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Boston Red Sox 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (13) | 2008 (2) | 2007 (9) | 2006 (8) | 2005 (21) | 2004 (23)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [95 – 57] AL East
AAA: [61 – 82] International League
AA: [67 – 74] Eastern League
A+: [67 – 72] Carolina League
A: [73 – 65] South Atlantic League
A(ss): [45 – 30] New York – Pennsylvania League
R: [26 – 27] Gulf League

The Run Down
The junior Evil Empire has no reason to complain this off-season. Spending millions replacing Jason Bay (with Mike Cameron), adding Lackey to sure up their rotation, buying a “better” shortstop (who will regress and make BoSox fans upset) and taking the best defensive third baseman (Adrian Beltre) off the market, Boston has taken its focus a bit off of their farm system. The graduations of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury in the past has sapped the top end talent out of their system in 2009. Not to mention, the acquisition of Victor Martinez (trading Hagadon, Masterson, and Bryan Price to Cleveland) further emptied some of their depth. Furthermore, the current top prospect prospect (Casey Kelly or Ryan Westmoreland) going into 2010 is still a season or more away from helping in the majors. However, if Keith Law is to be believed, the Red Sox have the second overall farm system in 2010. This is based mainly on Boston having seven top 100 prospects. They have some nice arms with high upside, and some toolsy fielders, but many of those players are young and still need to prove themselves. 2010 will be a season of truth for several prospects in the minors, not to mention if they can keep up with their rival Evil Empire.

Graduating Prospects
#4 – (RHP) Dan Baird

Arizona Fall League Players – Mesa Solar Fox
Pitchers – #6 Casey Kelly; Randor Bierd; #26 Richard Lentz; Chris Province; Dustin Richardson
Hitters – #15 (C) Luis Exposito; Jose Iglesias; #13 Ryan Kalish

Players of Interest for 2010
Hitters
#1 – Lars Anderson | 1B | AA | 21 | .233/.328/.345 | 447 AB | 23 2B | 9 HR | .112 ISO | 114:63 K:BB | .296 BABIP | 54.8 GB% | 13 LD% | 32.2 FB%
Lars struggled more than words can express in 2009. His ground ball, line drive and fly ball rates are close to his career rates (54.2 GB%, 15.9 LD% | 29.5 FB% in 1613 AB), but his batting average on balls in play went from a career level of .351 to .296. These numbers would project him to be below average power hitting first baseman. He battled through a hamstring injury in the late summer causing him to miss some playing time at the end of the season. Furthermore, he started the season with a back injury that he played through. Many ‘perts are giving him a mulligan on the 2009 season, but he very well come have met his ceiling, or nearing his ceiling. The mid-summer months were his best, but nothing impressive from a first baseman. He’ll be 22 in 2010 and still has the potential to shine. Don’t be shocked to see him back at Double-A in 2010.

#13 Ryan Kalish | RF | A+/AA | 21 | .279/.364/.457 | 506 AB | 24 2B | 18 HR | .178 ISO | 21/6 SB/CS | 107:68 K:BB | .317 BABIP | 47 GB% | 14.8 LD% | 38.2 FB%
Kalish stayed in High-A long enough to tally 115 at-bats and showing that he needed a promotion. Upon reaching Double-A, the homers started coming (13 in 391 AB). He didn’t hit the ball hard as often as I would like (league average LD% is 18%), the walks are fairly impressive. With the potential to be a 20/20 hitter, Kalish looks like a Grady Sizemore in the making (and he played in CF at Double-A as Josh Reddick was playing RF). Look for him to start the year in Triple-A.

#5 – Josh Reddick | RF | AA | 22 | .277/.352/.520 | 256 AB | 17 2B | 14 HR | .243 ISO | 62:30 K:BB | .310 BABIP | 36.2 GB% | 14.4 LD% | 49.5 FB%
Reddick did have 71 at-bats at Triple-A Pawtucket, but they were utterly terrible as his slash line shows .127/.190/.183. Today, Reddick and Kalish are, and should be, equally ranked. Reddick has the potential for more power, especially with a much higher fly ball rate (49.5% versus 38.2%). If he didn’t struggle this year at Triple-A, it could have been feasible that he started in the big leagues this year. He has a rocket of an arm (41 outfield assists pre-2009) and adequate defense. With J.D. Drew and Mike Cameron aging, the Red Sox have some nice in-house outfield options. He should also be in Triple-A to start the 2010 season.

