Boston Red Sox: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Boston Red Sox: Scouting Reports




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox weren't able to repeat as World Series champions, but that's about the only way in which their 2008 season couldn't be described as a success.

At the major league level, Boston won 95 games and went to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years in spite of significant injuries and the Manny Ramirez soap opera. The Red Sox nearly pulled off their third huge comeback in the last five American League Championship Series before falling to the Rays 3-1 in Game Seven.

The core of the big league club is homegrown. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis emerged as bona fide MVP candidates, Jon Lester tossed a no-hitter and blossomed into one of the game's top starters and Jonathan Papelbon maintained his status as an elite closer. Youngsters Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson all experienced growing pains, but also showed why they'll be a major part of the Red Sox's future.

Down on the farm, all six of Boston's U.S.-based affiliates finished with winning records and four advanced to the playoffs. The six clubs combined for a .541 winning percentage, the system's best in 32 years. More important, quality prospects drove that success.

Despite graduating four of their top five prospects from a year ago to the majors, the Red Sox have more talent on the way. First baseman Lars Anderson tore up Double-A at age 20 and could force his way into the big league lineup in short order. Righthander Michael Bowden, who's just a year older, has little left to prove in the minors and won his first major league start in August. Hard-throwing righty Daniel Bard found his niche as a reliever and could push for a bullpen spot by mid-2009.

Further down in the system, Boston has an enviable group of high-ceiling players, particularly at shortstop (starting with Yamaico Navarro) and in the outfield (led by Josh Reddick). The Red Sox continue to be aggressive in player acquisition, spending $10.5 million on draft bonuses in 2008—the second-highest figure in baseball history. Their haul included a mix of high school athletes (righthander/shortstop Casey Kelly, outfielders Ryan Westmoreland and Pete Hissey, infielder Derrik Gibson) and college arms who could move quickly (Bryan Price, Kyle Weiland, Stephen Fife).

One of the few negatives for the Red Sox came in August, when they fired Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Pablo Lantigua after he was implicated in baseball's bonus-skimming scandal. Lantigua's signees included third baseman Michael Almanzar, who made an impressive pro debut after signing for $1.5 million in 2007, and Navarro, a bargain at $20,000.

Boston's recent international scouting has mirrored its domestic production. Their Dominican finds also include righthander Stolmy Pimentel and shortstop Oscar Tejeda. Argenis Diaz (Venezuela) is the system's slickest-fielding shortstop prospect in years. In the Far East, they've found outfielders Che-Hsuan Lin (Taiwan), the 2008 Futures Game MVP, and Mitch Dening (Australia), not to mention Japanese big leaguers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

The Red Sox are hitting on all cylinders. They may not have won another World Series in 2008, but they'll continue to contend for championships on an annual basis.

1.  Lars Anderson, 1b   Born: Sept. 25, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-4Wt: 215
 Drafted: HS: Jesuit HS, Carmichael, CASigned by: Blair Henry
Lars AndersonBackground: Anderson starred with the Team USA juniors in 2005, batting .464 with a team-high 11 RBIs at the Pan Am Championship in Mexico, and he led California high schoolers with 15 homers the following spring. Teams viewed him as a potential supplemental first-round pick, but Anderson had an inexperienced agent who didn't understand baseball's slotting system, and his $1 million price tag caused him to drop all the way to the 18th round. The Red Sox scouted him all summer and signed him in August for $825,000. He has justified that investment, establishing himself as the biggest offensive force in the Boston system while batting .304/.404/.480 in two pro seasons. Anderson began 2008 slowly, hitting just .277 with seven homers in the first two months at high Class A Lancaster, a hitter's haven. After missing the last two weeks in May with a minor wrist injury, he batted .361 with six homers over the next six weeks to earn a promotion to Double-A Portland at age 20, where he hit even better. Boston named him its minor league offensive player of the year.

Strengths: Anderson has all the ingredients to hit for a high average with a lot of power. He has an advanced approach, as he recognizes pitches and identifies strikes better than most players his age. His quick hands and wrists allow him to let balls travel deep before he unleashes big raw power. There's little effort in his smooth lefthanded stroke, and he keeps the barrel of the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. The loft in his swing and the leverage in his 6-foot-5 frame bode well for his home run potential. He draws plenty of walks and doesn't strike out excessively. When the Red Sox signed Anderson, they had concerns about his defense, but he has answered them. He has improved his footwork and glovework at first base, where he does a nice job of scooping throws out of the dirt. He's a diligent worker who has impressed the organization with his intelligence and maturity.


