Red Sox Organization Report
Catching Drought Nearing End?
BOSTON—The Red Sox' system has become increasingly fruitful in recent years but has remained deficient in one area. In the past six years, just two games have been started by a catcher younger than 28.
The team believes that pattern could soon change. The Sox hope that in both George Kottaras, 24, and Dusty Brown, 25, they have a pair of catchers capable of contributing in the majors.
Kottaras, in his first full year in the Sox' system, hit just .196/.272/.304 in the first half for Triple-A Pawtucket before bouncing back in the second half, batting .318/.389/.582.
Such production confirmed the potential that prompted Boston to trade David Wells to the Padres in 2006 to land the lefty-hitting Kottaras, whom San Diego signed as a draft-and-follow in 2003.
"At every level, there is an adjustment period. Sometimes it takes a little bit," farm director Mike Hazen said. "We feel the same way we did when we acquired him. The guy has big-time pop in his bat and he can catch."
The Sox believe that his receiving, blocking and throwing improved over the course of the year as well.
Brown, meanwhile, already was viewed as an above-average defender. The 35th-round pick from a Prescott Valley, Ariz., high school in 2000 enjoyed one of his finest all-around seasons, hitting .268/.344/.453 in 254 at-bats for Double-A Portland. He then hit .273/.344/.291 in his second straight Arizona Fall League campaign.
"He's going to hit a little bit—he's gotten better there," Hazen said. "But we really like his ability behind the plate. There's just not a lot of good catching across baseball. We just feel like Dusty is a good catcher."
• First baseman Chris Carter, acquired from the Nationals for Wily Mo Pena on Aug. 31, ranked among the organization's winter league leaders. Carter, 25, was hitting .355/.388/.522 with four home runs in 138 at-bats for La Guaira of the Venezuelan League. He also was playing left field, but his defense needs work at both positions.
• The Sox were pleased with the progress of righthander Daniel Bard in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Despite walking 15 batters and hitting five others, the 2006 first-round pick from North Carolina struck out 15 and went 0-0, 1.08 in 17 relief innings.