Boston Red Sox: Chat
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.
Hi, everyone. It's an exciting day in
Baseball America land, as we're wrapping up the Prospect Handbook
today. Happy holidays to everyone and happy end-of-the-Handbook to me.
Now let's get to your questions.
So, Jim, just how much agonizing did you do between Kelly and
Westmoreland when deciding who to rank #1? What ultimately put
Westmoreland over the top?
"Agonizing" might be a little strong, but
I did put a lot of thought into it. It was tough because one guy was a
hitter and one guy was a pitcher, so I couldn't compare them directly.
The easy thing would have been to say that Kelly has proven himself in
high Class A and Westmoreland hasn't succeeded beyond short-season
ball, but I went with the guy who I thought would be the best player in
the long run. Either is a worthy choice. Kelly is probably a safer bet
to be good, but I think Westmoreland has a better chance to be great.
I'm working on my personal Top 50 Prospects list for the Handbook, and
they'll both be in the top half.
Tom (Boston, MA): I find it interesting how Kelly led four categories in your Best Tools section, yet didn't rank #1. Can you explain?
That gets back to the pitcher vs. hitter
lack of a direct comparison. Kelly may be the first guy ever to claim
Best Fastball, Best Curveball, Best Changeup and Best Control on the
same tools list. (Stephen Strasburg didn't get Best Changeup on our
Nationals list.) But Westmoreland got support for Best Hitter, Best
Power, Best Discipline, Fastest Runner and Best Athlete, so he could
have taken five categories.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Lars Anderson regress any in your eyes, or did he merely have an off-year?
Anderson's slump lasted all season long,
so his prospect status has to take a hit. The raw tools and ability are
still there, but he lost some confidence and tinkered with his
approach. I think he can bounce back, but he has lost at least a little
luster. I'm still driving the bandwagon, though.
Nick (Boston): Jim where did Stolmy Pimental
rank on this list, he must have been one of the last cuts right? What
do people think about him in 2010 and his future potential? Thanks
I won't give away any specific rankings—that's what buying the Prospect Handbook is for. And to do that, go here
Pimentel just missed making the Top 10. He has chance for two plus
pitches and a solid breaking ball, which could make him a good No. 3
starter. He needs another year in the minors before he's ready.
Frank (MA): How far did Bowden fall this time around?
He's in the 11-15 range. He has proven
more at higher levels than most people on the list, but he doesn't have
a plus pitch so he has to be pinpoint with his control to succeed. I
think he's more of a middle reliever than a starter, especially on a
Dara (Denver, CO): No Luis Exposito?
He made the Top 30, but I'm not the
biggest fan. He has some power potential, but scouts worry that his
long swing will prevent him from realizing it. He has good defensive
tools, but he's huge and not a tremendous catcher. He has more upside
than the other Red Sox catching prospects, but I'm not so sure that Tim
Federowicz and Mark Wagner won't be better big league catchers.
Ben (Leland Grove): Looking at your Best
Tools, are you saying Casey Kelly has more velocity on his FB than
Daniel Bard? Where did Bard rank overall?
Bard didn't qualify for the list. We added
a new rule this year that limited pitchers to no more than 30 big
league relief appearances. Bard came in under the 50-inning maximum but
spent five months in the majors. Bard would have ranked No. 3 on this
list if he qualified, and he would have had the Best Fastball.
Steve (NYC): Jim what can we expect from Lin in 2010, do you see him climbing the prospect charts ?
Lin is a tough prospect to evaluate. He's
a tremendous center fielder with a tremendous arm, and he can run and
steal bases. He has a quick bat, but he just doesn't drive balls in
games, and I don't know if he's going to hit enough to be a regular if
he doesn't adjust his approach.
Steve (Norwood): Jim, does David Mailman sneak
his way into the Top 30? He put up great numbers in A and then
struggled a bit in A advanced, but is still real young.
He did not. They like him and he has some
offensive potential, but the system was too deep for him to make the
Top 30 at this point.
Allan (Boston): The Red Sox system seems thin
on current ML ready prospects, but quite strong and deep on high upside
future prospects (2012 and beyond) Do you agree? And where do you rate
their system on a long-term projection basis? Who's on your radar as
I think that's very fair to say. We just
got done putting the preliminary farm-system rankings together for the
Handbook, and the Red Sox came in sixth, which tells you what we think
of their high-ceiling players. A lot of those guys have a ways to go to
reach those ceilings, but some of the best upside in the system belongs
to Westmoreland, Kelly, OF Reymond Fuentes, SS/2B Derrik Gibson, LHP
Drake Britton, RHP Madison Younginer, RHP Roman Mendez, SS Jose Vinicio
and OF Brandon Jacobs.
