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November 12, 2009

Future Shock

Red Sox Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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top 11 prospects

Five-Star Prospects
1. Ryan Westmoreland, CF
2. Casey Kelly RHP/SS
Four-Star Prospects
3. Josh Reddick, OF
4. Ryan Kalish, OF
Three-Star Prospects
5. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
6. Jose Iglesias, SS
7. Junichi Tazawa, RHP
8. Michael Bowden, RHP
9. Lars Anderson, 1B
10. Reymond Fuentes, CF
11. Derrik Gibson, 2B/SS

Four More:
12. David Renfroe, RHP/SS: Like Kelly, he's another big-bonus, two-way star, but Renfroe will begin his career as an infielder, and he projects as a prototypical third baseman due to his size, power potential, and arm.
13. Alex Wilson, RHP: He had a 0.50 ERA in New York-Penn League while giving up just 10 hits in 36 innings, but he's already 23, so he should dominate. Still, his fastball/slider combo is impressive.
14. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP: The young Dominican righty still has plus command and plenty of projection, but performances have been so-so.
15. Che-Hsuan Lin, LF: Lin's tools still impress, his defense remains outstanding, his numbers... not so much, but Red Sox officials remain very high on him.

1. Ryan Westmoreland, CF
DOB: 04/27/90
Height/Weight:6-2/195
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed:5th round, 2008, Portsmouth HS (RI)
2009 Stats: .296/.401/.484 at Short-season (60 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 5

Year in Review: The high-profile over-slot draftee from 2008 did not disappoint in his pro debut.
The Good: One scout described Westmoreland as having "the tools of a top-five high school pick, with the advanced skills of a college player." Supremely athletic, Westmoreland has average power with projection for more, as well as a keen understanding of the strike zone and a silky smooth swing with some natural lift to it. He's an outstanding runner with instincts, as indicated by his 19 stolen bases in 60 games for the Spinners without getting caught.
The Bad: Westmoreland had shoulder surgery after signing, and he played in the field for only eight games last year. He had a plus arm in high school, but it's not completely back yet. His season ended early when he broke his collarbone, so there are some minor concerns about his health record so far. Some of the more advanced left-handers of the New York-Penn League gave him trouble with good breaking balls.
Ephemera: Westmoreland knew how to get things started at Lowell, batting .423/.500/.635 in his first plate appearances over 60 games.
Perfect World Projection: Westmoreland could be the kind of player people thought Grady Sizemore would become.
Path to the Big Leagues: Jacoby Ellsbury is well established in Boston, but it's too early to worry about that.
Timetable: Westmoreland will make a highly anticipated full-season debut in 2010, beginning the year at Low-A Greenville.

2. Casey Kelly RHP/SS
DOB: 10/4/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/194
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2008, Sarasota HS (FL)
2009 Stats: 1.12 ERA (48.1-32-9-39) at Low-A (9 G); 3.09 ERA (46.2-33-7-35) at High-A (8 G); .214/.290/.464 at Rookie-level (8 G); .224/.305/.313 at Low-A (32 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 6

Year in Review: The $3 million bonus paid to land him suddenly looks like a bargain, at least when Kelly took the mound, as he dominated at both A-ball levels before finishing the year back at shortstop.
The Good: Considering how he's yet to completely commit to pitching, Kelly is a remarkably advanced arm. He fills the strike zone with three pitches, beginning with a fastball that sits at 89-93 with excellent sink and run. His curveball is a clear plus offering, and his changeup shows the potential to be one as well. One of the most athletic pitchers in the minors, his delivery is smooth, repeatable, and effortless. It's no surprise that he fields his position extremely well.
The Bad: Scouts see Kelly as potentially having three plus pitches, but none of them are dominant offerings, so he falls short of impact potential for some. He still has a tendency to roll over his change, but that's correctable, as his arm speed on the pitch is excellent. While some have a glass-half-full approach concerning Kelly's shortstop play and say it has at least kept his total innings count low, others wonder if it's hindered his development, and also ask if he really enjoys pitching compared to playing every day.
Ephemera: Kelly hit more home runs for Greenville (one), than he allowed in his nine starts as a pitcher.
Perfect World Projection: Kelly projects to be a good second or third starter and an occasional All-Star.
Path to the Big Leagues: As a pitcher, Kelly could move very quickly, and it's hard to find a team that would block an above-average starter, so when he's ready, he'll get a look.
Timetable: While it's yet to be made official, Kelly will almost assuredly become a full-time pitcher in 2010, starting the year back at High-A Salem. Despite the distractions of also trying to hit, he should reach Double-A well ahead of schedule, before his 21st birthday.