Pitchers
#2 – Michael Bowden | RHP | AAA | 22 | 6.3 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 126 1/3 IP | 3.13 ERA | 4.18 FIP | 1.21 WHIP | .8 HR/9 | .260 BABIP | 31.1 GB% | 19.5 LD% | 44.6FB%
Scouting the Unknown lays outs Michael Bowden pretty well. My opinions of him haven’t changed since mid-July. Matter-of-fact, looking at his peripheral stats, I like him even less, especially with the terrible ground ball rate. The AL East hitters will feast on Mr. Bowden. With the acquisition of Lackey and a loaded farm system of pitchers will make Bowden return to Triple-A to start the 2010 season. He’ll be there until an injury or a trade.

#7 – Junichi Tazawa | RHP| AA | 23 | 8.1 K/9 | 2.4 BB/9 | 98 IP | 2.57 ERA | 3.44 FIP | 1.08 WHIP | .7 HR/9 | .284 BABIP | 43.7 GB% | 13 LD% | 39.6 FB%
Another Red Sox player that received a Scouting the Unknown last summer, and if you do a quick search within the Razzball website you’ll see several poor Major League outings. He also pitched 11 1/3 innings at Triple-A and performed well. Tazawa is still another full year away from making a major impact at the major league level. Tazawa has the skill set to thrive in the majors.

#28 – Stephen Fife | RHP | A/A+ | 22 | 8.9 K/9 | 1.4 BB/9 | 87 1/3 IP | 3.71 ERA | 3.30 FIP | 1.19 WHIP | .8 HR/9 | .317 BABIP | 55.5 GB% | 14.7 LD% | 25 FB%
This is a bit of a stretch to place him in this section. There are definitely other pitchers the Red Sox could call upon in 2010 if there are bullpen issues. However, Fife generates more ground balls with his low to mid 90’s fastball than the US Government generates debt. With a slurvy slider and an average circle change-up, Fife could quickly rise through the minors if he continues to keep the ball on the ground. With another season under his belt, the Red Sox may try to make him into a starter. If this happens, he could be Aaron Cook, the 2009 Joel Pineiro, or even a Roy Halladay. The most likely outcome would be the Aaron Cook end of the spectrum. Serviceable, but nothing exciting.

Honorable Mentions
These players are in this section because they aren’t as likely to make an impact in 2010 for the Red Sox on the major league level. However, many of these prospects are their top rated prospects.

Hitters
#8 – Ryan Westmoreland | CF | A(ss) | 19 | .296/.401/.484 | 223 AB | 15 2B | 7 HR | .188 ISO | 19/0 SB/CS | 49:38 K:BB | .353 BABIP | 46.9 GB% | 16.9 LD% | 36.3 FB%
Keith Law has him ranked as the Red Sox number two prospect in 2010, and John Sickels has him ranked number one. He has the power to hit 20 to 25, and possibly even 30 homers with 25 to 30 steals in a full season. His plate discipline is stellar, his defense adequate, and the only concern is his injury history. Prior to playing in the minors he had shoulder surgery, thus the reason why he only has 223 at-bats this year. He’ll start in Single-A or possibly even High-A to start the 2010 season. He’ll be talked about more in 2011 and potentially playing in the big leagues in the late summer of 2011. However, a more reasonable expectation would have him playing in the majors in 2012.

#21 – Derrik Gibson | 2B/SS | A(ss) | 19 | 255 AB | 15 2B | 0 HR | .090 ISO | 28/5 SB/CS | 4238 K:BB | .351 BABIP | 60.3 GB% | 14.7 LD% | 24.6 FB%
He plays great defense, control the strike zone really well, but will struggle to hit for much power. Could be Adam Everett with some speed, or Neifi Perez – a slap hitter with little fantasy value save SAGNOF.

Ryan Lavarnway | C | A | 22 | .285/.367/.540 | 506 AB | 36 2B | 21 HR | .255 ISO | 113:50 K:BB | .349 BABIP | 40.2 GB%| 16.4 LD% | 43.1 FB%
I couldn’t find much information about Lavarnway, but my eyes tell me an ISO of .255 is pretty darn impressive. Power doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Unless your name is Marcus Giles. Lavarnway has a long way to become truly relevant. He’ll need to repeat this type of performance for another two years for him to have a shot at the major league level. Having depth at catcher is extremely important in any organization. High-A should continue to help his numbers, but Double-A will be his first real test.