Weaknesses: Anderson can be too disciplined at the plate. His mindset is to work deep counts and drive balls on the outer half to the opposite field. He can do a better job of attacking hittable pitches early in the count, and once he starts turning on more inside pitches, he'll have plus power to all fields. Anderson isn't the quickest player, but he's not a baseclogger and has decent range at first.

The Future: One scout who saw Anderson in Double-A opined that he could hit major league pitching in 2009 if needed. All-star Kevin Youkilis could shift from first to third base if Mike Lowell is slow to recover from hip surgery, and the feeble production the Red Sox got from first base when Youkilis moved to third was a contributing factor in their American League Championship Series loss to the Rays. But it's also easy to forget that Anderson will just be 21, and Boston's preference would be for him to spend at least the bulk of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket and push for a big league job in 2010.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lancaster (HiA)
.317
.408
.513
306
58
97
19
1
13
50
46
64
0
Portland (AA)
.316
.436
.526
133
27
42
13
0
5
30
29
43
1
 
2.  Michael Bowden, rhp   Born: Sept. 9, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 215
 Drafted: HS-Aurora, Ill., 2005 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Danny Haas
Michael BowdenBackground: Bowden has moved quickly since the Red Sox took him 47th overall in a banner 2005 draft. He finished the season with three straight quality starts in the Triple-A International League and a win over the White Sox in his big league debut, at age 21.

Strengths: Bowden's fastball, curveball and changeup all drew votes as the best in the system. His 89-93 mph fastball plays better than its velocity because of its heavy life and the angle and deception he creates from a high three-quarters slot. His command was good to begin with and improved in 2008. He's fearless and works as hard as anyone in the system.

Weaknesses: Scouts have quibbled with Bowden's delivery, which was long in the back and short out front. He made nice adjustments in 2008, achieving a straighter line toward the plate and more extension. He could stand to tighten up his curveball, which was more of a power pitch when he was in high school.

The Future: Bowden has a lower ceiling than the other players on this list, but he's a safe bet with a good chance to become a No. 3 starter. He'll do some fine-tuning in Triple-A until the Red Sox need him.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Portland (AA)
9

4
2.33
19
19
0
0
104.1
72
5
24
101
.192
Pawtucket (AAA)
0
3
3.38
7
6
0
0
40
40
5
5
29
.261
Boston (AL)
1
0
3.60
1
1
0
0
5
7
2
1
3
.333
 
3.  Nick Hagadone, lhp   Born: Jan. 1, 1986B-T: L-LHt: 6-5Wt: 230
 Drafted: Washington, 2007 (1st round supplemental, 55th overall)Signed by: John Booher
Nick HagadoneBackground: Hagadone allowed five earned runs in his pro debut and none since. The bad news is that he blew out his elbow on an awkward delivery in his third start of 2008, leading to Tommy John surgery in May.

Strengths: Hagadone's stuff took off after the Red Sox got him to make his delivery more compact and stop rushing toward the plate. His fastball sat at 95-97 mph the day he got hurt, and his slider showed more power and depth. He quickly picked up a changeup that he throws with good arm speed, fade and sink. His work ethic leaves the Red Sox with no doubt that he'll regain his stuff.

Weaknesses: Hagadone's health is obviously the biggest concern, but he was throwing four months after the surgery and progressing so quickly that Boston had to slow him down. His command wasn't as advanced as his stuff, and command is often the last thing to come back after Tommy John surgery.

The Future: Hagadone is on target to open 2009 with one of the Red Sox's Class A affiliates. He projects as either a frontline starter or a dynamic reliever, and Boston's needs will dictate his future. He might have earned a big league cameo at the end of 2008 had he not gotten hurt.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Greenville (LoA)
1
1
0.00
3
3
0
0
10
5
0
6
12
.135
 
4.  Daniel Bard, rhp   Born: June 25, 1985B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 195
 Drafted: North Carolina, 2006 (1st round)Signed by: Jeff Zona
Daniel BardBackground: After losing his command and confidence as a starter in his 2007 pro debut, Bard altered his mechanics and seemed more comfortable as a reliever in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Kept in that role in 2008, he was Boston's minor league pitcher of the year after ranking among the minor league bullpen leaders in strikeouts per nine innings (12.4) and opponent average (.158).

Strengths: Bard can overmatch hitters with his fastball, throwing 97-100 mph four-seamers and low-90s power sinkers with little effort. After struggling with a curveball and a slurve in the past, he finally found a second pitch in a solid mid-80s slider. It's not especially sharp, but the slider breaks enough to eat up hitters geared for his fastball.