3. Josh Reddick, OF
DOB: 2/19/87
Height/Weight: 6-2/180
Bats/Throws:L/R
Drafted/Signed: 17th round, 2006, Middle Georgia College
2009 Stats: .277/.352/.520 at Double-A (63 G); .127/.190/.183 at Triple-A (18 G); .169/.210/.317 at MLB (27 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 3

Year in Review: The power-hitting outfielder was having breakout season, but he struggled mightily in the big leagues.
The Good: Reddick definitely has tools. He's a lean, muscular athlete with plus power and average speed that rates as a tick above once he gets going. He made tremendous strides in 2009 with his plate discipline, which allowed him to get more pitches to drive. He's an above-average outfielder who can even play center at least at an average level, and his arm is the best in the system.
The Bad: Reddick reverted to some bad habits following his promotion, as he expanded his strike zone, got pull-happy and pressed, with one scout saying, "It looked like he was trying to get two hits every time he stepped to the plate." He needs to rediscover his patience to be productive again. Good left-handers have always given him trouble.
Ephemera: Reddick went 6-for-16 with a pair of home runs against the Orioles during his big-league stint, but he was just 4-for-43 (.093) with a pair of doubles against all other teams.
Perfect World Projection: The best scouting reports on Reddick project him as an everyday corner outfielder on a first-division club.
Path to the Big Leagues: The future of Jason Bay-and how Boston reacts if he departs-will play a big factor in projecting Reddick's role for the next few years.
Timetable: No matter what the Red Sox outfield situation is going into spring, Reddick will likely need to get back on track at Triple-A Pawtucket before getting another crack at Fenway.

4. Ryan Kalish, OF
DOB: 3/28/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 9th round, 2006, Red Bank Catholic HS (NJ)
2009 Stats: .304/.434/.513 at High-A (32 G), .271/.341/.440 at Double-A (103 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 11

Year in Review: The toolsy outfielder rebounded from a tough 2008 and got better as the season wore on, batting .302/.384/.561 in the second half of the season, with 10 home runs in 189 at-bats. For more on Ryan Kalish's take on his own season, check out David Laurila's Q&A with the Sox prospect by surfing here.
The Good: Kalish can make an in-game impact in a variety of ways. He has enough bat speed and barrel awareness to hit .280-.300 annually, as well as the power and speed to deliver 20/20 seasons. His approach at the plate has improved each year to the point where it's a true asset to his game, and he plays a solid outfield.
The Bad: Kalish has filled out a bit over the last two years, and it has cost him a step, leaving some to wonder if he can stay in center. Up the middle, he projects as well above average, but in a corner, he could be a bit of a tweener, especially when one considers that his arm is a bit short for right field. Like Reddick, he struggles against southpaws.
Ephemera: While no player drafted out of Red Bank Catholic High in New Jersey has reached the big leagues, the school has been well known for their football talent, including Indianapolis running back Donald Brown, the Colts' first-round pick in the 2009 draft.
Perfect World Projection: If he can stay in center, he has some star potential.
Path To The Big Leagues: What Boston has right now is a bit muddled, and Josh Reddick is ahead of him on the depth chart.
Timetable: Kalish will likely start the year at Triple-A Pawtucket and reach Boston at some point during the year, but he'll need another step forward to guarantee himself a big-league role in 2011.

5. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
DOB: 08/08/89
Height/Weight:6-3/220
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed:6th round, 2007, Douglas HS (FL)
2009 Stats: .298/.365/.494 at Low-A (64 G), .295/.371/.420 at High-A (55 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked (the Sleeper)

Year in Review: The big first baseman made an inspiring comeback from cancer, hitting well at both levels of full-season A-ball.
The Good: Rizzo is a good offensive player with a chance to be a great one. He has a quick bat, a good sense of the strike zone, and should hit for average with good on-base percentages all the way up. Scouts are nearly universal in the belief that many of the 37 doubles he hit in 445 at-bats this year with turn into home runs down the road. He's a fantastic defensive first baseman who prevented countless errors by saving bad throws.
The Bad: Right now, Rizzo's over-the-fence power is much more projection than reality, and as a first-base prospect, it's going to need to show up soon. He's not especially athletic, and he's a below average runner.
Ephemera: Located in Parkland, Florida, Douglas High is named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas, an early 20th century leader in the women's rights and suffragist movements who also fought for environmental causes and played an integral role in the preservation of the Everglades.
Perfect World Projection: He's a potential .300-hitting first baseman with 20 or more home runs and Gold Glove defense.
Path To The Big Leagues: Kevin Youkilis is a star at first base, but he could also move back to third down the road. Rizzo's also still a level or two behind Lars Anderson, so his route to the majors is as much an obstacle course as a path.
Timetable: While Anderson's 2010 assignment could affect Rizzo, the latter will likely at least begin the year back at High-A Salem. If the power shows up, he could move quickly.

6. Jose Iglesias
DOB: 01/05/90
Height/Weight: 5-11/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Cuba, 2009
2009 Stats: Did Not Play
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: Iglesias is a Cuban defector who was signed in September to a big-league deal worth $8.2 million, including a $6 million signing bonus.
The Good: Iglesias' defensive work can only be described as special, with one scout describing his pre-game workouts in the Arizona Fall League as "the equivalent of a live-action instructional video on everything a shortstop should do." His range is plus to both sides, his actions are notable for their speed and smoothness, while his arm is both strong and accurate. Offensively, he does have some bat speed, and scouts see a good rhythm in his swing, and he's even surprised some with occasional power.
The Bad: Iglesias' glove is far ahead of his bat at this point. Like many Cubans, he has a swing-at-anything approach, and pitchers have found success against him by staying out of the zone and getting him to chase. He's struggled so far in Arizona, and one scout admitted he was worried that Iglesias might just be another Rey Ordonez.
Ephemera: While many were surprised by the size of the bonus given to Iglesias, some conspiracy theorists think part of the money was designed to gain the Sox some favor in the attempt to bring Aroldis Chapman to Boston, as the big-ticket lefty was not only a teammate of Iglesias in Cuba, but the two are close friends.
Perfect World Projection: Iglesias could become a Gold Glove shortstop with a bit of offensive value, but nonetheless, he'd hit toward the bottom of a lineup.
Path to the Big Leagues: Shortstop has been one of the few issues for the Red Sox of late.
Timetable: Iglesias' big-league deal places some pressure on his developmental pace, but he'll still be just 20 years old to begin 2010, likely at High-A Salem.

7. Junichi Tazawa, RHP
DOB: 6/6/86
Height/Weight:5-11/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Japan, 2008
2009 Stats: 2.57 ERA (98.0-80-26-88) at Double-A (18 G); 2.38 ERA (11.1-7-1-6) at Triple-A (2 G)' 7.46 ERA (25.1-43-9-13) at MLB (6 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 9