Brendan (Colorado): Where does Brandon Jacobs
sit in the top 30 and what does his ceiling look like? Also, any
thoughts on Felix Doubront that you could share with us? Where does he
Jacobs snuck on toward the end. Huge, huge
upside with the bat—the Red Sox think he has the potential to be Kevin
Mitchell, and I stress the word "potential" there—but a well
below-average defender in left field, so he'll really have to hit.
Doubront isn't as sexy as a lot of their prospects, but he's a lefty
with three pitches who has handled Double-A hitters. He's in the middle
of the list.
Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, thanks as always for
the chat! If Aroldis Chapman were signed by Boston, where would he rank
on the Sox Top 10? Will a profile for Chapman be included in this years
Prospect Handbook, even if he has not signed?
We will have reports on Chapman and Noel
Arguelles (who's not officially signed with the Royals yet) in the back
of the Handbook. I do think the Chapman hysteria has been somewhat
overblown, and I'd be tempted to rank him behind Westmoreland and
Kelly. The rest of the BA braintrust might twist my arm and compel me
to rank Chapman No. 1.
JAYPERS (IL): What are scouts saying about David Renfroe, and did he come close to your list?
He's one of the best athletes in the
system, another of their high-upside guys. He could be an all-star
third baseman if he reaches his ceiling. He has a long ways to go, but
he's more advanced than Will Middlebrooks was at the same stage of his
Scott (Chicago, IL): Where does Younginer fit
into the top 30? How does he project - starter (back or front end of
rotation starter), or closer or middle relief?
He's in the middle of the Top 30. On sheer
upside, he'd be in the top five. Scouts inside and outside of the
organization rave about his arm and say talk that his arm action is so
raw that he'll have to be a reliever is overblown. If he maintains the
ridiculous fastball/curve combo he has now, finds a consistent release
point and develops a change, he'll be a frontline starter.
emil faber (faber college): Jim — I enjoyed
your in-depth (and glowing) write-up of Westmoreland. As a hitter, who
would you say he is most comparable to among the recent and current top
prospects such as Bruce, McCutchen, Maybin, Rasmus, Snider, and
Interesting question. His game probably
most resembles Maybin's, but with much better feel for hitting and
control of the strike zone.
Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, how were the reports
on Drake Britton after coming back from TJ last year? Is he a dark
horse to really make a move up the list next season?
He's moving up it now—he's in the middle
of the Top 30. Reports were that he was touching 97 mph in
instructional league, and not many lefthanders can do that. He's still
shaking off some rust after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the
Red Sox are excited about his progress.
Steven (St. Louis): With Junichi Tazawa's
quickest route to the bigs being as a reliever, at what point could he
work his way into the Red Sox rotation?
I like Tazawa, but I'm not sure he's ever
going to be a regular member of the Boston rotation. Lester, Beckett,
Lackey, Buchholz and Matsuzaka are already in the majors now, and I
think Kelly is going to move very quickly now that he's a full-time
pitcher. I bet Tazawa juggles some roles like Justin Masterson did and
eventually settles into the bullpen.
Jose (Miami, FL): Manuel Rivera, Roman Mendez,
and Randy Consuegra all had strong years for the GCL team. What is the
scouting report on these 3 international signees, and which of them has
the highest ceiling?
In terms of stuff, I'd rank them in this
order: Mendez, Consuegra, Rivera. Mendez made the Top 30. He has a
low-90s fastball that peaks at 97, and a low-80s slider. Pretty
JAYPERS (IL): When it comes time to do the Top 100 list, how many of these ten Sox will get your vote?
Westmoreland, Kelly and Josh Reddick for
sure. I'm sure I'll remain stubborn about Lars Anderson, but don't know
if he'll get enough support from the rest of the BA staff to make it.
Ryan Kalish, Tazawa and Fuentes may also get my vote.
Hank (Newark): What will Boston do with its
plethora of positional mid-tier prospects like Middlebrooks, Dent,
Dening, Navarro, Place, Lin, A.Diaz, Almanzar, and Hissey. They seem
pretty loaded, but are most of these guys just oranizational fill-in
fodder? Who can emerge to see legit PT in Boston one day?