Weaknesses: While Bard is doing a much better job repeating his delivery, he still gets around his pitches at times, causing them to flatten out. He cut his walk rate from 9.4 per nine innings in 2007 to 3.5 in 2008, but he still needs better control. He lacks deception, though it's not easy to catch up to his stuff.

The Future: Bard has come a long way in a year, though he may project better as a set-up man than as a closer. He'll probably open 2009 in Triple-A and break into the Boston bullpen in a low-pressure role later in the year.

 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Greenville (LoA)
1
0
0.64
15
0
0
0
28
12
1
4
43
.129
Portland (AA)
4
1
1.99
31
0
0
7
49.2
30
3
26
64
.173
 
5.  Josh Reddick, of   Born: Feb. 19, 1987B-T: L-RHt: 6-2Wt: 180
 Drafted: Middle Georgia JC, 2006 (17th round)Signed by: Rob English
Josh ReddickBackground: Originally selected as a draft-and-follow candidate in 2006, Reddick homered that summer off Team USA's Ross Detwiler (who became the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft), spurring the Red Sox to sign him immediately for $140,000. He has exceeded expectations by hitting .309/.354/.538 in two pro seasons, though he struggled in Double-A at the end of 2008.

Strengths: Reddick has a chance to become a five-tool player. While he's a free swinger, he doesn't chase pitches and has tremendous feel for making hard contact. He has solid-average speed and is capable of playing center field, and he has arguably the best outfield arm in the minors. With plus arm strength, a quick release and sniper accuracy, he has 41 assists in 209 pro games.

Weaknesses: Double-A pitchers exploited Reddick's aggressive nature, which keeps him from drawing many walks. He'll need to be more selective, but his problem is more a matter of not putting tough pitches in play than chasing balls out of the zone.

The Future: Reddick will try to redeem himself against Double-A pitching in 2009. If the Red Sox don't sign Jason Bay to an extension, he could compete for a big league starting job in 2010.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greenville (LoA)
.340
.397
.491
53
7
18
4
2
0
9
5
8
2
Lancaster (HiA)
.343
.375
.593
312
60
107
11
8
17
57
17
49
9
Portland (AA)
.214
.290
.436
117
22
25
4
2
6
25
12
25
3
 
6.  Casey Kelly, rhp/ss   Born: Oct. 4, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 194
 Drafted: HS-Sarasota, Fla., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Anthony Kelly
Casey KellyBackground: One of the top two-way players and two-sport athletes in the 2008 draft, Kelly had the added leverage of a scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee. After signing for a club-record $3 million as the 30th overall pick, he played only shortstop and didn't pitch in his pro debut.

Strengths: The Red Sox thought Kelly was the most advanced high school pitcher in the draft. His command and late life make his 90-91 mph fastball close to a plus-plus pitch, and his lean body and power spin on his curveball are promising signs for increased velocity in the future. He has tremendous feel, no surprise for someone whose father (Pat) played in the majors. As a shortstop, Kelly has fluid actions, a strong arm and projectable power.

Weaknesses: Kelly is still raw at the plate and struggled to make contact in his first taste of pro ball. Unless he squares up balls more consistently and solves breaking pitches, he won't hit for a high average or make the most of his raw power.

The Future: Boston would like to see Kelly on the mound, while he prefers to play shortstop. He may do some of both at short-season Lowell or low Class A Greenville in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Red Sox (R)
.173
.229
.255
98
10
17
5
0
1
9
6
34
1
Lowell (SS)
.344
.344
.563
32
5
11
5
1
0
4
0
8
0
 
7.  Ryan Westmoreland, of   Born: April 27, 1990B-T: L-R Ht: 6-2Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Portsmouth, R.I., 2008 (5th round). Signed by: Ray Fagnant
Ryan WestmorelandBackground: The best position player to come out of Rhode Island since Rocco Baldelli, most teams assumed that Westmoreland was strongly committed to Vanderbilt. The Red Sox drafted him in the fifth round and courted all him summer before signing him for $2 million. A minor shoulder injury prevented him from playing in the minors or instructional league.

Strengths: Also an all-state soccer player and basketball star, Westmoreland is the top athlete in the system. With his strength and easy plus-plus speed, he could be a 30-30 player in time. Thanks to his quick bat and good hand-eye coordination, he should be able to hit for average as well. He has the range to play center field and solid arm strength.

Weaknesses: Scouts who saw Westmoreland play in high school thought he needed to do a better job of incorporating his lower half into his swing. He's as much a baseball player as he is a pure athlete, so missing time this summer and fall shouldn't be a huge setback.