Year in Review: The Japanese import pitched well in the minors, but he fell apart at the big-league level late in the year.
The Good: Like many Japanese pitchers, Tazawa's arsenal is extremely deep. He pitches off an 89-92 mph fastball that he can add or subtract from, also adding some cutting action from time to time. He throws a slider and a curve, both of which flash as a plus at times. He also throws a solid change. A pause during his leg kick creates some deception, and his command and control are above average.
The Bad: Tazawa's fringy velocity creates little room for error, and he'll need to improve and mix his secondary pitches in more, as big-league lineups tended to hit him hard in their second look at him. He needs to improve the consistency of all his offerings, as his curve can flatten, he pushed his slider, and he telegraphs his changeup at various points in the game.
Ephemera: Big-league right-handers facing Tazawa hit a whopping .440/.491/.800 against him, going 22-for-50 with four home runs.
Perfect World Projection: Tazawa will likely be a back-end rotation starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: There's no obvious spot for him in the Boston rotation for now...
Timetable: After his big-league struggles, Tazawa needs to figure out how to better use his deep repertoire against more advanced hitters. That process will begin in 2010 at Triple-A Pawtucket.

8. Michael Bowden, RHP
DOB: 9/9/86
Height/Weight:6-3/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2005, Waubonsie Valley HS (IL)
2009 Stats: 3.13 ERA (126.1-106-47-88) at Triple-A (24 G); 9.56 ERA (16.0-23-6-12) at MLB (8 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 2

Year in Review: The advanced prospect had a solid showing at Triple-A and another brief stint in the big leagues, but overall, Bowden went a bit backwards.
The Good: Bowden combines plus command with solidly average stuff. His 88-92 mph fastball has good life, and he mixes in both a curve and slider, which flash as average. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, with excellent depth and fade, and despite the overpowering arsenal, he's very aggressive and goes after hitters. Bowden has a big frame, a delivery that is funky, yet it's repeatable and without stress, and he's stayed healthy throughout his career.
The Bad: Bowden missed far fewer bats at Triple-A, as his once-plus curve became slower and flatter, and he struggled to establish a slider in his arsenal. The inconsistency with his secondary pitches also elevated his walk rate and forced him to use his fastball more, but he needs to stay ahead in the count to succeed. He tends to work up in the zone.
Ephemera: Bowden gave up seven runs to the Yankees on August 21, and seven more to Toronto on September 28. In his other seven big-league appearances, he had a 2.45 ERA.
Perfect World Projection: Bowden may be a usable back-of-the-rotation starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: These days, the Red Sox tend to shoot for more from their starting pitchers than what Bowden projects to be, so it could be a rough go.
Timetable: For now, Bowden seems stuck at Triple-A, where he'll compete with Tazawa for the sixth starter's role as far as who gets the first call when the need arises.

9. Lars Anderson, 1B
DOB: 9/25/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 18th round, 2006, Jesuit HS (CA)
2009 Stats: .233/.328/.345 at Double-A (119 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 1

Year in Review: The top prospect in the system got off to a slow start at Double-A, and things just got worse from there, as he hit .186 with just one home run in his last 50 games.
The Good: While Anderson has combined plus power, the ability hit for average, and patience in the past, only the latter showed up in 2009, as his understanding of the strike zone is excellent, and he'll rarely chase bad pitches. He plays a good first base and runs well for his size, and he's athletic enough that some wonder if he could handle left field.
The Bad: Scouting reports on Anderson were disturbing this year, as those that had never seen him before wondered what the big deal was about, and those that saw him in the past saw a much stiffer player both at the plate and in the field. He's a highly intelligent, cerebral player who may not have responded well to being "the guy" in a high-profile organization.
Ephemera: No position player drafted 552nd overall has stepped to the plate in the big leagues, although pitchers Bret Prinz (1998), Allen McDill (1992), and Chris Clemons (1991), combined for 145 mound appearances.
Perfect World Projection: There are still those that think Anderson can develop into an everyday big-league first baseman, although the projections for stardom are a thing of the past for now.
Path to the Big Leagues: Anderson just needs to get his bat back on track to even have a path.
Timetable: Anderson's spring training performance will dictate his 2010 assignment, but chances are good that he'll repeat Double-A.

