Boston Red Sox 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2011 (17) | 2010 (5) | 2009 (13) | 2008 (2) | 2007 (9) | 2006 (8)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL East
AAA: [81-61] International League – Pawtucket
AA: [59-83] Eastern League – Portland
A+: [64-75] Carolina League – Salem
A: [78-62] South Atlantic League – Greenville
A(ss): [29-45] New York Penn League – Lowell
The Run Down
The Red Sox pipeline, as usual, is flush with talent. And although its most exciting prospects (see Middlebrooks & Barnes) are probably a year away from arriving at Fenway, the system features a decent amount of MLB-ready talent. Unfortunately for those ready to make their marks with the big club, Boston’s MLB roster doesn’t seem primed for much turnover: The opening in right field will most certainly be filled with a free agent, and I’m thinking they’ll do the same to round out the rotation.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t list Lars Anderson, it’s because he kinda stinks. And until we’re all in leagues that factor UZR, don’t bother worrying about Jose Iglesias, either. But please keep an eye on youngsters like Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart – both will be exciting prospects to watch develop.
Arizona Fall League Players – Scottsdale Scorpions
*Now with Oakland
**Now with Atlanta
Players of Interest
The original thought on Lavarnway was that he’d never be able to stick at catcher, given some defensive shortcomings. Thanks to an impressive work ethic and general baseball acumen, however, the 24-year-old hasn’t yet been supplanted at his post behind the plate. The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach ahead of him for the time being, but Lavarnway has great power potential for a catcher-eligible player (.317 ISO at AAA). He’ll be worth adding in all formats upon arrival.
Profiling as a backend-type starter, Wilson could be a safe option for the BoSox should the rotation suffer injury at any point. A 3.43 K/BB ratio at Triple-A is certainly promising, though the sample is very small. Wilson should begin 2012 in the Pawtucket rotation, and it won’t be long before he’s ready for action with the big club. Unfortunately, his arrival as a starter is unlikely, barring injury, and he might ultimately debut in a relief role.
Like Wilson, Weiland profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He had his chance at the big league level last year, where in five appearances he posted an ugly 6.55 FIP. He throws a low 90s fastball along with a cutter, a curve and a changeup. Also like Wilson, Weiland’s best shot a resurfacing is probably with the bullpen.
Doubront seems like a likely candidate to break camp with the Red Sox bullpen. Projecting similarly to the aforementioned Wilson and Weiland, I give Doubront the better shot to crack the opening day roster simply for his lefthandedness. He could be in the mix for starts if there’s a need.
Tazawa made the transition from starter to reliever in 2011 and the switch seemed to suit him. His high 80s fastball showed increased velocity in shorter stints of work and only served to magnify the effectiveness of his splitter. Tazawa could surely work his way into the Red Sox pen this spring.
Middlebrooks will likely need a full season at Triple-A, where he managed only 2 XBH in 60 trips to the plate in 2011. The 23-year-old projects wonderfully at third, though, and he should replace Kevin Youkilis at the hot corner in 2013. Until then, it’ll be fun to track Middlebrooks in Pawtucket as he works on refining his plate discipline, which, at times, is overly aggressive.
Brentz slashed .306/.365/.574 between Low A and High A in 2011, and should be ready for Double-A in 2012. The Red Sox have a void in right field that they’ll likely opt to fill via free agency. At 23 years old, though, Brentz is poised to progress quickly through AA and AAA. With a strong arm and power bat, he profiles perfectly for right field, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Brentz is up and playing somewhat regularly come September.
In his first year of pro ball, Ranaudo pitched 127 innings between Greenville and Salem. Standing 6-foot-7, the righty has no trouble generating velocity: His fastball ranges from 91-97 MPH. The heavy workload in his first year caused a bit of regression in that area, however, and Ranaudo spent the final two months of the season working in the low 90s. He features a plus curve and decent command. Past elbow injuries are cause for concern, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be pitching at Fenway by 2013.
Barnes is my favorite of the Red Sox’s pitching prospects. The first-rounder out of UConn signed too late to pitch in 2011, but he shouldn’t require too much time in the minors. Perhaps not as imposing as the 6-7 Ranaudo, Barnes (6-4, 205) produces similar velocity with an effortless delivery. His arrival is on a similar timetable to Ranaudo’s, but I have a hunch that Barnes will pitching at Fenway first.