The Future: Westmoreland will compete for a job at Greenville in spring training, though the Red Sox could choose to ease him into pro ball at Lowell in June. He's not the center-field defender that Jacoby Ellsbury is, but Westmoreland has the potential for a more dynamic bat.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not Play—Injury
 
8.  Michael Almanzar, 3b   Born: Dec. 2, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3Wt: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Pablo Lantigua
Michael AlmanzarBackground: The son of former big league pitcher Carlos Almanzar, Michael signed in 2007 for $1.5 million, a club record for a Latin American amateur. He was advanced enough offensively that the Red Sox let him make his U.S. debut and even promoted him to low Class A at age 17.

Strengths: Almanzar has the swing, bat speed and leverage to hit for huge power once he matures physically. Given his bloodlines, it's no surprise he has better instincts and strike-zone awareness than most players his age. He's athletic for his size and shows a plus arm at third base.

Weaknesses: Almanzar is so young and raw that he'll require time to add strength and refine his tools. His struggles in the South Atlantic League were no surprise. He's a below-average runner and doesn't have a quick first step, so he may need to move from third to first base down the road. He needs more consistency with his approach and his defense, particularly on throws.

The Future: Once again in 2009, Almanzar will be one of the youngest players in the SAL. Will Middlebrooks also is ready for Greenville, so Almanzar may have to share third base and see some time at DH.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Red Sox (R)
Greenville (LoA)
.348

.207
.414

.238
.472

.314
89

140
16

12
31

29
6

5
1

2
1

2
11

11
8

5
15

39
3

0
 
9.  Yamaico Navarro, inf   Born: Oct. 31, 1987B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 180
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005. Signed by: Pablo Lantigua
Yamaico NavarroBackground: Navarro was one of the biggest surprises in the system in 2008. Signed for just $20,000 three years earlier, he jumped to the top of the Red Sox's crowded depth chart at shortstop by hitting for average and power and playing improved defense.

Strengths: Navarro whips the bat quickly through the hitting zone and barrels balls consistently, giving him power to all fields and the potential for 15-20 homers per season. He has solid speed but isn't a big basestealing threat. He has a plus arm and average range at shortstop, and he has seen time at second and third base to help ease Boston's shortstop logjam.

Weaknesses: Navarro can get out of control at the plate, taking vicious hacks, chasing wild pitches and missing hittable ones. He has a reasonably sound two-strike approach that he should incorporate earlier in counts. At times, he'll let an offensive slump affect his baserunning and defense.

The Future: After looking like a utilityman in 2007, Navarro now projects as a regular shortstop. Where the Red Sox decide to deploy Argenis Diaz in 2009 will determine whether Navarro opens in Double-A, but he should get there at some point during the season.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greenville (LoA)
.280
.341
.412
325
46
91
14
4
7
54
29
73
3
Lancaster (HiA)
.348
.393
.508
181
33
63
13
2
4
23
12
30
3
 
10.  Stolmy Pimentel, rhp   Born: Feb. 1, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3Wt: 186
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006. Signed by: Luis Scheker
Stolmy PimentelBackground: Signed for only $25,000 in 2006, Pimentel was Boston's Latin program pitcher of the year in his 2007 pro debut. Determined to avoid the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, he showed enough polish last spring to earn an assignment to the New York-Penn League. At 18, he was the short-season circuit's youngest rotation regular.

Strengths: Pimentel is an exceedingly projectable pitcher with already intriguing stuff. He has fine command of an 88-92 mph fastball that could add another 2-3 mph, and his advanced changeup is the best in the system. Both should be plus pitches with more consistency, while his curveball projects as an average offering. He has a loose arm, sound delivery and maturity beyond his years. He wasn't fazed when he drew the start in Lowell's annual game at Fenway Park.

Weaknesses: Pimentel's fastball is more notable for his command of it than its life, and his pitches flatten out when he doesn't stay on top of them. He needs to tighten his curveball, which will be a point of emphasis in 2009.

The Future: Even if the Red Sox move him just one level per year, Pimentel will be ready for the majors at age 23. He has the arsenal, savvy and makeup to speed up that timetable, too. He'll pitch in low Class A in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Lowell (SS)
5
2
3.14
13
11
0
0
63
51
7
17
61
.224

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2009 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team

Photo Credits: Anderson (Bill Mitchell)
Bowden, Navarro, Pimentel (Roger Wood)
Hagadone, Reddick (Tom Priddy)
Bard (Mike Janes)
Casey Kelly (Chris Proctor)
Ryan Westmoreland (Jesse Soll)
Michael Almanzar (Brian Bissell)