10. Reymond Fuentes, CF
DOB: 02/12/91
Height/Weight: 6-0/160
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2009, Fernando Callejo HS (PR)
2009 Stats: .290/.331/.379 at Rookie-level (40 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: Seen as the top player in Puerto Rico this year, Fuentes rocketed up draft charts with some private workouts that became the stuff of legend.
The Good: Multiple scouts use the word "explosive" when describing Fuentes. He has fantastic bat speed with a lot of plate coverage, and consistently centers balls on the bat while using all fields. Scouts think he'll develop gap power with double-digit home-run production once his skinny frame fills out. He's a 70 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, which helps him wreak havoc both in center field and on the basepaths.
The Bad: Fuentes is an extremely raw talent. He'll need to develop a more mature approach at the plate to fill his leadoff man projection, and he needs to improve his jumps both in the outfield and base stealing attempts. His arm is average at best.
Ephemera: Fernando Callejo High also produced Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran (Feuntes' cousin), as well as former big-league catcher Javier Valentin.
Perfect World Projection: Fuentes could be an old-school center fielder who hits .300 with game-changing speed.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Red Sox are loaded with outfielders, so there is no need to rush Fuentes.
Timetable: With a strong showing this spring, Fuentes could get a crack at a full-season assignment at Low-A Greenville.

11. Derrik Gibson, 2B/SS
DOB: 12/05/89
Height/Weight: 6-1/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2008, Seaford HS (DE)
2009 Stats: .290/.395/.380 at Short-season (67 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: After going 3-for-35 for Lowell in 2008, the underrated infielder recovered with an outstanding showing during his second go-round in the New York-Penn League.
The Good: Gibson already has top-of-the-order skills with outstanding plate discipline and a quick, single-plane swing that laces line drives to all fields. He's an above-average runner with great instincts, and he understands his strength and limitations, focusing on getting on base and scoring runs. He has good instincts defensively and plays with a lot of energy.
The Bad: There is a lot of debate over Gibson's future position. Except for his arm, he has all of the tools for shortstop, so he'll at least be a middle infielder. He has zero pro home runs in 384 at-bats, and there's little reason to believe that will change in any significant way.
Ephemera: Offensively, Gibson was significantly better at the plate in 2009 when playing second base (.342/.423/.439) as opposed to shortstop (.248/.374/.333).
Perfect World Projection: Gibson has the ability to be a second baseman with the speed and on-base skills to score 100 runs a year.
Path to the Big Leagues: Dustin Pedroia isn't going anywhere, so it's in his best interest to stay on the left side.
Timetable: Gibson will finally get a full season in by beginning 2010 at Low-A Greenville.

The Sleeper: Over-slot 2008 draftee Peter Hissey had a so-so pro debut on paper, batting .279/.356/.347 at Low-A Greenville, but scouts loved the tools and saw consistent progress throughout the year, as he hit .321 after the all-star break.

Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (Born 4/1/84 or later)

1. Clay Buchholz, RHP
2. Ryan Westmoreland, OF
3. Casey Kelly RHP/SS
4. Daniel Bard, RHP
5. Josh Reddick, OF
6. Ryan Kalish, OF
7. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
8. Jose Iglesias, SS
9. Junichi Tazawa, RHP
10. Jed Lowrie, INF

The Clay Buchholz we saw during the stretch run was the pitcher the Red Sox have been waiting to see for years, and there's plenty of reason to believe that he'll remain at least that good in 2009, if not better. He's among the best breakout candidates in the game for 2010. Bard was dominant early in the year, but he began to have some control issues late while losing touch of his slider; his past makes it difficult to rank him much higher. Lowrie's injuries and miserable performance in 2009 has him on the outside looking in.

Summary: Despite making the postseason in six of the last seven seasons and going 12 years without a losing record, the Red Sox have maintained a consistent pipeline of young talent thanks to their aggressive spending in both the draft and international markets. That could continue before spring training, as they are among the favorites to sign Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who would move to the top of this list (as well as most teams that he'd sign with) if he ends up with Boston.


Up next: the Chicago White Sox.

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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