Lavarnway Puts Himself On The Red Sox's Radar





Best Player: In 2009, Ryan Lavarnway received little attention in the discussion of Red Sox catchers of the future even though he led the farm system with 21 home runs. There were enough questions about his defense, and enough catching prospects in front of him, that his year in low Class A Greenville received little notice.

But in 2010, Lavarnway made significant strides behind the plate and continued to show the potential to be an offensive force. He was the most consistent hitter in the Sox system, never missing a beat after a mid-year promotion from high Class A Salem (.289/.392/.487) to Double-A Portland (.285/.395/.494). Lavarnway, 23, showed power to all fields while hitting 22 homers and 102 RBIs in 126 games. He also demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate, walking 70 times, and caught 33 percent of basestealers.

"It was an unbelievable season," Sox farm director Mike Hazen said. "The consistency of approach has been the same since he signed. He has a mature knowledge of the strike zone and a short swing."

"He's a middle-of-the-order hitter," Sox roving hitting instructor Victor Rodriguez said.

Best Pitcher: It came as something of a surprise when Felix Doubront, after spending all of 2009 in Double-A, returned to Portland to start 2010. But the 22-year-old lefthander quickly pitched his way up the ladder.

He went 8-3, 2.51 between Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing just one home run in 80 minor league innings. That performance earned him a place on the big league roster for a few spot starts and an end-of-year role as a late-innings reliever. Doubront made strides with his curveball in 2010, giving him a three-pitch arsenal (low-90s fastball and solid changeup) that has convinced the Sox that he is ready to contribute for the foreseeable future.

Keep An Eye On: Though he was restricted in both pitch counts and innings in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, Drake Britton looked dominant. The 21-year-old lefthander had a 2.97 ERA and 78 strikeouts (against 23 walks) in 76 innings for Greenville. His fastball topped out at 96 mph, and he also featured an above-average curve and a changeup in which he's gaining greater confidence.

"He's a lefthanded pitcher with plus-plus stuff," Hazen said.

Sox Yarns

• First baseman Lars Anderson became the sixth Sox prospect to make his big league debut in 2010, joining Doubront, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Yamaico Navarro and Robert Coello.

• Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker finished the year with 63 steals for Greenville, most by a Sox farmhand since Gus Burgess swiped 68 bases for the Sox's Carolina League affiliate in 1981.