Red Sox Final Report
In 2010, catcher Ryan Lavarnway
had an eye-opening season that earned him player of the year honors in the organization. He was better in 2011.
Lavarnway opened the year by returning to Double-A Portland and slamming 14 homers in 55 games while hitting .284/.360/.510. After a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, the 24-year-old took off.
Lavarnway hit .295/.390/.612 with 18 homers in 227 at-bats. His raw power grades as above-average, but his 32 combined homers in 2011 suggest a player whose power plays up in games, thanks to a compact swing that lets Lavarnway club the ball to all fields.
Once viewed as defensively suspect, Lavarnway—a 2008 sixth-round pick out of Yale who received a September callup and is expected to catch in Venezuela this winter—has made the necessary strides to convince the Sox that he will be a big league catcher.
In his first pro season in 2010, righthander Alex Wilson
was outstanding in high Class A but got shelled after a promotion to Double-A. This season, the 24-year-old returned to Portland and dominated before carrying his excellent performance up to Pawtucket.
In 133 combined innings, Wilson was 10-4, 3.11 with 123 strikeouts and 44 walks. In the past, Wilson had been a max effort pitcher who tended to fade as the game wore on. This season, he learned to regulate that approach with impressive results, regularly carrying mid-90s velocity and a wipeout slider deep into starts.
"The guy's got stuff," Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper said. "What he's learned how to do this year more than anything else is harness aggression."
Keep An Eye On:
It has been years since the Sox had an 18-year-old generate the type of buzz produced by Xander Bogaerts
. But then, it has been decades since the Sox had an 18-year-old thrive at a full-season affiliate and to hit as many homers as the 16 Bogaerts swatted in 72 games for low Class A Greenville
Bogaerts used a smooth swing to generate startling power for his age at low Class A Greenville. He hit .260/.324/.509 with 16 home runs, and instructors rave about his advanced approach at the plate. He may move from shortstop to third base as his 6-foot-3 frame fills out, but his bat suggests star potential.
• Outfielder Ryan Kalish's season ended after just 24 minor league games due to a bulging disc in his neck that will require surgery. He's expected to be ready for spring training.
• Outfielder Bryce Brentz joined Lavarnway as the first two Sox minor leaguers to hit at least 30 homers in a season since 2004.