's good, but not good enough to start in Boston.
ETA: 2013

The Sleeper: A big, athletic player from Aruba, Xander Bogaerts earned raves for his bat in the Dominican Summer League, but he will likely outgrow his current position of shortstop.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)

1. Daniel Bard, RHP
2. Jose Iglesias, SS
3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
4. Ryan Kalish, OF
5. Josh Reddick, OF
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Drake Britton, LHP
8. Kolbin Vitek, 3B
9. Brandon Workman, RHP
10. Yamaico Navarro, INF

On plenty of other teams, Bard would be a closer, and one could easily make the argument that he should be in Boston as well. Kalish is good, but he's a good fourth outfielder in Boston, especially after the Crawford signing. Saltalamacchia is a dart throw; the talent still seems to be there, but it hasn't been visible in the stat line for years. PECOTA thinks he can still be OK, projecting him for a low OBP but a slugging percentage near .400. In today's environment, that's enough for the position.

Summary: The Red Sox system is down significantly, but this is the same system that created enough talent to pry Adrian Gonzalez away from the Padres. With their willingness to spend heavily in the draft and in the international markets, a rebound is anticipated.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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