You keep running those guys out there, and
hope that some separate themselves and/or become valuable as trade
fodder. (By the way, Argenis Diaz went to the Pirates for Adam LaRoche
last summer.) Of the guys you mentioned, I like Navarro and
Middlebrooks the best.
Bill (Boston): Is Iglesias' glove as good as advertised? Thoughts on his bat?
Everyone I have talked to about Iglesias
raves about his glove. He has a chance to be a special defender at
shortstop. We'll see on the bat, which is why I ranked him as low as
No. 9 on the Top 10. He has some pop but is so aggressive that he'll
probably fit toward the bottom of the order in Boston.
Jed (Atlanta): Is Oscar Tejada still a legit prospect and did he make the top 30?
Didn't make the Top 30 but almost did—I
kept moving him in and out. He still has very interesting tools and is
quite young, but he needs to get his bat going and is more of a third
baseman than a shortstop.
Steve V (Plainfield IL): Two young 3rd baseman
who have struggled, Almanzar and Middlebrooks, do you see them breaking
out in 2010 or ever making an impact in Boston? Are they making
progress or regressing?
Middlebrooks is making more progress than
Almanzar. I brought Middlebrooks up as a possible breakout candidate,
but the Red Sox think he's improving at more of a steady pace than a
guy who's going to suddenly burst out. Almanzar went backward next year
and is probably going to have to be a first baseman in the long run. I
like Middlebrooks' chances better, but he also doesn't seem to get
quite locked in at the plate. I'd take Renfroe over either of them.
Kirby (Greenville): So where does Anthony
Rizzo fit in Boston's future plans? You list Anderson as the future
1B'man, and Reddick as the future DH. Is he a utility guy, backup, or
Take those lineups with a grain of salt,
because so much changes over four years. If Anderson and Rizzo continue
doing in 2010 what they did in 2009, Rizzo will leapfrog him as a
prospect and be Boston's first baseman of the future. With a good big
league club and lot of minor league depth, the Red Sox can afford to
sit back and watch how things play out with their prospects.
Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, from the group of
Buchholz, Bard, Ellsbury, Kelly and Westmoreland, who would you be
least inclined to part with in a trade? Who would you be most inclined
to include in a deal (considering depth in the system, etc)?
Let me start by saying that I don't think
anyone ever should be "untouchable" in a trade, because it's always
possible that someone could offer more than that player is worth. Crazy
as this sounds, I'd be most inclined to part with Ellsbury because I
think he presents the biggest difference between trade value and actual
value and might be the most easily replaced. I'd be least inclined to
trade Buchholz, who's on the verge of becoming a frontline starter in
the majors. Westmoreland may have more upside than any of them, but
he's also the farthest away.
MJ (Valpo): What has happened to Yamaico
Navarro? I know he got hurt, but is he still part of Boston's future IF
plans at the big-league level?
They're still high on him and there's no
reason he can't come back from last year's hamate injury. With second
base (Pedroia) and shortstop (Scutaro and Iglesias) set for the near
future, third base presents Navarro's best opportunity for a big league
job. He could be in the 2011 mix there, and he'd make a fine
offensive-minded utilityman too.
Raymond (New York): Hi Jim,
Happy holidays. Will having the Braves #1 pick affect their 2010 draft
strategy in terms of any budget they may have ? Will the Red Sox still
draft tough signs in lower rounds and make way above slot offers at the
24th hour and ignore the overall cost ?
I don't think the Red Sox's plans will change at all. I think they'll draft the best players available and spend to sign them.
Ebeneezer (London): Gibson appears to have
good tools, but the lack of arm strength probably moves him off short
and the lack of power means he will likely play either 2nd or center
field. Where do you see him playing in 2010 and beyond?
I agree, he's not a shortstop. He's a
fantastic athlete who should be productive at the plate and on the
bases. I think they'll keep him at shortstop for at least part of 2010,
and I don't know where he fits in the long term with Pedroia at second
base and all the young talent in center field. But I bet Gibson finds a
way to squeeze into Boston's lineup of the future.
Lou (Boulder, CO): Jim, do Stephen Fife and Alex Wilson project as future bullpen arms or just organizational guys?
I think Fife has a future as a starter,
though as mentioned, Boston's rotation will be tough to crack. Wilson
and Kyle Weiland could be valuable bullpen pieces.