Pitchers
#6 – Casey Kelly | RHP | A/A+ | 20 | 7.0 K/9 | 1.5 BB/9 | 95 IP | 2.08 ERA | 3.04 FIP | .85 WHIP | .4 HR/9 | .230 BABIP | 51.6 GB% | 10.7 LD% | 33.8 FB%
Aided by an extremely low BABIP (.230), Kelly’s numbers were inflated (technically, that would be the correct word). Once a shortstop with stellar defense and a terrible bat, the Red Sox have committed to making Kelly a pitcher instead of a two-way player. His fastball has late life and reaches 92 mph. His curveball has a sharp bite and a changeup in the works. Projected to be a number two or three starter, Kelly will get tested in 2010 while at Double-A. If he can keep his good ground ball rate, he’ll progress quickly through the mid-minors. However, the numbers should regress a bit due to that extremely low BABIP. It would be scary to think of where he could be right now if he, and Boston, would have made him a pitcher to begin his career.

#11 – Stolmy Pimentel | RHIP | A | 19 | 7.9 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 117 2/3 IP | 3.82 ERA | 3.91 FIP | 1.39 WHIP | .9 HR/9 | .343 BABIP | 39.5 GB% | 15.9 LD% | 37.3 FB%
Considered to have the best changeup in the Boston farm system, Stolmy still has room to improve his average fastball (91 to 92 mph) with very few qualities attached to this offering. There is little life on his fastball. His curve is a show-me pitch with the ability to become an average pitch. He should reach Double-A next year if all goes well.

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And no, I didn’t forget about Anthony Rizzo. He’ll get a Scouting the Unknown later in the 2010 season. So commentators do not worry, I won’t forget about him.

  1. Quintero says:
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    I quoted your StU on Junichi Tazawa in an offer-note last season, and successfully turn him into Dice-K for same budget. Will do the same on Casey Kelly in next season. Thanks for the great job, looking forward to!

  2. brett says:
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    For all the talk about the Sox farm system, these guys don’t look THAT impressive. I guess they’re all still really young…

  3. SamYo says:
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    Rizzo over Lars at this point ?

  4. Stephen says:
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    @Quintero: Selling with the hype is the highest always feels so good. Then when they come up and perform, at best, so-so you buy low on them. Or you just revel is the recent trades and laugh. Just don’t do that for everyone. Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it. Helps me get through writing when I am exhausted.

    @brett: A lot of them are really young, there is decent depth, and I definitely didn’t talk about a couple of guys that I could have wrote about but didn’t because of the space I have. Also, recent trades have removed some of the depth. Plus, Keith Law, in my humblest opinion, over ranked the Red Sox recent draft and players.

    @SamYo: Not yet. Even though Anderson has hot .252/.356/.386 in 580 Double-A AB, he is still just 21 and Rizzo is behind him on the depth chart. Meaning, Anderson is blocking Rizzo for the time being. Due to injuries Anderson accumulated last year, you have to give him a mulligan. However, his stock price has plummeted. He isn’t a sure thing anymore. Rizzo is still coming back from cancer, and it has the chance of reoccurring. Given that Anderson has struggled at Double-A, he’ll need to start there and prove himself or he’ll get passed over by Rizzo.

    With that said, Rizzo has been compared to Mark Grace. Meaning, little power but a good hitting approach with above-average defense. However, Anderson’s ceiling is like your vaulted ceilings in your living room. Rizzo’s ceiling is more like your 9 ft basement ceilings.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Quintero: Ha, that’s awesome. We should have you write a post about how to manipulate people with Razzball.

  6. bostonaccent says:
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    The real question is, who does Jed Hoyer love out of this group? Hard to imagine that Westmoreland and Kelly aren’t at the top of that list…

  7. Quintero says:
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    @Stephen: Man, you are one of the very few fantasy writers out there willing to write in-depth prospects analysis for fantasy purpose and, most importantly, write it with a fun touch and high intellectuality. I believe there are tons readers like me, waiting for every episode of StU and ready to use your quote flipping Junichi into Dice-K, or targeting small market teams and trying to grab Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks when they got call-up.

    @Grey: Altho English is not my native language, I’d still love to
    do that. I’ll see what I can do when the season started. StU is golden when it comes to my dynasty league and I certainly will get trades done with it.

    I suppose. Ha.

  8. Stephen says:
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    @bostonaccent: Probably should be Westmoreland because 5-tool hitters are harder to come by then pitcher. Plus, pitchers have a higher injury risk than hitters.

    @Quintero: Thanks for the raving compliment. Most prospect writers are writing for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, or for an organization. Then again, most people play in 12 team fantasy leagues that don’t truly need to know about all the prospects in terms of their fantasy relevance. Speaking of pitchers from small markets. Get on Jeremy Hellickson while everyone is watching Wade Davis. Promise he’ll be better in the long term.

  9. Quintero says:
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    Hahaha, you and I share the same man-crush on Hellickson. I’ll surely looking into that when the time is right. Actually, it’s more like “just before” the time is right.

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